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#2. Learn from Público’s visibility strategy to increase conversions, balance page-views, ads & subs, and 50 paywall benchmark examples

You're reading The Audiencers' newsletter #2, sent out on November 9th, 2022.  To receive future newsletters straight to your inbox every two weeks, sign up here.

Alexa, play ‘With a little help from my friends’

With the current economic difficulties faced by populations across the world, many publishers feel like they’re ‘fighting’ against each other for their share of consumer’s monthly spend. But this clouds the potential that we have in the industry to learn from one another. To share insights, effective strategies, successful tests, and even things that didn’t work so well.

This is part of what The Audiencers stands for.

We’d like to build a community of sharing within the industry, to support you, your business and the industry as a whole in better engaging, converting & retaining your audiences.

In a Beetles remix, you’ll succeed in these areas with a little help from your friends.

On the agenda for Newsletter #2, the focus is definitely about learning from others…

  • Operations: An analysis of how Público increase subscription conversion rates with high premium content & paywall visibility rates
  • Inspirations: How do you increase subscriber acquisition without interfering with ad sales income or compromising on page view KPI? Denmark’s largest media publishing company, Ekstra Bladet, have put data-driven pop-ups to use in solving this challenge
  • Benchmark: 50 paywall examples from around the world to inspire your own subscription model
    Recommendations to add to your reading list: from The Audiencers and friends
  • Recommendations to add to your reading list: from The Audiencers and friends 


Visibility: the 2 often-forgotten but essential metrics for your subscription strategy

Conversion rate is often placed as the north star KPI for subscription acquisition teams. But what this metric doesn’t take into account is the all important steps prior to the paywall.

Steps 2 & 3 of this framework involve the visibility of your premium offer and paywall.

Premium offer visibility: The percentage of users on your site who visit a premium content and have the potential of being exposed to the paywall

Paywall visibility rate: The percentage of users who visit premium content and also see the paywall.

To give you an idea, I wanted to analyze Público’s website, a brilliant example of these KPIs in action (I don’t know anyone from their team but congratulations to them for this impressive work!)

  • Arriving on the homepage

We’re immediately exposed to a variety of subscription offer promotions. A closable banner shares the product value proposition (“History is written every day”), followed by various headlines being typed out, representing & reinforcing the meaning of this value proposition. A subscription button is also placed in the top menu, always visible on-screen, even after scrolling down the page.

The same color is used in both cases, making this representative of Público’s premium offer.

  • Scrolling down the homepage

Tags are placed on premium content (in the same yellow) marking them as “Exclusive” and reserved for subscribers only. In total, the homepage includes 44 premium articles out of a total of 100 – i.e. 44% of articles are subscriber-only, significantly increasing the number of users who will move from step 2 to 3 and be exposed to the paywall.

In a Poool study analyzing the content strategy of 75 digital publishers, we discovered a correlation between traffic on premium content and the reader-to-subscriber conversion rate.

This suggests that by increasing the visibility of premium content, and thus the number of visits to paid content, you’ll increase the number of conversions. However, this correlation is only true up to 40% visibility, so any higher % than this may simply increase user frustration. Público’s visibility rate therefore seems ideal.

Of course, every publisher is unique, so we’d recommend aiming for 10-40% visibility rate and testing from there.

  • Clicking on a premium content

We’re again reminded that this article is premium thanks to a small yellow banner above the headline which includes a “Subscribe now” button. Subscribing is easily accessible to readers at all times.

  • Scrolling down the article

“To continue reading this article, subscribe now or login.”

Only one scroll and we’re blocked by the paywall. Enough text to catch our interest and show the content’s value, but blocking high enough to make for a high paywall visibility rate. We’re shown the same value proposition, with a supportive text and link to a page detailing “10 reasons to subscribe”.

Discover more about these two visibility metrics, benchmarks and how to find the perfect visibility in our article.


How do you increase subscriber acquisition without interfering with ad sales or compromising on page views?

Most digital publishers employ a tripod strategy that could be seen as somewhat contradictory…

They aim to feed audiences with many digestible stories to achieve high page views and support ad revenue, whilst also trying to lure the most engaged users into paying for more in-depth content.

It’s a tricky balance.

But one that Denmark’s largest media publishing company, Ekstra Bladet, is managing to find thanks to building a unique, data-driven pop-up marketing strategy.

As Ricki Lyngsøe explained, there are two pillars for this model: always on & tactical.

The always on pop-up is triggered based on user behavior. If a user has landed on their purchase page twice without converting, or clicked on an articles positioned behind the paywall five times, they will be presented with a time-limited special offer.

The team tested this price point to ensure both high conversion rates and acceptable retention after.

As for tactical pop-ups, these are triggered when Ekstra Bladet’s sales stagnate or decline (as we all experience at times).

“To combat this negative spiral, we activate a similar pop-up with a broader target. In more desperate times, we do accept that our subscription marketing could collide slightly with external advertisement space, hence we trigger pop-ups on the front page and not only to purchase-mature prospects.”

Differently to the always on campaign, the price point here is proven to be more effective when slightly higher as regular users need a higher price offer to stay retained for longer.

Hear from Ricki (Head of Subscription Marketing) on how they put this strategy into place in his article.


We did the research, so you don’t have to!

Flick through our gallery of 50 paywalls from publishers around the world, with best practices and tips to inspire your conversion efforts!

In-house content to read…

Recommendations from The Audiencers to add to your reading list.

Increase subscription conversion rates by 46% through optimizing each of these smaller steps by just 10%

“An alternative framework that recommends moving away from simply optimizing CTR on the paywall itself to instead combining engagement and conversion to work on the entire funnel, from the first moment a user sees your premium content to the conversion into a subscriber.”

Guide: Increase frequency of visits to better convert reader into subscribers, the strategies to steal to ensure your users come back to your content again & again

15 essentials for a successful newsletter, by expert Ismael Nafria, including best practices from publishers employing effective newsletter strategies

…and recommendations from elsewhere

Content from our friends.

“Don’t do everything at once”: How The Washington Post builds its products as shared by Kat Downs Mulder, Chief Product Officer

Neiman Lab: NPR launches a paid podcast bundle, hoping to convert a national audience into local donors

Two extracts from the WAN-IFRA World Press Trends 2021–22, by Damian Radcliffe:
Investment and Expenditure: Where are news publishers placing their bets?
The Growth in Digital and Diversification: Shifts in ad spend, moves away from advertising, and print’s continued relevance

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