“Publishers who succeed probably the most have a tradition of take a look at and study”: Insights from Michael Silberman, Piano | What’s New in Publishing


“Subscriber retention begins in the intervening time of acquisition.”

A local of New York and a Harvard graduate, Michael Silberman is one in every of publishing’s sharpest minds. Not solely did he assist launch MSNBC.com, however his current stint at New York Media noticed him develop distinctive customers from 3M to 35M and generate a 4x enhance in income, in addition to see him launch Vulture.com and TheCut.com as standalone manufacturers.

Quick ahead to 2022 and Silberman is Senior Vice President of Technique at Piano, the 675-strong international media consultancy that helps publishers crunch information, analyze consumer habits and create personalised buyer journeys. Purchasers embody The Wall Road Journal, Fortune, El Confidencial, El Mundo, Insider, TechCrunch, Meredith, Mediahuis, and lots of extra.

WNIP not too long ago caught up with Silberman at FIPP’s World Media Congress close to Lisbon, Portugal for the launch of Piano and FIPP’s Q2 World Digital Subscription Snapshot, in addition to glean his insights on key business traits and benchmark information throughout Piano’s portfolio of publishers.

60–70% of a writer’s viewers visits as soon as, and solely as soon as

We began by asking Silberman the distinction between ‘one-offs’ and repeat guests, a theme he targeted on throughout his FIPP look, “We’ve got lots of benchmark information throughout our writer consumer base and, throughout this information, 60-70% of a writer’s viewers visits simply as soon as, appears to be like at a single web page, and doesn’t return once more in any given thirty day interval.”

“The flip facet of this, nonetheless, is that 30%-40% of a writer’s viewers are engaged customers and there are a lot of methods of measuring this, like what number of lively days, what number of web page views, and many others. All of those measures of engagement are equally legitimate however the best way to have a look at it’s this: who’re the customers who’re my prospect pool?”

By carving off the individuals who go to simply as soon as, you’re left together with your engaged viewers they usually’re the parents to concentrate on by way of your viewers engagement technique.

Michael Silberman, Senior Vice President of Technique, Piano

The arrival of the ‘Registered Internet’

Silberman sees a time when customers throughout the whole net might be registering to log-on, and while he admits it’s at present “extra a hope than a prediction” he sees it as inevitable.

Customers are registering for every kind of internet sites on a regular basis, it’s constructed into the DNA of Google and Fb. Sure, you may search anonymously on Google however you may’t actually do the rest. It does appear that the registered net is inevitable. 

Michael Silberman, Senior Vice President of Technique, Piano

When requested whether or not a transfer to a Registered Internet would hurt the promoting income that publishers obtain from one-off customers, Silberman dismissed the thought outright, “Publishers aren’t producing a lot income from one-off customers, at greatest it’s 25% of advert income and their worth is declining as third-party cookies go away – they’re the viewers which is of least worth to your enterprise. Look, solely 5% of subscriptions come from subscribers who go to on their first-page view.”

Silberman did, nonetheless, add the caveat {that a} excessive proportion of subscribers do subscribe on their first go to (versus a single web page view), “30-40% of a writer’s subscribers do sign-up on their first go to throughout any given thirty-day interval, however they’re primarily customers who’ve visited earlier than and who a writer already has an present relationship with. They can even have visited a minimum of a few pages earlier than subscribing.”

Subscription development tails off

Our dialog turned to the primary development Silberman was seeing proper now throughout Piano’s benchmark information, to which he was unequivocal, “We’re seeing a interval of much less insane subscription development, a extra regular surroundings.”

2020 was an insane yr – we noticed 65% year-over-year development in subscriptions throughout these twelve months. All you needed to do was stick out your hand and ask and other people would subscribe.

Michael Silberman, Senior Vice President of Technique, Piano

Silberman continues, “In 2022, publishers have to be cleverer with their advertising ways, extra aggressive maybe with promotional gives, and positively extra considerate in how they interact customers and drive behaviors that result in subscriptions.” 

When requested which publishers stood out, Silberman declined to call any particular person publishers however mentioned, “The publishers who succeed probably the most are those who’ve a tradition of take a look at and study, who perceive that subscriptions are a recreation of small wins accrued over time. All of the profitable publishers utilizing our platform take a look at consistently and iterate frequently.”

By incrementally establishing a base of information and constructing upon small wins, publishers can succeed. We see an absolute correlation between the extra belongings you strive on the Piano platform – experiences as we name them – and the alternative ways through which you goal your viewers, and subscription development.

Michael Silberman, Senior Vice President of Technique, Piano

Closing ideas

Silberman’s ideas turned to his personal Piano crew, a 30-strong technique consulting group that has a presence internationally together with Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Singapore and different cities, “Piano has a powerful European presence and we’ve not too long ago relocated our international headquarters from Philadelphia to Amsterdam.”

As a part of this international consulting mission, Silberman sees a standard thread between all of the publishers who achieve subscriptions, “They’ve a top-down dedication to develop subscriptions throughout their group. They perceive that subscriptions are an vital a part of their enterprise, even when they’ve a profitable promoting enterprise.”

Silberman then signed off by reminding us that subscriptions shouldn’t be seen as the top objective:

Subscriber retention begins in the intervening time of acquisition.

Michael Silberman, Senior Vice President of Technique, Piano

That’s a complete different story…


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