illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Influencers, Images and NFTs

Featuring eMarketer, Gannett, Clubhouse, Warner Bros. and HBO Max

In this week’s Five on Friday feature, we share eMarketer’s $3.7 billion estimate for influencer marketing spending this year and why Gannett is getting into the NFT business. Also this week, Clubhouse is no longer an invitation-only club, Warner Bros. plans to produce 10 films exclusively for HBO Max in 2022, and we offer five places you can get licensed and free-to-use images to avoid copyright violations while promoting your subscription business.

Influencer Marketing Spending Expected to Grow to Nearly $3.7 Billion This Year

Social influencers are the best brand ambassadors your subscription company can have, helping you sell your products and services to their fans and followers. Influencers can expand your reach and get you access to audiences you might not be able to get to on your own. eMarketer predicts that influencer marketing spending* in the U.S. will increase by more than 30% this year, growing to nearly $3.7 billion this year and to an estimated $4.14 billion next year. These are significant jumps from $2.76 billion in influencer marketing spent in 2020.

Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. is expected to hit nearly $3.7 billion in 2021.
Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. is expected to hit nearly $3.7 billion in 2021. Image courtesy of eMarketer.

“In the early part of the pandemic, many marketers temporarily paused their influencer marketing campaigns,” said Jasmine Enberg, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence. “But as the pandemic also accelerated many new creator-driven social trends, including short video and social commerce, marketers quickly resumed and are now increasing their spending on influencer marketing, as they realize that influencers are their ticket to reach those audiences.”

For more information about influencer marketing spending, read eMarketer’s analysis in its July 20, 2021 article, “U.S. Influencer Spending to Surpass $3 billion in 2021.”

*eMarketer defines influencer marketing spending as payments made to influencers or their representatives to promote products and services on social media and other platforms with user-generated content. It does not include non-cash payments, like incentives or free products.

Gannett Is Getting into the NFT Business

In June, Gannett Co. Inc. announced it was getting into the non-fungible token (NFT) business, starting with the first newspaper delivered to space in 1971. The first newspaper was a special issue of TODAY, now known as FLORIDA TODAY, part of the USA TODAY network. That special issue was delivered to space by astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s historic trip to the moon, Gannett auctioned off the First Newspaper Delivered to the Moon collection which included a photo mosaic video, an interactive photo mosaic illustration, a digital copy of “A Space Age History: Man’s Odyssey to the Moon,” lifetime digital subscriptions and more. Auction proceeds from the winning bidder benefited the Air Force Space & Missile Museum Foundation and The Gannett Foundation.

The collection raised more than $8,165, according to NFT Trending, and the winning bidder received a certification that verified their ownership of the digital collection.

“Space travel was an inspired theme for our first NFT because it tells the story of innovation and advancement that has been a positive, unifying force in American culture, which is also the aim of Gannett’s storytelling,” said Kris Barton, Chief Product Officer for Gannett. “Our digital subscriber growth can be attributed to our unique content and our ability to use technology – like an NFT – as we find meaningful ways to bring communities together and engage new audiences.” 

On Gannett’s May earnings call for the first quarter of 2021, CEO Mike Reed said, “We are excited about the NFT market because we believe it creates several new opportunities for Gannett. First, (it) represents a new way for consumers to enjoy an experienced Gannett’s award winning coverage of historical events, monumental moments and areas of passion or special interest such as sports, turn event, the arts and pop culture. Second, (it) presents a new business opportunity for Gannett, as we see how this space continues to develop, and how our incredible archives could be monetized in new marketplaces.”

Image: Bigstock Photos

Clubhouse Celebrates “Opening Day,” Dropping the Invite-Only Requirement

Social audio chat platform Clubhouse, which started in beta last year, is no longer available by invitation-only. It is now open to everyone, according to a July 21 blog titled “Opening Day” on Prior to opening up the app to a wider audience, Clubhouse had an estimated 10 million people on the waiting list to get in.

Image courtesy of Clubhouse

“This means we have removed our waitlist system so that anyone can join. If you have a club, you can post your link far and wide. If you are a creator with an audience, you can bring them all on. If you’re hosting a public event, anyone can attend. You can bring close friends, classmates, family members, coworkers, and anyone else you like — on iOS or Android,” said Clubhouse founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth.

Though not everyone loved the idea, the founders launched the app in beta on an invitation-only basis, so they could test the audio app and scale it before going far and wide with it. Clubhouse’s popularity exploded, and the head count at Clubhouse has gone from eight to 58, and the number of daily rooms has grown from 50,000 to about 500,000. Since launching on Android in mid-May, they’ve added 10 million people to the Clubhouse community, and there have been more than 90 million direct messages on the platform’s new Backchannel feature which launched last week.

“The average listener now spends over an hour a day on Clubhouse, and a huge percentage of people don’t just listen, but actually talk. That’s our favorite part of the whole thing,” the founders said. “We suspect there will be many more ups and downs as we scale, and competition from the large networks will be fierce. But we believe the future is created by optimists, and we’re excited to build something new on the Internet — a place based on human connection and lively conversations, where you always feel welcome and free to be yourself.”

Image courtesy of Clubhouse

Warner Bros. to Produce 10 Feature Films Exclusively for HBO Max in 2022

As a result of the pandemic, producers and studios have debated how, when and where to best release major motion pictures. On AT&T’s second quarter earnings call on July 22, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar addressed that in response to an analyst’s question. In the first six months of 2021, HBO Max released films in theaters and on their streaming subscription service at the same time. Is that a business strategy applicable only to 2021, as we ride out the pandemic, or is it going to be an ongoing trend?

“In terms of what we’ve learned, there’s probably two things I’d highlight. One is that the motion picture format absolutely matters, and it matters in a number of ways, but I’ll highlight two. It matters in theaters. Godzilla vs. Kong, which we released this quarter, it’s done over $463 million in revenue at the theaters. And so clearly, motion pictures matter and will continue to matter when it comes to theatrical exhibition,” Kilar said.

“They also matter at home. And absolutely, in terms of the response that we’ve gotten not just from that title, but from all of our day-and-date titles. We feel very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home. In terms of the things in terms of where things go in the future, I think it’s fair to say that — and I’ve said this before publicly. I certainly don’t anticipate us going back to the way the world was in 2015 or ’16 or ’17, where windows were quite lengthy between theatrical and home exhibition, whether it was an a la carte transaction or something else. So we’ll have shorter windows for a portion of our slate, 45 days specifically,” added Kilar.

Another key highlight was that Warner Bros. will produce 10 such films exclusively for HBO Max. Those films will be available in theaters and on the streaming service on day 1 of their release. Unlike Disney, at this time, HBO Max has not released plans to charge subscribers more for specific releases. However, only subscribers of HBO Max’s ad-free tier ($14.99 a month) will get access to Warner Bros. premiers this year and possibly next year. Those on the ad-supported tier ($9.99 a month) will not.

These 10 Warner Bros. films represent about half the 20 movies produced by Warner Bros. each year. The other half will debut exclusively in theaters for at least 45 days before being made available for distribution in homes, reports Media Post.

For more on HBO and HBO Max’s performance, including subscriber totals, during the second quarter, read our July 27, 2021 article on

Photo by Lloyd Dirks on Unsplash

5 Resources for Licensed or Free Images

With billions of people posting images to social media every day, it is easy to become complacent when sharing images and assume that you have the right to use someone else’s image. But this is a costly assumption and one you should avoid when promoting your subscription products and services. The use of images is covered under the U.S. Copyright Act and Section 101 of the Copyright Law of the United States which says that “pictorial, graphic and sculptural works” include those that are “two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans.”

To determine if you are legally using an image that you did not take or create, recommends that you consider the source of the image and how you are using it. In most cases, you need to get permission to use someone else’s image, even if it is for a blog or on Facebook. If you plan to do that, you should have an excellent understanding of fair use – which is not always easy to determine – or you should seek permission from the creator or copyright owner. If you ignore those options, you could find yourself the defendant of a costly lawsuit.

At Subscription Insider, we err on the side of caution, we value intellectual property and never want to inadvertently violate copyright law. When we need an image to illustrate an article or post, we purchase stock photography or use images from sites that allow free usage of their images, and we provide attribution, even for free images and stock photography. There are many services available to provide you with the images you need to promote your subscription business. Here are a few that we’ve tried that you might check out, some paid and some free.

Bigstock: Bigstock offers a wide range of images and video at different price points. For example, you can buy daily subscriptions starting at $79 a month or monthly subscriptions starting at $69 a month. The more images you need and the longer you subscribe, the less the “per image” cost is. If a subscription isn’t for you, you can buy image credits ranging from 10 image credits for $35 to 500 image credits for $495. See all pricing plans at

iStock: iStock is another stock photography website that offers a range of plans for different needs and budgets. In addition to photos and video, you can purchase illustrations and vector files. Like Bigstock, iStock offers both subscription packages, starting at $29 per month (with both annual and monthly pricing options) and credit packs starting at $12 for a 1 credit pack and going up to $2,400 for a 300 credit pack. See all plans and pricing options at Note: There are different types of images in the subscriptions. A basic subscription only includes essential images. A premium subscription, which is about twice the price, includes both essential and signature images.

Adobe Stock Photo: Similar to the other services, Adobe offers subscription plans, starting at $29.99 a month for 10 standard assets and credit packs starting with 5 assets and going up to 150. The more you buy, the more you save. See all options at

When choosing an image subscription service, consider a couple of items:

1) Does the service have the types of images you need?

2) What is the cost per image?

3) What are the terms and conditions – do credits or assets roll over?

4) Can you cancel the service without penalty or are you locked into an annual agreement?

If you don’t use stock photography often enough, but need the occasional image, you may have access to stock photography through subscriptions to Canva or Picmonkey. Another alternative is to download free-to-use images from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash. Those sites encourage you to give attribution to the creators, but it is not a condition of download.

Pixabay: This site offers more than 2.3 million high quality stock images, videos and music. The images are “copyright free” and are released under the Pixabay License which allows anyone to use them, even for commercial purposes.

Unsplash: This site contains more than 2 million free high-resolution images generously shared by more than 211,000 photographers. Like Pixabay, the images are free for anyone to use, and the company encourages creators to become a part of their community.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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