Insider revises subscription strategy amid recession fears

Insider plans to restructure its newsroom to bring more content in front of its paywall, Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s global editor, told Axios. About 60 paying writers are expected to have their work moved past the publication’s paywall.

The big picture: These measures are part of a broader effort to anticipate any economic crisis in the months to come.

  • “Is it a coincidence that it’s time to make this call before a new year after a budget season? No, it’s not a coincidence,” Carlson said, noting Insider’s long history of pivoting. “That’s how resilient we have been for the past 15 years.”
  • The company, like most players in the media industry, is feeling the impact of a broader slowdown in the advertising market, he added. The new moves will help create more traffic, and therefore more inventory to sell ads.

Details: The changes will shift Insider’s strategy to focus its subscriber-only stories more closely on exclusives about big-name companies and people, as well as challenging content around career growth and personal finance.

  • “[I]If you have juicy, compelling details about someone who has a big name or really matters to a lot of people, they’ll give us their credit card information,” Carlson said.
  • Ambitious content, or “recipes for success,” as Carlson calls it, continues to help sell new subscriptions. “It’s journalism for people who are looking for financial independence, who have alternative careers in mind, who are entrepreneurial,” Carlson said.

To note : Journalists affected by the change were told there were jobs available for them in front of the paywall, and if they did not want to switch roles, they would be eligible for severance pay.

In front of the paywall, Insider will focus more on explanatory journalism, like stories that help readers digest key business trends.

  • “This stuff isn’t generating new subs for us as much as we’d hoped, or even, it’s not really one of them,” Carlson said. “So we’re like, hey, put this in front of the paywall and let millions more people read it.”
  • Carlson said that over time, Insider changed its subscription strategy to focus less on business reports and “more like a general news publication for enterprising people” who want to read exclusive stories with details. that they will not find elsewhere. “We’ve seen this thing really push subs.”

The big picture: Making these changes will help the company grow its subscription business over the long term, Carlson said.

  • “We believe this is a way to have a better and healthier subscription business for the next 10 years,” he said. “[T]it’s more about putting ourselves in a position to continue to invest in the subscription business, having figured out after five years, what really drives it and doubling that.”

By the numbers: Last year, Insider CEO and Founder Henry Blodget told Axios: “Internally, the goal over the next 5 years is to reach 1 billion people online per month, to have a million subscribers and a thousand journalists.”

  • In May, the company said it had about 350,000 subscriptions, up from 250,000 at the start of 2021, per Press Gazette.
  • In October last year, subscription revenue made up about 50% of Insider’s business, including its premium intelligence business.

What to watch: About 300 people in the Insider newsroom are represented by New York’s NewsGuild.

  • Management will have to inform the union of the changes. Department heads were informed from last Friday of the changes.

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