Why VORF is important or how and why paywalls are getting more dynamic

Apart from a number of stories about AI in today's, the theme for the top two stories is about the evolution of paid content strategies. The first piece looks at a model for segmenting users based on loyalty - VORF for Volatiles, Occasionals, Regulars and Fans. While Volatiles account for the vast majority of traffic, the same cannot be said for revenue. As I often say, the goal is to increase habit and loyalty leading to membership or subscription, and Madeleine White of subscription and membership suite Poool writes about how to achieve this by focusing on ARPU. One way is to introduce a 'cookie wall', giving loosely attached readers a way to support your content. 

This is just one example of the increasing sophistication of paid content strategies, and Brian Morrissey writes about the evolution of dynamic paywalls. For a while, paid content seemed to be a binary choice between hard and metered paywalls, but now we have registration walls, cookie walls, dynamic paywalls and more. And that is just the evolution of the paywall models rather than the content strategies. Morrissey points out that there are also new subscription bundles. 

Sometimes you are too early. Streaming audio was a bit too early in 2002, but audio on demand (aka podcasts) has exploded now. I think that there is a broader point to this piece. Sometimes successful products are a matter of timing, and I think that one of the arts of product management is knowing when to retire a product. I like the idea that some product managers have introduced product retirement parties. 

Adam Tinwoth looks more deeply at newsletters. Yes, they can be audience development tools, but they can also be products unto themselves. 

Industry News: Security as a paid feature and UK publishers lean into Ozone ad platform

It is great to see Josh Benton take aim at both Twitter and Meta as they start to make security and identity protection paid features. I don't begrudge either platform trying to find new revenue streams as advertising goes soft during a period of economic uncertainty, but making users pay for security and identity protection is a stupid idea. And it shines a light on how badly both platforms have managed these issues, with Twitter's paid blue check debacle and rampant impersonation and spam accounts on Meta. 

Whether you're a publisher or a marketer, understanding how the major platforms work is critical. This is a good one to bookmark. 

AI in media stories reaches a fever pitch

Gina Chua, the executive editor for Semafor, has been interested in the intersection of media and technology, particularly with respect to what she calls 'structured journalism' for years. Here, she looks at what AI chatbots can and can't do, and actually how this changes quickly, often without much transparency. 

This article spends much more time discussing Ridding's rise through the ranks at the FT and the history of this storied brand than AI, but they manage to hook the reader with a headline that actually only addresses two paragraphs of the story. 

What this story highlights is that while technology can be awe-inspiring, it is the business model behind it that actually determines whether a company is a footnote to history or a major paradigm shift. Why did Google best Altavista in the battle for search engine supremacy in the early part of the century? Well, yes, it delivered more relevant search results, but it also developed an incredible business model, nay, a paradigm-shifting business model that not only monetised search but actually created an auction system that reinforced its model of delivering better results. 
Now, all that could change with AI. The question becomes whether any of the AI-search providers can develop a business model that will best Google's model based on search intention. Watch this space. 


And ugh. Both of this and the story about e-books and Amazon demonstrate how people are more than willing to use technology in an arbitrage game. Can they use AI to drive the cost of creative production down to almost zero? 

PLUS: Being a creator might force you to grapple with your limitations and a tweet thread about an important US court case

A good piece from the Reynolds Journalism Institute about how a solopreneur had to deal with work-life boundaries. I'm grappling a lot with boundaries right now and priorities. I think that talk about side hustles; learning violin, and a second language all the while raising perfect children during the pandemic is actually corrosive. We have so much performative workaholicism on social media that it's easy to give in to head trash about inadequacy. (Head trash is a wonderful term for negative self-talk coined by Charlie Gilkey. I find it very useful.)
This piece is a wonderful corrective to all of this. 

And lastly, an excellent bit of public service from Jonathan Stray. 

Publishers see a minefield for attribution and compensation by artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence continues to be one of the major themes of the year after ChatGPT became the application of the technology that made it accessible and its potential understandable for consumers and business leaders alike. Peter Bale of INMA says that AI search will provide a new challenge for publishers because they will struggle to attribute content. We're now definitely at the innovation trigger of Gartner's Hype Cycle

As if to prove Peter's point, publishers are already lawyering up to challenge generative AI providers for using their content to train AI. In the current regulatory environment, I can imagine that licencing knowledge for the training of large language models could become a lucrative revenue stream for publishers, especially those like Dow Jones that produce a lot of valuable business intelligence. Regulators are much more likely to compel tech companies to share their wealth with content companies. 

One of the themes of the past several years has been newsletter growth, and the Post and Courier in the US has three lessons from its Google News Initiative newsletter project. One that leaped out at me was how they focused on ARPU, which actually helped reduce churn by not setting up a meager introductory price. 

This plus a few bits of social media news including podcast management tools testing in YouTube Studio. Something that makes my blood boil a bit is that Meta is testing a verified account service. I don't think I should be paying for Meta policing copycat accounts. That seems to me to be their responsibility. And a story on the ad side about how supply-side platforms have become a low-cost commodity service. 

Thanks for the photo from mikemacmarketing from Flickr and on WikiMedia Commons

Peter not only identifies one of the challenges that AI search will pose, namely attribution, but his post is a good overview of how that is being handled by different providers including Microsoft's Bing and a service called Perplexity.ai

I think that Peter is right when he says that Microsoft isn't targeting the profits of publishers with its AI search but rather those of Google. But we're definitely in a disruptive phase of AI innovation, and it's during these times when potential winners can quickly rise and then fall to become a footnote to history. 

Attribution of content and sources — already seen as a big problem by publishing content creators — is set to become a battleground between publishers, companies promoting AI-driven search, and regulators and politicians who generally lag in responding to technology upheaval.

This Bloomberg story proves Peter's point that attribution and compensation are going to become very important for all kinds of generative AI as the companies behind them seek new sources of knowledge to train their LLMs. 

Social Media and Industry news

YouTube has become a major podcasting platform, and podcasters have been uploading simple videos that remind me of a lot of studio cam footage. So it comes as no surprise that YouTube is testing tools for this market.

Meta hops on the verification bandwagon. I think they need to fix the cloning of accounts on their own as an act of good faith rather than charging for this privilege. This is affecting not just brands but regular people. It's not a good look. 

And lastly, as I mentioned last week, with the economy going through a soft spot in the US and several places really, the ad market is shifting quite a bit. 

The Conversation’s user needs-led effort to engage younger readers

I am starting to do some user needs work with consulting clients at Pugpig, and I'm keen to do more. I think it's an excellent audience-first framework that provides a way to refine a content strategy and also develop new products, and we've got a great example from The Conversation, which publishes pieces from academics on topics in the news. They used the model to achieve a goal that many publishers are trying to achieve - attracting a younger audience. 

My friend Damien Radcliffe continues to provide some excellent coverage of commerce media, which is a range of approaches that merge content and retail. These tactics range from affiliate marketing to brand extensions, and he provides an update with one of his signature pieces showing how a digital media trend is playing out in five charts. 

Rounding out our top-featured pieces are two items about the newsletter space, which has and continues to be a very active focus for publishers because they are key across a wide range of editorial from stand-alone products to elements of conversion and retention strategies. That plus industry news. 

A detailed on how to run the user needs playbook and also how it leads to some really interesting product development. 

Damian looks at the rapid rise of social commerce and also something I just flagged up this week, which is how Amazon is starting to bite into Facebook's ad business with better targeting. 

Briefings, deep dives and summaries. The newsletter that you're reading falls solidly into the briefings segment. It gives me a chance to share some what I'm paying attention to, and it also serves as a good archive for media intelligence. 

And this piece is definitely not a summary but a deep dive, an in-depth case study of the low-tech newsletter that has been going for 22 years. It's a detailed look at its editorial and commercial strategy. 

I have to keep up with the unbroken string of AI headlines. Again with the focus on AI-written stories as opposed to all of the other applications for AI in media!?

Industry news: Media startups and eco-systems

I am a little surprised that we're seeing an NFT collection in 2023, but I think the bigger story is the brand extensions. 

This story has been bubbling up for weeks now, and finally, we have some details on what exactly what Twitter will be doing with their API. 

One of the earliest of Google's employees decides to step down. 

Dumb and easy money is out in media, subscription optimisation is in

In boom times, profits come easily, and dumb money flows into the latest media shiny thing. In lean times, profits come to those who work hard and smartly, and dumb money dries up. We're entering a lean time, although one that doesn't feel right now like a washout like the dot.com crash or the Great Recession. Publishers are focusing on retention now, and our first two featured articles focus on different techniques to keep subscribers paying. Gannett presents its onboarding process, and the folks at Media Voices speaks to the head of the newsletter team at the Financial Times about various roles that they play including retention. 

But we also have a couple of features that look at how companies are grappling with the issue of the challenges of running a digital business in a downturn. One article looks at Canadian local news startup that is realising that the market is harder than they thought. It's a great corrective for critics on the sideline who think that meeting the challenges of local news media is easy. And the New York Times says that the era of 'dumb money' is over for podcasters. Ouch. 

Plus, LSE has an excellent overview of what AI means for new, and we find out how the Super Bowl drove app downloads. Vice gets a bailout, and US states are considering subsidising subscriptions for local news. 

And for today's photo, thanks to Jp Valery on StockSnap

This overview from INMA is full of actionable insights. As we have seen from Piano data, onboarding needs to start immediately at checkout because you've got hours not days or weeks to engage new subscribers. Those morning newsletters are a major tool in onboarding, and subscribers want 'actionable benefits'. 

Newsletters operate at all stages of your conversion funnel and as Gannett has found are important in your retention efforts. I think it's important to note that for a brand like the FT, they also see newsletters as an important two-way communication tool. 

Of the many important thoughts here, I think the idea that small newsrooms can use AI and that there needs to be accountability rank highly on this excellent list. 

The Super Bowl supercharged app downloads as people ordered food, placed bets and shopped. 

Industry News: Local news is hard, Footballco leans into social video breaking news and 'dumb money' is done with podcasting

Ouch, the startup Overstory got millions in investment but has found it much harder going than anticipated. How much of this is timing and how much of it is arrogance? 

Maybe we underestimated this business and how hard it actually is. I thought it would be easier, thought it was going to be a lot simpler than it actually turned out to be. We made some big bets, and a lot of them haven’t paid off.

Footballco is an interesting company, and it's interesting to see how they are keeping a close eye on market and audience trends. 

The opening line says a lot. This is what happens when a format gets overheated sadly. When it starts to cool, it not only takes out those who capitalised on the hype but also some solid performers. That being said, recent coverage suggests that money is still flowing into podcasts, but it might not be flowing into podcasting quickly enough to support all of the investment. 

Local journalism continues to be under pressure in both the US and the UK, and both countries are now looking into policy responses. In the US, I see blue (Democrat-controlled) states considering these efforts while red (Republican-controlled) are resistant to taxpayer support of media. 

This is unsurprising. Once a media darling, Vice has been struggling for several years now after being seen as a rising number of Millennial-focused outlets. Note, a lot of them have suffered similar challenges including Buzzfeed. They were supported by investments for a while, but those investments have not paid out. The question for me is whether they can find an exit or will just shutter. 

How a ‘decision-first’ user research approach delivered action, not just insights, for The Conversation

There are times when a theme seems to emerge from the random stories that are published in a day across the media industry, and today's theme is definitely advertising. Economic uncertainty always leads to a softening in advertising, and when it comes to digital advertising and the media that rely on it, this is causing ructions. Honestly, it's long overdue a pretty fundamental realignment in digital advertising, but as often happens, the first stage of a disruptive period is that incumbents will lean into their models even harder. That's why the New York Times has a story about a coming pandemic in junk ads, and the Press Gazette takes aim at Taboola and the news industry's co-dependent relationship with it.  

Before we get to that though, I have my usual collection of smart thinking about the industry. Peter Houston has a great piece for What's New in Publishing, about his wishlist for 2023. I especially like his call for publishers to focus on value and revenue diversification. 
The Audiencers look at how The Conversation has a 'decision-first' approach to user research. The thing that is attractive about this approach is that it is action-oriented. 

And in the next featured story of the day, we look at a Reuters Institute piece about an Italian digital news outlet the refocused away from investigations to opinion. It carved out a unique position, and it is focusing on digital but also print and events. It's an intersting case study about positioning and branding. 

Peter Houston offers up his very clear-headed analysis of the direction that he hopes publishing will take in 2023. His reference to Mix of Six, a rough guide to how many revenue streams a publishing business should have, speaks to the focus that successful publishers have on revenue diversification this year. 

How to make sure that your research results in action.  Consider the action that you want to take, and then design the research around that goal. 

This is a classic case study in positioning and branding as a response for how to compete in a crowded market. You have to be unique not only to stand out but also to be valuable and unique enough to audiences that they might to pay. If you want to reach a mass audience, be prepared to produce as much lowest common denominator content as possible. 

This a solid and simple guide to SEO with a number of steps you can take to improve the SEO of any site. Some of these are baseline tactics that you need to be successful while others are next-level things to do to make you stand out. 

Politico's strategy of moving up the value chain is by providing high-value research for lucrative verticals for lobbyists and policy shops willing to pay. It's expanding that overseas. 

The major shifts in the advertising market already in 2023

This speaks to concern about the large US digital advertising companies that the EU would brush aside antitrust-anticompetition concerns to allow major mobile phone companies across Europe to join together in a joint venture to take on GAFA - Google-Apple-Facebook and Amazon. 

The Press Gazette highlights how news publishers are using services like Taboola to net millions in ad revenue. The piece walks up to the line but doesn't answer the question of whether such services degreed the brands that use them. 

And that leads to the next item from the New York Times about whether we're seeing a junk ad epidemic. 

And even amongst the platforms, the ad landscape is shifting. Amazing is taking business from Facebook. 

And Elon is taking away business from Twitter, while obsessing about how many impressions his tweets get

Reader personas: Using multi-dimensional user personas to improve retention

Using personas for design and product development work is part of the practice, but Better News highlights how the Detroit Free Press is using multi-dimensional personas in its retention efforts. This example touches on two themes of this newsletter for the year: product development and retention. The underlying idea is pretty obvious that people can't be pigeonholed into simple demographic or even psychographic categories. They demonstrate how they took this idea and put it in service of building loyalty and habit in their audiences. 

And, of course, in 2023, almost any idea seems to be touched in some way with AI, and frankly, this is also pretty obvious. How can AI be put into service to serve up rich related stories for a reader based on their individual interests rather than metadata-based related content modules? 

And The Audiencers at Poool review a new series of benchmarks to measure subscription performance. 
Plus, in addition to a bit of industry news, I highlight a few practical pieces that flew by including one about the big shift for Google Analytics users from UA to GA4. The deadline is looming. And some of the shift is down to privacy issues, which is highlighted in another piece on how media agencies are building privacy expertise this year. 

And thanks to David Boyle for the photo of a man reading a newspaper in New York City

Next-level persona work

This is a deep case study that highlights exactly what this team did with their multi-dimensional persona work. They not only developed personas based on interests but also used a basic retention model that tied specific KPIs to their likelihood to keep their subscriptions. The result was data that challenged some basic assumptions about a core audience, readers who followed the local baseball team. 

AI recommendation systems are being used by 70% of publishers, according to the Reuters Institute. This is a good summary of some research done into how personas were affecting recommendation systems, and it highlighted the personas that publishers are using to surface more relevant content for audiences. 

An analysis of digital subscription success using a digital subscriber/1000 pageviews metric. After explaining why he used that metric, he goes on to compare the performance of different subscription models such as freemium, metered paywall, hard paywall and voluntary payments. 

Get smarter: The switch to GA4, challenging the narrative around AI and why ad shops are focusing on privacy

The switch to GA4 is happening in July, and the executive editor at a newspaper in the US reviews what they learned in the switch. 

The narrative about generative AI has quickly devolved into one driven by moral panic about it replacing journalists, and this piece challenges us to think more deeply about AI from an academic perspective. 

Privacy is one of the major regulatory themes this year as it has been for the last several years. Media agencies are beefing up their privacy talent to respond. 

Industry News: Publishers still seeing growth but layoffs continue in 2023

A FIPP report from the end of 2022 found that publishers continue to see digital subscription growth. My wife has just launched a newsletter on Substack, and it's very intriguing to see growth figures broken out by the platform. 

They are reorganising their ad business to focus on the demand side and getting out of the supply side, which makes a lot of sense. The ad and adtech space is so crowded. It is the epitome of a red ocean space, which is why the cuts so swiftly in a downturn. 
While Yahoo feels back of mind these days with the rise of other platforms, it still pulls in $8bn a year in revenue. Although this reporting triggers one of my beefs about business reporting: Saying that the company is profitable and then quoting a revenue figure is conflating two things. A company can pull in $8bn in revenue and still not break even. 

This amounts to a 5% cut in their headcount. The company missed their quarterly estimates due to all of the usual suspects in the news business in a softening economy. 

Beyond subscriptions and ads: Publishers look for other pillars of revenue growth

When we were speaking to publishers for Pugpig's State of the Digital Publishing Market report, one theme that I heard was that they were looking for other sources of revenue in addition to ads and subscriptions. In another example of a publisher diversifying its revenue streams, The Athletic's chief commercial officer told Digiday what other revenue streams the site was exploring to drive revenue past the break-even point. 

While several outlets have covered the decline in new podcast creation, the picture is more complicated than declaring podcasting in decline overall. Podcast advertising remains robust. But then advertisers can often be late to arrive at a party and late to leave. They tend to be a conservative bunch looking for guaranteed returns from their investment.

And What's New in Publishing summarises research from data platform provider Lotame about how publishers are preparing for Google's end of supporting third-party cookies.

In industry news, Penske invests in Vox, and Google is ending a feature to allow users to play podcasts directly from search results. UK's Reach has named the editors of its foray into the US as it continues to look for scale. 


And thanks to Christine Roy for the image for this edition of the newsletter. (I'm doing this because I'm not happy about how Beehiiv shows attribution for photos.) And one other housekeeping note. The newsletter has had a rather uneven publishing schedule, but now that life is settling into a bit more of a routine post the move, I'll be publishing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday apart from when I'm on holiday. 

We already covered brand extensions and now The Athletic's chief commercial officer lays out the range of revenue streams that the sports news service now owned by the New York Times plans to reach profitability by 2025. 

As long as there is money to be made and publishers have success with podcasts, we'll see resources pour into audio on demand. As I have said before, people have less time to create podcasts now that pandemic lockdowns have mostly ended. But commuting is one of the prime times of the day to listen to podcasts so consumption for those types of podcasts might bounce back. If I were still a product director for a broadcaster (which I was until April of last year), I would look at how podcast listening habits have changed as my audiences have exited lockdown, and I would look at how my stable of podcast products may or may continue to fit into new habits. 

The biggest publishers and broadcasters like Bloomberg have already started to shift away from third-party cookies and have used first-party user data as a competitive advantage, but for a wider range of publishers, it has been easier to kick the can down the road, especially since Google already has. But publishers, particularly in the UK, are now having a greater sense of urgency. 

Industry news: Google winds down a podcast search feature, Reach names US editors and Penske's investment in Vox

Today in AI: Getty sues Stable Diffusion maker and Google gets into the AI chatbot game

The AI headlines continue to come at a torrid pace as ChatGPT and AI image generators such as Stable Diffusion and Midjourney allow anyone to create jaw-dropping images with a few text prompts. However, this space is also contentious with experiments highlighting the need for editorial standards needing to be applied to this new technology. 

Speaking of ChatGPT, Google has released its own chatbot, and Josh Benton of Nieman Lab asks what that means for publishers. 

Journalism Headlines: Green shoots in a news desert and how to get stories from company data

And last but not least: the exit to Mastodon seems like a flash in the pan. I have to say, decentralisation without usability is never going to work. Crypto and decentralisation divorced from user needs and usability will always fail. At that point, they become ideologies not technologies. 

App Product Development: Aftenposten’s Discovery, Nail It and Scale It

How do you design and build a new app? It's something that we think a lot about in my new(ish) role at Pugpig as their consulting services director. INMA highlights a couple of frameworks used by successful publishers, Schibsted's Aftenposten and the Financial Times. The first thing I would highlight is that product development needs to involve your entire organisation - editorial, commercial,marketing and technical. These examples are important and useful in that they cover two important elements of the product process, organisational alignment efforts and voice-of-the-user efforts. 

Speaking of apps, Mediapost.com has highlighted a report from the US Department of Commerce that calls on Congress to pass legislation that opens up app stores by forcing Apple and Google to open up additional paths for app developers to get onto users phones. Both in the EU and now the US, we're seeing efforts to allow for alternative app stores or sideloading. 

App product development and opening up the app stores

Two great case studies on how to develop successful apps from Schibsted's Aftenposten and the Financial Times. Product managers represent the voice of the user, and in the best managed organisations are empowered to bring various internal stakeholders into alignment through a clear set of goals that help them manage trade offs. That sums up quite a bit about what I learned in master's in innovation management. It can sound like a simple process, and once an organisation has a structure in place, it can run quite smoothly. But as multiple studies and the experience of product managers in media companies have found, it is this transition to an orderly process that is a tremendous challenge. Schibsted and the FT are the promised land, but for a lot of publishers, product management can definitely feel like an arduous journey in the wilderness. 

In a report by the US Department of Commerce, the Biden Administration says that developers face "significant hurdles" to compete with their mobile apps and that these choices are largely due to decisions made by the companies that control the platforms rather than legitimate technical issues. It has called on Congress to create legislation to open up the app market, which Democratic senators tried to do with proposed legislation in 2021. The upshot is that Apple and Google might be forced to be allow more sideloading, and with Republicans gunning for the major platforms as much as Democrats are, it might be one of the few areas of agreement by fractious parties in the US. 

Digiday's outlook for the events sector for 2023 and what drives retention more: annual or monthly subs?

Digiday has a couple of excellent pieces today looking at the events pillar of media businesses. While anxiety still persists, publishers in the US are seeing a healthy opportunity for a revived events business. The US economy definitely looks in good health, and if it can manage to tame inflation, then 2023 can be quite a good year.

And retention is definitely a major theme this year for publishers. In a media roundup, they briefly look at whether monthly or annual subscriptions are more effective. 

Media News: A retrospective on algorithms, the podcast winter and Gannett kills comments (with little notice for its publications)

Markup editor Julia Angwin looks back at her tenure at the helm and offers up a meditation on Algorithmic Age. It's actually not just about algorithms but also her approach to journalism, especially data-driven journalism. 

The drop off in the creation of new podcasts has been reported before. Frankly, I think that this speaks as much to a decline in disposable time once pandemic lockdowns ended - not just for listening to podcasts but more important for creating them. It was easy to launch a new podcast when we were all home bound. Now that life is returning to normal, who has the time? Discuss. 

Social Media Roundup: TikTok outlines new 'strikes' system for moderation and a day in the drama around Twitter

TikTok has a new way to manage 'repeat offenders'. It's not just a game of whack-a-mole about each case but looking for a pattern of behaviour. 
Twitter might have yet another new competitor, T2, that wants to take its crown. I think it speaks to the space that Musk has opened up as he runs Twitter in such an unfocused way. He has given existing competitors and new entrants the space to challenge the platform. 

Speaking of its lastest 'let's throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks' idea, Musk is now floating the idea of charging brands up to $1000 a month for their golden tick. Well, if he can come up with a way that it can't be hijacked easily, he might have a business model. 

How targeting specific audiences can lead to subscription success

There were two great reports out this week, one from WAN-IFRA and another by FT Strategies, that highlight the importance of an audience focus in two different but important ways. WAN-IFRA manages the Table Stakes Europe project, and three of the key elements of the strategy are about targeting specific audiences. And the report has several examples of how publishers across Europe have decided on what audiences to target and the results of their experiments. 

FT Strategies runs a Subs Academy, and in the third report of this project, they look at the organisational and operational changes that are needed for subscription growth: collaboration, transparency and audience centricity. When the FT talks about audience centricity, they highlighted how media organisations needed to refine the metrics that they use so that they were measuring things that were most tightly correlated with subscription growth. Both reports are worth a read. 

When I first saw the headline go past comparing ChatGPT and TikTok's growth trajectory, I was a little sceptical, but after reading deeper, the research from UBS seems to hold up based on monthly average users (MAUs). However, I think it's worth noting that both ChatGPT and TikTok rely on machine learning algorithms of some sort so I see this as a story about the growth of AI overall rather than a horse race. 

In media industry news, Gawker is being shuttered again, 

Go deep in targeting specific audiences and measuring the audiences that drive subscription growth

FT Strategies goes deep into the kind of operational and organisational changes necessary to drive subscription success. This aligns with the work that I did during my master''s dissertation that highlighted how critical it is to have alignment across the organisation that is rooted in a set of priorities that C-level leaders have agreed upon. Product managers are not magical. They cannot overcome a lack of alignment above them, and if they put in a position of trying to overcome irreconcilable priorities amongst senior stakeholders, they will burn out. 
This report outlines a number of steps to create alignment and collaboration and also that flows into audience-centric activities and KPIs that measure the success of those activities. 

And speaking of audience centricity, WAN-IFRA has an excellent report based on their work with publishers for the Table Stakes Europe project. The underlying hypothesis for the Table Stakes project is that news publishers need to develop and distribute content for specific audiences. This report outlines how a number of publishers are following this playbook and the measurable results that they are having in building brand awareness amongst groups that they currently don't reach and converting those audiences to paying subscribers. 

If you're a B2B publisher or cover business, LinkedIn is building tools for you to reach those audiences. I am thinking about experimenting with these tools at Pugpig, and I'd be interested in hearing any success that you might have had with the platform. 

UBS says that ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app in the world

As I said before, I think that this really speaks of the maturity that AI and machine learning has reached that it has broken into the mainstream conversation. I remember more than a decade ago when Clay Shirky was asked about the next killer app at an RSA event in London. He said, "Email." It was ubiquitous, which speaks to a level of mass adoption. Before mass adoption, you need to have mass awareness, and ChatGPT is providing that for AI. 

A bit of analysis from the moral panic end of the AI discussion. 

A bit of practical knowledge here. Bing will now use an XML tag about when the post has been updated rather than a publish date so that it knows when content has been refreshed. Something to use. Bing isn't dead. With it's investment in ChatGPT and its updates, it is still contesting search. 

Famous founders launching new products

A couple of notable new launches that are interesting for the founders and in one case the product. US consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader has launched a newspaper to fill a gap where he lives. 

For a launch with slightly wider implications, the founders of Instagram have launched a new news app. I find it slightly interesting that it is called TikTok for text because the underlying ML technology for TikTok started life in an Asian news aggregator app. 

And as new sites launch, old sites fade away. The resurrected Gawker has been put on ice because its new owners say that they won't continue to invest in "a pre-monetisation product". That's bloodlessly scathing. 

Platform News: Meta's earnings, Google's anti-trust woes and Twitter business moves

And we have a quick end-of-the-week roundup of news about platforms. Meta's stocks on a bit of a tear, and its recent results will probably support that. Google on the other hand faces challenges both in its business and from regulators in the US, Europe and elsewhere. 
Apple's service revenue growth slowed for the first time in three years, but it's still growing! 
And we get a glimpse of what Elon Musk is planning for Twitter's new look business model. It's no secret that he has been thinking about changing Twitter into an Asian super app ala the weibo in China. Those apps are both micro-blogging apps, shopping apps and payment/financial apps. However, you only have to look at Meta's challenge with introducing a virtual currency to see how this might not be as easy in the US. 

And he cutting off free access to its API. That might not be a bad thing for Twitter or for its eco-system. They should have done this a long time ago. It would have strengthened Twitter and provided a route to maturity for its eco-system. 

TikTok and a new pivot to video: Will it be another boom and bust?

In his review of the year ahead, Nic Newman at the Reuter's Institute highlighted the role that video, particularly vertical video, was playing in the innovation plans of publishers and broadcasters in the coming year, and our top two stories speak to those efforts. (Of course, Nic also spoke of audio, and it's important to understand how podcasts play into efforts to retain those important subscribers by adding a touch point with audiences.) 

But is this just another pivot to video as news organisations try to capitalise on the latest off-platform trend? We'll have the answer to that by the end of this year, if not sooner. 

Speaking of faded off-platform champions, BuzzFeed has been making headlines as it gets another infusion of Facebook cash to crank out creator content and also as it will use AI to cheaply generate some of its content. It is a move that Wall Street seems to love

And I think that CNET should be applauded for being transparent about the results of its AI content generation experiment. It was criticised for not being open that it was doing it in the first place, but I think that they learned that this kind of experimentation can't be done without that transparency. Knowing who is writing and reporting a story is essential for trust and accountability, whether it is a person or an AI. 

But as I said at a conference in Hungary last week, AI is much more than a robot to outsource content creation to, and there is a flurry of developments in the application of AI for media.

Newsrooms focus on TikTok. Is it another doomed pivot to video?

The battle for talent who are authentic on the platform is on with major publishers looking for video talent. 

It seems to have an audience tailor-made for TikTok. 

Semafor Ben said that one of the lessons that he took away for BuzzFeed was that you shouldn't build your business on someone else's platform. It's a lesson that he wasn't alone in learning. He looks at the News Movement, who are looking to be a counter example to that lesson. 

AI Round Up: BuzzFeed Outsources - oh, 'enhances' content and quizzes with AI 

Speaking of BuzzFeed. AI to its rescue? Media watchers are not nearly as impressed as Wall Street

The Guardian's take. 

And that Meta deal that is also driving Buzzfeed's stock price. 

Or 18 Common mistakes that journalists make with AI and how to avoid them. As I said at a conference last week, AI is much more interesting when it comes to personalised content and dynamic paywalls. 

Exhibit A: an acquisition of a company that can "deliver effective content tailored to users’ interests across email, push, and other channels". (The end of audience engagement editors? Nah, a great conversation still requires humans, well at least for now.)

Lessons were learned by CNET. I actually applaud them for their transparency. 

The ad market

Media watchers are carefully monitoring the ad market for signs of distress to understand whither the media market is going. AP, the US news co-op, is looking to earn more from its content with ads. It's an interesting move considering the uncertain outlook for the ad market. 

Semafor is starting to demonstrate some interesting innovation, and that is both on the content and advertising side with a text message interview series sponsored by US mobile phone major Verizon. 

And Digiday says that the ad forecast is decidedly dour.