May/June 2018 New(s) Ideas Winner
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As ad revenue declines, news organizations are looking for digital subscription models to help bridge the gap. Several possible solutions have been proposed, including a range of paywall solutions.
Our May/June New(s) Ideas winner has developed an exciting solution that offers maximum flexibility to fit any publisher’s needs. Pelcro’s paywall not only lets news organizations determine the extent of the paywall and subscription prices, but leverages artificial intelligence to target specific reader demographics with tailored offerings – all in less time than it takes to read the morning paper.
Pelcro’s demo explains how its dynamic paywall works.
We caught up with Pelcro’s CEO, Michael Ghattas, to learn more about the product and how news media leverage its features to maximize reader revenue.
What is Pelcro?
Pelcro is the number one content subscription platform for publishers and media companies to drive reader revenue. Pelcro’s software helps publishers and media companies drive subscriptions using a dynamic paywall, analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) and machine learning algorithms.
How did the idea for Pelcro come about?
I was the COO of a venture-backed advertising technology company that worked with thousands of publishers around the world. I witnessed the struggle of media companies and publishers while Facebook and Google flourished by sharing 99 percent of the digital advertising growth in 2017. It was clear that advertisers would continue to favor platforms such as Facebook and Google due to massive amounts of data they leverage to target users and return a high ROI to advertisers. I believe that platforms such as LinkedIn, Yelp and Amazon will make it even more competitive for publishers to compete in the digital advertising space. Given the circumstances, media companies and publishers will have to fundamentally shift their business model to one where the user is at the center and reader revenue, in the form of subscriptions, will be main source of revenue.
What challenges does Pelcro help news media organizations to overcome?
Pelcro helps news media organizations drive digital subscriptions with a minimal time and financial investment. The New York Times subscription revenue has surpassed their advertising revenue, but it took more than $40 million and 14 months to develop their technology. Pelcro’s platform provides all publishers and media companies a powerful solution at an affordable price.
What are some different ways news media organizations can incorporate Pelcro into their business?
There are four different ways news media organizations can incorporate Pelcro:
1. Dynamic Paywall: Pelcro provides a dynamic paywall that is served with a simple yet powerful script that allows publishers to target their users with different price points, currencies, languages and messages. Pelcro’s paywall integrates with multiple payment processors such as Stripe, Paypal, Google Pay, Apple Pay and more to target users based on their device and preference in order to increase conversions and increase customer satisfaction.
2. Analytics: Publishers who are prioritizing reader revenue have shifted their key performance indicators (KPIs) away from pageviews, to loyalty, engagement and conversions. Pelcro’s analytics platform focuses on these new KPIs and allows publishers to A/B test different price points and messages to increase their conversions.
3. CRM/Support: Pelcro’s CRM was built to allow news media companies to create and manage relationships with their readers. An intuitive and easy-to-use platform that can be used to offer coupons, discounts, refunds and cancellations. The CRM integrates with popular email marketing, support and accounting tools such as MailChimp, Cheetah, Drip, Zendesk, Quickbooks and more.
4. Machine Learning: Pelcro is combining its data and insight with machine learning algorithms to create prediction tools that will help publishers maximize their subscription revenues. For example, we can predict a user with an 80 percent likelihood of subscribing and offer them a discount to get them over the edge of subscribing.
News media organizations can incorporate all our tools together or separately.
What has the response to Pelcro been like from your news media customers?
News media customers are happy with our platform, as it’s an end-to-end solution that was built with the purpose of driving reader revenue for publishers and news companies. Pelcro also supports multiple marketing, accounting and support integrations that make it easy to plugin to their existing systems.
What else does Pelcro do?
Pelcro offers consulting services to publishers and news media companies to help them through the transition to reader revenue. Some of the consulting and advisory services revolve around setting a marketing strategy, pricing strategy, team roles, etc. We make sure to provide them with all the tools, insight and advice they need to set them on a path to succeed.
What is Pelcro working on for the future?
One of the Machine Learning prediction models we are working on combines the subscriber data along with world events to recommend editorial content to the newsroom that would increase conversions. This allows the editorial team to create focused content with the primary goal of driving subscriptions. This is very interesting to our data scientists and machine learning experts since there is a delicate balance between creating free articles to drive engagement and premium content to drive subscriptions in order to keep the entire subscription funnel healthy.
How can publishers interested in Pelcro get started? Does Pelcro require any special computer equipment or software for newspapers to use it?
Pelcro’s software is deployed via software development kits (SDKs) that are very easy to set up and do not require any special equipment; that’s the beauty of it.
Contact us here to try our advanced plan for free for three months, which also includes a one-hour free consultation on their reader revenue and subscription strategy. Just mention News Media Alliance in the “Anything else” section of the contact page and you’ll be set up with an account manager for a free consultation and to set up your account.
What do you see as the future of news media?
The future of news media is enriched storytelling, trust and direct relationships with the readers. The business model has shifted from a click business to a user-centric business; this aligns the incentives for in-depth reporting and enriched storytelling. I am very excited to see media companies rise, stronger than ever, during the next five years.
Do you have a great New(s) Idea? Enter your product or service in our contest today – winners are selected and featured monthly, with a grand prize winner who will be selected in December to receive a dedicated eblast and webinar with Alliance news media members! Entries not selected during the month they were submitted are automatically entered for the next month. Click here to learn more.
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Lindsey is the Communications Director for the News/Media Alliance. Prior to joining the Alliance, she led communications for a food and nutrition nonprofit in Washington, D.C. for over eight years.