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For years, the inflexibility and cost of building a subscription ecosystem has hampered publishers’ ability to effectively monetize their audiences and grow their revenues. The traditional approach to subscriber acquisition fails to foster a deep understanding of customers’ needs, and requires media organizations to waste both time and money tinkering with technology. 

Nowadays, publishers have the ability to move beyond the historical subscription ecosystem, create better customer experiences, and convert greater numbers of their audiences into subscribers. In this article, we’ll look back at the evolution of subscription models and share how new technology solutions are changing the game.

The early years of the subscription model

Subscription services like Amazon Prime, Chewy, and HelloFresh are household names today, but the subscription model itself dates back to the mid 1600s, when fire and life insurance companies first entered the marketplace. A century later, publishing companies began to emerge on the subscription scene. Booksellers and authors alike sought subscribers for their publications, then once they’d secured a customer base, they would produce the publications, à la crowdfunding style.

“Subscriptions took off quickly, and in some western European cities they began to be used even for the delivery of clean drinking water (a precious commodity in an era of dicey sanitation), grains, and exotic fruits and vegetables,” according to this article by Ajay Jain.

Through all of its evolution, the subscription model has historically been most widely used by the media industry. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions were common commodities as far back as the early 20th century.

An inflexible, costly approach to subscriptions

In modern times, publishers have traditionally sought to acquire subscribers by creating 3 tiered offers combining their core products: a print offer, a digital offer, and a print-plus-digital “ultimate pack”. Media organizations typically then try to attract and push as many people as possible through their sales funnels using registration and paywall tactics. While their hope is to gain subscribers, they often shed users at every stage of the process due to delayed messaging and a lack of understanding of their target customers.

When a customer does purchase a subscription, they’re largely left to their own devices to engage with the product until their contract nears renewal, at which point the publisher will throw every tactic they can at ensuring the customer renews their subscription. This effort often involves making it difficult to cancel the subscription, followed by an onslaught of new offers, ultimately frustrating the customer.

In addition to publishers’ customer journey woes, the cost of creating and maintaining the technology stack required by this outdated subscription model is considerable. Media organizations are often forced to stitch together numerous systems to:

  • manage customer identity and access to content
  • create subscription offers and enable customers to purchase them
  • apply the appropriate taxes
  • process recurring payments
  • deliver the digital and physical products
  • communicate with customers throughout their lifecycle 

The high cost of conducting these tasks with disparate data leads to compromises in product quality, which result in an average customer experience and therefore a lower chance of conversion.

A solution for subscriber and revenue growth

Today’s customers expect to be understood. They want their online journeys to be intuitive and to present them with personalized subscription options at the right time. If publishers fail to deliver on these expectations, potential subscribers will happily take their business elsewhere. The onus is on media organizations to optimize their subscription ecosystems to achieve their business goals.

Increasingly, publishers need technology that understands the challenges they face and provides them with flexible, user-friendly solutions to help them deliver excellent customer experiences. That’s where Lineup Systems’ Amplio subscription management platform comes into the picture. Amplio enables media organizations to take a “test and learn” approach to their subscription business models.

With a modern solution like Amplio, you can create subscription offerings with ease and speed, test those packages, and gain visibility into what resonates with customers to increase revenue. Robust audience data allows you to dive deep into any customer’s history with your publication so you can build targeted audience segments and nurture those customers using drag-and-drop workflows. An added bonus? A user-friendly interface means there’s no need for coding skills and no internal IT resources required.

Amplio integrates seamlessly with your existing tech stack so you won’t have to spend time or money trying to make systems that speak different languages talk to one another. Instead, you can focus on generating new subscribers. The solution also enables your customers to manage their subscriptions in a self-service portal and create their own personalized bundles.

Experience Amplio firsthand

Is your media organization ready to leave your past subscription challenges behind you? Explore the power of Amplio, and its ability to quickly generate a clear return on investment for your company. Book a call with us today.


Lineup Systems is the world's leading provider of media sales technology, representing over 6,800 media brands globally, including Gannett/USA Today, New York Times and News Corp. Amplio is Lineup's multi- channel audience monetization solution that helps media companies realize their full reader revenue potential, using data-driven intelligence to engage, nurture and monetize readers with personalized offers that increase reader revenue and reduce churn. Adpoint is Lineup's end-to-end multi-channel media advertising sales solution that helps media companies streamline operations, make better use of data, increase efficiency and boost revenue.