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The power of the subscription model

Publishers aren’t making enough money on ads alone. So far this year, Medium announced that it will get rid of its native ad sales team to focus on subscribers. Meanwhile, the New York Times in its 2020 report calls itself “a subscription-first business,” saying it stays away from “trying to maximize clicks and sell low-margin advertising against them.”

With programmatic vendors and inventory challenging direct-to-publisher dollars as well as advertiser metrics that demand publishers write stories that scale—aka clickbait and sensational content—in order to make ends meet, publishers are recognizing the power of consumer-funded models. For those still building that paywall, here are some subscription models to look to for inspiration.

Grant unique access

The Young Turks knew it was leaving money on the table the day one of its readers offered to take staffers on a white water rafting trip. The man, a doctor, felt like a lone Democrat in California’s deeply Republican Central Valley. The left-leaning video publisher became a lifeline. Soon after, a subscription service was born.

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