Pivot to subscriptions

TheStreet joins BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vice and others in a scramble to stop the bleeding from digital advertising, Digiday reports:

The Jim Cramer-founded publication laid off 10 editorial staffers last Thursday, its third round of layoffs in the past 14 months, after moves into video and branded content failed to turn around advertising revenues. Most of the layoffs fell on the ad-supported side of edit, according to sources. The cuts now leave TheStreet and its sister publication, The Deal, with less than 40 editorial staffers, according to one of those people.

Companies across digital media are reaching a moment of truth, one that’s been coming for the 10+ years they’ve failed to turn a profit. But while other publications are now pivoting to video, TheStreet’s already been there, done that, and it didn’t work. According to Digiday, “while video views have grown substantially, according to former employees, boosted by the liberal use of autoplay, consumer advertising revenue grew just 2 percent during the most recent quarter, per the company filing.”

Instead, it’s banking on the value it provides to readers, focusing on events and subscriptions. I think this is a smart move for a niche publication with a dedicated audience, and it’s the approach places like Digiday and The Information rely on. It lets TheStreet focus on how to better serve readers, and it relieves the pressure of constantly chasing the newest trend in advertising. It won’t be the right approach for every outlet, but narrowing focus to a paying audience is at least the start for a different approach.