Issue #124 — Developing a better (content) product

The top stories this week are about the benefits of treating your content business as a product. Plus: Ads are appearing on Substack, the industry is adjusting to the changes of 2020, and mistakes to avoid in mobile publishing. Enjoy!

💯 Top picks

Content is product and product is content: Why deeper alignment is the only way forward

"When you ask your audience, they actually don’t differentiate and tend not to care whether something they consume is content or product. It’s one thing for them - the content and the experience, and many more such things we tend to consider separate due to org structures and silos."

💸 Business models

How we combined churn analytics with customer feedback to develop a better product

Find out how a team used churn analytics from ChartMogul and qualitative customer feedback to improve their product. These are things publishers can implement relatively easily with a few extra tools in their tech stack (Ghost integrates with ChartMogul, for example).  to get an idea of their churn analytics, and by asking subscribers for feedback.

[Podcast] So you want to launch a newsletter?

The a16z podcast interviewed four independent newsletter authors, all at different stages of growth after around one year of publishing.

The curious emergence of the Substack advertisement

Those who have been leaning towards subscriptions have taken a surprising turn towards ads, with sponsorships, collaborations and classified ads turning up in multiple email newsletters.

[Podcast] Retention has been one of our best stories of the year

The new president and managing director at The Economist Group, Bob Cohn, joined just before the pandemic began. Listen to an interview with Bob on the Digiday Podcast to find out how they focused on retention and increased the number of subscribers in "highly engaged" category by 21%.

Digital transformation: Publishers gear up for a better tomorrow

The changes presented to publishing in 2020 have caused upheaval, but they also bring a lot of new opportunities for transformation.

✍️ Modern journalism

How to avoid the common mistakes in mobile publishing

"Mobile traffic is up, but digital publishers see marginal engagement from these users. These common UX and monetization mistakes might be the reason why."

We are not divided

Reasons To Be Cheerful has teamed up with other publishers to launch a collaborative multimedia journalism project dedicated to revealing that we humans are incredibly skilled at overcoming division.

The lasting legacy of the coronavirus — Reshaping publishing

"Majority of the respondents (55%) believe that remote working has made them more efficient. However, 77% say that it is harder to build and maintain relationships in a team while working remotely."

💻 Technology

"Pinpoint, which uses AI and machine learning to help reporters sift through investigative materials, is part of the recently-released Journalist Studio."

The Brown Institute’s Local News Lab is developing “smart paywalls” for local newsrooms

"The new project helps small- and medium-sized news organizations take advantage of machine learning to deepen engagement and improve subscription conversions."

🤷 WTF?

Netflix is testing an audio-only mode to compete with podcasts and audiobooks

Netflix is testing a new audio-only mode with some Android users to allow users stream just the audio track of a show or movie in the background.