Examining the FT’s new digital strategy
Ken Doctor writes for Nieman Journalism Lab about the change in the paywall strategy for the Financial Times website.
Doctor writes, “In the U.S. — which became its largest market a few years ago, surpassing the U.K. — FT.com ranks #44, with 804,000 uniques. Topping the comScore list are three big free business news sites — Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and Forbes — and re-energized, free offerings like the new Bloomberg.com intensify the battle for readers.
“Why does the FT rank so low? Understandably, it’s favored revenue and profit over audience growth. While its paywall is metered, it’s a tough one to sample. I’ve seen up to eight monthly articles offered — with registration — and then repeated log-in requests as browsers run across an FT article on Twitter or elsewhere.
“Consequently, the FT is opening up — adopting a $1 (or €1 or £1) one-month trial strategy, one. (Ironically, a similar model has been tested by numerous Press+ customers, after it — now bought and merged with Piano Media — modeled its own meter on the FT’s.) Having well transitioned many of its print readers to digital and harvested a good number of new ones — 20 percent of all new FT signups now happen on smartphones, a remarkable number for a news organization — it feels the need to reach a new, wider market of readers and would-be subscribers.
“‘Where do we go next?’ is the question that the FT is now answering anew. As one three-year plan is completes, a new plan moves forward. ‘You can’t stand still,’ FT CEO John Ridding told me in an interview this week. ‘We are rethinking key elements again.’ It’s a good time for the FT to renew itself. Ridding says that the FT has tripled its profits year over year — a significant achievement for a newspaper industry in today’s frosty legacy publishing climate.”
Read more here.