Google News Initiative APAC Subscriptions Lab Town Hall

Just another WordPress site

Google News Initiative APAC Subscriptions Lab Town Hall

SHEENA BHALLA: Welcome, everyone And a very, very warm welcome to you for the GNI subscriptions APAC Town Hall My name is Sheena, and I manage the strategy and operations for the Google News Initiative in Asia-Pacific, leading programs like data and subscription lab And we’re hosting this town hall today to sort of go more into detail about the subscription lab, what it entails, and how can you participate and apply I’m also joined here by our very esteemed colleagues, here So Brian Connolly, who is joining us from “Buffalo News.” He is the Vice President of Innovation and Business Development and was one of the participating publishers when we launched the lab in North America We also have here, Pete Doucette, who is from FTI Consulting, our strategic partners for the lab, and the managing director for FTI, who also led the lab in North America And finally, Justin [INAUDIBLE] who also will say hi, is also the managing director at FDI, and will be leading the program in APAC So we launched the program a week and a half, two weeks ago at the WAN-IFRA Asia media leaders summit And we sort of got a set of questions So I think this is the right time for us to be diving deep into what the lab would entail So I would highly recommend all of you, as you go through the town hall today, to type in all your questions, think through all the queries that you have into the YouTube chat window, so that we can address them later on in the call And to just quickly go over the agenda, we’ll be covering the program overview, how it has impacted partners, but also the kind of impact we’re looking for working with publishers in APAC We’ll also be going through the criteria What are some of the commitments that are required to both apply as well as go through the lab? And finally, we’ll be taking, opening up the floor for a Q&A and taking questions directly from you So without further ado– and when we go into the program details, I just wanted to set the context of why we are doing, or why Google is focusing on a subscription lab And the Google News Initiative, we launched it in 2018, is our initiative to bring together 15 years of commitment that we’ve had across our products, partnerships, and programs And it’s centered around three key areas– elevating quality journalism and strengthening and combating misinformation Number two, how do we evolve business models, especially in a world that now has a lot more new realities with remote newsrooms? How do we help, not just as team advertising, but work on new business models? And then, as a technology company, how do we empower newsrooms with cutting-edge technology across their operations, but also their new products? So the subscription lab is primarily focused on pillar number two, which is evolving business models And this is definitely top-of-the-mind for our partners in APAC as we see new paywalls launching And so I will hand it over to Pete, who will talk about the lab itself and what it entails Over to you, Pete PETE DOUCETTE: Great Thanks, Sheena So I’m going to go quickly and just do a little bit of a program overview But first, I just want to recognize the program stakeholders So Sheena just kind of talked about the Google News

Initiative and gave you some context about why they’re looking to support the subscription lab and APAC WAN-IFRA, who’s a media association, and who many of you know really well as a key partner in this and helping us bring the lab to the Asia-Pacific region and working with partners in kind of building out the program, and then FTI Consulting, which I work for, Justin works for It’s a global management consulting firm, and we work with a lot of news publishers around the world So we’re excited to bring this project to APAC So those are the key stakeholders But what I really want to do is just give you a little bit of context of the overview of the program And so in terms of objective, we want to bring together a group of news publishers who are really focused on building digital subscription business, and help them build that engine that will be a growth driver for their businesses So that’s really important when we think about it from an objective perspective And then, how do we do that? We create this lab, which is, it’s an ambitious four-month experience where we work individually and come together And we really think about what it takes to be good at digital subscriptions And we address all those kind of steps on that journey So that’s kind of what the program encompasses in a nutshell And then, so from a publisher perspective, what can they expect if they’re going to participate in the subscription lab? And so they’ll get support from the FTI team, and from the Google team, and from WAN-IFRA And we’ll get one-on-one support to help them on this digital subscription journey And they’ll also be part of a group where they can share the successes within the lab cohort And then, also, think about all the learnings and insights, all the things that we do work individually with publishers, but also collectively we’re trying to share learnings and best practices with the industry So this is a quick program overview And then, when we think about, so what do you get out of the program? What are the outcomes? There’s really two key areas that we think about for outcomes The first is business performance So when you look at the results, where are you going to see results? Where are you going to see impact? The first area is around digital subscriptions in terms of revenue and growth And then, also, it’s going a level deeper than that, which is all the key metrics in the subscription funnel and all the key component pieces that publishers need to be successful with digital subscription So we’ll go through those Business performance outcomes But equally important, I think, is around capabilities in helping publishers be successful implementing some of the recommendations that come out throughout the lab And part of that is a process of test and learn and experimentation So focus on the outcomes, but focus just as much on the building capabilities so that you can build your digital subscription business successfully for the long run Those are kind of the key fundamentals in terms of outcomes And then, the way that we do that is through three key phases And I’ll just touch on them quickly The first is what we call discovery And that’s really where, just to put into context, where you are as a publisher And we call it a maturity curve, so how far along your journey of digital subscriptions you are So we’ll focus on that and help you kind of size the opportunity And then we’ll work with you to build a roadmap, which is the plan to identify tactics and opportunities to build and scale your reader revenue model And then kind of how that all happens is that iterative process that I mentioned in terms of experimentation So build plans, test, learn, and continue to iterate, to grow So those are the high-level phases that we use within the lab to kind of build towards those key outcomes

And then, so now, thinking about it, if I’m a publisher and I want to understand what does it mean for me to participate in the lab, these are the things that we think are really important for publishers who are in the lab to be prepared for And this is what success looks like So first is digital subscriptions is a strategic priority So it’s really important to be committed to having digital subscriptions is really an important driver for your news business going forward So that’s one The second one is around buy-in for senior management So you have it as a priority and you have the support of senior management, which is really critical And we’ve seen that in other work that we’ve done with publishers The third one is around operationally committed to it So that means have the mechanics, and the process, and the things to execute on a lot of the plans and initiatives that we’ll do individually and collectively within the lab And then the last one, I would say, which is really important and something that we’re really passionate about is, willingness to share in the insights that come out of the lab experience and share those with the broader news ecosystem So we’re trying to build case studies and best practices so that we can share with the industry to make a sizable impact on news sustainability So that’s how you can think about it as a publisher And you can also think about it from a timeline perspective, just to kind of level set what it looks like So it’s designed to be, as Sheena mentioned, it launched about two weeks ago, in terms of the announcement We’re here at the town hall today The application process is opening Within the next few weeks, we’ll do the selection And then, we’ll get right into building out the analysis and publisher workshops We’ll have individual meetings, group meetings, and then we’ll progress into the experiment phase towards the end of the year where we wrap up, as a lab we wrap up collectively And then we’re looking to build what we call publisher boot camps, which are broader meetings to bring in more publishers, even those outside of the lab, to share those best practices and share those learnings and insights So that’s just to help you frame it in your mind from a time perspective And now, I’m going to talk a little bit about program impact and some of the things that we learned and what we saw in the North American subs lab So I’m going to turn it over to my colleague Justin [? Eisenman, ?] who will take you through the program impact from North America JUSTIN: Thanks, Pete So the North American subs lab was a lab sponsored by GNI that began in May of last year, in 2019 And it was with 10 different publishers in North America various sizes So you can see them on the screen You had “Baltimore Sun,” the “Toronto Star,” and some larger publishers You had some more in the middle size– “Buffalo News,” “Columbus Dispatch.” You also had some smaller publishers with lower overall audience size So we had a mix of different types of news publishers in the lab After May, we were with publishers, and that lab ran throughout 2019 Within just six months, we saw some incredible results from the publishers And it was pretty consistent throughout all 10 of these publishers So from a financial impact perspective, within just six months, we saw a $7.8 million incremental customer lifetime value per year just from digital subscriptions That was driven both by volume and rate improvements With 55% increase in digital subscribers year-over-year on average across these 10 publishers That increase in volume of digital subscriptions actually hit the bottom line in terms of growth and average monthly consumer revenue So 43% in terms of average monthly consumer revenue growth across the cohort of different publishers And then, in terms of velocity of new starts, we saw an increase of 59% in new monthly subscriber starts And it wasn’t just new volume coming in, it was better retention So on average, we saw a nearly 20% improvement in retention with lower churn, subscriber churn

So really strong impact we saw mathematically, and we saw it pretty quickly So I’m going to actually pass it back over to Pete, who’s going to have a discussion with our colleague Brian from the “Buffalo News,” who’s going to share his experiences PETE DOUCETTE: Thanks, Justin So I want to introduce my colleague and good friend Brian Connolly from the “Buffalo News.” So we thought it would be important to have an actual publisher who went through a lab share of some of the learnings and insights and what that experience was like with you, so you could get a good sense of it So Brian, why don’t you say hello and just tell us a little bit about yourself? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Sure So I had the pleasure of going through the subscription lab as the “Buffalo News” lead on digital subscription So April 2019, when the North American lab was announced, I was the guy filling out the application I was the guy sort of rallying the troops in Buffalo once we got into actually make the most out of the program Just a little bit of background on the “Buffalo News.” We’re a daily news operation in Buffalo, New York, upstate New York, right on the Canadian border And we were owned from 1977 until actually just a couple of months ago, we were owned by Warren Buffett We were a standalone property, basically operating as an independent paper, which, I would say, left us with the will to understand the digital subscription business, but not the way We were really left on our own as an independent to try to figure out, really, both the business objectives and the capabilities that Pete talked about And we’ve had tremendous success through the subscription lab on both counts So everything from getting the strategic focus we needed to getting some success on some tactics, to actually get some immediate results But probably most importantly, to build the capabilities that set us up, I think, for long-term success And so Pete and I can talk a little bit more about the specifics of how we got there, but for us, it was a huge game-changing experience for the entire organization So we were actually sold by Warren Buffett to Lee Enterprises, a company with about 77 properties across United States, just a few months ago Digital subscriptions are also an important part of their revenue mix And so now we’ve been able to take what we learned through the subscription lab and share that with our colleagues at some major papers throughout the United States And so those learnings are now sort of being paid forward PETE DOUCETTE: Thanks, Brian And so Brian, quick question So what is it like from an experience perspective to go through the lab? So I am sure you had some ideas of it when you’re applying, but you don’t really know what it’s like So what is it like for a publisher to go through the lab? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Well, so pre-lab, I would describe us as wandering through the darkness, because we were a very print-centric organization Our revenue was very print-centric So we had no idea where to even begin on building a digital subscription business And we were many months into trying to figure that out So as soon as we began the lab, it went from us trying to figure it out on our own to having experts come in and say, here’s what you need to do And not just, here’s a generic playbook that you need to do, but actually sit down with us as a publisher, get to know our organization, get to know our strengths and weaknesses, have some very blunt and sometimes hard-to-hear conversations about where our gaps were, and then figure out where we were going to start At the beginning, it felt very overwhelming We felt like we were so far behind that maybe the situation was hopeless But it’s a great credit, really, to the Google and FTI teams where I’d say that they don’t see any patient as a lost cause And thank goodness, because for us, we were able to notch some pretty big wins in a pretty short period of time, which I’m sure was part of the secret recipe from FTI and Google

And once we saw those wins, I’ll tell you that we saw a lot of people across the organization– and I’ll say it again– a very print-centric organization We saw a lot of people become believers in how this could become meaningful revenue You saw on the slide, or you see on the side there for us, those are percentage gains, which all of us that work in the journalism industry can be skeptical of that I’ll tell you, it’s meaningful revenue It was meaningful enough for our publisher to go from, I would say, a little bit skeptical about where digital subscription revenue fit into the mix into a true believer And I’ll also say that we’ve been out of the lab for several months now, that momentum has continued And it’s because of the strategic focus that the whole organization got We did not have that before And it’s also because of the capabilities that we built We were able to build it the right way because we were listening to experts who knew how to build this business And so we still see the returns from the work that we did PETE DOUCETTE: That’s awesome, and really helpful, Brian Thanks And so it sounds like you do a lot of strategy work, working with the team, and you’re doing that hard work that you describe Could you talk a little bit about what it was like, also, to work within a group of other publishers, like, kind of the cohort dynamic? So the individual work for this kind of group-based work? BRIAN CONNOLLY: So there are a couple of benefits there One is you don’t waste your time spinning wheels on things that are going to be fruitless, because the beauty of the cohort, as Justin said, it was different-sized publishers, it was also publishers who were at different stages of the business We were lagging behind a lot of the other publishers And so that was good, because we had some really good peer examples that we could learn from But at the same time, I would say, even those of us who were, maybe, earlier in the evolution of our business, I think we’re able to maybe be a little bit more experimental And in that sense, we were even able to help some of the publishers who were further along One thing I would say, as an aside, is that no matter where you are, where you think you might be, in terms your evolution– for us, we were beginners I’m comfortable saying that But not everybody in the lab was And it seemed to me like everybody was getting a lot out of it That approach that FTI and Google takes is really to customize the work they do with each individual publisher But then, there are obviously common themes that apply to everybody So the first, so just going back to your question, I mean, first of all, you can learn a lot from the others Whether it’s how they approach building the strategy or what tactics work But then, there’s also always very– especially in our business where there can tend to be sometimes a lot of doom and gloom, there’s a real value in having the peer support And also, the lasting network where you can reach out at any time, on a one-to-one basis, asking people, picking their brains, and tapping into their knowledge PETE DOUCETTE: Awesome So I’m also interested in hearing how it was operationally to be a participant in the lab, in terms of commitments, and time, and team I mean, I’m sure you hadn’t done this before, so you didn’t probably know how to structure that, but can you talk a little bit about that? So what it’s like to get the most out of it in terms of process, and team, and time commitments, and how you can kind of fit that into your day job BRIAN CONNOLLY: Sure Yeah, well, for us, we were sort of driving the car while building it at the same time So we knew going into we didn’t have all the resources in place to really, probably, to get the most out of the program I think by the end of the program, we were a lot closer to that And frankly, we asked the question of you, Pete, and Justin, and the Google folks, of, well, what do we need? What people do we need? What tech do we need? And so that was helpful But it really, for our team, consisted of the consumer revenue folks, technology, and editorial, as well as senior leadership I mean, our publisher was in virtually all of the meetings that we had with the sub lab,

including traveling around the country to the cohort meetings PETE DOUCETTE: There’s no travel anymore, Brian BRIAN CONNOLLY: I know, I know, back when there were these things called hotels that you would go to and then you might gather in person PETE DOUCETTE: Do you think that was important to [INAUDIBLE]?? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Well, to go back to– PETE DOUCETTE: Not the travel, the publisher involvement BRIAN CONNOLLY: It was huge Because our publisher began as doing it, I think, because he knew intellectually that digital subscriptions were important, but he didn’t understand He didn’t quite see the path to it being part of long-term sustainability And he had an epiphany And it actually came through on-site workshops, in particular, some of the modeling exercises that we ran through at the Google campus in Boston And so yeah, I mean, it wasn’t– it sort of began as, OK, I need to be engaged, I get it And then it became, we couldn’t get him to focus on anything other than digital subscriptions because he started to really understand how it was a path forward And sometimes that is hard for people who are so close to the financials and the day-to-day, and also been in the industry so long, tough to see So that was huge But I would just say, we also made a big deal of this to the whole organization Everybody, when we were having our meeting with everybody from production, circulation, people who were in very print-centric departments, we were explaining to them that we were in this lab, what the lab was all about, and giving them updates We meet as a company on a regular basis, and every one of those meetings included some form of an update on our digital subscription progress and our connection to the lab And the last thing I’ll say is, just for our organization, just knowing that we were working with Google, somebody who, obviously, everybody understands they know what they’re doing in this space We’re legacy, they aren’t And there’s a lot that we can learn there That was huge That was a huge lift to everyone’s psyche And there was a tremendous level of trust there Trust that, in my opinion, was totally borne out to be, for Google to be worthy of because they were tremendous partners PETE DOUCETTE: That’s great to hear And I guess the last question, Brian, is, I mean, I’m looking at the screen and I’m looking at the numbers A lot of tremendous growth across all these different component pieces I guess, can you describe how it went from– you talked about the strategy, and the roadmap, and things like that, but then it translates into real tactical improvements And you said, I think you described them as material and meaningful So how does it go from the 25,000-foot level to the 5,000-foot level? How does that all work together? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Well, one of my favorite examples is our email newsletter program So we had launched the editorial daily headlines newsletter Very common tactic for getting people to the top of the funnel, as well as engaging subscribers And we had launched it using an old list from a previous effort at newsletters, and it was around, it started to launch at maybe, like, 10,000 subscribers And we promoted the heck out of it And we ran TV ads, and radio ads, and we did house ads in the paper, promo ads And we maybe got it up to 12,000 from 10,000 And that was over the course of many, many months Then, we started the subscription lab and just a very simple tactic of doing a modal So the first time people visit Buffalonews.com, our main website, they get the modal asking, do they want to sign up? And our sign-ups went through the roof And that list is now approaching 90,000 subscribers It’s a very healthy list Our open rate has actually gone up as the list has gotten bigger, and is our number two conversion source after the paywall itself so Everyone talks about the paywall What are you doing with your paywall? What’s your number at? All that Very important That’s all discussed throughout the program Newsletters are, for us, just as effective I’ll also say, because I’d be remiss if I didn’t, that ARPU, so actually what we’re actually asking people to pay us, we went through price increases during the program

We were already planning on doing price increases And so we tapped into the knowledge of FTI and Google for advice on how to handle price increases We ended up being much more aggressive on our digital pricing than we would have been otherwise And that aggressiveness was rewarded with very high retention rates And we now look at in ARPU that we’re very, very, very proud of We were fearful what’s going to happen when you do some of the price increases that we did, but we put out a good product And the expertise of FTI and Google said, trust that your product is worth it and that people will pay for it, and they have In terms of overall revenue– Justin alluded to this– we’ve seen great volume growth, but at the same time, our retention has gotten better and really important, our ARPU is much higher And so now you put those three things together, and that’s were, all of a sudden, it adds up to a really meaningful revenue PETE DOUCETTE: Yeah, so ARPU, Average Revenue Per User, critical lever And so you talked a little bit you got the confidence through the program to be experimental there and to figure out how to drive revenue, both volume and end rate, so I think that’s important So I just was looking at the numbers here I think we talked about most of them, except maybe– can you just talk a little bit about subscriber penetration and what that means just so folks understand? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Sure So of our overall audience, how many of them are our subscribers? So it’s, I think, looking at– it’s one of many conversion metrics that we’re looking at, and we were– one of the real basic things that we learned very early on, frankly, before we even had our first session in the subs lab, just when we had the data request, is, are we looking at the metrics that we should be looking at? And so before you start hiring people or investing in marketing technologies or anything like that, you have to have some goals beyond make more money or get more subscribers What are all the numbers, all the metrics that you can try to move that will lead up to those top-level metrics? So subscriber penetration will be an example of that The meter stop rate or the pay stop conversion rate These are all things that are all going to help inform some of the decisions that get talked about a lot, like how many stories on the meter before you force people to hit the paywall? PETE DOUCETTE: Yeah, no, so I think it’s important, to your point, is to understand what you’re solving for, what you’re tracking, and what metrics you want to influence So awesome Brian, thanks for walking through the Buffalo News story with us It was really helpful I think what we’re going to do now is we’re going to go to the Q&A session for the group So I’m going to flip it back to the Sheena, and she’s going to go ahead and lead us through the Q&A SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Pete And Brian, once again, thank you so much for sharing such valuable insights from your experience and also the potential challenges that one can face We’re getting a couple of questions already on the live chat I will also encourage our viewers to go through the chat and pin their questions down there So we’ll just take from the top The first question is from with Utsah Kohli, who is writing in to say, “We are a bespoke Indian digital-only news organization who has started a voluntary subscription process and wanted to know if we would be eligible for this.” Pete, would you like to take that? PETE DOUCETTE: Sure, and so yeah, I think– just to make sure I understand it, so you’re asking people voluntary to subscribe versus putting up a paywall? Yeah, I think– the requirement we have is that a publisher have a digital subscription business in place, which clearly you do And I think we think about it kind of on the maturity curve that we were talking about with Brian, so you might be kind of in the early stages of that So yeah, so I think it would be great for you to go ahead and apply, because we could work with you to move you from step one to step two to step three So it’s a great question SHEENA BHALLA: Thank you, Pete The second question is from Brian

from Tempo Media Group in Indonesia, and the question is, did the GNI Lab build your subscription system as well? I can take that one As Brian mentioned earlier to Brian, we did do an assessment of what the technical infrastructure is or what are the resources required, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we actually helped put technology in place or help you make those decisions as well We are hoping that you already have a subscription paywall in place, and once that is done, we can do a review and give you recommendations, but not actually help you implement the system So anything, Pete or Justin, that you’d like to add? And sorry, the question was from Handy, not from Brian BRIAN CONNOLLY: Yeah, we had lots of instances where we had technology gaps or shortcomings, and there was a lot of guidance on how to fill those gaps And that comes from within the cohort, because you can talk to other publishers about, OK, what platform have you used for paywall, for email newsletter, for your marketing technologies, for your data warehouse, all those things And we were at the stage where we were building up We were starting from scratch with some of that technology, so while the lab will not build it for you, I can tell you that it’s going to save you a lot of time and probably help you avoid mistakes in those really key decisions SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Brian I think you are definitely our most wanted guest here, so the next question is also for you, from Astro AWANI in Malaysia They’re asking, “Could you elaborate on meaningful digital business that you mention?” BRIAN CONNOLLY: Sure, so for us, when we began the lab, digital subscriptions were a six-figure business for us, and they quickly became a seven-figure business and are growing at a really high rate What that meant organizationally is, when we looked at our four main revenue buckets as being print circulation, print advertising, digital advertising, and digital circulation, they probably went in that order, and I would say we ended the program with digital circulation being the number-one priority because of the promise that we had seen from that And frankly, ownership change can change that somewhat It doesn’t make it any– it just changes the priority, but it doesn’t make it any less of a strategic focus for us And actually– and I think I alluded to this maybe a little bit, but as we’ve gone from being an independent to being part of a much larger company, I think that we have been able to share what we’ve learned in the lab because digital subscriptions are a priority for everybody in our business right now It’s just a matter of where each publisher is at understanding One, two, three, four might be different, but it’s a priority for everyone SHEENA BHALLA: Awesome So the next question– I’ll just switch over because it’s asking about the scope of the program itself It’s from CommonWealth Magazine from Taiwan, and they’re asking, how are we adapting the program from North America to APAC? Pete, do you want to take that? PETE DOUCETTE: I’m going to flip that to my colleague Justin, because he’s well-versed and ready to handle that one JUSTIN: Thanks, Pete Sure So a lot of the strategies and tactics that we walked Brian and the other publishers through in North America are applicable in terms of benchmarking and gathering the same types of statistics and benchmarking data points of walking your audience through the consumer funnel However, we’re also doing local market-specific research for each one of the countries that publishers are participating in, so understanding how payment models may differ from country to country or how mobile-heavy certain markets might be versus others So there are certain market-specific factors that we’re going to research and provide as part of the lab

to help influence those strategies and recommendations that we’re going to come back with SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Justin One more question, which has to do with the application as well, but we can take that one first Brian, for you, you mentioned that– Utsah is asking– you mentioned that your subscribers went up from 10,000 to 90,000 How much time– what was the time period for it, and were these sign-ups? BRIAN CONNOLLY: Right, so I should clarify Those are newsletter subscribers, so some of those are also paid subscribers, and that certainly helps on engagement and retention The majority of them are not They are coming to our website, and they are– they might be fly-by They might be regular visitors who are not subscribers, but by getting them onto our email newsletter list, we engage with them seven days a week with a 6:00 AM digest of all the day’s news It skews heavily toward pointing to our content, which obviously drives them to our site They’ll then experience the paywall sooner Actually, I’ll say it doesn’t exclusively point to our site The idea was, build a product that was sort of the go-to source for news in our region And that started as a controversial thing internally, but it turns out to have worked really well as a conversion tool So anyway, that growth– I will say most of that growth happened within the first probably three or four months of putting up the modal But we’ve continued to see really strong growth from that list We’ve actually spun that growth off into other newsletters So that’s our flagship morning newsletter, but we have a couple dozen newsletters Well, we launched a newsletter right at the onset of COVID-19 We seeded it using that list, and we actually saw that COVID list Most people who were getting our morning newsletter wanted that COVID newsletter They did not opt out And then we actually saw that COVID list leapfrog our morning headlines newsletter in terms of subscribers, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that during that same timeframe we’ve experienced our best month on paid digital subscription acquisitions ever by a lot And yes, that first started during the early days of COVID, but we’ve seen that growth continue Even as there are reports of news fatigue or a leveling off, we’ve continued to see really strong growth The newsletters are a huge contributing factor to that Our newsletter program went from stuck in the mud to overdrive during the digital subscription lab, for sure SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Brian And I’m going to lean on you for the next question as well That’s from Handy, and they’re asking, are you retargeting your visitors from the web to be a subscriber using ads? BRIAN CONNOLLY: No, but that’s a tactic I would heartily endorse And I will say, with our move into being part of Lee Enterprises, they bring a lot of skills we didn’t have, a lot of tactical know-how we don’t have, and I think that includes doing some more retargeting But just being honest, we were really focused on acquisitions through the paywall and then by the end the program, through our email campaigns We did some paid social We did not do much retargeting I think it’s a great opportunity, though SHEENA BHALLA: Awesome So just shifting gears, once again, towards the program scope, Pete, both these questions actually are asking complementary things The first one is from Huong saying that we plan to launch a subscription model, but can we still apply? And how will we fill in the information in section two? And the second one from Sandip, who’s asking, is there a minimum period of paywall that would be preferable for this program? So Pete? PETE DOUCETTE: Yeah, sure So I think, on the first one, we are asking publishers to have an existing digital subscription model in place, because we think that’s important, because you’re already at, I guess, one point in the maturity curve, and you’re

able to participate within the lab, in the cohort, and share practices and learnings within that And then in terms of the point about how long you have it in place, there is no magic number Clearly, recognizing that– for some publishers, it’s still relatively recent, so the period would be relatively short For some, they may have been at this two or three years When we did the North American lab, I think that the shortest one we had was about nine months, that launched in nine months, and the longest one was probably about seven or eight years So it varies, and what I would say is all publishers– and I think Brian made this point earlier– regardless of where they are on the maturity, can participate, and learn, and get a lot out of the program So there’s no magic in terms of duration, but it’s just– you got to take that step forward and be on that path of digital subscription SHEENA BHALLA: And if I could add one more thing to that, we are very, very cognizant of the fact that a lot of the APAC publishers who are [INAUDIBLE] well are pretty early on in their journey for subscription, so I would just encourage you to apply And as soon as you get the application, it gives us more space to understand where you are at And if we have follow-up questions, we can take it from there So first, please do apply We’re coming into closing our Q&A session, and so I’ll give the folks viewing this call today some more time to think through questions But we did receive a lot of FAQs through the application process as well, and one of the common ones that we received was concerns around sharing of data and what it would entail from the usage of data for the lab’s purposes So I think that would be a good one to tackle, Pete Am I required to share data as part of the lab, and what does it actually entail? PETE DOUCETTE: Sure So yeah, we do a process which is called a data request So we ask publishers to fill out some data so we can get some background data in terms of performance, and subscription metrics, et cetera And so I think it’s important to understand that the data is provided from the publisher to FTI, and so we house your data securely And so there’s a direct relationship between the publisher and FTI And so what I would say is, we don’t share any of your data with– we don’t share any of your data without your explicit permission When we do some benchmarking across the key metrics within the lab, it’s good to see– it’s good for you and good for others to see where they are on a relative basis, and so we encourage publishers to share certain metrics so that we can benchmark them, not like confidential metrics, but like subscription-related metrics And so in the North American lab, we started that benchmarking process, doing it anonymized and so we would do the benchmarking, but you wouldn’t know which publisher was which And then over time, as the confidence grew in the program and the comfort level of publishers, they ended up un-anonymizing it so everyone kind of knew where they stood So it’s a long-winded answer to say, yes, sharing data is an important part You get the most out of it, but your data is secure And then we can use that data to help tell the story both of you and of publishers [INAUDIBLE] So it’s an important part, and we have a very rigorous process to keep your data safe SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Pete We do have an additional question on the chat window from the Utsah again, and he’s asking if there is a certain investment commitment that we need to do for this program to actually see the results Either Pete or Justin, would you like to take that question? PETE DOUCETTE: Justin, do you want to take that one? JUSTIN: Yeah, sure So in terms of investment commitment from a dollar perspective, absolutely not, but in terms of investment from a time commitment, certainly from a data request standpoint, most of what we ask– we’ll try to make it as easy as possible to walk you through the data request and make it easy to fill those out And then additionally, we’ll have

a few different individual one-on-one meetings with you where we’ll go through your data and your strategies to help develop your individualized roadmap And we’ll also have cohort meetings where we’d ask that you participate And those will be about two-to-four-hour sessions, depending on what type of session, whether an individualized or cohort group session So certainly a time commitment once a week or once every other week in terms of meetings, as well as a time commitment to provide the data But we work through with you carefully to try to ease that burden in terms of providing information to us SHEENA BHALLA: Thanks, Justin And I think as we start to close things off, I think this was a very common question from our applicants as well was whether the program’s instruction is going to be in English, and what is the recommended team composition for participation? So Pete, it’d be great if you could cover that PETE DOUCETTE: Sure So in terms of the first one, I think for the program, a lot of the meetings will be held in English, and so publishers that have English as a business language I think is an important piece so that you can participate in all the different sessions I think we’re also looking at possibly a native language lab where we have a group of publishers with the same language so that they can share, so we’re also trying to find ways of both working individually with the publishers but also with the cohorts so they can kind share back and forth So that’s part of the rationale on why a lot of the program will be done in English And then the second question around recommended team is one we’ve certainly got a lot, and it’s a hard one to answer because all publishers are a little bit different And so I think in our FAQs we have some guidelines of– there’s a person who’s in charge of subscriptions like marketing I know Brian had mentioned from tech, in newsroom And so I don’t know if there is an ideal team structure, but you do need a bit of a cross-functional team of all the groups that kind of touch digital subscriptions in a way So I think about it almost like from a responsibility or capabilities perspective So if you think about all the components of subscriptions and what goes into that And then within your organization, what does that look like? And we can help you to structure that So we do have some initial guidelines, but what I would say is, when it goes through the process, we can help you figure out what the best team looks like So I wouldn’t think about that as a barrier but just something to kind of work through in the process SHEENA BHALLA: Awesome And with that, I’d like to conclude our Town Hall today Thank you so much to our viewers who are joining us, but mostly thank you to the three panelists who are dialing in at 2:00 AM from the United States So thank you, Pete, Brian, and Justin, and Brian especially for all the insights that you brought to us in the region I think it’s really, really helpful For the viewers, we will be sending this video out to you if you have signed up for our mailing list, but it will also be available at this link I would highly encourage– while I know journalists are very keen on applying right at the dot before a deadline, I’d really encourage you to get on with the applications as soon as possible so if there are any follow-up questions, we can help answer that You can take a picture of the QR code on the screen, or there is a link for applying in the description for this video Once again, thank you so much There are numerous spots, so I’ll also encourage you to share this with folks in other businesses if you think they’re the right applicant And once again, have a great week, and we look forward to your applications PETE DOUCETTE: Thanks, everybody Thanks for joining JUSTIN: Thank you