The Independent to join Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab

May 4, 2020 | Content marketing, Regulation

The Independent to join Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab
The Independent is participating in the Google News Initiative (GNI) Subscriptions Lab programme.

The programme is developed with FT Strategies and the International News Media Association. Those joining the programme include eight European publishers, with The Independent the only UK based news brand to be chosen.

The nine-month programme aims to strengthen the publishers’ digital subscriptions capabilities and grow reader revenue.

Google has set up the initiative with the following key beliefs:

• Quality journalism maters
• Financial stability requires innovation
• The digital news ecosystem should continue to remain open
• Technology provides new opportunities to collaborate and achieve success

Richard Gingras, VP News, Google said: “It’s crucial for publishers of all sizes to find ways to grow their reader revenue to ensure a sustainable future, especially in these uncertain times. This partnership with FT Strategies and INMA will enable publishers to test and develop new business models and is part of Google’s commitment to do more to help the news industry in the digital age, through our Google News Initiative.”

The Independent made the decision to go digital-only four years ago. Since its transition in 2016, the news brand has increased its online readership by 136% to now reach 149M unique browsers globally, and Comscore figures show that it has become the UK’s largest quality digital news brand. The Independent has worked strategically to diversify its revenue streams through various models including The Independent Daily Edition and Independent Premium. Encouraged by the success of these reader-revenue models, and in response to enquiries from readers, it recently launched an initiative to allow readers to contribute flexibly to support its journalism.

Jo Holdaway, Chief Data Officer, The Independent said: “We have successfully diversified our revenues for some time now through our various subscription and donation strategies. We are excited to see how we can accelerate this growth, using the invaluable advice and experience that Google, the FT and INMA can offer. We are particularly keen to contribute to discussions with our fellow digital publishers from across Europe during this initiative.”

“We are looking forward to using our expertise in building subscription models to consult with these eight publishers on how to future-proof their own businesses,” said Tara Lajumoke, managing director for FT Strategies. “FT Strategies believes that a sustainable paid content model – now more than ever – is an indispensable feature of all media businesses. We are excited to help these publishers grow over the next several months and are ultimately looking forward to their long-term success.”

The initiative has been set up by Google under the key beliefs that: quality journalism matters, financial stability requires innovation, the digital news ecosystem should remain open, new technology presents new opportunity and collaboration is key to mutual success. At the end of the programme, a playbook will be developed to share best practices for improving digital subscription performance with the wider news industry.

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