Gabe Bullard of Nieman Reports examines how the Harvard Business Review and The Economist are gaining readers with narrated audio articles.
Bullard reports, “The Economist, which is available on Noa and Curio, has made podcasts since 2006 and has offered subscribers a narrated audio edition of each issue since 2007. Like with Zetland’s narration, The Economist’s audio edition is a way of maintaining its subscription base. ‘We are a premium-priced publication and people feel guilty if they don’t read many stories,’ says Economist deputy editor Tom Standage, who oversees audio strategy. ‘Our evidence suggests that the audio edition is a very effective retention tool; once you come to rely on it, you won’t unsubscribe.’
“As popular as the audio edition is for subscribers, it remains just that—for subscribers. The app partnerships give The Economist a way to find new listeners (and they participate in revenue sharing, Standage says). ‘Partnerships like this give us an opportunity to expose new — and younger, more female, and more diverse — audiences to our brand,’ Standage says. ‘The same is true of podcasts. We make money from podcasts, but strategically their aim is to reach potential future subscribers. Any subscribers converted from the apps may find the full audio edition is the best way to get their money’s worth.’”
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