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The Aptitude Blog

A conversation with Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun

October 15, 2020
Posted by Tim Yeates

The Japan News is an English-language daily published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, the leading Japanese newspaper with the largest circulation in the world.  

Launched in 1955, the English paper was long known as The Daily Yomiuri. It changed to its current name in 2013 as part of a major renewal of the newspaper’s content. Its mission is to offer the latest and most reliable information about Japan to the world, covering both domestic and foreign news. The paper also appeals locally to many Japanese who love learning and reading English. The Japan News has a partnership with The Washington Post and The Times.

We spoke Mr. Fumihiro Kitayama, Former Managing Editor, The Japan News and Ms. Yuki Hasegawa, Former Deputy Managing Editor of The Yomiuri Shimbun, to learn more about their journey of bringing the Japan News to a global audience whilst being able to offer combinations of digital and physical subscriptions to their readership.   

Mr. Fumihiro Kitayama, Former Managing Editor, The Japan News  

Can you please introduce yourself, your publication and company?

Let me introduce myself, I’m the managing editor of the English-language newspaper The Japan News. I took the current position in April 2019. Before that, I’ve been writing economic and business news since the 1990s. 

To give some background on The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Yomiuri Shimbun is a newspaper company that publishes morning and evening editions. It was first published in 1874 and has a history of more than 145 years. The morning paper now has a circulation of about 8 million, the largest in the world. We have bases to cover not only Japan but also America, Europe and Asia. 

Can you please outline Yomiuri’s publishing strategy for the Japan News? Why digital subscriptions?  

To explain why we chose to introduce digital subscriptions; it is difficult to distribute newspapers overseas. However, if we use the Internet to distribute news, we can reach readers all over the world. We have started digital subscriptions to bring valuable news to millions of readers, regardless of nationality.   

Who is the intended audience?

For our intended audience, we hope that by distributing news in English, readers around the world will become familiar with the views of the Yomiuri Shimbun and Japanese news. Readers of our website have spread especially to Asia. I want many people living in English-speaking countries around the world to read our thoughts and news.   

Was it easy to work with MPP Global in getting this project launched and were they helpful strategically? 

To answer if it was easy working with MPP Global, people in charge of the japan news gave us a quick and appropriate response to our requests when we launched the service. As they say, MPP global is strengthening its operations in the Asia-Pacific region, we held frequent meetings, and the support system was satisfactory.  

Why did you choose MPP Global to support the Japan News digital subscriptions? 

We expect Subscription Management to play an important role in expanding our international readership. By using MPP Global’s other services, We are positive that we can meet the needs of our business such as making flexible pricing, promotion and marketing strategy. 

Were there issues or concerned before launching Subscription Management?

We were concerned at the beginning.  This is the first time we have done digital subtraction overseas. The operation of Subscription Management, however, was not as difficult as I first expected. I cannot compare exactly with other companies’ services and products, but I think the instructions were thorough. 

Ms. Hasegawa-san, Former Deputy Managing Editor, Yomiuri Shimbun

Can you please introduce yourself and your role here at the Yomiuri Shimbun?

I’m currently the deputy managing editor of the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is the Japanese edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, but I was formerly the managing editor of the Japan News, which is the English edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, where I decided to introduce MPP Global’s Subscription Management. That’s why I’m here today.  

Why did the Yomiuri Shimbun look to improve digital subscriptions on the Japan News?

Basically, the Japan News is print based. We have circulation of about 20,000, and we’ve been working on expanding readership. 

If you focus on the print, you could only get people living in Japan, and we had a limited reach of readers. Because we’re the English edition, I wanted to work on readership outside Japan, and there’s a growing interest in Japan right now. So, to explore the readership abroad, I needed the digital subscription. 

What were the main reasons for choosing Subscription Management to support digital subscriptions for the Japan News?

Because we have the Print edition here in Japan, we didn’t just want to abandon the paper; we wanted to keep the paper and digital subscription. So, focusing on the foreign readership, we wanted a separate digital subscription service for domestic readers and overseas readers. MPP Global had the perfect system where we could separate the service for overseas readers and domestic readers.  

In the domestic service, we have the paper subscription tied to the digital subscription. Overseas, it’s a separate, independent digital subscription system. 

What business models did you consider launching on the Subscription Management platform?

Some of the business models I had in mind was for the domestic readers, it’s paper subscribers having extra website service, but for foreign readers, we wanted to have a full monthly subscription system where they could get all the content in our website.  

We also wanted to know which content might be of interest to foreign readers, so we wanted to have a micropayments system where we charge per article, and that’s where Subscription Management came in.  

Why did you select MPP Global as a vendor?

The reason I selected MPP Global is because it’s a service where we could separate our readers, domestic and foreign, to give separate services. Before MPP Global, the system did not allow us to have such a service, so we were looking for something that would allow us to do that. 

What is the standout benefit of MPP Global’s Subscription Management platform?

Aside from the basic service that we were looking for where we could separate our readers, and providing different services, the other reason is that MPP Global were compliant with rules like the GDPR. We are very keen on data management so that was two of the big reasons why we picked MPP Global. 

What do you believe the positives will be with Subscription Management being able to manage both digital and print subscribers?

The Yomiuri Shimbun strength really lies on our print, especially the Japanese edition. Having both legs, digital, and print, together, is essential in going forward. I think MPP Global will help us in doing that in our English edition which will be very important for us. 

Before Subscription Management, what were some limitations to engaging with your audience and subscribers?

Maybe it’s not much about the system, but the way we engaged with the news. We had a free website and it was more or less everything, but because now we have Subscription Management and could focus on people abroad, we can focus more on what we want to send, and when, and how. I think it allowed us to think more strategically about how to relay our messages and news.  

In Focus – Subscription Management’s Powerful Print and Digital Function

Utilizing Subscription Management for end-to-end subscriber management, the Yomiuri Shimbun was able to separate their existing domestic audience, who receive digital access as part of their print subscription, from their overseas audience who would need to subscribe for full digital access. In addition, a microtransactions model was introduced for non-subscribed users, that would allow two free articles a week using Subscription Management’s powerful Intelligence and Decisioning metering controls, and a pay-per-article beyond that. The methodology behind this approach was not only to drive reader revenues, but also help to identify trending topics that could shape the editorial direction of the publication.  

Customer information at the Japan News also benefits from MPP Global’s Level 1 PCI-DSS compliance, and GDPR guidelines and tools to galvanize their data, in line with the Yomiuri Shimbun’s own robust and thorough processes.   

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our powerful subscription management tools can elevate your customer experience, produce offering, and data intelligence.  

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If you are reviewing your publishing strategy, get in touch to arrange a demo of how we can unlock all the tools needed to succeed now, and in the future.

Contact our helpful team; Telephone +44 844 873 1418 or visit our contact us page.

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This blog post was written by:

Tim Yeates
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