Whether or not News Corp’s fledgling digital magazine The Daily is on the chopping block is apparently still up in the air, at least according to a post made Friday on The Daily’s own website. What is apparent though is that despite The Daily’s 100,000 to 120,000 subscribers, advertising is almost nowhere to be found within the publication – making recent rumors that The Daily might soon be discontinued seem entirely plausible.
According to Editor in Chief Jesse Angelo, The Daily has attracted “fantastic advertisers who love our brand and keep coming back for more because they get results”, yet the July 18th, 2012 edition contained only 8 total ads – the majority of which were for The Daily itself. Of the remaining ads, 2 were for The Economist iPad magazine app and one was for a new FOX show called “Ben and Kate”.
If The Daily is relying on both advertising and subscription revenue to survive then they seem to have won at least half the battle; 120,000 paid subscribers is an awesome achievement for a new type of publication, especially one that’s barely 18 months old. Now that The Daily is no longer exclusive to the iPad and reaches both iPhone and (some) Android tablets, that number can only continue to grow.
But subscribership alone isn’t enough.
I’m a subscriber to The Daily myself and have read it almost religiously for the past 4 months. In that time I’ve watched the number of advertisers drop, not increase; and when last weeks rumors of the magazine’s demise started circulating, I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was a better way to monetize The Daily – one that didn’t involve paid subscriptions.
While everyone loves a good deal, it’s in our nature to be suspect of anything that seems too inexpensive. Whereas I was drawn to The Daily because of its $0.99 per week subscription rate, I can’t help but think that maybe many people are passing it by because it feels too cheap to be of value – not to mention the fact that we’re all so used to getting our news for free elsewhere that the mere notion of paying for news is now something of a turnoff.
Make it free and they will come.
Apple announced that it had sold 55 million iPads as of last February. Within the same week, News Corp. announced that The Daily had reached the 100,000-subscriber mark. Given the amount of publicity Apple has given The Daily via the iPad app store, suddenly 100,000 subscribers doesn’t seem particularly impressive – not to me and probably not to advertisers either.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to make The Daily free of charge and drop the subscription model altogether? As of February there were 54.9 million iPad owners out there that had already decided they didn’t want to pay for The Daily. But what if it were free? How could they go wrong?
And access to 1,000,000 or more iPad users (a conservative estimate) and their respective disposable incomes? That has to be every advertisers dream come true.