The Mario Blog
Paywalls, storytelling highlight Latin American conference

The WAN IFRA Latin American Digital Media 2017 conference in Buenos Aires has come to an end: in its closing day, it was all about strategies to get users to pay for content.

This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed. The next blog post is Monday, November 20.


Buenos Aires, Argentina–The WAN IFRA Latin American Digital Media 2017 conference closed last night with a ceremony at the Palace of Justice here, a successful three days of gatherings for more than 600 publishers, CEOs, editors and journalists from around South America and other countries.

I was honored to be part of the program, with a presentation Wednesday about storytelling for the digital age. My presentation emphasized the need for newsrooms to transform themselves into more digitally minded operations, with emphasis on mobile devices, while allowing for print to have its proper role, but no longer as the main event. Below a moment during my presentation while I described the importance of linear visual storytelling.



While storytelling was a topic of great interest, I believe that the hot topic of this conference was paywalls and how to get users to pay for content.


Paying for Content

In fact, the highlight of the closing session of the conference was a discussion of the future of the media and, particularly, its dependence on digital subscriptions accompanied by quality journalism. Speaker after speaker mentioned the importance of creating content that is so high in quality that it becomes essential in the lives of readers, who then will be willing to pay for it.

This is particularly interesting to publishers in Argentina, where paywalls are in their infancy, with the two top newspapers, La Nacion and Clarin, just recently starting to charge for some of the content.

The local audience received valuable tips from Ben Cotton, marketing director of The New York Times, who presented evidence of how the Times has gotten to its enviable position in terms of securing digital subscribers.

While we started with our paywall at the Times in 2011, it was 2015 that we decided to become a subscribers’ business. With that model, we now have 2.4 million digital subscribers which provide us with more revenue than digital advertising. To get there, our recipe was to put our efforts into quality journalism, the type that people are ready to pay for.”

Meanwhile in Argentina

This statement was music to the ears of publishers and executives fromLa Nacion and Clarin, which just recently launched their paid subscription programs for digital platforms. Both newspapers have started paywalls for those who read more than 40 stories per month on their computers, tablets and phones.  Clarin started charging for content in April, and La Nacion in August, and both dailies are being watched closely by regional newspapers in Argentina which plan to launch paywall programs of their own.

I had the impression that the days of Argentine people reading newspaper content for free are quickly coming to an end.  Clarin already has more than 50000 digital subscribers and La Nacion is passing that number. Both dailies expect to top 100,000 subscribers by next year.

Executives from both newspapers said that about 37% of their audience is willing to pay for content.

The photo below, from Clarin, shows a moment during the discussion of paywalls Friday at the Digital Media Latam 2017 conference.


Mario’s Speaking Engagements


Nov. 16-19WAN IFRA Latin America, Buenos Aires, Argentina


April 18-19, 2018-Newscamp ,Augsburg,  Germany.





May 26, 2018Associacion Riograndense de Imprensa, Univesidad de Santa Cruz (Unisc), Brazil



June 3-6, 2018The Seminar, San Antonio, Texas.




Our digital transformation workshops

If you would like to find out more about our workshops for digital transformation, email me:

I will be happy to answer your questions and provide more information. Our workshops are offered in both English and Spanish.



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