The Economist Unveils New App Amid Broad Push For Subscriber Growth
Circulation is now the largest profit driver at the 174-year-old title, more than tripling advertising revenues.
The Economist is continuing to lean into its circulation strategy, unveiling today a new version of its subscription-based iOS app aimed at providing “long-term value” for paid subscribers.
Meant to maintain a more curated and wide-ranging experience, the subscribers-only app includes a “Daily Picks” selection of stories chosen by editors—allowing the magazine to surface stories readers otherwise may not find on their own—bookmarking options to save articles for later, check-marks next to articles that have already been read, estimated reading times, and streaming audio versions of articles.
“We wanted to build an app that solved real customer problems and pain points,” said head of product Denise Law in a statement. “We hope that this new app will help Economist subscribers get more value out of their subscription.”
The company adds that some features that were removed from the old version—like the ability to access back issues and a night reading mode—are being formatted for the new version and will return in an update. The Economist Classic, which offers subscribers a digital version of the print magazine, will also remain in the App Store.
The news comes about a month after The Economist announced it was unifying its sales and circulation departments under COO and publisher Michael Brunt, calling the circulation department the “largest contributor of profits to The Economist Group.”
Circulation and subscriptions accounted for 58 percent of the company’s overall revenue in 2017, more than tripling its advertising revenues.
In three preceding years as CMO and managing director of circulation, Brunt was vocal about prioritizing digital subscriptions, expanding in North America, and cultivating loyal, long-term subscribers. The company says that while global digital subscriptions are up 25 percent year-over-year, they’re up 38 percent in North America, and that a 20-percent hike in subscription rates (to $45 quarterly or $152 annually) has had a “minimal impact” on retention.
“After listening closely to what our subscribers want out of an app from The Economist, we think we have created a new digital experience that will bring our audience closer to our daily and weekly content, ensuring they are able to quickly get to their favorite parts of The Economist each day on their phones,” added the app’s product manager, Richard Holden.
In its annual report last year, the company said that per-subscriber margins had increased 26 percent, and 73 percent of its subscribers now purchase the digital version.