The Economist Group chief executive: “You will soon pay the same price for The Economist in digital and print”
Andrew Rashbass, chief executive of The Economist Group, has predicted that the price of the digital tablet version of The Economist will soon match that of the printed version of the publication. Speaking this morning at the PPA annual conference, Rashbass discussed the publication’s online digital strategy, revealing what he saw as a ‘brains to brawn’ mass consumption move by readers who will also read Hello and OK!. “Readers are looking to be challenged,” he stated, “but they are also wanting to dumb down as well,” as he highlighted a trend by readers. As for the growth in tablet revenue, a platform he said offered a ‘lean back’ approach to content consumption, similar to that of magazine and newspaper reading, he added; “It is no longer possible to capture the same share of readers’ wallets as it used to be. We believe that a ‘lean back’ approach does sit in this nice place where you are able capture the reader’s money as well as the advertisers’ money.” He continued, however, to admit that he did not believe that the amount of revenue generated by tablet advertising would ever hold the same yield as in print. Rashbass added that through the company’s digital growth, with app sales at around 125,000 and growing, the company had proven that it was possible to charge ‘quite significantly’ for digital content: “You will soon pay the same price for The Economist in digital as you will print, or if you want both you will pay a little bit more,” he revealed. He continued to discuss the company’s revenue generation strategy through tablet: “Through advertising on tablets we believe there is an opportunity for the industry. We can come together and focus on delivering the measurability there is a reasonable opportunity to make a good stab at making money out of tablet advertising…No longer is it enough to sell advertising slots; we also have to help clients earn consideration and help them make use of their own digital assets through media. We believe that is a good place for our industry to help them invest in our journalism.” Rashbass also revealed that the company was not the most profitable it had ever been and predicted that in five years’ time, print and circulation revenue would have continued to decline, but digital would go forward.