August 3, 2017

Whether it’s the Trump-bump, a new willingness for audiences to pony up or a good old-fashioned newspaper battle, news subscriptions are on the rise.

“I like to say that if 2016 was the year that was all about platforms, 2017 was the year all about subscriptions,” said Josh Schwartz, chief of product, engineering and data at Chartbeat.

That’s why the news analytics company released this morning an update to its product that allows newsrooms to differentiate between the browsing habits of paying subscribers and non-subscribers.

The new “subscriber engagement analytics” allow Chartbeat customers to analyze user behaviors across their websites based on whether a user has paid to become a subscriber to that news organization, Schwartz said. It specifically tracks three tiers of users: paid subscribers, registered but non-paying users and unpaid guests.

Publishers can use this information to tailor coverage to prioritize topics of interest to paying customers, now considered to be “first-class citizens within the Chartbeat product,” Schwartz said.

“They’re much more valuable, from a revenue perspective, and as a publisher I may want to be making all of my decisions by looking at subscribers first and others second,” he said.

He also suggested using this information to tinker paywalls to fit user needs. If large amounts of unpaid users reach an article behind a paywall, for example, a publisher could choose to tailor the messaging those users see to encourage them to subscribe, or move the article in front of the paywall.

Current Chartbeat customers will need to add a line of code to add the feature. Schwartz said the subscriber analytics will work across almost all content management systems and sites.

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Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
Ren LaForme

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