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. 

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