The Economist’s shift to digital

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Martin Belam blogs about how The Economist has made the transformation from a traditional print product to one focusing on digital delivery in the wake of Economist digital editor Tom Standage speaking last week at news:rewired.

Belam writes, “Standage showed an amazing graph that illustrated that if you ask readers of the Economist how they consume the content now, 80% of them say in print, and 20% say digital. But if you ask them how they expect to consume it in two years time, an astonishing 70% say they expect it will be digital, and only 30% print. These are not some white-coated futurologists predicting the looming end of times for print, they are the Economist’s own most loyal readers. It was an astonishing thought that the readers themselves expect to shift that quickly.

“The change in the Economist’s digital strategy had also seen them adopt a ‘metered paywall’ approach. This, he explained, had been brilliant for traffic. After years of locking the search engines out, now suddenly their whole archive is available. A three year old article about Iran, he said, does just as good a job of advertising what they are about and why you should be reading them as the ones form this week. He said it was ‘crucial’ that content could be ‘sampled and shared on social media.’

“Just at the end of his talk, Tom made one vital point that underpins the entire Economist strategy – ‘the unspoken assumption is that you have distinctive content that people value.’”

Read more here.