Politico expands subscription service in Europe

Politico is expanding its subscriptions business in Europe, adding a seventh vertical in transportation.

Some of the biggest EU regulatory updates coming down the pike in the coming months are around aviation and drones, and Politico wants to be ready when those major talking points hit. Although Politico is known as a niche title, its differentiation within the European transport sector, will be wide compared to the local, “hyper-niche” competition.

“There are a number of very specialized magazines that focus on specific sections like aviation, but there isn’t a single place that brings them all together,” said editor of Politico Pro for Europe Nirvi Shah. “The existing content is very granular and seems to be about what has already happened, not what’s coming. Our purpose is to provide news and information that can help our subscribers be proactive to any developments that relate to their jobs.”

Politico Europe, which is a joint venture with Axel Springer, has subscription products devoted to agriculture, food, energy, financial services, health care, technology and trade. So far, all the topics Politico Europe has tackled have U.S. versions as well.

The publisher has steadily built its Pro subscriptions-based products across Europe over the last year and expects them to account for half of all revenue within the next three years. Currently, subscriptions account for 30 percent of revenue, the rest taken from advertising and events. In the U.S., Politico has 16 subscription products, and the commercial split is 50 percent advertising, 40 percent subscriptions and 10 percent events.

Politico Europe’s blueprint for new vertical launches to date has been to launch a two-month free sampling trial, and, midway through, ramp up with additional content. A base of 8,000 subscribers will get the Morning Transport newsletter to start and in the next month will receive more email alerts and longer, in-depth stories ahead of the full Pro Transport launch on Nov. 14. After that people can pay to receive the weekly and daily newsletters. Subscriptions are customized to the number of people that use the product within a business and the number of policy areas they cover. An average subscription is around €7,000 ($7,900) for a year’s access. 

“Most of our subscriber organizations are based close to Brussels, but also the four major European markets. So the next biggest market for it is the U.K., followed by France and Germany, but we have Pro customers from across 20 different countries in total,” said Politico Pro’s sales chief Dari Gessner.

Politico isn’t breaking the bank on the new vertical: One reporter and four new sales people are dedicated to it, but there are plans to recruit further a dedicated editor and a second reporter after the two-month trial period. For now, more editorial resources will be pulled from the newsroom, which now has over 60 people spread across Brussels, Berlin, London and Paris. There are 250 journalists across its U.S. offices, which includes Washington, D.C., Illinois, New York, California and Florida.

“There are a lot of overlapping issues like passport control or immigration issues that relate to workforces for different sectors of transport. So the transport reporter will work closely with the other reporters and editors where areas overlap,” said Shah. Issues in the auto sector like driverless car regulations and other major news like Volkswagen’s emissions scandal straddle Politico’s tech and energy sectors, and now transport.

Breaking into a new area in which local competition is slower and more reactive to news has challenges of its own though, particularly when it comes to staff. Finding people with the hunger to want to work for a title which has a faster news metabolism is tough.

“We may compete on content, but the speed and delivery of content is totally different,”added Shah. “Sometimes we have something several days ahead of competitors, and that’s how we’ve built our audience. But that’s also reflected in the reporter candidate pool. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”



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