Understanding the surge in reader demand

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A new INMA report, 'News subscriptions in the age of coronavirus' aims to help news publishers navigate the unpredictable surge in traffic and subscription starts during the COVID-19 crisis.

Part of INMA's Readers First Initiative, the report seeks to identify key trends at work in the subscriptions space, examine the mechanisms behind both the growth in traffic and reader revenue, and highlight successful strategies from publishers worldwide.

Key findings from the report include:

Subscriptions from loyal readers: While there has been an unprecedented surge in news demand and digital subscription starts, those new subscriptions are mostly coming from an existing loyal audience - not new COVID readers.

Audiences not homogenous, need different approaches: News audiences during COVID are not homogenous, displaying a range of behaviours depending on their psychological response to the crisis. Therefore, different content strategies will be needed to move different audiences down the conversion funnel.

Quality journalism demand up: Audiences are demonstrating an appreciation for quality journalism during uncertain times and are willing to pay for it.

Explanatory journalism: Publishers are getting back to the core of what they do best: good, clear, explanatory journalism is what matters

The 46-page report aims to understand the surge in audience demand for COVID-19 news, looking at emerging strategies and tactics: what content is compelling, pop-up newsletters, community content strategies, news avoidance, and more. The report also looks at the demand for subscriptions from the perspective of non-users, anonymous users, known users, and subscribed users. Publishers, meanwhile, are looking to extend the subscription bum, tackling issues like varying subscriber pricing.

The report author is Grzegorz (Greg) Piechota, a researcher-in-residence at INMA and head of the association's Readers First Initiative. Piechota is an academic researcher, digital transformation consulting, and writer. An ex-fellow at Oxford and Harvard universities, Piechota is a former media executive at Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza.

'News Subscriptions In the Age of Coronavirus' is available for free to INMA members and available to non-members for US$795 - which includes one year of association membership. Visit www.inma.org/reports.

The INMA Readers First Initiative aims to surface global best practices in the art and science behind digital subscriptions for news media companies and create a road map toward the next generation of consumer monetisation.

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