Global: FT uses free Brexit content to drive subs

Global: FT uses free Brexit content to drive subs

The startling Brexit outcome has caused traffic surges for most publishers, but it was used by the Financial Times in a successful drive for subscriptions by offering free content.

The publisher dropped its paywall for all Brexit-related news for 24 hours on the eve of the vote to provide undecided voters access to both sides of the debate.  Over the weekend, this resulted in the FT’s Brexit poll tracker becoming its most-popular-ever piece of journalism, drawing almost 4 million page-views.

FT’s chief commercial officer Jon Slade said the publisher employed a tactical real-time marketing plan that was put in place as soon as the Brexit news hit. The exercise resulted in a 600 per cent surge in digital subscriptions sales over the weekend.

Mr Slade told Digiday that the marketing teams relied heavily on the analytics systems the FT typically used in its newsroom, and to power its subscriptions business. The information on what people were reading was then fed back to the marketing team who created messages to promote the articles people were reading most and seeded them on social platforms

The FT has been experimenting with running free content on social platforms for some time, a strategy which has seen its social traffic rise steadily over the last year. However, over the weekend traffic to social platforms had its biggest-ever jump: a 500 percent traffic hike to articles the FT ran via social platforms like Facebook’s Instant Articles, Mr Slade said.

Facebook drops publishers down News Feed priority list

Facebook will change its News Feed to prioritise friends and family over news organisations, a shift that will cause referral traffic to publishers to decrease.

The change was announced in a blog post addressed to Facebook users on Wednesday. It said users were “worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about.” As a consequence, Facebook would implement the change over the next few weeks to prioritise updates shared by friends, rather than publishers.

The News Feed tweak is likely to be a momentous one for news organisations that rely heavily on Facebook as a major source of referral traffic, the Poynter Institute says.

In particular, the institute says, it hurts publishers that emphasise revenue from advertisers (contingent upon monetising large quantities of page-views) over revenue from users (which are less subject to the audience-driving whims of platforms like Facebook).

Axel Springer has partial win over Adblock Plus

One of the most popular ad-blocking browser extensions, Adblock Plus, has suffered a partial legal defeat in Germany in a case contested by publisher Axel Springer

Adblock Plus, which has more than 100 million active users, previously won a string of court victories over German publishers and broadcasters who were trying to have it declared illegal—the courts kept saying it was perfectly legal for people to use ad-blockers.

However, Axel Springer appealed to the Cologne higher regional court, Forbes reports. On Friday, the court handed it a partial victory: Ad-blocking is still legal, but Adblock Plus has been forced to place Axel Springer on a white list for no charge.

Under the ad blocking company’s contentious revenue model, large publishers — those with over 10 million monthly global impressions — can pay Adblock Plus to be on its acceptable ads white list, and it will let through ads to users as long as they comply with certain criteria, like being non-intrusive.

Adblock Plus users can opt to see no ads whatsoever, but they can also choose to see acceptable ads.

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