Local Media Association Partners with Google News Initiative & FTI Consulting
to Launch the Digital Subscriptions Lab

Perhaps nothing is more critical to the future of the newspaper industry than finding business models that support digital subscriptions. Today the Google News Initiative (GNI) announced the creation of a Digital Subscriptions Lab with the goal of developing sustainable and thriving consumer-driven business models for newspapers across North America. 
Local Media Association (LMA) and FTI Consulting have been selected by GNI as partners in this program.
Eight publishers will be chosen to participate in this one-of-a-kind initiative, representing a diverse cross-section of small, medium and large newspapers – all committed to business transformation through digital subscriptions.

“We are thrilled to work with some of the smartest people in the Google ecosystem along with FTI Consulting on this project that could change the trajectory of the newspaper industry,” said Nancy Lane, President, Local Media Association, “Local and metro newspapers are putting significant resources into digital subscription strategies, but we have a long way to go to prove and refine this business model. The Lab has bold and ambitious goals designed to do just that. Suffice to say, incremental growth is not one of them.”

Working with FTI Consulting and teams from GNI, LMA will be centrally involved in every step of the program. This includes participating in on-site meetings as FTI performs diagnostic evaluations of participating publishers across multiple dimensions — people, process, technology, marketing, and content — to benchmark performance, identify short-term optimization opportunities, and recommend longer-term transformation roadmaps. It also means working with various GNI teams that bring considerable expertise in data, technology, product, e-commerce and more.

From there, LMA will lead collaborative community-building among the eight publishers to maximize their learning opportunities. Most importantly, the learnings will then be shared with the industry at large via playbooks, experiential learning opportunities, in-person sessions and more. The full results will be presented during a workshop at Elevate, a joint conference produced by LMA and the Local Media Consortium (LMC), on Sept. 18 in Chicago.

“As publishers reorient their businesses to focus more on reader revenue, many of them have shared with us the challenges they face in trying to make subscriptions work well on their products,” said Jim Albrecht, Project Management Director, Subscribe With Google, Google. “We’re excited to partner directly with them to learn how to optimize their reader revenue strategy and implementation and to share those learnings with the broader ecosystem.”

LMA’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jed Williams, will lead the project for LMA. “We’ve collaborated closely with GNI and FTI to develop a truly unique program that’s purpose-built to transform the business of digital subscriptions,” said Williams. “We know there’s acute urgency among local publishers to find sustainable, profitable solutions – here we answer the call to help them do so.”

To learn more about this project, and other GNI initiatives announced today, click here. For a deeper dive into the Digital Subscriptions Lab, read Nancy Lane’s blog here.