Case Study: Advance Local and Sophi Content Paywall Engine

Advance Local is one of the largest media groups in the United States. It operates 10 leading news and information organizations and reaches 55 million people monthly across multiple platforms with its high-quality journalism. It is dedicated to unrivaled local journalism that improves the lives of millions of people.
The Challenge
As the Coronavirus hit and Americans reached increasingly for local news sources, Advance Local was in markets where it was the leading provider of crucial news. It was also facing advertising pressure and recognized the benefits of diversifying its revenue stream.
It decided to start with a paywall. Its paywall included a meter and premium content, and it experienced success with its premium content but believed more could still be done. Advance started to explore to get better insights into the value of its content and fuel its new subscription business.
We wanted to see how much farther Sophi could take us, so we tested Sophi Content Paywall on one of our largest sites. The results were transformative. We were hoping for a 10% lift in conversion rate and Sophi delivered four times that result. We’re continuing to roll out Sophi solutions across more of our sites as we speak.
Neil Katz, Chief Customer Officer, Advance Local
The Solution
Advance started using Sophi Content Paywall Engine on one of its largest sites, The technology uses advanced natural language processing to analyze every piece of content and select which articles to put behind a paywall. It picks only those articles where the subscription revenue opportunity outweighs the advertising revenue forgone.
An experiment was setup so Advance could see how Sophi performed side by side with its existing paywall, and the results confirmed it had make the right decision. Sophi generated a 45% lift in subscription conversions, and uncovered pockets of content that editors didn’t anticipate would generate subscriptions.
The Results
The test ran for 60 days and the results spoke for themselves. Sophi was able to dramatically increase subscriptions.
  • Sophi was able to improve on the editorial team’s results. It didn’t just make the same good calls that the newsroom made and avoid errors. The algorithm was able to find net new pockets of value and generate incremental subscriptions in other areas of the business.
  • During the experiment, the test group was presented with roughly the same amount of paywalls as the editorial control group, and the results were significantly more efficient. Sophi drove a 45% increase in subscription conversions – quadrupling their initial goal for the test.

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