Ken Harding
Ken Harding

FTI Consulting has joined Google News Initiative and Local Media Assn. to create the Digital Subscriptions Lab venture to help small and regional newspapers build online revenues.

The DSL will work hand-in-hand with publishers to examine existing and potential reader segments to understand the addressable market and readers’ willingness to pay for subs and various content.

FTI will perform a diagnostic evaluation of a participating publisher’s people, process, technology, marketing and content to benchmark current performance, identify short-term optimization opportunities and recommend longer-term transformation plans.

Ken Harding, FTI’s senior managing director, and Peter Doucette, managing director in its publishing group, represent the firm in DSL. Prior to FTI, Doucette was chief consumer revenue offier at the Boston Globe, where he developed its paid subscription model.

Doucette said while large national news organizations have built strong digital models, success has been more elusive at the local and metro levels.

“Independent publishers face a unique set of challenges, requiring both a strategy and a subscription model playbook tailored to their audience,” said Doucette. "This unique, strategic partnership will provide publishers with the opportunity to learn from each other and enable us to develop a new digital subscription model blueprint for the entire industry.”

Google provides data/technology expertise to the venture.

LMA, which has more than 3,000 members, will unveil the DSL findings to the publishing business at its Elevate joint conference with Local Media Consortium slated for Chicago on Sept. 18.