The FT’s secret weapon is data
Lauren Indvik of Mashable writes Tuesday about The Financial Times, which is growing its online and digital presence by closing watching the numbers.
Indvik writes, “The FT was well ahead of this trend, introducing a metered access model in 2007. Today, subscriptions make up more than half of the FT Group’s revenue, while advertising only accounts for 39%, down from 52% in 2008. At the FT specifically, advertising once made up as much as 70% of yearly revenue. This year, the paper expects to generate more money from subscriptions than from advertising.
“‘That’s a big deal in the transformation of our business model,’ John Ridding, CEO of the FT, said in a sit-down interview at Pearson’s U.S. headquarters last month. Ridding joined the FT from the editorial side, reporting abroad from Paris and Korea before taking on a series of executive positions, including editor and publisher of FT Asia. He was named chief executive of the paper in 2006, assuming the CEO role of the entire FT Group for the first time this month.
“I asked Ridding how the FT was able to increase its subscriber levels by more than a quarter in the last five years. ‘It’s sort of a combination of art and science,’ he says. ‘Five or six years ago we started a new media model, charging for access through a metered system. When we started doing that, it was primarily to build a revenue stream online, but probably what was more important over time was the data and customer insight that that gave us. That’s what transformed the business,’ he says.
“Looking through some of the reader data — the FT‘s data team now numbers more than 30 across three groups — the FT was able to recognize the kinds of patterns readers display before purchasing subscriptions. ‘We would see the sort of articles they were reading and the frequency they were reading those articles, for instance, and we began to map those,’ Ridding explains. ‘People do behave in predictable ways.'”
Read more here.