Paid content models and valuable local news are currently very popular among publishers. An outstanding example is Stampen Media AB. In 2017, the Swedish media company launched a new data-driven initiative based on the lean start-up method, with the help of our exhibitor MWM Group. The result is impressive: In just four months after launching their main title, there were 30,000 digital subscribers in total. We reveal how Stampen Media AB proceeded and what other content producers could learn from it about their readers.
The Swedish media group Stampen – including six daily newspapers and an outdoor media company, print houses and a distribution network – looks back on turbulent years. After a debt crisis, a comprehensive restructuring process started in 2016 which led to a successful outcome. Today, the news media part of the group has around 440 employees and a considerable 1.3 billion Swedish krona turnover, which is equivalent to about 125 million euros.
"When we started going into digital subscription and focus on reader revenues, we had to change fast” says Andreas Klarén, Chief Technical Officer at Stampen Media AB. "But at first we did not really have any idea what content people would pay for."
When timing is right – run!
The challenges were similar to those facing many media companies: circulation and turnover from the newspaper business were declining and ad revenues not offsetting the decline. Readers were increasingly consuming their information digitally and mobile. Also, five to ten years ago more or less all paid content approaches had failed. “We followed the development carefully and we saw things really started to change in 2016 when more and more publishers were successful.” So why not go this way? That’s when Stampen adjusted their strategy in this direction. “To manage and run a successful business attracting new subscribers and making them stay requires a data-driven organisation in all areas – product, editorial and marketing, and also cross functional teams putting different skills together," emphasises Andreas Klarén, who was responsible for the new data project at Stampen that started in May 2017. “We managed to put this together quite good launching our different titles with very few resources and in a tight schedule using a step by step approach”.
Stampen launched digital subscriptions and paid content for their first two local titles in June 2017, two others in August, one in September and then their flagship title – the regional newspaper Göteborgs-Posten – at the end of November. Four months after their launch was fully executed, they had more than 30,000 digital subscribers signing up to their paid content campaign initiative and having their digital only subscribers representing 16 percent of the total customer base.