The Globe and Mail announces digital subscription service

October 16, 2012  |  Jonathan Paul  |  Comments

This story was updated Oct. 24, 2012 at 11:56

Globe Unlimited to provide ad partners greater user insights

Following in the footsteps of a growing number of online publications, The Globe and Mail is erecting a metered paywall for its website and mobile apps.

A revenue-diversifying digital subscription service, which it calls Globe Unlimited, was announced Monday and will go into effect Oct. 22.

Casual visitors to will still be able to access articles for free but will be limited to 10 pieces of content per month. This limit includes articles, videos, slide shows and other features. After that, visitors will be required to subscribe to the digital service to continue accessing most other content on the site.

A Globe Unlimited subscription will cost 99¢ for the first month with a subsequent cost of $19.99 every month thereafter.

There is no additional cost for readers who have a five or six-day-a-week home delivery print subscription.

The Unlimited service applies across all platforms and mobile devices. It’s being promoted as including exclusive subscriber-only content and tools including a dashboard personalization tool, a revamped “Streetwise” financial markets column and “ROB Insight,” a new breaking news business feature (the Globe has plans to introduce other new subscriber-only features and tools over time).

As the dashboard will offer subscribers the ability to customize content – for instance, creating alerts on specific companies they want to follow – Andrew Saunders, vice-president of advertising, said it will offer up the opportunity to create unique and more targeted ad executions to the publication’s advertising partners.

“The paywall will give us stronger and better capabilities on that front because we’ll get access to first party data,” said Saunders. “There will be some incremental benefits around audience targeting that I believe the paywall will be bringing, which ultimately will drive a higher conversion rate or greater return on investment.

“We feel that there will be a high level of engagement from our subscribers behind the wall, which will ultimately be a benefit.”

In creating the Unlimited service, Alon Marcovici, vice-president of consumer sales and marketing at the Globe, said the newspaper took cues from successes experienced by other publications that have put up paywalls, like The New York Times.

In its August SEC filings, the New York Times Company reported that 15 months after it began its digital subscription service, it hit 509,000 digital subscribers. Along with sister publication the International Herald Tribune, the Times added 12% more paying digital subscribers between March 18 and June 24. Combined with increases in home delivery and weekday cover prices, the result has been an increase of 8.3% in cross-format circulation revenue, which has offset a decline in print copies sold.

“We’re the sole distributor of The New York Times in this country,” said Marcovici. “As part of that, we’ve had the chance to understand the mechanics of [their paywall] and learn from some of their mistakes, some of their launch plans, and execute that in our plan.

“[Ours is] slightly different, but it’s formed from their success.” Marcovici added that the Globe doesn’t anticipate significant change in its site’s average of 3.9 million unique monthly visitors as a result of putting up the paywall.

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