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newspack

Newspack

Automattic

Newspack is Automattic's "right-sized" WordPress offering, packaged and priced for smaller news publishers, primarily in North America

  • Newspack adds several news-friendly capabilities to core WordPress and offers combined technology, hosting, and support as a service at a comparatively low price
  • The platform restricts you to specific plug-ins, and you cannot extend the platform on your own; it's meant to be very "out of the box" for small publishers in particular, but could prove too limiting for mid-sized titles
  • Newspack has about 200 customers, almost entirely in North America. Some customers include The Real News Network, spacenews.com, The Current, and CalMatters.

Likely fit

Newspack is most suitable for smallish publishers with little or no technical resources at their disposal and for whom the platform's somewhat simplistic revenue capabilities will suffice. It becomes particularly ideal if you align with Newspack's "we decide what you need and package it simply" approach. In other words, it can work for smaller publishers that align with Newspack's view of news best practices. If you require other customizations or more advanced capabilities such as workflows, you should look at other variants of Wordpress or other platforms entirely.

At a glance

Primary Customer Fit

Small Independent News Organization

Secondary Fit

Micro-Independent News Organization

Most Active Geographies

North America

Official Support Hours

Email: None

Phone: Oncall support for urgent issues or offline sites 7 days a week

Slack: 8 AM to 8 PM EST

Officially Supported Languages for User Interface

EN

Third-party Language Support Available?

Yes

License Model

Tied to share of publisher revenue (3-6%); starts at approximately $750 per month

Scope Summary

Complete publishing package, though limited in customization and as of yet immature revenue generation functionality

Tech Base

WordPress, PHP

Cloud Model

Managed Service (PaaS)

Headquarters

San Francisco, CA, USA

Head Count

~27

What customers report

  • Simple enough that in theory a licensee can manage without a tech team; however, that means editorial team members seeking to adjust settings do have a bit of a technical learning curve
  • Newspack support is comparatively responsive; community is very collaborative
  • Provides a very affordable bundle that includes technology, hosting, and support in one understandable fee
  • The bundled "Jetpack search" doesn't cut it for many licensees, who have had to scramble for alternatives
  • Newspack does not encourage you to use plugins outside of its list, which limits the extensibility of the platform
  • Newsletter and email management can be clunky (both native as well as via integrations)
  • The newly released "Reader Activation" revenue-oriented tools remain a work in progress and aren't well integrated with external newsletter platforms

Background

  • Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, U.S., Automattic sells at least three WordPress offerings. The most common one via Wordpress.com targets small businesses and consumers. The "Newspack" offering is designed for smaller publishers. WordPress VIP (reviewed elsewhere in this report) addresses the needs of larger, more complex brands — including large publishers.
  • Newspack was announced in 2019, developed via a partnership between Automattic and the Google News Initiative, along with a few other news industry players. The project was aimed at small and medium newsrooms to offer them the platform, support, and hosting, all in a single package. From an initial group of about a dozen publishers, it now hosts more than 200 media firms. Newspack is privately owned by Automattic and has raised grant funding from several sources, albeit the largest from Google News Initiative.
  • Newspack is fundamentally a set of plug-ins on top of WordPress. These plug-ins are open source and you could theoretically deploy them on your own without any license fee. But if you want to subscribe to a supported service, you will need to sign up for one of Newspack's commercial plans.
  • In terms of functional capabilities, it is very similar to what plain-vanilla WordPress provides. That means you get a block editor for creating content and then basic capabilities around publishing. Newspack then bundles some additional features like guest authors via enhancements to WordPress’ core functionality. Via plug-ins it also includes forms, polls, social buttons, newsletter signup forms, and various third-party embeds. Specifically for publishers, Newspack bundles plug-ins focused on news publishers, like integrated newsletter and ad serving.
  • In early 2023, Newspack released a new set of revenue-oriented tools called "Reader Activation System," which offers tools for messaging, user registration, subscriptions, donations, and integrations with email and CRM platforms; since this is new, you'll want to test carefully.
  • The platform also bundles some capabilities for segmentation and messaging based on user behavior. For example, you can message people based on attributes such as their subscription status, their favorite category, or their donation status. This is a handy capability. For newsletters, there are built-in capabilities for newsletter production and management. But if you prefer, you can also license external services such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and others.
  • Note that unlike WordPress VIP, Newspack targets smaller publishers that lack technical resources. Newspack assumes what you need and provides just that. In fact, Newspack considers itself an "opinionated" platform and wants to enforce what it considers as best practices. If you need something additional that's missing from this bundle — for example a custom integration or an additional WordPress plug-in — you will have to ask Newspack to add it to the bundle, and they may say no. In other words, you do not have the right to download any plug-in from the vast Wordpress ecosystem and use it to extend your setup.
  • The pricing for Newspack plans is tied to turnover, and generally falls between 3 and 6 percent of your annual revenues. If your revenues are less than $250K, you will pay about $750 per month.
  • Newspack employs less than 30 of Automattic's broader employee base of 3000. This smallish team relies heavily on its parent for core WordPress support. For providing professional services to its clients, Newspack partners with a firm called BlueLena.
  • Newspack provides support via Slack (only) during extended U.S. hours. Most customers reside in North America, so that works. In the future, Newspack says they may add support hours for Europe or other time zones.

Package scope (as reported by vendor)

Core platform - i.e., bundled in product (yes/no/beta) Add-On (yes/custom/3rd party)
Content lifecycle: author / classify / edit / approve / publish / re-purpose / archive / dispose
Iya
Basic digital / voice / media asset management
Iya
Support print publishing
Tidak
Simple social media re-publishing
Iya
Optional modules: forms / polls / social widgets / etc
Iya
Connector library (OOTB connectors, APIs, etc.)
Iya
Bundled CDN (with DDOS protection)
Iya
User registration
Iya
Subscription management and fulfillment - digital
Iya
3rd Party
Model Berlangganan
Tidak
Personalisasi
Iya
Ad management - digital
Iya
Ad management - print
Tidak
Jenis Konten
Tidak
3rd Party
Riset
Iya
Jenis Konten
Iya
Video management / OVP
Iya
Audio management / podcasting
Iya
Jurnalisme & Visualisasi Data
Tidak
3rd Party
Classifieds
Tidak
3rd Party
Commenting / community features/
Iya
3rd Party
Newsletter production and management
Iya
Notifications and alerts
Tidak
3rd Party
A/B testing
Tidak
3rd Party
SEO
Iya
Multi-title management with variable inheritance
Tidak
Complex layout and subsite / subsection cloning
Iya
AR- / VR- enhanced services
Tidak
3rd Party
Segmentasi Audiens
Iya
Online user / partner forums
Tidak
Regular user group meetings
Tidak
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