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You Say Paywalls Are Back? For The FT, They Never Went Away

Late last year, the Financial Times reached a pretty big milestone: It exceeded 900,000 paying subscriptions, both print and digital–up from 780,000 in 2015. That’s no small feat for a media company that, like all other media companies, is facing the constant perils and headwinds of digital advertising. But for John Ridding, the FT ‘s CEO, this announcement felt inevitable. “We’ve been using our subscription business for the better part of a decade,” he tells me. “People thought we were a little crazy.” That’s no longer the case. Every year publishers flock to business trends like moths to flames. Most recently, the pivot d l’année was to social video , in large part to please Facebook’s algorithm. This bet isn’t panning out as planned, as Facebook tends to change its algorithm from time to time and throw media brands’ best-laid plans off-kilter. Most recently came this week’s news that Facebook is going to de-emphasize content from brand and Pages to focus on posts from friends and family. As such trends ultimately let publishers down, some media companies are going retro and looking toward the age-old business model of subscriptions. Conde Nast recently announced its plans to offer more metered paywalls for magazines including Wired and Vanity Fair ; the New York Times recently lowered the number of free reads it allows every month in an attempt to bring in even more paying customers; even digital juggernaut Business Insider has begun implementing a paywall for select stories. For many companies, going the digital subscription route is a somewhat new plan–an attempt to reclaim old print-era strategies to drum up revenue alternatives. This comes as publishers are faced with a digital ad crisis. Media companies have historically relied on advertising as a primary means of revenue, but have seen growth sputter as Facebook and Google began sucking up the majority of the digital advertising marketshare . But online subscriptions are old hat for Ridding

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You Say Paywalls Are Back? For The FT, They Never Went Away

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