The Future of Publishing: The Paradoxes of the Attention Economy, AI and how Product Management supports Digital Transformation

Sorry for the relative quietness of the newsletter last week, but I was at a Future of Publishing conference in Hungary representing Pugpig, my employer. The panel that I was on was titled "The Future of Publishing: Worst Case Scenarios". Our moderator, Debrenti Félix - Head of International and Institutional Relations, BL Press - chose to focus the questions on future challenges that media will face and the role of new revenue streams. I used to go or speak at future of media conferences all of the time, including when I was at  The Guardian, and we hosted them. But it had been a while since I took part in one, and it gave me a chance to think about the development of digital media historically and also where we find ourselves now. I wrote about it for the weekly newsletter that I do for Pugpig, our Media Bulletin

At the end of the talk, I referred to the famous quote from Steward Brand in his conversation with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak that information wants to be free. I feel the need everytime I hear the quote that it's a de-contextualised partial quote.  

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.

For me, this challenges publishers and broadcasters to understand what information is valuable and why. Some of that information will be intelligence that helps people make money or make the right decision, and other content will be emotionally evocative. At this conference, I mentioned that many of the publishers were actually selling belonging to a particular political movement. That might be more relevant to a membership model than a subscription model. 

The Attention Economy and the Paradoxes of Digital Publishing

Preparing for the panel gave me a great opportunity to reflect on where digital media has been and what challenges lie ahead for publishers big and small. One of the common themes of the panels before me was how easy it was to become a digital publisher, and while I agree that it's never been easier to publish content digitally, it has created the paradox that it has become more difficult to monetise. Consumers have never had more choices when it comes to content whether that is on-demand video and audio (both music and podcasts), video games plus endless streams of articles and social media posts. Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon noticed this trend already in the now relatively content-scarce year of 1971, but it gave rise to the concept of the attention economy. Broadly, the idea is that in an era in which information is plentiful, consumers' time and attention becomes a scarce resource. While the democratisation of media as it was described at the conference might seem liberating, that still does not mean that you'll be able to build a successful media business or brand. 

With this oversupply of entertainment and information, it meant that the digital returns for digital businesses were lower than they were for publishers and broadcasters during the era of relative scarcity. It's simple economics, and I used to quote Clay Shirky who said that traditional economics is grounded in the allocation of scarce resources. Abundance breaks things in ways that we don't entirely understand or at least our traditional business models aren't based on. 

And now we have AI which is promising that is promising to be able to generate even more content than before without the intervention of human creators. In some ways, if AI is simply used to create more content more cheaply, it will have the paradoxical impact of adding to the oversupply of content and economically supporting that oversupply by cutting costs. 

Of course, as I pointed out, this generative form of AI is only one application, and smart publishers are using AI for personalisation to increase the relevance of their content and also using it to power dynamic paywalls to tailor offers for their audiences. This paywall technology goes far beyond the old binary of hard and metered paywalls and begins to allow a package to be offered to a wider range of customer segments based on their behaviour. 

Product Management and Digital Transformation

And the panel touched on digital transformation, which I think can be driven by adopting a product management process. In the post for Pugpig, I highlighted a process that we used in working with Foreign Affairs magazine to improve in-app listening for their podcasts. I generalised that process to this:

  1. Start with a goal. 
  2. Determine how to measure that goal and develop KPIs – both editorial and commercial. 
  3. Do audience research to understand why your audience is acting in a certain way. This step is really important. Use that research to inform your product. 
  4. Do user testing before release.
  5. Measure and iterate. 

And we were asked what we thought the biggest challenge would be for publishers in the future. Borrowing from what I learned in my master's in innovation management, I said that the biggest challenge was that digital transformation was not a destination but a journey. They didn't simply want to create a 'fail fast' culture that accepted experimentation but fostered a 'learn quickly' culture that made sure that those experiments built a learning culture that developed agility as a competitive advantage. 

Media companies adjust their subscription strategises as the market turns

INMA's Greg Piechota looks at how media companies are tweaking their subscription strategies as profit margins are squeezed due to rising costs and a decline in advertising. As he points out, increasing subscription prices, which many publishers were doing last year, will not the strategy that allows them to continue to grow or offset their own price rises because customers are feeling the squeeze of inflation too. 

It was quite a day for coverage of how transformative AI is going to be for media. What's New in Publishing has highlighted Nic Newman's predictions about AI in his annual media outlook. And almost if on cue, there were a number of major stories that show how quickly the industry is moving and also start to highlight the guardrails that publishers will need to put in place as they experiment with the technology. 

Greg provides a well-informed look at what publishers are doing as economic indicators flash red. The New York Times is taking the long view and sticking to its strategy of increasing customer value but also growing its returns by building out its subscription bundle. But Greg's analysis shows a widening gap between low-priced, low-retention brands and high-priced, high-retention publishers in the life-time value they can achieve in the coming years. This year will be another turn of the screw in the industry. 

And, as publishers spend more of their time and attention on retention efforts, What's New in Publishing has a review on how to design your onboarding experience. 

The FT Strategies-Minna Technologies report we recently highlighted showed how publishers are pivoting to retention, but in reviewing customer behaviour, they found that audiences, especially younger ones, wanted services to help them manage their subscriptions. The Informed app is offering that service for publishers and has attracted a number of big names including the FT, The Economist, Bloomberg and the New York Times. My sense is that they see this as an on-ramp to their own subscription products. 

The AI revolution is just getting started 

Almost three in 10 of the publishers that Nic spoke to have already integrated AI into their operations, and nearly 40% are conducting some kind of experiments with the technology. And with the attention that ChatGPT has garnered, I would expect this activity to increase dramatically this year, especially with respect to AI fine-tuning subscription offers as publishers look for yield. 

We first started hearing about this major investment a week or so ago, and now it's real. Microsoft had already made a $1bn investment in the non-profit OpenAI, and now, it is more than doubling down. You can imagine a number of AI applications that would enhance Microsoft's offering, but the obvious one is super-charging its Bing search engine. Google has already been reported as seeing this a 'code red' challenge to its business, and it's not as if the search giant isn't working in this space. 

After increasing its transparency around its AI experiments, CNET has pushed pause and with good reason. Its AI is being accused of plagiarism. It would be fascinating to work with the engineers to develop an anti-plagiarism algorithm for an AI. 

While the Creator Economy might be hitting the down slope of the hype cycle, some creators have built new personal media empires, and this is a great case study of how Casey Johnston leveraged short stints in traditional media to build her own brand and business. 

...well, and also a look at how to choose your platform if you are a Revue refugee like I was.

Challenges for audio content creators 

Podcasts swelled its expenses and the revenue hasn't materialised yet from those investments. 

A summary of a report out of the US on creating youth content (often co-creating with them) and how that can build relationships with younger audiences. The challenge is funding. Isn't it always? Sigh. 

Today in the big platforms

A great review of Netflix's challenges and how it has faced them in the past, which shows it might face its current post-pandemic audience challenge. 

I have to admit that I have been toying with whether to cross-publishing our newsletter at Pugpig on LinkedIn. I would be interested to hear your experience of publishing on LinkedIn. 

Meta continues to experiment with the metaverse, and live sports seem as good as any place. I'd be curious to see how this work, but I'm not feeling flush enough to buy the gear to see. 

Content consumption and creation changes: Under 25s turn away from email and new podcast creation plummets

2023 will definitely be a year of transition in media as the economy turns and consumer behaviour changes. Trends that media managers have assumed over the past few years have changed, and as ever, we'll have to learn to adapt. The Verge is reporting that podcast creation plummeted in 2022. We'll get to the reason in a minute. 

Bosses in Davos are saying that their under-25 staff don't do email, which I have seen in the organisation where I work. We use email for external communications, but internally, it's almost exclusively Slack. The question then becomes whether this will impact the efficacy of newsletters or whether this is like my office, a shift in internal comms rather than digital communication in general. 

Semafor co-founder Ben Smith casts an eye over billionaire-owned media. Is this era ending as billionaires' interest and attention shift elsewhere? 

And lastly, if we look back to the middle of the last decade, there was a crop of new media darlings that looked like they would take over as legacy media faltered: Buzzfeed, Vice, Vox and Mic. But how the screw turns! Mic fizzled, and Buzzfeed has struggled mightily since its SPAC. Vox just announced layoffs, and Vice is putting itself on the block at a fraction of the asking price that it did just a few years ago. 


  • Spotify talks about how it uses agile coaches, and it's a great opportunity for media companies to see how innovative tech companies adapt their delivery management practices. 
  • Google shifts its ad ops to third parties as cuts take hold at the company.
  • CNET drops its AI-generated content experiment for now.
  • Jean-Louis Gassée compares the current advances in AI to the dawn of the personal computer era.

Changes in the media market: Consumption, creation and ownership

It says it all in the first few paragraphs. Podcast creation has plummeted by 80% in the last two years. 

Does this mean that Gen Z doesn't do email at all or just not at work? Do they retain the intimacy of the inbox for special communication? Or do they find instant messaging more intimate than email in most of their digital communications? This will take user research to find out. And that is important considering the importance of newsletters as an audience development and engagement tool. Do we need to expand that to channels and tools that resonate more with Gen Z? Good research will help answer that question and help media leaders set priorities. 

A look at the last decade of billionaire media ownership. They still haven't cracked the business model issue. 

More details on Vice looking for a buyer. 

It is interesting to me to find out that Google is willing to outsource such a core part of its business. But with regulators circling, maybe they feel that they don't have a choice. 

It is always instructive when a high-performing tech company pulls back the curtains on how it manages its operations. 

Jean-Louis Gassée compares the current era of AI to the early era of personal computers, and I think it's apt. Just as with the beginning of that era, we have a number of powerful incumbents - Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon - not to mention a number of rising giants in China who are all rushing to take part in the AI boom. It will remake the tech landscape and the geopolitical balance of technology players for decades to come. 

We mentioned this last week, that CNET has been experimenting with AI-generated stories. They have pressed pause after a backlash, but we have had machine-generated journalism for a few years now, and I think the question really is about clear signposting and transparency about the inputs that inform such journalism. 

Changes in journalism: Cuts, the 'Davos problem' and PR outpacing journalism jobs in Canada

Whenever the economy hits a soft patch, there are layoffs in journalism, particularly at outlets that rely on advertising. Ad spend is highly correlated to the economic cycle, and while a number of organisations have insulated themselves to some extent with reader revenue, the drop in a key revenue stream still bites. This leads to a round of self-reflection and some adaptation. 

Vox is the latest media company to announce layoffs. It's partly due to the economic cycle, but I would expect it would also relate to efficiencies that Vox is looking for after its merger with Group Nine. What's interesting about these cuts is that they cut across the business. 

Hand wringing about business journalism in the wake Davos. 

A look at how data journalism is changing journalism. 

This has been a story that has been playing out across journalism and PR for the last 15 years. 

This is a post from 2018. Rafat Ali talks about how to land a job at his latest media startup, Skift, which covers the business of travel. 

Cuts at ‘passion platforms’ Patreon and Substack cast shadow over creator economy

As I write this, I think of the large (but not necessarily deep) cuts happening at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and Google parent company Alphabet this week, 10,000, 18,000 and 12,000 employers respectively. It is an indication of how much the economy has shifted after the pandemic. But we’re also seeing it at tech firms that touch the media economy with Patreon and Substack making cuts as well, as our first item discusses. 

But the economic picture for media is complicated. Reuters is going to create 100 and relaunch its paywall. Axios Pro and its pricey professional newsletters are off to a strong strait. And non-profit news organisations are earning more with digital advertising. Meanwhile, Vice is trying to sell itself again, but this time the price is dramatically less, although it is still hoping for a nine-figure deal. 

I hope that you’re enjoying the newsletter here on Beehiiv. I’ve still got a little fiddling on the back-end to do, but feel free to drop me an email and let me know what you think and how I can improve it. 

This is a good overview of the layoffs at big tech. As Laura Hazard Owen points out, it must have been a bit chilling for Jeff Bezos to show up in the Washington Post newsroom just after massive layoffs at Amazon. I was having a conversation just yesterday with an astute industry watcher who was wondering whether Bezos has lost interest in owning a newspaper.  

For those journalists who launched their own newsletters or podcasts, Laura also points out - right in the headline - that times might be getting more challenging across these creator or “passion “ platforms. For a lot of journalists who have fled traditional jobs to become solopreneurs, this year will be a time that will test their business hypothesis. 

Reuters’ near-term future just got a little clearer. It already had a 30-year-deal with Refinitiv, of which it was spun out of, for content distribution. The London Stock Exchange Group bought Refinitiv, and now LSEG has expanded their deal with Reuters. It’s good news for job seekers. If they are London-based, the next challenge will be to find someplace to live. 

The devil is in the details on this one, but Axios’ pricey Pro newsletter product is off to a strong start. In its first year, it has generated $2m. As Digiday points out, we don’t know how many of these subs have renewed after the first year, 

All you need to know is that it was shopping itself around for $5.7 bn in 2017. I wonder how the valuation of Buzzfeed is doing? 

The Media Briefing highlights how some publishers are pushing their events back to later in the year in the hopes that the economy will improve. This is the second story that I’ve seen about this so I expect the events industry to be a little quieter in the first half of this year. 

A good piece in Adweek looking at how nonprofit newsrooms are starting to win more digital advertising. It’s important to have diversified revenue sources. The important thing will be to track these figures as the economy moves through this cycle. 

A mini-social media roundup

Twitter’s chaos seems almost designed to run it into the ground, and now we hear - not unsurprisingly - that it’s driving even less traffic to news sites. And the BBC pivots to TikTok after keeping its distance. That’s intriguing. 

Why and when journalism leaders decide to go

The Reynolds Journalism Institute has an interesting piece filled with interviews with journalism leaders about why thy decided to step down when they did. You’ve got the founder of the Texas Tribune and VTDigger (a great indie news site in Vermont) as well as the former leader at ProPublica. It’s interesting and also highlights the importance of succession planning. 

And we have an interesting piece of industry news with the US head of digital journalism for the BBC deciding to jump ship less than four months after he started. Did he just get an offer he couldn’t refuse or is there something else going on at the Beeb? 

Trust in Journalism low, and how to improve that

Edelman’s annual trust barometer shows that journalists are amongst the least trusted people. With the constant verbal attacks that high profile leaders around the world have levelled at the profession, it’s easy to see why. And I applaud people like Nic Newman at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in calling on journalists to wrestle with how to improve trust. 

I think that the Washington Post, ProPublica and the Texas Tribune offered up one way to build trust by hosting an AMA on Reddit about an investigation that they just finished into the school shooting at Uvalde in Texas last May in the US. It’s a great and human way to explain the choices that journalists make. Bravo. 

Publishers look past crypto and the metaverse as they embrace AI PLUS How YouTube has become the preferred platform for podcasters

Today, we take a look at what comes next in innovation at media groups, what technologies are being passed over and what technologies and formats media companies are investing in. As Chris Sutcliffe writes in his summary of the Media Moments 2022 report, the media is experiencing its own crypto winter as money flows out of this risky, speculative asset class as the era of easy money and pandemic stimulus packages end.

What is very much on the innovation for 2023 is AI and short-form video, and Digiday highlights how Betches Media is leaning into their success. And Chinese internet giant Tencent is trying to play catchup and develop a response to TikTok. 

Plus, we look at how YouTube is becoming a major platform for podcasters, and how a newsletter for how to live inexpensively in London grew its audience. With the cost of living crisis really biting not only Londoners but everyone in the UK, it seems to be at the right place and the right time. 

And don't miss an interesting proposal for the future of Twitter. A hybrid cooperative run as a B corp social enterprise? 

Chris has some solid numbers here about how the Meta is simply not hitting its numbers when it coes to the Metaverse, despite aggressive advertising and promotion. And he also has a rundown of how far NFTs have fallen, although he expresses cautious optimism that their is still room for innovation. 
However, the area where he see the most investment and interest is AI. 

Speaking of AI, Brian Morrissey offers up some predictions. Marketing and advertising copy will go first he says. Search will become a mess, but he also sees AI as continuing to rebalance power from institutions to individuals. I'm not so sure about the creator economy getting a boost from that, but AI will definitely be a key area of technological development and disruption. ChatGPT is just the beginning, and investment will flow into this area as major players look to ensure that they are as dominant in the future as they have been in the past.  

Speaking of AI, transparency will be a major issue. CNET has been experimenting with it, but some have accused the tech site of not being clear on what it was doing. It's trying to do that now. 

YouTube as a podcast platform should not be a surprise, and Morning Consult has some fascinating numbers that show a complicated picture of the relationship between video and podcast listening. 

The idea is so simple: A newsletter full of free events for people in London. I remember back in the day in Washington DC that there was something similar - a happy hour listing where unpaid or low-pad interns could get free snacks with their drinks. Note, word of mouth has been important but so has good, old local BBC radio. The relationship between emerging and traditional media often has a symbiotic element. 

Developments in vertical, short-form video

The story about Betches Media, which is focused on serving young women, is another data point about the importance of YouTube. They are experimenting with YouTube Shorts. Why? Because it ties into their podcast strategy. I spot a trend. 

And not only is Tencent placing a big bet on social video, newsletter startup Morning Brew just bought Our Future because it gives them a foothold in short-form video. 

Industry news: A mixed bag of growth and inflation-fuelled losses

When we put together our State of the Digital publishing report at Pugpig, we heard a lot of stories about increased costs, and that is playing out as media groups report their results. DC Thomson and National World both saw increases in revenue, but increased energy and paper costs have taken a bite of healthy revenue as pandemic lockdowns ended. 

Twitter as a social enterprise? And what next for your career

This an interesting proposal for a hybrid-cooperative model: a social enterprise. The one major hitch that I see is the sums that would be required to buy out Musk and his backers. However, as he drives the company into the ground, creditors may be willing or be forced to accept pennies on the dollar. 

As media jobs become not only rarer but also the path to senior roles becomes more difficult, a former BBC journalist discusses how to make a personal pivot in 2023. 

Publishers shift their attention to retention PLUS WAN-IFRA

Welcome to the new look newsletter on a new platform, Beehiiv. A big thanks to Esther Kezia-Thorpe at Media Voices for helping me narrow down which newsletter platform to choose. I could tell when we were doing our State of the Digital Publishing Report at Pugpig that we were on the cusp of a new tack strategically for media as the economic cycle was turning. As looks ahead, predictions and forecasts come out for 2023, subscriber retention has shot to the top of many lists. FT Strategy found that retention is the top priority for 68% of the subscription businesses that they spoke to, according to What's New in Publishing. 

On that theme, WAN-IFRA looks at the playbook that the Star-Tribune in the US has for retaining its subscribers. They have focused on getting email contacts for their subscribers, and they focus on getting their subscribers to renew that first time. 

Plus, INMA looks at the product priorities of publishers and finds that personalisation and new content format intended to engage audiences are high on the list. So much of what publishers are focused on relates to efforts to engage and retain audiences. 

And we have a brief social media platform roundup with a look at the expected impact of a new online safety bill in the UK and the most recent ructions at Twitter, where it has become clear that they shut off API access to certain third-party apps. 

As I settle in with Beehiiv, things might change a bit over the coming weeks. If you have any suggestions please feel free to drop me an email or message on Twitter @kevglobal. Thanks for coming along for the move. 

George Adelman, Principal, FT Strategies in a new report, says that we're entering a third phase of the subscription economy, according to a summary from What's New in Publishing. Beginning around the turn of the century, subscriptions began to take hold, and then he points to COVID as a period that drove subscriptions. Now, we are entering the retention phase. 

The retention phase will likely be one in which consumers will be more reserved about their spending and will be more likely to jump from one subscription to another to find the best fit for their needs.

They have aligned the organisation around the goal of getting new subscribers to renew for the first time. That is the best indicator of whether they will develop a long-term relationship with a subscriber, and they frequently reinforce the quality and effort of their content. Email is a key component, and they send content-led emails twice a month to try to re-engage inactive subscribers. 

Social Media Roundup: Platforms prep for fallout from UK online safety bill, and Twitter shuts off API to some apps

The FT (£) looks at how social media platforms are preparing for a new online safety bill in the UK. They are expecting to see a drop in users due to the bill. 

This weekend my wife was upset because Tweetbot, which she uses to manage tweets for her business went offline. It was no accident John Gruber of Daring Fireball says as he refers to internal Slack messages first reported by The Information that show that this was a deliberate move by Elon Musk's Twitter. 

Social Media Today says that Tweebot and Twitterific were two of the apps affected by the API change. Twitter under Musk continues to make erratic moves with little communication with partners or customers. 

The developer community has been highly critical of Twitter’s actions, which it says are unprofessional and represent ‘an unrecoverable breach of trust between it and its developers and users’.

What pandemic playbooks taught media companies about resilience PLUS Manchester’s The Mill shares it’s two-year break-even growth plan for local news

Agility both in terms of operations and also in terms of where they sourced talent has been an important lesson for media managers during the pandemic, and they are relying on those lessons as they prepare for next turn of the economic screw. Digiday reviews what other lessons in resilience they will focus on in 2023. And the digital publishing industry review also looks into what is hot and what is not in terms of the ad industry in 2023.

In a very long look back, the New York Times looks back a decade ago when it introduced Snowfall, which has inspired a decade of long-form digital media storytelling or scrolly-telling as it has been sometimes called.

PLUS has a great overview of how newsletter-based The Mill in Manchester broke even in two years. It's a playbook to study for sure. And a look at a YouTube powerhouse, Channel 5, not the UK's Channel 5 but a group of young journalism upstarts using the platform to reach the massive audience there.

This is the last week that this newsletter will be sent out via Revue. Next week, we'll have a new-look newsletter and a new platform.

WSJ, Insider, BDG among publishers revisiting pandemic lessons in business ops as potential recession looms -

BDG, Insider, WSJ and other publishers are bracing for the uncertainties of 2023 with lessons from the pandemic.

One of the the themes that seemed to gather more attention in the tail of 2022 was how to continue to manage hybrid working situations. This was driven not just by the desire of staff to work remotely but also the economic motivation of many publishers to reduce their costs by reducing their real estate portfolio. It's been happening in newspapers for years, but it is spreading to other outlets now. They also learned about flexibility in ad sales. More about that in a minute.

‘Snow Fall’ at 10: How It Changed Journalism - The New York

The Pulitzer Prize-winning multimedia feature about an avalanche in Washington State changed the way The New York Times approaches storytelling.

They took what they learned in creating Snow Fall and productised it. They created tools and workflows.

The definitive Digiday guide to what's in and out for advertising in 2023 -

From esports is dying to retail media hype, here's what's in (and out) for advertising in 2023.

What jumped out at me in this was how crypto ads and NFTs are so last year, but I am curious about how media will experiment with the metaverse. It feels like a bit of a blind alley for me, similar to 360 -degree video in which there will be a rush of largely undifferentiated projects without a sense of what really works in the medium.

Andrew Callaghan and Channel 5 Co-founders on New HBO Doc. Covering Jan. 6

Channel 5 has gone from upstart YouTube channel to undeniably influential reporting powerhouse. And they’re just getting started.

How a group of young video journalists used YouTube to break into the mainstream.

The Mill's two-year roadmap to breaking even | Media

The Manchester-based startup has convinced 1.5k people to pay for local news powered by newsletters. The CEO shares tips on early growth strategies

Grab the low-hanging fruit right away so that you have the runway for long-term, sustainable growth. This is a good, practical business case.

Coming to a Hawaii library near you: Honolulu Civil Beat is hosting pop-up newsrooms around the state | Nieman Journalism

“We learned that people have an interest if they can get to us."

This is one trend that I keep an eye on, how local indie digital publishers are using libraries in different ways to

Ukraine, Queen lead Chartbeat's list of 2022's most-engaging stories -

But ESPN led the list with its story about sexual predator and former Penn State football player Todd Hodne

One of those great end-of-year links.

Google Releases Guide to Search Ranking Systems

Google has provided a short guide to help web publishers better understand their search ranking initiatives and perspectives.

A good guide to keep handy to inform your SEO efforts.

YouTube secures NFL Sunday Ticket in landmark streaming deal •

YouTube and the National Football League announced on Thursday that the two have reached a deal for the NFL Sunday Ticket.

YouTube's deep pockets allow it to play in the big leagues.

Slow fade for Google and Meta's ad

Online advertising's dominant "duopoly" faces a wave of new challenges that are eating away at their numbers.

How the duopoly's position is starting to fade and the challengers the are eating into their online ad revenue.

Most-Read 'Mobile Insiders' (But Don't Waste Time Rereading Them) 12/22/2022

Most-Read 'Mobile Insiders' (But Don't Waste Time Rereading Them) - 12/22/2022

Some sense of what mobile issues gained traction from a newsletter in 2022.

User needs and how to weave your podcast, your journalism, your magazine deeper into people’s lives PLUS how to successfully identify data talent who have unconventional backgrounds

We're winding down the year and the newsletter on Revue, and everyone is looking back and looking forward. On the note of the coming shutdown of Revue, I've had people suggest Ghost and Beehiiv. I'll be looking into the next home for the newsletter over the holidays and making a decision. If you have a suggestion, I'm @kevglobal on Twitter - well at least for a little while longer.

And now the newsletter. Ariel Zirulnick takes up the user needs model, which has been most notably promoted by former BBC media leader and now consultant Dmirtry Shiskin. The crux of her piece is that we in media need to look beyond our core users and use cases to really become a part of people's lives.

The Local Media Association has a review of newsletter projects by four Canadian outlets as part of Meta's Accelerator programme. It's a good overview of different approaches to using newsletters for audience development and subscriber growth.

PLUS With data talent in such high demand, INMA looks at how to identify strong candidates from unconventional backgrounds. A survey for why people have left US public media after a spike in departures including some high-profile talent in the past year. Experimentation is in the air when it comes to news and information websites. After settling into a relatively stable pattern for the last decade, site design is getting a shake-up.

Journalism doubles down on user needs » Nieman Journalism

"If we continue to study just the tiny portion of a person’s day that they spend consuming journalism, we will miss innumerable opportunities to weave ourselves into people’s lives."

An interesting piece by Ariel Zirulnick: "The user needs framework currently copy and pasted from newsroom to newsroom focuses just on people’s news consumption habits. If we continue to study just the tiny portion of a person’s day that they spend consuming journalism, we will miss innumerable opportunities to weave ourselves into people’s lives."

4 email campaign themes that grew reader revenue for Canadian publishers - Local Media Association + Local Media

In nine months, publishers collectively added more than 23,000 newsletter signups — which led to 4,700 new members, subscribers or donors and generated more than $1 million.

Whether it's campaigns to increase the number of subscribers or onboarding campaigns to help retain those newly acquired subscribers, this is a good overview of four types of newsletters and how publishers in Canada used them to grow reader revenue.

Media companies, data teams should question hiring culture to attract better

Does the hiring culture at your news media organisation — and within your data team — make it more difficult to bring in and keep promising talent?

Some tips on how to identify and recruit talent from unconventional backgrounds.

Publishers: Does the 80-20 rule apply to audience metrics? | What’s New in Publishing | Digital Publishing

Can the 80-20 Rule be used to spotlight the types of content that deliver the best audience engagement? Identifying the content that drives the biggest share of audience engagement is crucial for publishers; knowing what works best can help fix overall content strategy and guide targeting for specific audiences. The Data Science team at analytics …

A good practical piece. In my previous role, I found that a modified Pareto distribution helped to filter out noise in the data. We also used the Audience Explorer Dashboard to segment our audience based on loyalty and identify content that was likely to convert audiences who had demonstrated some affinity towards membership.

We asked people why they left public media, and here’s what they told

Here's what we learned from our survey about why people leave public media, based on more than 300 responses.

As someone who left US public media in April, this leapt out at me. The top two

Bezos appears to lose interest in the Washington Post as its tech ambitions wither |

Employees and observers of the Post are left wondering what Bezos is doing with the publication.

The drum beat of stories about the Washington Post being a bit adrift are increasing.

What The Verge’s website redesign tells us about the future of media | What’s New in Publishing | Digital Publishing

The Verge has a new website design that rethinks the experience of news readers. What does this move say about the state of news media? The Verge’s radical website redesign was announced three months ago, and one of America’s biggest tech news publishers is still the talk of the town. While most news websites tend to highlight …

A response to social media and focus on the homepage. The latter does not surprise me. I've seen the analytics of a lot of digital properties, and the amount of time spent on the homepage is tremendous, and the challenge is really to get people to engage more with the entire site.

Whither the Metaverse

Two pieces that demonstrate the challenges but also continued commitment that Meta has to the Metaverse.

Virtual Reality Pioneer John Carmack Is Leaving Meta - The New York

John Carmack, who was chief technology officer of Oculus, which Meta bought, is departing the company.

Meta Will Continue to Invest Big in the Metaverse in 2023, According to CTO | Social Media

Social Media Today

Apple is considering allowing side loading and third-party app stores in the face of EU legislation PLUS Revue is shutting down so the newsletter is moving

Working at a company like Pugpig where we build apps for hundreds of media brands, we keep a close eye on the app stores, and big changes could be coming as the EU rolls out new regulations. Google already allows side loading from third-party app stores. Apple is considering making a similar move by 2024 in anticipation of these new regulations. The devil will be in the details, especially when it comes to the cut that Apple might take, even for app sellers who sell outside of the app store.

There was also big news this week that will affect this newsletter. After weeks of rumours, Twitter announced that it will be shutting down Revue, which it bought last year. That is the platform that I use for this newsletter. I've been reviewing my options, and I'll be moving first the newsletter first thing in the New Year. Please watch this space.

We've also got predictions for journalism next year, which include a call for clarity from leaders and a focus on new products. Plus, we look at the fallout from a ransomware attack at Norway's largest local publisher. Plus industry news from NPR and Spotify.

Predictions for Journalism in 2023: newsroom leadership, product, and revenue | Media

The second installment of our annual predictions looks at the skills journalists will need in the year ahead and the news products that are likely to grow

There are predictions of a tough time ahead, but also calls to focus on products and growing revenue. On the individual level, it's also a time to learn new skills so that you can adapt. I really appreciate Lucy Kueng's point of view. Leaders need to focus on the must-win battles. During turbulence, clear priorities are a must.

Will Apple Allow Users to Install Third-Party App Stores, Sideload in Europe? -

Apple Inc. is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads, part of a sweeping overhaul aimed at complying with strict European Union requirements coming in 2024.

INMA: How can product help newsrooms connect to users?

During Wednesday's Webinar, INMA Product Initiative Lead Jodie Hopperton led a discussion about how product and newsrooms can work together to reach users in an increasingly digital environment.

This definitely caught my eye due to my work at Pugpig. Apple is expecting to allow side loading and third-party app stores in the EU by 2024. The move anticipates changes in EU regulation, but coverage across the internet highlight that European countries are not alone in reviewing competition in app stores.

Twitter Shuts Down Revue Newsletter Platform Following ‘Twitter Files’ Response from Former CEO | Social Media

Social Media Today

And this is the news that will mean that this newsletter will be moving. Expect details early in the New Year.

Rising costs force more digital innovation » Nieman Journalism

"Those who moved fast over the past five years will come out on top, and those who didn't will struggle, fire staff, and disappoint customers and advertisers with clunky sites, second-grade apps, and increasingly thin newspapers they'll still try to charge the earth for."

The introductory pull-quote sums up Peter's points well. “Those who moved fast over the past five years will come out on top, and those who didn’t will struggle, fire staff, and disappoint customers and advertisers with clunky sites, second-grade apps, and increasingly thin newspapers they’ll still try to charge the earth for.”

"Hacks occur at the most inconvenient times": Lessons from Amedia's Christmas shutdown | What’s New in Publishing | Digital Publishing

Between December 27th – 28th last year, one of Norway’s largest media groups – Amedia – was hit by a catastrophic ransomware attack that shut down its printing presses and also impacted the company’s advertising and subscription systems. Here are the key takeaways… Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Jim Bilton of wessendenbriefing for the original …

Lots of important lessons here because the cost is extreme. "In all, it took €3 million and nine months to get back to where it was before the attack, not to mention the loss of ongoing tech development and, crucially, user trust."

NPR cancels internships, citing economic woes | The Hill

National Public Radio on Monday said it would do away with its annual summer internship program as a cost-cutting measure. “We are seeing a worldwide set of economic challenges that have weakened the advertising industry and negatively affected media and technology companies. A major portion of NPR’s revenue comes through corporate sponsorships which are sensitive…

The US public radio broadcaster is making cuts to try to protect staffing level as sponsorship drains away as the US enters a recession.

Spotify is ending production of several of its live audio shows •

Spotify looks to be scaling back its live audio ambitions, as the company is ending production of several of its live audio shows.

Spotify has pinned a lot of hopes on its original spoken word content. That has mostly been podcasts, but they dipped their toe into live audio, mostly focused on sports. Some of those sports shows will remain, but a good chunk of them will be going dark.

Personalisation, audio and highly engaged in-app subscribers: Pugpig’s 2022 State of the Digital Publishing Market Report PLUS the end of the innovation team

I've spent the last three months elbow-deep in our data at Pugpig. We have access to the app data of more than 350 media brands who use our mobile platform, and it provides us with some unique insights from the aggregated data. We also spoke to dozens of media leaders and analysts about what the last 12 months were like and what they expect in 2023. We've got details about their product roadmaps for the next year, where will they be spending their innovation time, attention and resources. We've got details on the challenges that they are facing and what they will be doing to face them, and we've got data on which subscription segment is the most engaged. It's free to download.

Plus, I've chosen a few of this year's Nieman Lab predictions that caught my eye, including Cindy Royal's look at whether news product managers need to know how to code and Gina Chua's ongoing, positive advocacy for a rethink of journalism formats.

And we also look at Heinekin and Dentsu's project to measure attention in their campaigns. While this is an effort in advertising, the same techniques will have an impact on journalism and content.

Pugpig 2022 State of Digital Publishing Market

Where are we now and what does the future hold? We’ve created a comprehensive industry report covering the state of digital publishing.

We hope to have added to the current understanding of digital publishing, particularly on mobile. A few things stood out for me while we were doing the report. The publishers we spoke to are focused on growing their subscriber base, and to attract more subscribers and keep the subscribers that they have, they are focused on delivering more value to them - not with flashy things like AR/VR or selling NFTs - but through personalisation, the ability to tailor experiences to their loyal, paying customers. There is a lot more in the report, and I hope you take a look.

Lastly, there is an interesting piece from Interhactitives about why data journalism is disappearing in South Korea.

The innovation team, R.I.P. » Nieman Journalism

"You might be forgiven for suspecting that news companies are more interested in appearing innovative than actually doing something new."

This prediction more than anything speaks to how innovation teams can become isolated from the rest of the organisation, their innovations lauded but ultimately having less organisational impact than if they were core to the organisation itself.

The Economics at the Heart of the Times Union Standoff | The New

Thursday’s walkout was part of a bitter contract dispute over wages—but the impasse poses a larger question about how the growing company should invest in its future.

Journalists want the paper not just to invest in technology, acquisitions and executive salaries, they also want a slice of the success at the paper, which has been held up as a model for how to navigate the digital transition.

Yes, journalists should learn to code, but… » Nieman Journalism

"They'll need to think of coding as not just a single practice, but a range of related practices."

Cindy Royal is a giant in terms of the field of study of journalism and product management, and here she looks at the question about whether journalist and specifically journalism product managers need to learn to code. As the industry has become more technical, the answer has changed. Tech used to be far divorced from the practice of journalism, but it is now the case that the two are much more intimately linked so that journalists and product managers need deeper digital domain skills.

The traditional story structure gets deconstructed » Nieman Journalism

"Despite huge changes in the technology of news, the structure of a story today doesn’t look hugely different from one in, say, 1932."

Gina and I connected years ago over our blogs when she was writing about her thoughts about new journalism formats, and my wife Suw and I had plans to try something new after I took a buyout from The Guardian. It's interesting to see how Gina is putting her ideas into practice at Semafor, and here she writes about thinking behind those ideas.

Semafor Will Generate 30% of Its First-Year Revenue From

The publisher, whose inaugural Africa Week begins Monday, will host 40-plus events in 2023.

And here is some thoughts about how Semafor will pay for it.

Next challenge for publishers is restoring revenue back to print levels - Press

How publishers can restore revenue to print levels - media technology Q&A.

While this might be a piece from a the view of a specific technology provider, it is interesting to think about different revenue stream might be able to rebuild the revenue that media once had back in the days of print and broadcast TV and radio before streaming.

Why is data journalism waning in South Korea? -

Facing decreasing attention from outlets in a portal-oreinted media environment, South Korean data journalists seek

How the media market in South Korea has meant the death knell of data journalism there (or probably more precisely a certain kind of time-intensive data journalism).

Heineken Develops Attention Measurement Campaign With Teads And Dentsu 12/12/2022

Heineken Develops Attention Measurement Campaign With Teads And Dentsu - 12/12/2022

Twitter’s risky plan to save its ads

Agree to personalize your ads — or else

You can pay to opt out of personalised ads, which means that the information that they gather as you sign up will be used to show you personalised ads.