Digital First for the Financial Times

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An important landmark took place at the Financial Times last month, with a recent memo to staff declaring that the FT is now ready to launch their “Digital First” strategy. In simple terms, this will mean a restructure of the journalism team and the overall operations to enable the FT to transistion from a traditional “print first” focus, towards the faster paced, digital media arena.

The subscription business model at the FT was first introduced with some apprehension – and many critics believed the model would surely fail. The FT produced its first paywall in 2001 and although they experienced an initial dip in online visitors, the revenues have grown steadily – reaching a total of £216m in the first six months of 2012. This figure represents underlying year-on-year growth of 7%. It appears that the need for instant, accessible news stories – on the go – is indeed a market that can be capitalised on, and it is one on which the FT are prepared to focus on for their future growth and expansion strategies.

Can other media giants replicate the Financial Times strategy?

As many market commentators rightly point out, the FT is a very niche media player, whereas the current online news leaders that include the likes of The Daily Mail and The Guardian carry more popularist news stories. This will make differentiation a far more difficult task. Another consideration is whether the Heads of these news publishing companies are prepared for the possibility of a steep decline in online readership which may in turn see advertisers move their ad budgets to those titles boasting a larger share of the online audience.

A “digital first” strategy also requires a strong focus on growing and managing an online subscriber base. Within that strategy news publishers need to think carefully about how to maximise revenues from a much reduced audience. Factors that must be considered include:

  1. How to segregate content – would a reader need to sign up per content area such as sports or female content or have a “one size fits all” model?
  2. How to segment an audience based on diffent consumption habits that suits their lifestyle and interests.
  3. How to deliver premium content that delivers value over and above “the free journalism” offered by competitors.
  4. How to leverage subscription data to maximise revenues, and capitalise on readership trends and audience behaviour.

To help support emerging digital models, a good technology platform is essential – and SAP have been at the forefront of delivering a range of both traditional and digital media solutions for many years. SAP offers a diverse solution portfolio which is specifically designed to help drive revenue and strengthen loyalty by improving digital service capabilities. The result of deploying technologies such as SAP for media is an enhanced ability to deliver the right products and services to the right market – at the right time. With SAP solutions companies can gain a competitive edge with fast, cost-efficient, and targeted paid content, they can deliver and promote cross-media offerings and improve monetisation of their entire rights inventory.

These types of technologies, combined with Invenio’s expertise in the media industry can help news publishers make the most of the opportunities presented by the digital era. Invenio are a SAP Media prefered solution provider, we specialise in delivering cutting-edge SAP solutions that can accelerate and support strategies for a successful multi-platform business model – across multiple asset types. For more details please contact our media team direct.