Make no little plans…
We founded Scroll to create a new model for a thriving free press. We sought to balance a frictionless, fast, ad-free user experience on an open web with a revenue model that gave publishers a strong future. Creating a new business model for news is not something that can be done without the people who create that news. That’s why we’re so proud that Gannett is joining existing strategic investors such as the New York Times, News Corp and Axel Springer as an investor in Scroll.
Gannett was always going to be an important partner to us. They are a daily destination for so many millions across America, and that rare company seeking to sustain both vital local publishers and a large national news brand. If Scroll wishes to support a thriving free press then we too must balance the demands of those poles and Gannett is an amazing microcosm of the wider challenge.
“We’re excited to be both investing and partnering with Scroll to provide another option for consumers to interact with and pay for our trusted, high-quality journalism.”
– Bob Dickey, CEO, Gannett
Another milestone passed: Successful deals in every major media category
Our first milestone was aligning user experience and a sustainable revenue model for media in a way that would scale.
For consumers, Scroll had to:
- Work everywhere that users consume content. It had to work where ad blockers did not and require zero changes in user behaviour or discovery.
- Be a flat monthly subscription at a price consumers would happily pay.
- Be scalable to cover as much premium content as consumers might want.
For publishers, Scroll had to:
- Keep the publisher’s relationship with its audience sacrosanct.
- Make publishers more money than they would have made from advertising in every scenario.
- Complement not compete with their existing subscription/membership strategies.
We spent a year working with publishers, testing scenarios, models and deal terms until we had something that could work as well for the niche vertical publisher as for the broad national brand, that could support the journalism of a snackable digital native as well as a cross-platform colossus.
The second milestone was widely thought to be more difficult, even impossible. We needed annual deals with leaders in every major category on common terms. That meant facilitating publishers coming together and agreeing to deliver an ad-free experience on a network of premium media sites for one flat price. The traditional thinking was that publishers could never work together to make this happen. The traditional thinking was wrong.
In magazines, we were joined by The Atlantic so often the first to step up to embrace the new and doing so again here. Their popular long form journalism was one of the main inspirations driving Scroll.
In the world of pure play digital we partnered with Fusion Media Group, Business Insider and Slate.
“As a media company with a thriving digital portfolio of beloved, iconic brands that have the rare combination of relevance and longevity, we have long relied on strong, direct relationships with our audiences. By partnering with Scroll, we see another opportunity to offer a convenient and engaging user-experience to our super-fans, and also be an early building-block for pioneering industry-wide new business models, ones not relying on platforms that are clearly not improving the fundamentals of the business of journalism.”
– Raju Narisetti, CEO of Gizmodo Media, a division of Fusion Media Group
All three have already developed sophisticated, diverse revenue streams and had been among the first to experiment with ad-free models.
“The success of Slate’s membership program has shown us that users are willing to pay for a premium content consumption experience. Scroll takes that idea and generalizes it to the entire digital media industry. Their model cleverly provides an incentive for publishers to join the network while avoiding any cannibalization of existing subscription revenue. I expect Scroll will help to further diversify our business, in 2018 and beyond.”
– David Stern, VP of Product and Business Development at Slate
We knew that a new model for news had to work across every format, so we partnered with the digital operation of MSNBC. For a giant company, they’ve often been nimble and were able to teach us how to make sure our model could work for cross-platform giants no matter the mix of text and video.
If we partnered with the national giants we also had to partner with historic metro newspapers forging bright digital futures like the Philadelphia Inquirer and uncompromising, vertically-focused sites like Talking Points Memo. Their audience is focused on a particular area, their importance equally as vital as more general news and their relationship with that audience is sacrosanct. We were excited to make Scroll work for them.
“Coming after our own successful subscription roll out, we’re excited to explore new complementary revenue streams that put user experience first. We are excited to participate in Scroll’s innovative approach to further engaging with our audience and look to both learn from it and make it easier for readers to access and enjoy our content.”
– Tian Chen, VP Product at the Philadelphia Media Network
“TPM has moved aggressively in recent years to build paid membership as a core revenue stream. We’re excited to work with Scroll to provide new options for our readers and new revenue streams for TPM that are line with our global strategy.”
– Josh Marshall, Founder, Editor and Publisher, Talking Points Memo
We have a long road as we bring together more and more publishers on the path to launching later this year, but we’re thankful for the support and faith of this growing group of innovators, particularly our new investor Gannett, as we build towards an open web where premium content can make money by delivering the experience consumers want.
Sign up to be the first to try Scroll when it launches later this year at Scroll.com