Publishers look to digital subscriptions to fill the hole left by advertising

James Henderson zephyr

Global publishers Raconteur, Central Médiacsoport, New York Post, Structured Credit Investor and publishing industry trade body FIPP have all signed up to a UK tech start-up during the lockdown, as they look to beef up their digital subscription approaches in a post-pandemic world

The accelerated growth in consumers moving from print to digital media has led to tech start-up Zephr reporting multiple new clients and double-digit growth during lockdown, which raised $3.2million from Nauta Capital in 2019.

Zephr has grown into a game-changing player in the broader customer journey industry; an industry set to be worth over $12billion by 2020. The pioneering start-up enables businesses to give their online visitors tailored digital journeys based on real data, leading to increased subscriptions, improved ad yields and stronger, longer customer relationships.

The world of publishing has been hit hard by the pandemic, with data showing sharp decreases in advertising revenues projected for the year – 25.1% for national news brands, 24.1% for regional news brands and 25.1% for magazine brands[1]. In addition, the UK industry faces losing up to £50m in online advertising revenue due to the blacklisting of words related to coronavirus[2].

James Henderson, Zephr founder, says: “The global pandemic has transformed the publishing sector as we know it. The move to digital has been massively accelerated with consumers simply not purchasing physical newspapers and magazines. We’ve already seen reports that some publications have unfortunately had to fold or announce mass redundancies. Traditional advertising revenues need to be replaced to keep these businesses afloat, which is where digital subscriptions come in.

“What we do goes much deeper than simply setting up a generic paywall. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the subscription economy. Our dynamic technology learns about a publisher’s readers, and then tailors each user’s subscription journey to their habits, resulting in much better conversion and revenue growth.”

The only provider to bring code-free drag-and-drop UI to the market, means implementation can be done in a matter of weeks as opposed to the usual months it can take for systems that require hard coding.

Ákos Zulik, manager of strategy and business development from Central Media Group, said: “As audience behaviour changes, so content delivery, presentation and distribution needs to evolve with it. In our quest to engage sophisticated audiences in the right way, we knew we needed to deploy cutting-edge technology that could keep in step with how our customers want to consume content. By using Zephr, we’ll be able to gear-up our business teams to deploy, test and optimise new customer journeys tailored for every single consumer.”

Zephr has a focus in the publishing industry but has also developed into the automotive and gaming sectors. Headquartered in London, with operations also across Europe and the US, Zephr already works with dozens of major clients globally – including a host of international media brands such as Conde Nast, News Corp and Dennis Publishing.

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