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Axios slows its local expansion
Last week, we learned that Axios Local will pause expansion after launching its 30th city later this summer.
Axios’ chief business officer Fabricio Drummond explained the decision by saying the company plans to “unlock a more substantial presence in [existing] markets before further expansion.” Axios Local is not currently profitable, according to Adweek.
Drummond also shared revenue and audience data on Axios Local:
2021: 14 markets; ~$4 million in revenue; $286k revenue per market
2022: 24 markets; $8.6 million in revenue; $358k revenue per market
2023 (to date): 29 markets; $7.5 million in revenue; likely on pace for slight growth in revenue per market
It’s impressive progress. 1.55 million newsletter subscribers, or about 50K per market, is strong evidence that their local newsletters have product/market fit. Financially, it’s encouraging that Axios Local is growing average revenue per market, suggesting they’re scaling a mix of sponsorship, membership, and events revenue in more mature markets.
One key question is whether leadership can protect the project internally during this period, particularly after Axios was acquired by the cable giant Cox Enterprises last year. To that end, it’s discouraging that Axios Local’s general manager Ted Williams stepped back into an advisory role earlier this year. Williams is also the founder of The Charlotte Agenda, which was acquired by Axios in 2021 and provided the company with both a local beachhead and playbook.
Now, with expansion paused, the team can refocus on growing subscribers and tailoring their monetization playbook in existing markets. With enough patience and operational discipline, profitability and growth to additional markets are likely within reach.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
About half of newsrooms are using generative AI. Creating content summaries, simplifying research, and helping with workflow efficiency are the three top use cases, according to the WAN-IFRA survey. Publishers also cited inaccurate information and plagiarism as their top concerns, but only 20% of newsrooms reported having AI guidelines in place.
Twitter continues to decline as a source of publisher traffic. New Chartbeat data shows that Twitter now represents 1.2% of all publisher traffic, down from 1.9% five years ago. Small publishers have been hit particularly hard – their Twitter referral traffic is down 98% from five years ago.
The FT’s year-old app has 140K downloads. The app, called FT Edit, is aimed at younger audiences with a lower price point and a shorter, finishable reader experience. User retention has been strong with 85% of six-month trial users graduating from the $0.99 per month trial to the full $4.99 per month price.
More on publishers:
69% of publishers are “actively preparing” for the end of the third-party cookie, according to a new Digiday survey.
Two deputy editors in chief are leaving the WSJ.
The team behind UK daily news podcast News Agents is launching a weekly US show.
More on platforms:
Meta ended support for a project that would have let fact-checkers add comments at the top of questionable articles.
Twitter introduced a new Pro tier for its API that costs $5,000 per month.
Elon Musk cut the Twitter Spaces team from around 100 to roughly three people.
Bluesky now lets users choose their own algorithms, known as “custom feeds.”
More on AI:
58% of US adults have heard of ChatGPT, but only 14% have actually tried it, according to a new Pew survey.
According to a different survey, 85% of American workers have used AI to perform tasks at their job.
ChatGPT’s iOS app is now available in 11 new countries, including the UK, Germany, and Korea.
WPP is partnering with NVIDIA to build a generative AI tool that helps produce advertising content.
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