Delivering sustainable value through digital transformation

German publishing group Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt GmbH & Co. KG (VHB) publishes a range of business media (WirtschaftsWoche, Absatzwirtschaft and the daily newspaper that gives the group its name, Handelsblatt) that report on issues right across the world of business and finance. To take the next step into a digital media landscape, VHB came to goetzpartners. The goetzpartners consultants worked with the publisher’s internal project team to develop a viable roadmap for digital transformation of all the relevant media. To address the core project challenge of developing an extensive paywall concept, the goetzpartners experts analysed paid content models that have proved successful around the world, and used these to derive best-practice approaches that would work at VHB. Together with the VHB leadership team, the consultants developed a future-viable digital portfolio comprising multimedia content, tools and personal services. With a detailed business plan from goetzpartners to demonstrate that the new strategic direction would be profitable, the VHB management board and owners were persuaded this was the right course to take. The decision was taken to introduce a “fremium” approach, with “Digitalpass” (a digital passport) that would bundle all VHB’s digital products (premium content, a dedicated app, e-paper and access to the archive) into an all-digital subscription with multiple access levels. Completed in just under six months in 2014, the project derived key benefit from the digital experience of goetzpartners in media and other industries, and this expertise was a major contributor to the succesful rollout of the digital passport.


  • TMT (Telecommunications, Media and Technology)


  • Digital transformation of the media industry
  • Unclear what models would be profitable going forward


  • Developed a strategy and roadmap for digital transformation with specific digital products
  • Implemented a digital passport and paywall concept for digital content


  • Business model now successfully digital
  • Internal digital expertise established
  • More unique users for online version of Handelsblatt