Hi there,

This week marks an exciting time for smartocto as we unveil our collaboration with FT Strategies at the INMA Media Subscriptions Summit in New York. Tomorrow, FT and our client, Omroep Brabant, will take the stage to discuss how and why data analysis should form a vital part in building and enhancing your relationship with your audience.

The Summit will delve into the strategic challenges publishers face amid AI disruption, the rapid pace of digital transformation, and significant political and societal shifts.

Fundamentally, the same scenario is unfolding globally: the viability of traditional media is being challenged, while new media outlets are grappling with the repercussions. Data indicates that the growth in subscription numbers is plateauing, with only modest success in drawing younger audiences to historically strong news brands. In this newsletter, we underscore once again how our system can assist in this regard.

Aled John, director and deputy managing director at FT Strategies, puts it this way:

“Engaging your audience with journalism that resonates with their needs should be the foremost priority for any publisher. A profound understanding of user needs will aid in rectifying the prevalent misalignment between what an audience seeks and what is provided by news media organisations. User Needs Labs with smartocto and FT Strategies empower publishers to utilise advanced analytics to forge a more appealing proposition that, in turn, fosters audience loyalty and engagement.”

To complement this message, we have also announced a new webinar this week.

And if you can’t make it to New York: our new Omroep Brabant client case is an excellent alternative to engage with. For the full New York experience, enjoy with coffee and bagels.

CLIENT CASE: More control for newsrooms

In all the client cases we create, we strive to illustrate a sort of before-and-after scenario, though this is always challenging due to the multifaceted nature of editorial teams. However, Janneke Bosch from the Dutch regional broadcaster Omroep Brabant offers some insightful reflections:

"Before, we would quickly move from one news event to the next. Even if it was about the same topic, we created chains of updates.

Now, we create different kinds of chains: from an update to an explanatory story, maybe followed by an inspiring story, and then a story that helps the reader further. This makes us better able to publish more stories about a topic right away, giving us more control over which topics we find journalistically important. Thus, we're less dependent on new developments - which sometimes just aren't there."

E-GUIDE: 39% more subscriptions with smartocto

Attracting more subscribers is absolutely essential in the digital media age. Making use of the right analytics can help a lot. In our eGuide about the subscription model we tell you how, by using smartocto, you can increase the amount of subscribers by 39%, on average.

The immediate question you might have is: how? Well, our belief is that while it does indeed involve rocket science, we keep the execution extremely simple. For instance, our system can alert you that your homepage lacks sufficient premium content and even suggest which articles, based on their performance, would be suitable for putting behind a paywall.

WEBINAR: Learning from niche news sites

Both FIN News and Chemistry World operate on a subscription model. These niche news sites understand how to reach their audience through a highly targeted approach. Every article centres on the question: how do we create value for our subscribers with the content we produce?

In our upcoming webinar we will explore what mainstream media can learn from niche news sites, including a focus on data analysis.

These key topics will be discussed:

  • Why (and how) recognising which articles fall in the ‘dead zone’ for engagement and reach is difficult - and vital - to your growth
  • Reader preferences and needs - and why they’re key to your success
  • How niche websites determine their unique angle on topics that also appear in mainstream media
  • The advantages (and disadvantages) of being a niche website


  • The slump in digital ad revenue prompted major news brands, such as Mail Online, to double down on subscriptions as a revenue stream. Greg Piechota from INMA writes about the switch one of the biggest news sites of the world (200 million monthly users!) is making. 
  • OpenAI can now generate moving images with simple prompts. The New York Times writes about this subject, while the newspaper, in turn, is accused by that same OpenAI of having obtained information through a hack. The Times is attempting to prevent its data from being used to improve ChatGPT through a legal battle.
  • Then an older article, which in light of this newsletter about subscriptions is quite interesting: what makes a good paywall? At Poool, you see the first two, but then you also have to deal with a real paywall. Which sort of proves a point, somehow…
  • With elections looming worldwide, Niemanlab shows how to identify and investigate AI audio deepfakes.

And that concludes this month’s newsletter focusing on subscription models. Know that you don't need much more information about User Needs Labs than what’s available on this site, where you can also sign up to participate. If you found this newsletter interesting, please forward it to your colleagues, and we’ll be back in two weeks!

All the best!
Team Smartocto