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Black Friday 2020: How Will The Pandemic Affect The Way Media Companies Attract New Customers?

October 20, 2020
Posted by Tim Yeates

For every publisher or OTT service, Black Friday is a huge opportunity to entice new subscribers with tantalizing offers and discount plans – and this year the stakes are higher than ever.

Ongoing uncertainty around lockdown measures and reluctance to visit physical shops will likely see people avoiding the high street in favor of searching for the best seasonal deals online. In fact, recent research led by Finder found that 56% of Black Friday shoppers insist they will be doing all of their shopping on the web this year.

That’s great news for media companies, many of which are starting to shore up their e-commerce strategy and ensure they have the right offering in place to target as many new subscribers as possible come November 29th.

With that in mind, we’ve put together these practical tips and insights for different types of media companies aiming to make the most of Black Friday this year.

Black Friday for Publishers

Despite the global disruption we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic, many reports suggest that digital publishing has been one of the industries less affected by this year’s events.

According to digital trends researcher Jellyfish, there’s actually been a notable increase in demand for online magazine subscriptions across various categories such as Tech & Gaming, Family & Home and Sports. Publishing giant Condé Nast also recently reported a year-on-year increase of 420% in new subscribers across titles such as Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair.

These are positive signs for magazine and newspaper publishers, with many aiming to capitalize even further on the additional free time that people look set to spend at home over the festive season.

It also makes Black Friday 2020 a key moment on the calendar in terms of advertising free trials, package deals and limited-time-only offers, all of which are key tactics for any publisher seeking to maximize its online subscriber count. Here’s a prime example from the Daily Mail’s Black Friday campaign last year:

Daily Mail Black Friday

Daily Mail Black Friday campaign 2019

Even beyond boosting revenue and increasing new customer acquisitions, Black Friday campaigns also help drive qualified traffic to key landing pages, all the while, building up anonymous behavioral data to better understand, segment and inform future marketing strategies and feed into other data sources.

Of course, this isn’t just about sourcing new customers; top service providers also make a point of rewarding their existing subscribers with unique deals as part of their Black Friday campaign. This could be something as simple as offering a sizeable discount for any customer that wishes to switch to a longer-term package, or add-on additional features such as increased device slots for a reduced rate.

Black Friday for OTT Services

As with publishing, OTT services have been in relatively high demand throughout the pandemic with people spending far more time at home, binging on TV series, films, crowd-less sport, and video games rather than dining out or going to events. This looks set to continue as we move towards Christmas, particularly as winter arrives and the nights start to draw in.

Looking ahead to Black Friday, we can expect fiercer competition between streaming services than ever before. The likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Disney+ are all vying for space in a rapidly growing sector, each trying to out-do one another in terms of catalog selection, user experience and, of course, value.

Free 30-day trials have proven a very effective selling tactic among OTT services, giving prospective subscribers a chance to see exactly what’s on offer over an extended period. HBO, Hulu and Apple TV have also offered special free packages in response to the pandemic, a tactic we expect to see revived by providers as a core Black Friday promotion towards the end of November, much like this one by Hulu:

Black Friday Hulu

Hulu Black Friday campaign 2019

Beyond TV and film, OTT services are also providing a way for sports teams and broadcasters to connect directly with fans and monetize match day support.

Clubs like Manchester City are leading the charge by investing in OTT channels and regularly publishing gated video content that appeals to their fanbase. The Man City for TV subscription package is available through certain streaming services, though the club also offers regular discounts for fans that want to subscribe through the website.

There’s clearly a big opportunity for sports content providers to attract more subscribers over the Black Friday period, and we expect to see many more official membership promotions and discounts advertised across various platforms, particularly targeted at those buying it as a Christmas gift.

Top Tips When Planning Your Black Friday 2020 Campaign

Is your digital strategy ready to go for November 29th? Here are four expert tips for any media company that wants to ensure their Black Friday campaign is a success:

  • Make it relevant – The best campaigns don’t just offer a percentage discount; they also send a message that empathizes with their target audience. This is especially important given the context of people being forced to spend more free time at home this year.
  • Offer a limited timeframe – People respond well to the idea of scarcity; you can drive more sales by letting them know your Black Friday offer will only last for so long.
  • Consider multimedia bundles – Higher spending over Christmas means ad spend rises dramatically and the value of publisher inventory can skyrocket. This makes it the perfect time to create broad, large package options for consumer brands.
  • Turn data to your advantage – Black Friday campaigns are a great way to collect data from your target audience. You can then use these data insights to tailor promotions that match their specific likes and needs.

How Subscription Management Can Support Acquisition and Sales

 Offers/Vouchers (Entitlement, Credit, not just discounts)

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the run up to the holiday season is prime time for offers and discounts, and Subscription Management doesn’t disappoint with its Acquisition and Conversion tools. The basic offer of a percentage discount can be configured, as well as a set starting price for a product or service. This is where many vendors stop, but campaign management in Subscription Management is so much more than cash discounts.

Access to subscriptions can be granted without purchase by adding the entitlement to the content directly to an account with a voucher code. A great example is offering free digital access to a publication with a print purchase, a model that many of our clients have seen success with. Another popular example in TVOD, for example Netflix, offers ‘bolt-on’ or additional services, at negligible cost to the provider. Additional devices, bonus features, or Ultra-HD streaming are examples.

Platforms that allow their customers to purchase credits can also benefit, using the Add Credits offer, used in the same way as gift cards purchased in a store. That way, existing customers and new customers alike can benefit from targeted credit purchase campaigns, or credits can be gifted without charge.

Campaigns can also be used to drive the Fear of Missing Out, using campaigns with limited uses; when only the first 1000 customers to redeem a code will get the discount, demand can skyrocket!

Custom Parameters

Data capture and value exchange, particularly with the upcoming changes to 3rd party cookies, has become a primary focus. Providing trial content, articles, or previews in exchange for personal details or free registration forms the foundation of understanding your customers. Subscription Management doesn’t confine integrations to predefined datasets – custom parameters allows for any relevant data specific to your product to be collected and analysed.

Subscription Gifts

Digital gifts have always been an easy stocking filler, but this year, they’re likely to be more popular than ever. With the gifting functionality within Subscription Management it is possible to build gift options and bundles that can be sent via email with a customized email template. Passes given as gifts, such as Sports or TV passes in particular, are popular and effective examples. Black Friday is a great opportunity to stock up on those ‘emergency’ gifts in the run up to Christmas – or for your customers to treat each other today!

Subscription Bundles

Subscription Management’s powerful bundle management functionality allows various digital subscriptions to be bundled together, which is perfect for organizations with a diverse content offering. Customers are more likely to sign up where there is a clear benefit to buying multiple products at once.

If your product offering includes multiple items that can be subscribed to, offering an annual discount on an ‘all access pass’ can be hugely appealing to new, and existing subscribers.


Free and discounted trials are highly configurable in Subscription Management, and can be configured to offer new, and even existing customers discounted periods of access. It’s also possible to select if a trial will require payment details up front, allowing for the configuration of obligation-free registration trials that can roll into full subscriptions at a later date.

But wait… there’s more!

Looking for a deep-dive on how to create a winning Black Friday campaign for your paid content? Download our whitepaper “How Media Companies Can Make the Most of Black Friday” below for more practical insights.

We’re here to help

If you are reviewing your subscription 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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