Insights from Axel Springer’s BILD on how it managed – and is managing – digital transformation

At this week’s FIPP Insider event in Berlin, BILD Group’s Managing Director, Carolin Hulshoff Pol, will take to the stage to provide key insights into how Europe’s largest daily newspaper, and Germany’s biggest media brand, has managed – and continues to manage – digital change. We caught up with her ahead of the convening to get the inside track… 

“In our conversation in Berlin, I will share some insights into how we have managed to transform from a print brand to a multimedia news brand,” says Hulshoff Pol, who prior to becoming Managing Director of BILD Group, also held a number of other positions with the brand, including Regional General Manager in Northern Germany, General Marketing Manager.

“In 1952, BILD published its first print edition. A lot has happened since then: our readers can now consume news content still on paper, as an ePaper, on our homepage, mobile, as podcasts, in apps, on TV-Screen and on a wide range of social media channels. We see the key to our success really being innovation – we are continuously adapting to the changing behavior of our users.”

Thanks to such transformation, the BILD Group currently commands almost six million daily unique users, reaching almost 40 million people every month. One particularly interesting area of expansion for the brand over the past two  years has been video journalism, where it has invested significantly in infrastructure, as well as content.  

“We launched our linear TV channel last year in addition to our print, digital and audio activities,” says Hulshoff Pol. Importantly within that, we also invested in a whole new video infrastructure.” 

“As we can see through our data, full video content is very important for our target group. Moving images are engaging and that is more than essential for boulevard. Besides the strong demand for video content from our target group, we see dynamic growth in the digital video advertising market. Therefore, a digital video strategy is the obvious next step for a brand like BILD.”

With its innovating pricing strategy, BILD is focusing on a ‘right payment model, at the right price, at the right time’ approach to bundling all of its offerings. This has involved something of a pivot away from the previous philosophy of ‘more views, cheaper prices’, and is delivered by way of analysing user behavior – a strategy Hulshoff Pol will elaborate on at the Insider event. 

In addition, she’ll also speak about BILD Club – an exclusive bundled offering for audiences who subscribe in both print and online that delivers value on both sides of the publisher-consumer relationship. 

Finally, with so much emphasis seemingly being placed on subscription revenues, I had to ask Carolin: does this mean that BILD is in no way apprehensive about the looming Cookiepocalypse!?

“The cookiepocalypse is nothing we are worried about. Sure, it’s still a challenge, it is the most significant change in the advertising ecosystem in a long time. But platforms benefit from this shift, and it also gives more control back to the publisher. We have a high-quality, first-party data stack and can provide valuable targeting, contextual segments, and even one-to-one audience matching.” 

“The challenge is to scale this first-party approach to become even larger and compete with other platforms. Therefore, publishers also need to work together in partnerships and joint publisher Initiatives, such as OVK, NetID.”

“Another initiative for example, is to turn pseudonymous users into known users in the longrun. How do we get that done? Through registered login initiatives. This gives us more confidence and power for both revenue streams, advertising, and subscriptions.”

FIPP Insider Berlin is FREE and open to all, and you can find out further details on the event here.  


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