For The Economist, as print ad revenues have fallen and digital ad revenues haven’t plugged the gap, the focus has been on increasing profitability by growing digital subscriptions.
That means The Economist is very clear about what it wants out of platforms: to reach non-subscribers and give them samples of Economist content to eventually turn into more subscribers. Over the year, it has grown social media followers by 25 percent to now reach 44 million across platforms, mostly Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. It has seen a surge of subscribers, first after Brexit and more recently after Donald Trump’s election. In the last year, digital subs have grown by nearly 14 percent from 303,500 to 345,500. (The Economist’s overall subscription base is 1.5 million.)
“We’re constantly debating how much content to give away,” said Michael Brunt, The Economist’s CMO and managing director of circulation. “If you’re too generous, there’s no point in subscribing. We have the other view: We are generous; we work hard to distribute content on many platforms to give a flavor.”