As BD reported last year, Condé Nast introduced and implemented a plan to roll out the “next phase” of a strategy that began in 2014, which involved adding paywalls to online titles as part of a wider industry trend to boost profits.
That changed Friday, with Condé confirming to WWD that it made the decision to lift the paywalls on all COVID-19 stories at Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Wired to help keep readers informed as the situation develops further each hour. Other U.S.-based Condé publications, including Glamour, GQ and Teen Vogue, do not currently have paywalls.
A few weeks later, the shift is predictably driving significant increases in digital traffic (unique visitors to Wired.com were up 73% in March, compared to an average month, Condé Nast says, citing data from Google Analytics and Parse.ly).
Less predictably, Wired says it’s seeing a boost to its subscription business, as well.
“We’ve seen more than a significant uptick in the total number of subscriptions we’re generating right now,” Wired site director Scott Rosenfield tells Folio:. “Granted, traffic is up significantly as well, but we’re well ahead of the goal we had set. It’s a significant increase in subscriber growth from before the pandemic.”
Some newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, moved to unlock some content earlier last week. The most important news and useful guidance on the global coronavirus outbreak is now available to all of the Times’ registered users, while its daily Coronavirus Briefing newsletter is also free.
Wired is offering discounted subscriptions, including one year of print and digital access for $5, which Rosenfield says is in line with the brand’s established practice of experimenting with and testing various offers and not a new strategy as a result of the pandemic. A typical print and digital subscription has an introductory rate of $10 for the first year, which renews at $49.99 per year after that.
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