: Don’t get fooled by Bruno Patino’s boyish charms and French manners. Behind it he hides one of the sharpest brains in online media. As the…

Bruce Patino: Don’t get fooled by Bruno Patino’s boyish charms and French manners. Behind it he hides one of the sharpest brains in online media. As the managing director of Le Monde Interactif, the online version of the biggest newspaper in France, he has been implementing a hybrid, revenue-diversification strategy for the newspaper for the last couple of years.

Some notes from the session at the IFRA conference (I will see if I can get a few slides Bruno showed during his lecture: some of the slides were great): In 2001, business plans were simple, 1 visitor brought in 1 franc of ad revenues online. Things have changed since then…

Generalist information was “free” anyway before the advent of the Internet: Radio, free TV, free press (“Metro” free newspaper in most European countries etc); third-party payers (like corporates paying for newspapers for employees).

I was never convinced by the argument that we should not give away for free what people already paid for.

The marginal cost of a video product online is not zero, as opposed to text-based content, and hence it will have to be paid.

Subscription content is not for every visitor coming to our site, it is a result of segmentation strategy. We need to have a very strong free section for people to be able to pay for the premium content. Thanks to the free site, you will cut down on marketing costs to attract subscribers.

Among our current users 80% come for current news (and they are targeted through advertising), and another 20% come for in-depth research: those you hit for subscription revenues.

A year ago, we did a study on our target market and came to these conclusions: a target market of 55,000 people; with an optimal rate of 5 Euro a month. We now have 39,000 subscribers, after a year…Attrition rate of 17-25 percent, a reasonable rate.

Analogy of airline travel: economy class versus business class. You will not ask business class travelers over the Atlantic that if they want to continue flying from here, they should pay up more. We’re not in the peep-show model. The subscriber edition which revolves around what we call “The Desk”, new services and editorial products. What you are going to pay for is not more information, but for earning/saving on time.

On May 19th, we will launch a horizontal navigation on our site, in addition to the usual vertical navigation bar (which points to free content) as a reminder for the subscription edition.

Our revenues in 2000: advertising 60% syndication: 27%

2003: subscribers: 52%, advertising: 26%, syndication: 20%

Asking premium rate CPMs for subscribers: we haven’t been successful till now. It will take at least a year or two.

The coverage of this trip is sponsored by Yaga.

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