World Association of News Publishers

The building blocks of a reader revenue tech stack

The building blocks of a reader revenue tech stack


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COVID-19’s disastrous impact on advertising revenues has forced news publishers around the world to put an even greater emphasis on the revenues they generate from their readers.

What we have learned from our members and other exchanges is that many publishers are at different stages and trajectories with their reader revenue strategies. And many, particularly those starting out, have questions about the tech associated with reader revenue. But even the most advanced at this confess to the complex nature of it all.

We can’t help but recall a conversation with an unnamed publisher subscription specialist who responded like this when asked if they could provide a schematic of their reader rev tech stack and workflow: “(laughs... then) I don’t think you want to see that puzzle and it’s probably already outdated!” And that is from a quite successful reader revenue example.

Our previous report on this topic, “Engaged readers don’t churn – retention lessons for digital subscriptions” (August 2018), largely focussed on efforts publishers were undertaking to gain and retain digital subscribers.

A look under the hood

With this report, we take a look under the hood, so to speak, at the array of internal logistical and strategic issues that news publishers need to address within their infrastructure to make their reader revenue ecosystem function as effectively and seamlessly as possible – for both their staff and the readers they want to convert into paying subscribers.

So it would be fair to say that we preface this report with this, something we heard from many publishers and experts working on this issue: There is no one RIGHT way to set up data and technology for an audiences-first publisher. And if you read in this report, “you should” do this or that, that advisory tone is coming from the many publishers we spoke with.

It all starts with data

“While there are thousands of individual company scenarios, there seems to be at least one universal truth: Future-proofing your digital subscription business begins with getting your data in order.”

That statement appears near the end of this report (on page 36), but variations of it form a common thread that can be found throughout the entire report and in our talks with publishers, including the Financial Times, The Economist, Schibsted in Norway, the Swedish regional news group Mittmedia, Nordjyske Medier and Politiken (both of Denmark), and Switzerland’s Tamedia.

The absolute necessity of having key, actionable first-party data available to staff members who need it when they need it across departments is something we heard repeatedly from publishers as being crucial to the success of their reader revenue endeavours.

Cecilia Campbell, Chris Sutcliffe


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2020-07-20 14:28

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