Since 1874, Bergedorfer Zeitung has provided current coverage of politics, business, sports and culture with a focus on Hamburg and the world. The regional daily newspaper began using LaterPay in mid-2016 to monetize a selected range of digital content. In the following interview, Ann Kathrin Ziegler, sales and marketing coordinator, talks about Bergedorfer Zeitung’s recent experience with paid content, the challenges of digital service, and reader acceptance of LaterPay.
LaterPay: Ms. Ziegler, Bergedorfer Zeitung is one of the well-established daily newspapers in the eastern part of Hamburg and beyond. What is your paper’s significance for the city and the region?
Ms. Ziegler: Bergedorfer Zeitung has been synonymous with first-rate local journalism for more than 150 years. We cover the stories and news in Bergedorf, Vierlande and Marschlande, Reinbek/Wentorf, Glinde, Geesthacht, Schwarzenbek and Lauenburg, as well as neighboring communities.
LaterPay: Please take a moment to introduce yourself: What is your position and responsibility at Bergedorfer Zeitung?
Ms. Ziegler: I am the sales and marketing coordinator, in charge of distribution of the printed daily, our two advertising journals and the digital publications. Besides that, my duties include the coordination of marketing activities and events.
LaterPay: How important are the digital channels for the further evolution of Bergedorfer Zeitung’s portfolio?
Ms. Ziegler: Extemely important. We need to adapt our product to the consumption behavior of the younger readership and keep all options open to develop new target audiences.
LaterPay: And what are the challenges that local media, in particular, face in serving digital outlets?
Ms. Ziegler: The digital world is transitory. That does, of course, call for some re-evaluation. What works in print may not be the perfect fit in the digital realm, and vice versa. The digital world is fast, heaving with activity in a process of change and development, and its inhabitants have certain requirements that we, in turn, must learn how to fulfill.
LaterPay: Since the summer of 2016, Bergedorfer Zeitung has relied on LaterPay. What were the reasons for the decision to use our technology?
Ms. Ziegler: It has still not been universally established that a user must pay to access editorial online content. LaterPay allows us to address this situation with a very charming approach. Users do not have to commit right away to a long-term subscription, and purchasing just a single article is also possible. I believe that by going with LaterPay, we have implemented a payment system that fulfills precisely what the user expects and demands from our paid content offering.
LaterPay: What preliminary conclusions can you draw from your experience with LaterPay up until this point?
Ms. Ziegler: We are on the right track and also engaged in a continuous, joint learning process with LaterPay. For example, the introduction of one-day or weekly passes that allow users to access all content, was readily accepted. After the June 2016 roll-out we saw a 42-percent increase in sales within the first five months. And this is why we have now introduced subscriptions as a convenient option for our regular readers. By the way, these subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.
LaterPay: You are using a number of different solutions to monetize your digital publications, from selling individual articles, to time passes, to subscriptions. Do users feel overwhelmed by this variety? And which formats perform particularly well?
Ms. Ziegler: I do not think it is overwhelming; I would rather say that it provides users with a full range of options that correspond to their respective usage patterns. Especially online, there are those customers who are wary of making any commitments. What we do is to give everyone the kind of flexibility they want.
LaterPay: How flexible is your price structure? And how do users react to changes?
Ms. Ziegler: Particularly in the early phase we still had to gain certain insights, which now allow us to say that we have found the appropriate scaling in our current price structure. In my view, always having the courage to change the price structure as necessary, without giving existing customers the feeling that other users might be getting a better deal, enables you to recognize limits and draw helpful conclusions.
LaterPay: Is there an essential finding in your experience with LaterPay that you would like to share with your colleagues in other publishing houses?
Ms. Ziegler: I believe that LaterPay is an excellent choice also for smaller publishers, and I can only encourage everyone to take the paid-content plunge with this type of payment system. The ‘bar tab’ principle is the very thing that allows for a smooth, non-alarming introduction and avoids a flood of customer complaints.
Ms. Ziegler, thank you very much for this interview!
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