10 global trends in news publishing that are worth a think.
A roundup of what I found interesting in the business of news publishing. I may detail some of these trends in future posts.
The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards reader revenues rapidly and in the latest Reuters report on media and journalism, subscriptions have moved to the top of the agenda for 2021 for publishers. However, the interesting thing to note is it is not an either/or situation. Publishers believe that there is a need to create multiple revenue streams including subscriptions, display advertising, native advertising, events, and commerce. Even when one looks at reader revenues, subscriptions is one pillar, affiliate revenues and marketplaces are seeing traction.
The other sword of uncertainty hanging over digital advertising revenues is Google’s decision to do away with third party cookies in Chrome at the end of the year. This combined with Apple’s decision to make providing access to individual data an opt-in is causing great turmoil. Without cookies, re-targetting and segmentation as it is done now will be difficult and there is a scramble on to find alternatives (not with any great success, one may note).
This is an opportunity for quality publishers and to take advantage but they must up their first party data game. There are experiments at Forbes, Slate, Vox Media which use inputs from content consumption, newsletter data, affiliate activity, online events participation to flesh out segments on their first party platforms.
Brands, however, require scale for targetting and hence programmatic is not going away in a hurry but there are experiments happening with quality publishers coming together on a common ad platform in the UK to mitigate the scale issue.
The old workhorse, newsletters, is back in vogue. They are becoming a key source of first party data (sign up for a newsletter and get access to site) and becoming a source of direct revenue as publishers like Forbes launch a slew of paid newsletters. The early success of high-profile individuals on Substack is adding further impetus to publisher’s ambitions in this area.
Publishers in UK (Times of London) and France (Le Edition du Soir) have found success with an edition approach. The former does three editions a day focussing on quality than quantity and reports suggest a positive impact on subscriptions. Le Edition du Soir spotted an evening time opportunity and a lighter read at the end of the day and has built a strong audience. E-papers, one can think of them as an edition, are making a comeback of sorts in certain European countries, with a younger audience taking to it for its ease of handling and environmental friendliness.
The success of the crossword and cooking apps (both subscription products) from NYT are making publishers (like the Nordic publishing giant Schibsted Media) think of their own focussed digital niche products.
Audio is making its presence felt through a podcast explosion and its immersive nature is generating a lot of thought on its possible monetisation potential (The NYT reportedly paid Kara Swisher a lot of money to start a podcast).
No publishing trends round up is complete without a mention of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the many uses it is been put to: Streamlining media workflows; Automating mundane tasks;Turning data into stories; Digging out media insights; Eliminating fake news, Building personalized loyalty segments.
That’s kind of it. Hope it gave you some food for thought and you will do what The Economist advises.
Give it a think. And let me know what you made of it. And remember, sharing is caring.
Btw, I randomly put ‘10’ in the headline. I am told that numbers in the headline of a post make them travel further. Okay.