There is so much in this post and so many times that I was agreeing violently, but I’ll just highlight some of the points that really stood out for me.
Publishers’ infrastructure is still focused on advertising-led businesses and have not kept pace with the shift to reader revenue.
Email is still a neglected and overlooked channel for many publishers. “The energy behind email’s return is that it remains the most cost efficient way to test conversion and retention strategies. There’slittle risk and plenty of reward for readers to opt-in to newsletters and other distribution lists.”
The point that really leapt out at me was how editorial thinking and content strategy are now being married to product thinking. And they touch on the cultural issues that can arise in that shift in thinking. That’s an entire article on its own.
This post is a great conversation starter, and it’s so economical in its communication. I will definitely be using it when we have some of these conversations in my shop.
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I often say that in the disrupted media businesses that journalists are all freelancers now, or to put it another, more positive way, we all have to be much more entrepreneurial than we have been in the past. That being said, making the move from being a jobbing journalist into an entrepreneur or business owner can be a major shift.
As a reporter with 30 years in the field as a foreign correspondent, as a war correspondent, I just had no experience building a team, raising money, managing a company. It was an incredibly steep learning curve.
The service uses AI to automate the laborious process of transcription while also adding searchability and discoverability. I like services like this because I often say that I would rather outsource tasks like this to robots rather than treat journalists like robots. It frees journalists up to add value.
The biggest challenge for media leaders is choosing where they think their journalists add value. This is important in creating a content strategy when we’re trying to determine how to make that value exchange clear so that audiences will become paying members or subscribers.
And in building his company, he has learned this important lesson: Even if you’re competing with much bigger competitors – in his world Google and Microsoft – that there is value in focusing on one task and doing that task incredibly well.
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John Einar Sandvand of Schibsted says the unit is the group’s “future lab”. He quotes one of the product managers of the group, Fanny Chays, who says, “Our ambition is to find the next generation of media companies for Schibsted.”
In addition to managing a couple of existing products, they also explore “so-called bets for potential future products”. They use a four-step process in identifying product bets:
And that’s another week. Thanks so much for reading and also for subscribing to the newsletter. If you haven’t subscribed, go to my Nuzzel profile, and if you spot a media business story that you think should be included, shoot to me on Twitter, @kevglobal.
In my work, I’m focused on the top of the funnel – growing our audience – and the first stages of the conversion process. But for groups like The Times, which has been building its paid content strategy for years now, the focus is much farther down the funnel, on retention. Converting casual users to members or subscribers becomes a Sisyphean task if you have a high churn rate, a high rate at which you lose subscribers.
The Times is using AI to send personalised newsletters based on readers interests. Basically, they are using technology to send the right content at the right to time to subscribers on a level that would not be scalable if it relied simply on human editors. The halving of the churn rate was determined by comparing the churn of a group that received the newsletter generated by the AI and a control group.
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Hello dear readers, in today’s international media newsletter, the story that stood out for me was one looking at the success that ESPN is having with Snapchat. Snapchat, you remember that app, right? The one that Instagram has copy-pasted feature after feature?
As I often say in social media training sessions, Snapchat is mostly pointless for media folks – especially local media folks or media operations outside of the US and UK. The caveat to that is apart from a handful of verticals like fashion, or I guess sports.
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As Rick Edmonds at the Poynter Institute pointed out in the AP story, this has been tried before. It hasn’t been a roaring success.
I think that this might be worth watching because the publisher is going out to civic clubs to make the pitch in person, and the newspaper isn’t just offering a free iPad but also training on how to use the digital edition. Will the personal touch be enough to win over subscribers and return the paper to profit by 2020? It’s one to watch.
But seriously, newsletters are one of the hot topics in media right now because we have so much data on how they are the first step to converting a user to a subscriber. Or, put another way, newsletters are the “zero subscription” as a Google product manager said at the Google News Initiative Summit that I attended in March.
One thing to note: They use Salesforce Marketing Cloud to produce their newsletter. They had been using Mailchimp, which is what a lot of companies, including mine use. Despite the issues always involved in transitioning to a new platform, Salesforce is important to their strategy because:
Marketing Cloud is part of a bigger suite of programs. It lets the business side have more insight into audience behavior. We can see what content drives conversion. We can offer related content based on individual user habits. These abilities underscore our goal of increasing digital subscriptions.
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The one point they make is that “skills” for Alexa or “actions” for Google’s Assistant are key to the process. These are the third party applications that allow you to really connect with your audiences. They open up a lot of new opportunities such as interactivity and the ability to sell exclusive content, two of the more than half dozen revenue ideas in the article by Publishing Executive.
One of the key decisions is whether to develop these actions or skills in-house or out-source them to a dedicated development shop. I think it really comes down to resources and how core smart speakers are to your overall business strategy. As the articles says, this is a fast moving space, and for smaller organisations that can’t afford a dedicated developer, it might make more sense to work with an external development firm. If you have the scale and smart speakers are core to your business, then it might make sense to develop in-house and build up that capability.
But there is a lot of other things in the newsletter today including:
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In a note from BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti to staff in March, Peretti said BuzzFeed made $3 million from Facebook platform revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, and was monetizing 70% of its YouTube video views by the end of last year.
From a conversion standpoint, they have developed a hybrid three-layer paid content system: Metered, premium and dynamic. The dynamic layer puts content that attracts a significant amount of traffic in three to four hours behind the paywall.
In terms of conversion, they have found that the first four to six months are critical in reducing churn, which is why they have focused on things like newsletters and push notifications to build habits with newly converted subscribers.
That’s the sweet and now the sour from today. I got my start in journalism at a small local newspaper in western Kansas. My editor at the Hays Daily News Mike Corn used to joke, “It’s not the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from here.”
When I was there, things were lean, and I got my job just before a hiring freeze was instituted. In terms of newspapers, even though my career started in the mid-1990s, I never knew the golden age of the industry that some journalists hearken back to. The piece referred to those times and the fat margins papers had then as they enjoyed local monopolies:
For a while, though, newspapers were easy money: In most communities, the newspaper faced little competition and could charge high rates to advertisers. The result, as Lehigh University professor Jeremy Littau noted in a widely shared Twitter thread in January, is that in the 1990s, companies like Knight Ridder – which owned the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star before selling to current owner McClatchy – had profit margins of 30 percent or more.
Harris Enterprises sold to Gatehouse in 2016. Gatehouse has a reputation for pretty deep cuts and centralised production out of a central hub in Austin Texas. The cuts have been deep, and the piece explains what those cuts mean to communities civically and otherwise.
But I’ll end on this somewhat optimistic note:
If there’s hope for strengthening the connection between news organizations and the communities they serve, then it might come first in those places where news gatherers have to form the closest of ties. There are still plenty of places in Kansas where locally owned papers are persevering.
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