We can learn a lot from subscription businesses that experiment with different revenue models and personalization.
Organizations with too many offers risk overcomplicating things with competing goals. I’m talking about companies with multiple revenue streams—different promotions, pricing options and tiers and/or a combination of subscription, one-off transactions, and advertising.
But increasingly we’re seeing examples of organizations incorporating multiple revenue streams successfully—for example, in news, fitness, streaming media and ecommerce.
Today’s guest, Trevor Kaufman, is an expert on subscriptions, personalization and digital experience. He is the CEO of Piano, a digital experience platform that helps organizations launch products and programs faster, strengthen customer relationships and drive personalization at scale.
Piano recently released their annual Subscription Performance Benchmark Report. It’s full of valuable insights gleaned from their customers, and relevant across many types of subscription models.
In our conversation, we talk about the emerging best practices in subscription pricing, the role of freemium and whether there’s a place for ads in the world of subscriptions.
Listen to the podcast here
Emerging Best Practices in Personalization with Piano.io CEO Trevor Kaufman
We can learn a lot from subscription businesses that experiment with different revenue models and personalization. Organizations with too many offers risk overcomplicating things with competing goals. I’m talking about companies with multiple revenue streams, different promotions, pricing options, and tiers or a combination of subscriptions, one-off transactions, and advertising but increasingly, we’re seeing examples of organizations incorporating multiple revenue streams successfully, for example, in the news, fitness, streaming media, and eCommerce.
Our guest, Trevor Kaufman, is an expert on subscriptions, personalization, and digital experience. He is the CEO of Piano, a digital experience platform that helps organizations launch products and programs faster, strengthen customer relationships, and drive personalization at scale. Piano released its annual Subscription Performance Benchmark Report.
It’s full of valuable insights gleaned from their customers and relevant across many types of subscription models. In our conversation, we talk about the emerging best practices in subscription pricing, the role of freemium, and whether there’s a place for ads in the world of subscriptions. I’m pleased with the conversation Trevor and I had and confident you will enjoy the rest of the discussion.
Welcome to the show, Trevor.
Thanks for having me.
You released Piano’s Subscription Performance Benchmark Report, which is fantastic. I’m eager to get into the findings there but before we do, maybe you can tell us a little bit about how you got into the media subscription business.
I started a digital agency, which I sold to WPP in 2007. In working at WPP for several years, I saw the birth of programmatic advertising. It became clear that the biggest problem that needed to be solved on the internet was the business model for content and journalism. It was clear to me that with the advent of advertisers buying specific audiences over the web rather than buying adjacency and doing as many direct deals as they had done in the past that we were in a world where for premium publishers, CPMs were never going to pay on their own for the production of premium content. I started becoming fascinated with the paid content business and joined a small company that was doing this in New York City called Tinypass, which we later renamed Piano. That was the birth of it in 2012.
That’s interesting. You were one of the early people to see this change from, “We’re willing to pay for eyeballs,” to, “We’re paying for engagement with a certain audience.”
Whether the data is particularly accurate or not, there’s the impression of advertisers now that they’re able to target very specific audiences with specific purchase intent and content interest, and because of that, the explosion of AdTech, and the domination of Google and Facebook, the advertising market has been difficult for independent publishers. Charging for access has been critical to their survival.
That’s where Piano has innovated. I’ve heard Piano described as a software company that helps organizations diversify revenue through personalization. What does personalization mean in this context?
We’re very focused on a concept we call personalized commerce. The idea is that different people at different moments in time have different price points, interests, price elasticity, etc. in which they’re willing to buy. For us, our most successful publishers are the ones that personalize the most and that for individual audiences will come up with something quite relevant to them and offer that’s relevant to them, a bundle that’s relevant to them or pricing that they will accept at a moment when they can take advantage of it.
The more personalization we do, the more the numbers tend to go up, the more things we A/B test and try, and the more niche we target audiences. You are a lot more likely to subscribe to something if we, for example, include imagery from stories you’ve read before. There are all kinds of things that we can do to personalize that experience to make you more likely to convert by making it more relevant.
Personalization is everything from some cosmetic aspects of the offer. It’s when we intercept you because a lot of our clients stop you from reading more free content at a certain point. At one point, we do that. The way we do that, whether that’s dismissible or not, the price point, the bundle that we’re offering you, and all of that are personalized in our platform.
It’s interesting thinking about how to personalize the experience before the moment of conversion but also personalizing the offer itself and potentially personalize what happens after that moment of conversion.
A big part of that personalization is content. If you go to one of our client’s sites very frequently, they will use our algorithms to decide what stories you see on the homepage. The top stories will be chosen by the editors but then everything below that is dictated by our content recommendations algorithms. Similarly, in the emails you receive, we might not send you an email, for example, that has stories you have already read listed in it. The presence and sequence of those articles in an email newsletter will be personalized. All of these things help to drive engagement and loyalty, which results in conversion.
Can you give an example at the top of the funnel of how this might play out with a real company? It can be a client of yours or a hypothetical one.
Dow Jones is a real-world client of ours that uses this a lot. If you go to the Wall Street Journal or MarketWatch, you will see individual stories that are selected for you based on your likelihood to click on them. We develop these machine learning models’ propensity scores for every action that you might take for your likelihood to return, register, and subscribe.
Most of our clients will use those audience segments with different propensity scores, so they won’t show you a subscription offer until it seems like you’re likely to convert. That maximizes their advertising revenue by showing more pages to people who wouldn’t subscribe anyway and their subscription revenue by intercepting the people who are likely to accept the offer.
You noted in your research that there was some interesting learning at the top of the subscription funnel at the moment of conversion. One of the things that I took away was the idea that the time it takes for conversion in an organization’s first year of offering subscriptions is much shorter than that in the second year. Let’s say that newspaper X had not historically offered online subscriptions, and on January 1st, 2019, they started offering it that first year. The time to conversion would be shorter than in 2020.
It’s the reverse, I believe. In your second year, the amount of time to convert compresses.
What’s going on there?
What’s happening is a couple of things. First of all, there is a myth. What happens when you launch a subscription offering is that at first, you’re going to convert the most loyal users, and then you will have sold to all of them. It’s quite difficult to acquire new subscribers after that. That happens to some publishers but for the most part, our clients get better at subscriber acquisition over time.
Why is that? They understand their offering better. They put more behind the paywall. They hire more marketing people and get better at it. They leverage more parts of our platform to do things like gift subscriptions, site licenses, all kinds of clever price promotions, two-year subscriptions, and all kinds of different variations.
We have the Frictionless purchase with Apple Pay in the browser, where you don’t have to register or choose a plan or anything. As they leverage more of those things and get better, they are able to convert more quickly. It’s also true that the audience understands the rules a little bit better over time. They know it’s a subscription site. They know what the offering is. The audience gets a bit smarter about it as well. The conversion comes a little faster in later years.
The myth of the low-hanging fruit is just a myth.
There is low-hanging fruit but the question is, “Is there a limit to it?” What we find pretty frequently is that the “loyal audience” in month one might not be the same people who are the loyal audience in month fifteen because if you think about it from your consumption patterns, there are probably websites that you go to a lot, and then you forget about them for some period of time.
Maybe six months later, you will go back again and start developing a habit of going there again. That’s pretty typical. The idea that there is one loyal audience, which is this finite pool, and when you’ve exhausted them, you’re out of luck isn’t quite true. You’re making new loyal audience members all the time, at least in publishing. There’s always a new group to fish from.
You also talked about the concept of last-touch attribution and first-touch attribution. My experience has been that a lot of organizations don’t track this at all but it could be something useful to consider. Can you talk about what you saw in terms of these two metrics and what their role might be in a subscription business model?
In the attribution model, we look at tons of different factors. We look at the time of day, what browser you’re on, your geography, and how deeply you scroll through articles. We look at all of these things to try and get some indication of your propensity to subscribe. One of the things we look at is this attribution model of when we first saw you, what article did you come in on? What link did you click to get to the site? We also look at what you clicked on right before subscribing and what pushed you over the edge.
What you see in the first-touch is very interesting because it winds up defining a lot about who you are as a user with regards to the product. For example, if you go to a website quite heavily and then subscribe, you are much less likely to churn than someone who goes to the site relatively infrequently and then subscribes, no matter what the visit behavior was during the subscription term.If you subscribe to a website you go heavily visit, you are much less likely to churn than someone who goes to the platform infrequently. - @TrevorNY Click To Tweet
The reason is because or at least, this is what we suspect, it’s the way you think about the product. At the moment you subscribed, you said, “I am a heavy user of this thing. I use it all the time.” Whether you use it all the time, once you’re a subscriber is less material than how you thought about it at that moment of purchase. First-touch attribution is useful for us to think about how the reader or the user thinks about our product.
For the last-touch attribution, we think of what are the things that people say, “I must have this particular thing,” and drives the most conversion from a last-touch perspective. There are slightly two different flavors of the same thing but they’re both somewhat illustrative to say, “How do people find us? What pushes them over the edge to buy us?”
“How did they find us?” helps you know, A) Good sources of future leads but also, B) What those people are expecting and what brought them there. The last-touch attribution tells you because that’s the last thing they do before they agree to pay. Where did they go? What was it that they were trying to do that led them to pay? It’s interesting, your point about usage even before they subscribe being an important indicator of satisfaction and retention later.
There’s a lot of controversy about how much you should give away for free before you charge somebody for a content subscription. What have you seen in terms of your data and your research and also anecdotally? You talk to a lot of different kinds of companies about the role of the freemium and free trial. I always say, “If you know what it tastes like, you don’t get anymore,” but there’s also something to be said about freemium as a way of driving new behaviors and building a habit that proves to them that it’s worth paying for.
Our clients don’t necessarily think about it in the same way as some other industries do. What I mean by that is when you were describing a free trial and a freemium model, you were thinking, “How do I expose the user to this product as effectively as I can?” In media, they’re monetizing the free trial process because they’re showing you advertising during that period.
It is a relatively small percentage of people who view more than one page on any given website in any given month. You’re talking about this smaller and more loyal part of the audience when you think about a paywall model. Almost universally, publishers will start with a looser model and then tighten it over time. We’ve all experienced The New York Times phenomenon, where we used to get twenty articles a month for free. Now, you get 1 or 2. The New York Times is a lot more prosperous as a result.
At first, we had all these clever rules that would drive paywalls where we said, “You get five per month except if you come from Facebook,” or whatever the rules would be. That migrated to this propensity model that we see much more frequently now, where we’re intercepting people after a certain number of pages or when they’re ready to subscribe, whichever comes first.
Lastly, we know the impression level ad revenue that an individual user generates. I can say, “Robbie Baxter saw these pages. There were exactly these many ads from these advertisers on each page. Each one was worth exactly this much,” to tell your value. That enables us to do clever yield management between the free page views, the advertising there, and you being a subscriber.
We’re using that now. Our next step is using that to decide when to cut off somebody’s free views but for the most part, most of our clients feel like an article or two is enough for them to understand what the product offering is. You’re seeing headlines, little snippets of description, and photos. You probably don’t need to read all that much to understand what the Wall Street Journal is about or what’s on BBC’s website.
I like to tell this story. My sister used to work at a frozen yogurt store with her best friend. People would come in for free samples all the time, as I’m sure you know, and they would say, “I would like to try the vanilla, please.” They were used to getting this big sample. It was almost like their own ice cream cup. My sister’s friend, who’s pretty sassy, would say to people, “It tastes like vanilla. If you like vanilla, you will like it.”
I feel like The New York Times is like vanilla. If you like vanilla, you will like The New York Times. We all know what it is. There are very few people who would say, “What is this New York Times you speak of?” What you’re saying that’s fascinating to me and that I’ve been trying to get my head around honestly is that your trial or freemium it’s not just what it tastes like. It’s not about credibility and relevance.
Is this good-quality news? Is it the kind of news stories and perspectives that I value? That’s why I need to read a couple of articles to say, “This is the stuff I want to read. I think it’s good or this is not what I want to read. It’s not good.” You’re done. You’ve had your tiny taste of vanilla, and you know what it is but you’re saying there are two other reasons to offer free on an ongoing basis in the world of publishing and media content.
One of them is that it might take some people longer before they form the habit and say, “I do read The New York Times every day. I do go there first. I do prefer their content. I should probably subscribe.” There’s that behavior change. That’s a good reason beyond credibility and relevance. There’s another reason which you bring up. This has to do with also being able to track your increasing sophistication, “What is my value?” Even if Robbie is not paying a monthly subscription fee, if she’s looking at ads and ideally interacting with those ads, she’s valuable. She’s part of the product.
Some people pay for our content, and some people pay for our readers. That is our blended business model. I would love to get your thoughts. You come out of advertising but are very deep in the world of the reader and content consumer, whether that’s news, entertainment, gaming, or streaming content. What’s your thought about business models that blend those things, in other words, free content that’s being offered for more than behavior change but because of the ancillary revenue that’s provided through the advertisements?
There’s also a thing that I should mention, which is that media websites have an enormous free trial platform in the form of social media. They are receiving millions of people clicking on social media links every day, whether those are organic or paid. Many more of them are paid than one would expect because those publishers have premium advertising commitments to make where they have promised a certain amount of audience of a certain type. If they haven’t fulfilled that, they need to buy those eyeballs and bring them back to the site through social media.
There’s this tremendous, whether it’s organic or paid, way that people are consuming that media all over the world on those platforms at any given time. The job of a publisher is this very specific arbitrage exercise of fishing for people out on social media. I’m talking about the blended model. For the sites that do it well, I used to say, “There’s no black market for copies of Vogue with all the ads ripped out.”
In a perfect world, advertising is part of the value proposition to the reader. There are some sites that have relevant advertising on them, and then there are lots that have irrelevant advertising or retargeting and things like that people get very annoyed by but in a perfect world, you’re seeing ads on that site that enrich the experience for you. When that works, it’s great.
What’s a shame in digital media is that with the rise of AdTech, the relationship between the publisher and the advertiser too often got disaggregated. A lot of irrelevant advertising was appearing everywhere. It’s our hope that continues to get reconnected and that there will be more direct deals, private marketplace deals, and things like that in the future, particularly with the demise of the third-party cookie where the publisher’s data about users is so critical and that the ads will start to be more relevant to the experience.With the rise of ad tech, the relationship between publishers and advertiser get disaggregated too often. A lot of irrelevant advertising appeared everywhere. - @TrevorNY Click To Tweet
In a Pollyanna nirvana world, it could be that this is a virtuous cycle. We learn more from the subscriptions, which we can then apply to more relevant ads, which leads to more engaged readers, which leads to more subscribers. That’s what we’re hoping for. I have a couple of more questions I want to ask you about your research report but I also want to get to some more questions about what you see as the future of the blended advertising subscription model.
First, I want to ask a couple of questions about engagement. What have you seen about most engaged readers and least engaged readers and what to do with them, particularly around this best practice of letting sleeping dogs lie? If they’re subscribing even if they’re not coming to the site or spending any time with us, let them be because it will extend the duration of the relationship. What did you see in the report relating to engagement? What are your beliefs and your insights from having worked in this space at such a high level for such a long time?
Sleepers are a lot more likely to turn. We do a lot to try and reengage folks. That might be in social media. If you are a subscriber and you haven’t been to the site in a long time but I put some articles in front of you in the social media channels where you hang out, and you start coming to the site again, you’re a lot less likely to churn out. We’re making sure people are getting the newsletter and potentially getting browser push notifications that are in all the channels where they spend time. Those things do help with re-engagement. We always try to do that rather than letting them sit there.
I’ve had a lot of clients. Whenever we send out a reminder or an email and say, “It has been a while since we’ve seen you. Did you notice we’re offering a new course? Did you notice this great article on a topic that you’ve been interested in before?” or what have you, that there’s always a percentage of people that get the email and cancel like, “Thanks for reminding me. I forgot I was subscribing. Goodbye.” There is this perceived trade-off but it sounds like the data you see indicates that you’re better off maintaining the relationship and trying to get your subscribers to get value for what they’re paying for than hoping that they don’t cancel.
There are plenty of people who subscribe to something to give them the opportunity to go even if they’re not going.
I could go to the health club. I know it’s there. I plan on going at some point. I’m going to keep my subscription going but there are lots of other cases where you subscribe and then say, “I don’t use this anymore. I want to save money.” You then cancel. The difference in the media business is that we’re providing value in the reminder. We don’t tend to say, “You should remember that you’re subscribing to this.” We tend to say, “We’re sending them articles they might be interested in.” For us, there’s a little bit less, “I’m subscribing to this thing I don’t like,” phenomenon and a lot more success.
In the world of fitness, for example, if you are a member of Equinox or a gym and you haven’t gone, they can say, “We miss you. Here are five exercises you can do in a hotel room if you’re traveling a lot. Do you know that we are offering new 5:00 AM classes?” It is different than being able to give somebody a taste of the actual product than just an enticement back but it is such a tricky question, “How do you drive engagement?”
We talked a little bit about who’s likely to churn. You mentioned that sleepers are most likely to churn. You’ve talked about some of the key moments in the report where people are most likely to churn and cancel their subscriptions. What do you see there? What advice do you have for subscription practitioners in terms of how to manage churn?
First of all, we see successful subscription management as not a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. The more we personalize and the more that we do to provide value and service to the subscriber, the less churn we’re going to have. We have a lot of tools we can leverage, emails, notifications, and personalized content that we can leverage to continue to provide onboarding, special promotions, and gifting things that we can use to provide value to the user.
That process of continuing to identify the value to deliver to the subscriber base and changing that over time so that we’re staying fresh is a constant endeavor but those are the things that we suggest because we’re all pretty rational humans. To an extent, we believe that the company we’re in a relationship with and its subscription is a transactional relationship. If the other part of the equation is providing us with a lot of value, then we’re much more likely to keep up our ads.
How we let people know about upcoming events that we’re doing and all of that and building anticipation for the future makes you much more likely to stick around than if we’ve put up something and stayed quiet. To an extent, we are always trying to identify subsegments of our population and figure out what we can do to serve them. That’s always going to keep churn lower than a one-size-fits-all strategy or not being active on their behalf.
One of the things I’ve noticed with a lot of companies is that they focus all of their churn energy on the days leading up to renewal 15 days out, 30 days out or 90 days out if it’s an annual subscription. What are your thoughts about that as being the time for managing churn?
You want to continually be providing value to everybody but I don’t think a cohort analysis, looking at people who are coming up for renewal and making sure you’re servicing them, is a bad idea because a lot of us cancel when we see that charge on the credit card statement and are reminded and think, “I don’t want that to happen again. I’m going to cancel.” Fortifying around that moment when that bill comes is very important. We tell people that as much as a continual relationship is important if there is any time to focus on it, it is in those days leading up to the renewal.
This is in the report. We tend to see a lot of folks churn out right away. They subscribed to have access to an article or two that they were interested in, to see it on a particular train ride, or whatever it is but once we have somebody for three years, then the chance of them churning goes way down. The longer they stick around, the more chance that they’re going to stick around even longer. It’s important to keep providing value and being top of mind for those users.
It’s that onboarding period or that early period that is almost the trickiest to figure out who they are, personalize the experience, and help them find the value that they came for. I think of the binger or the one who’s like, “I want to watch this one series, and then I’m out of here. I’m interested in this one story. They’re doing great coverage but then I’m done.”
It’s the challenge of either filtering them out in some way, which is very hard to do or figuring out how to get somebody who came for the Hamilton recording to stay for the princess movies. How do you convert somebody for Disney Plus through that experience if you know that they came for Hamilton and they have no intention to stay in those first few days? Figuring out a way to get them engaged is going to be valuable.
The first 24 hours are the most important. There’s no question. Onboarding and reinforcing the value of their purchase is critical.
You’re reinforcing the value of their purchase in those first 24 hours. You might have seen this. The activist investor ValueAct Capital took a 6.7% stake in The New York Times and said they’re going to push for more subscriber-only content. The share price rose on that news. A lot of the subscription content is stuff like crossword puzzle, recipes, and now with the acquisition of the athletic, sports. How do you feel about this focus on softer content as a means of driving subscription revenue?
It’s incredibly powerful. It’s differentiated. Meredith Levien is one of the smartest people in our business. The idea that some outside investors are going to know better than she will on how to run The New York Times is not necessarily something I believe. She’s been very aggressive at adding new subscription content already. What has surprised everyone is the success of softer content and the value of that compared to hard news. News has always been a bundle. Your newspaper was always this mix of all of these different types of content and also a giant marketplace where you could find out what movies and shows were playing and what restaurants were opening.
I used to work at The New York Times myself. I sold a section called Small Inns and Lodges. That was these little listings of how people would find Caribbean villas, bough, foliage or bed and breakfasts to get us tanned. The New York Times has a very specific section for schools for kids with learning disabilities. The role of that advertising is important but it’s always been this big mix. What Meredith is doing, which is interesting, is reaggregating that.
She’s the CEO of The New York Times.
All of a sudden, we have a very different form of a bundle, that is, product advice from Wirecutter. That is cooking, recipes, and crossword puzzles. They have some smart bundles by which you can offer that, but the more we can put on the benefit side of the seesaw as Amazon Prime does or lots of people do say, “What more can we put here to provide value?” That’s a great strategy. We love it when our clients add lots of ancillary benefits beyond what would be considered to be the most obvious thing.
It’s such a good point. You start with whatever you have and the best that you’ve got, and then as you get to know your customers better, you layer in ancillary value to deepen the relationship, the value, and the engagement. That’s especially important in the world of subscriptions because you want to keep them forever.
One thing that we have seen, for example, is that very few will subscribe to an ad-free model. They won’t say, “If this is free, I’ll get it for free with ads or pay and not have ads.”
People tried it.
It’s very compelling as an additional benefit and can get people to graduate to a higher level of subscription than they would otherwise. There’s a lot that you can play with when you’re doing it but our publishers who have an ad-free tier can charge more for that ad-free tier than they would’ve made from that user with advertising. It’s a segmentation tactic.
What I love that you’re saying, and I hope people are taking away from this, is the importance of continuous tinkering, experimentation, layering things in, putting them in different places, being curious, and not having a big sprint to develop a subscription. They finish it and get it launched, and they’re like, “Jazz hands. We’re done. Here it is. Enjoy,” instead of saying, “This is V1. We’re going to keep changing it every day. We’re going to make it a little better.”
Our emphasis as a company is the active management of the subscription relationship and the subscription offer because through that, tinkering is how you get these incremental gains. We’re always saying, “Subscription is a game of inches.” It is all of these little tactics, optimizations, and segmentation tactics that wind up adding subscription over subscription. Many people will launch a subscription model. If it’s not successful on the first day, they give up and get frustrated when it takes a lot of iteration.
Subscription is a game of inches. I love that. This is a reminder that when you launch your subscription and if it doesn’t work, you don’t say, “Our company doesn’t lend itself to subscriptions.” It’s, “We did not get the right combination of features, benefits, target audience, pricing, and all of those things. We didn’t crack the code. We need to listen more carefully.”
Nobody’s first year is tremendous. It’s like compound interest. You’re growing this subscriber base month on month, which is this wonderful annuity. When it works, it’s fantastic.
I can talk to you all day, honestly. There’s so much more to cover but since we have to close, I want to close with a speed round. Do you have a minute for a fun little speed round?
How could I say no to that?
What’s the first subscription you ever had?
What’s the most useful subscription that you have?
What is ChefSteps?
It’s this unbelievable site that got launched. These guys make sous vide cookers. They sold the company to Breville not too long ago. It is a great avant-garde cooking website.
I’ve never heard of it. I’ll have to check it out. What’s the most underutilized but valuable subscription metric?
It’s probably the visit frequency.
How many times do they come back?
For our clients, it’s the breadth of sources. When we see somebody come back directly via email and social media, that’s a real indicator of loyalty that tends to be very predictive.When a customer comes back directly via email or social media, it is a real indicator of loyalty that tends to be predictive. - @TrevorNY Click To Tweet
Where is the source of their different visits? Do they have multiple visit sources?
If we can get in front of a user in a lot of places and have them click on us, then we’ve got them.
Finally, you come from the creative world of advertising. What’s the best ad you’ve seen in 2022?
I can’t even think of any ads I’ve seen. I have so much paid. I mostly see outdoor ads rather than have a lot in my media sources. I saw an ad for a chili crisp. I can’t remember the name of it but I thought was brilliant. I’ll have to look it up and let you know.
It’s probably a good sign that you’re not watching a lot of ads because you’re paying for subscriptions to get quality content.
I’m a believer in the product. I pay for a lot of subscriptions.
You come by it, honestly. I love it. Thank you so much for being a guest on the Subscription Stories. It was a pleasure to have you.
Me too, Robbie. I had a lot of fun. Thank you so much for having me.
That was Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Piano. For more about Trevor and Piano, go to Piano.io. Also, if you like this, please go over to Apple Podcasts or Apple iTunes and leave a review. Mention Trevor and this episode if you especially enjoyed it. Reviews are how audiences find our show. We appreciate everyone. Thanks for your support and thanks for reading.
- Trevor Kaufman, CEO of Piano
- Piano’s Frictionless
- Article on Last-Touch Attribution
- Subscription Performance Benchmark Report
- Dow Jones
- Article on ValueAct Capital Stake in New York Times
- Meredith Levien, President and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Times Company
About Trevor Kaufman
Trevor Kaufman is CEO of Piano, the digital experience platform that empowers every team to understand and influence customer behavior. Piano’s platform helps organizations launch digital products and programs faster, strengthen customer relationships and drive personalization at scale. The company serves nearly 1,000 customers across six continents, including Air France, the BBC, CBS, IBM, Kirin Holdings, Jaguar Land Rover, Nielsen, The Wall Street Journal and more.
Originally known as Tinypass, the company adopted the name Piano in 2012 as a result of several acquisitions that expanded the company’s client base and product offering, including Newzmate (2018), Cxense (2019), AT Internet (2021), and SocialFlow (2022). Under Trevor’s leadership, Piano has been consistently recognized for its rapid expansion and innovation by the World Economic Forum, Deloitte, Inc., American City Business Journals and more.
Trevor came to Tinypass in 2012 after serving as CEO of Possible, a 1,300 person global digital network he created within WPP, with clients including Procter & Gamble, Google, Target, Starwood and Bank of America. Possible resulted from the merger of several WPP agencies, including Schematic, a digital agency that Trevor founded in 1999 and sold to WPP in 2007.
From creating the first presidential campaign website ahead of the 1996 election to redefining what reader revenue means for the media business, Trevor is known as an innovative and visionary leader. The teams he has led have won countless awards for their ground-breaking media and technology work, including Webbys, Emmys, and Cannes Lions, as well as top lists in OMMA, AdWeek, Ad Age, Newsweek, MediaPost, and other publications.
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