Mediafin needed a solution that could power their digital-first content monetization strategy. With Zuora, digital subscriptions are built at the core, eliminating need for customizations or accumulated technical debt,” says David Kronfeld, Marketing Director & Chief Data Officer at Mediafin.
Founded in 2005, Mediafin is a media group that publishes two daily newspapers: De Tijd, in Dutch, and L'Echo, in French.
Given the current media landscape, Mediafin needed to modernize from a print-first, unit-based model to a recurring, digital-first subscription model.
Zuora Billing provided the agility and expertise to help Mediafin build flexible subscription offers.
Zuora Billing has provided a flexible and effective billing solution to assist Mediafin in efficiently billing its online subscribers that generate a majority of Mediafin's revenue.
“When there already is a habit with a supplier, the easiest and most natural relationship model is subscription. It is the most relevant model for recurring behavior. In the end, it is a service provided to the reader. Subscriptions are now the lion’s share of our readership, while our sales by unit have dropped,” said David Kronfeld, Marketing Director & Chief Data Officer at Mediafin.
Belgian media group Mediafin was founded in 2005 and publishes two Belgian major economic and financial newspapers: “De Tijd” in Dutch and “L’Echo” in French, available in both print and digital.
Mediafin recognized the need to transform its business in 2010 in response to the rise of digital news. Faced with the rise of digital technology and changes in media consumption, publications around the world raced to find more predictable recurring revenue streams as advertising revenues continued to fall.
Previously, the core metric of a newspaper business was the number of paper issues sold. But the shift to digital media meant that sales of paper units dramatically decreased. Mediafin was forced to find new ways to monetize content and grow a more sustainable business model, while providing quality news.
Before launching Zuora, Mediafin used its own homegrown subscription system, but it was built to monetize print publications, limiting the ability to pursue a digital-first strategy and accumulating millions in technical debt over the years. The media group needed to overhaul its subscription engine and called on Zuora.
As print media struggles around the globe, Mediafin has achieved what other legacy media have been trying to do for years: growing without sacrificing quality content, all while reducing its dependence on advertising. For years, many newspapers covered the falling price of online advertising by producing more content. To stay relevant in a context of accelerating media cycles, they reduced the time spent on each piece, harming the overall quality of content. The result was a degraded user experience, faced with “clickbait articles” as well as more and more advertisements. Mediafin opted for a different strategy.
A transition ten years in the making
When Mediafin launched its subscription project in 2010, the company had to convince reporters, who still saw print as the most prestigious medium compared to web, and resented the new freemium model. Ten years later, any resistance has been overcome, due in large part to the success of Mediafin’s digitization strategy.
“When we look at the evolution over 10 years, we started by digitizing customer processes: purchase, subscription renewal, etc.,” said David Kronfeld. “Then we worked on our offers to make our subscriptions recurring and to make our services more flexible. Then we worked on pricing, so that subscribing felt completely natural. Today, thanks to Zuora®, customer journeys are much more flexible across the duration of the subscription.”
For almost seven years, Mediafin used a homegrown subscription system to manage its growing digital business. But the system was accumulating technical debt (i.e more likely to malfunction) and was too inspired from print distribution to allow for a truly digital-first strategy. The media group decided to completely overhaul its subscription engine and called on Zuora in 2019.
“We needed a digital-first approach. Now the system is designed for digital processes at the core. With our old system, it was complicated to correspond with the customer by email,” said David Kronfeld. “Today, we are making sure that customers can stop and resume their subscription at ease, change their package at will, etc. This is both in line with the customer’s needs, and it’s profitable. Mediafin’s growth has been achieved in large part thanks to these new processes.”
Implementing change can be difficult. Mediafin’s board of directors was careful not to rush anyone to ensure its new strategy was well understood, accepted and executed. Switching to subscription impacted every department, from IT to marketing to financial reporting.
“Change is slow, and it has to infuse through the whole company. The first people to educate were those responsible for the subscription process, who did not necessarily see the need for change. But when the changes are ultimately very positive for the customer, there is little resistance on the marketing side,” said David Kronfeld. “What makes this kind of project difficult is the need to coordinate all stakeholders. People have to talk to each other constantly, as processes change and can become misaligned. IT and marketing in particular have to work together closely.”
Mediafin is now a fully scalable, digital-first subscription publisher, with the help of Zuora and third-party integrator EI-Technologies (EIT). Now, subscription sales and one-time sales have overtaken advertising as Mediafin’s main revenue source.