This is Reno - Case Study
This is Reno has been a news leader for the greater Reno, NV area for more than a decade. Until recently, This is Reno’s business model had relied almost entirely on advertising, however in 2019 the revenue coming in wasn’t sufficient. Editor and Publisher Bob Conrad not only needed to find a more sustainable business strategy, he was also eager to grow the news site and provide additional value and content to his loyal reader base. Thus, in 2019, he committed to actively generating sustainable reader revenues.
This is Reno engaged with LaterPay in the fall of 2019, based on the unique approach of the platform to generating reader revenues. Going in, Conrad had two key requirements:
- The solution had to be quick to integrate and easy to use, given that This is Reno had a limited timeline and resources to allocate to the project.
- The solution should not dissuade audiences from reading, but should instead encourage readers to engage with content by offering his readership more options such as purchasing single article;
The LaterPay integration team quickly worked with This is Reno and by mid-January, LaterPay was integrated across the site. This is Reno launched a flexible premium paywall - putting a certain amount of their site's content behind a paywall, while also offering articles for free. Readers were given two purchasing options - they could either choose to buy a subscription to all premium content, or buy individual premium articles. Readers were required to pay for subscriptions immediately, while the single article purchases employed LaterPay’s patented ‘pay later’ model, whereby readers would only be prompted to pay for content once their running tab reached $5.00.
Subsequently, in March 2020, as the COVID-19 coronavirus began to spread across the US, publishers started to feel the impact. Local media everywhere were seeing a drop in advertising revenue, yet audience engagement was increasing - not only did readers need to stay informed on the spread of the virus but they also had more time to consume content during the nationwide lockdown period.
Like many small businesses, This is Reno felt the impact of the coronavirus, including cancelled events and cuts to local business and government operations. Conrad was committed to not scaling back any news coverage, instead providing access to any coronavirus reporting free of charge. And readers were quick to respond - subscribers to This is Reno’s e-newsletter doubled in a matter of weeks. Together with LaterPay, Conrad took advantage of this audience increase - offering This is Reno’s community the ability to show support by contributing for the content that was provided for free on the site.
In 2020, LaterPay introduced a low-pressure, low-friction platform for asking users to demonstrate their trust in publishers and their appreciation. A simple, streamlined option, the dynamic menu is customizable via a simple form, which then generates a link that publishers can share via social media and newsletters, or embed in their website.
Because This is Reno had already integrated with LaterPay, it was easy - and fast - to add new options and components. LaterPay generated a dynamic contributions menu in a matter of minutes, and Conrad was then able to implement across the site, as well as in a custom article explaining why the site was asking for support - and how that support would be used.
- This is Reno saw subscriptions grow by 86.5% in the first 6 months since integrating LaterPay, compared to the previous 6-month period
- 71% of This is Reno’s paying audience is using a model other that subscriptions (i.e. single article or contributions)
- 55% of paying readers have purchased individual articles
- 16% of This is Reno’s engaged readers have now contributed to the publication using LaterPay’s dynamic contributions menu
- 4.7% of casual users (users who purchased something other than a subscription) went on to become loyal subscribers
“As we scale up news production to keep our communities better informed, many publishers - like other small businesses - are also feeling the impact of coronavirus. We added voluntary contributions on top of our existing model to enable readers to support This is Reno and our community. It was quick and easy to set contributions up, and we were pleasantly surprised by the response we've seen.”
Bob Conrad, Editor & Publisher, This is Reno
Today, in partnership with LaterPay, This is Reno has implemented an effective reader revenue model across the site and was able to use new tools to weather the initial storm caused by COVID-19. Leveraging LaterPay’s platform, subscribers continue to grow, casual readers are able to access the content they want, paying just for those articles that interest them, and the Reno community continues to contribute to their local news site’s success. An added bonus has been This is Reno’s level of interaction with its audience - among all users who have purchased content on This is Reno, 64% have now provided their information and created an account with the publication.
This has in turn enabled Bob Conrad to look once more to the future. His immediate goals? Double This is Reno’s subscriber base by the end of year and expand the site’s coverage to include more video content and on-the-spot reporting. The LaterPay team will continue to be there to support his efforts and is committed to the site’s success.