In the first half of 2023, business and tech publisher The Information saw consistent subscription growth, an $800,000 boost from a new product and lagging brand partnership revenue, according to an audio recording of an internal meeting obtained by Adweek.
The recording, which captured a meeting held in early July, provides a rare glimpse into the commercial health of the subscription-oriented publisher. Company leaders shared only a handful of specific metrics, however, so Adweek could not determine revenue or subscriber figures. In August 2022, Vanity Fair reported that The Information has 360,000 “active readers,” which includes both paid subscribers and unpaid newsletter sign-ups.
The recording reflects the challenges of growing a brand partnership business, especially against the backdrop of a depressed advertising economy. For instance, the budgeting goals the publisher set for itself this year were based on breakeven projections, chief executive and founder Jessica Lessin told staff. However, it also demonstrates the value of its robust subscription business.
“Our goals for this year have a solid margin of profitability, and we expect to be profitable this year,” said a representative for the company. “As you can see, it has been a good year for the subscription business, which is the vast, vast majority of our revenue.”
Pro generates 400 new subscribers
The publisher splits its subscription business into two groups: consumer subscriptions, which cost $399 per person per year, and corporate accounts, whose pricing depends on the number of “seats” a company pays for.
The consumer team launched Information Pro, an all-access subscription product, in February. The premium tier costs $999 but is often discounted to $749, and it provides subscribers access to proprietary org charts, databases and surveys.
From its launch to the all-hands meeting in July, Pro generated 400 new subscribers and almost 1,000 upgrades by July, according to DiGuido. In total, the product had brought in close to $800,000 in revenue.
On the consumer front, The Information was 104% to its goal in the first quarter, but it encountered an unspecified slowdown in growth in the second quarter. For the first half in total, consumer subscriptions were 99% to goal, George DiGuido, vp of growth, told staff.
“It has been a strong first quarter, but it’s a weird time in the economy and I want to reverse some recent trends very quickly before they become more of a factor,” Lessin told staff.
The growth target this year for its core subscription business was just under 30%, according to Lessin. The figure reflects both historical trends and an investment in the team, as the consumer subscriptions division added three new staff this year. For context, subscription revenues at The New York Times—which has a different paywall and model—grew 9.4% in the third quarter, per its earnings.