Moderator: Robert Andrews, Senior Editor, International, paidContent/GigaOM:
Thomas Bella, CEO,Piano Media: sets up paywall for two countries in Europe. When pay get premium content for all other newspapers they handle. Created to lower the barrier to payment. Split revenue with producers based on where the payment was made and what the user looked at. Like cable TV in the US. They make 30% and rest goes to publishers. Have about 1% on online users in Slovakia. When put in paywall did not see users decline. Found that even those who don’t want to pay will stay on the site and look at something else. Trick is to provide other good content to keep them on the site. Managed to pull competing publishers into one system. Finding that people are willing to pay the price and are even are pay extra to share the content with others.
Rob Grimshaw, Managing Director, FT.com: 285,000 subscribers. Mobile has been a big contributor to subscriber increase, however, it has been on the rise from the very beginning. Took a lot of learning and experimenting. Had to learn how to be a B to C business. The number of free articles, which started at 30, was a big initial driver but had no problems with reducing the number of articles along the way. It brings in the first opening with the reader. Have about 30 million registered users. Also helps with advertisers because the users have to register. Direct relationship we develop with the users increases the value of the core. Coming close to the point where they will have more digital subscribers than print. Don’t know why they were afraid that people won’t pay for content – if they pay for ringtones they will pay for anything. Increasing pricing and now people paying almost the same price as for print. Found that as long as the quality is good people will pay for it. Planning to move the content off site so readers can read content on Facebook, Flipboard, etc. If you paid for it you decide where you read your content. Negotiations with Apple didn’t go that well. Felt that Apple’s terms were detrimental to the business – too much of a revenue share and having a middleman to get in the way. Were able to replicate everything they had in the app in the browser. Audience expanded after introduced the web app – far more than downloaded iPad and iPhone app combined. Much easier to get traffic then on the App Store. Feel that they have the levers in their own hands now. Apple model working for Apple, but not working for publishers. Think that publishers have underestimated the value of their own brands. Don’t need Apple for this. A lot of their success has been through innovation and willing to explore new things and it is crucial that this continue in the future. Thinks that publishers should go the web app route, but a lot of publishers still trying to get their heads around it and don’t see too many of them doing it.