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The Dallas Morning News targets younger online audiences with new premium website

The Dallas Morning News has announced that it will launch a new website this week, in what appears to be an acknowledgement of the need to be on par with new media trends.


What: The Dallas Morning News is tearing down its paywall and will set up both a free version and a premium website (11.96 and up a month) for online readers to take their pick.
Why is it important: Print circulation and advertisements continue to decline, so the entire industry (as Jason Dyer, CMO for The Dallas Morning News, says) must try to find the right strategy to build a digital audience. The difference will lean on the user experience, eventually aiming towards increasing not just the number of visits to the site but also the time spent on it. DMN hopes this will ultimately convert more free users to paid users.

The Dallas Morning News has announced that it will launch a new website this week, in what appears to be an acknowledgement of the need to be on par with new media trends. Thus, readers will be able to choose whether to visit a free site or a premium site with the same content, but will enjoy added features, more visual content and fewer ads.

The price for the premium site starts at $11.96 a month. Eventually, more personalization and a loyalty program will be added to the site, such as suggested stories and videos, gifts and event tickets.

Back in 2011, The Dallas Morning News set forth a digital subscription plan, aimed to build a new paying online audience. It banned some content to non-paying readers. Two years later, however, the strategy is refocusing and the paywall has been dismantled. The paywall, apparently, didn’t help create a massive groundswell of digital subscribers (and furthermore, remaining print subscribers are highly unlikely to be lured away by digital). Now, all articles are again available to all. Instead of paying for access to news, readers will be invited to pay for an optional, “premium” online experience. The content will be the same but the extra features will try to make the difference.

Newspapers are trying to bridge the gap between traditional print readers and online viewers. While daily circulation for U.S. newspapers declined 0.7 percent in March from a year earlier, average digital circulation rose 4 percentage points. “The design of The News’ paid site aims to attract a new, younger online audience”, said Jason Dyer, CMO for The Dallas Morning News. “Most of The News’ subscribers are over 40.”

The challenge seems to be whether The News and other media can actually create such an excellent digital experience that users will want to pay for it.

Sources: Dallas News, Nieman Lab.

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