Reuters Institute of the Study of Journalism released a report on how publishers are going ‘beyond the article’ using digitally innovative tools.

Here are some key publishing lessons from the report, written by The MediaBriefing.

  • Size need not be a drawback to innovation

A highlight from the report  used as one of the lessons for publishers is that “limited resource is no hindrance to innovation.” Turkey’s 140journos, with its small team of 10 full-time employees, have used platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter Facebook, and even Tinder, to spread their content to digital spaces. This strategic distribution has allowed the smaller citizen journalism project to grow rapidly.

First of all the study points out the need to use available platforms in order to keep up with the ever-increasing digital audience. There is a lot of discussion in media about how some of these platforms are monopolising and taking advantage of smaller publishers. Due to the innovative nature of opportunities in the digital space, no single publisher is limited in resources. This “full embrace of distributed publishing” is what will help publishers meet their strategic goals, whilst being in (healthy) competition with them. The trick is to be clued up on the likes of ad-revenue.

  • Original ideas can unlock new revenue sources

Innovation builds the bridge between editorial staff and commercial units. In addition, content loses its authentic appeal when succumbing to the temptation to brand-label your sponsored content. Here are some ways to launch new content and explore new revenue initiatives (for news organisations)

  • New niche verticals
  • Membership scheme
  • Subscription service that offers personalised content
  • Sales of generic images and videos (and direct sales of high-quality images and videos)
  • Sales of rights of documentaries
  • Premium alternate language news services

What are the trends here? Segmenting your audience through verticals and exclusive content. The increased focus on reader interest and using this to build revenue models is the key to sustained support.

  • Mobile makes the money

A mobile app produced by Finland’s largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, has created new revenue models for the app through coupons, contests, and sponsored content. This is a veer away from display ads.

Whilst engagement is slightly trickier on a stand-alone app, it opens up many doors for commercial opportunities without neglecting engagement. Consider Quartz, a conversational app, that has used mobile to monetize in the following way;

“To monetise the app, Quartz has developed novel ad formats that fit into the infinite scroll. Similar to the in-stream ad format on their initial responsive site, visual ads flow into the update stream of the app. The ad units appear as the user opens the app.” – The MediaBriefing

It offers creative and commercial opportunities for a captive audience. Mobile allows for slightly more interaction. Consider the role of chatbots and how they have had played a part in functioning as a chat-based app. Conversational formats are increasing the competition amongst publishers in a healthy way.

  • Monetizing the opportunity data provides

Investing in a relationship with the readers who have a direct commercial relationship with the publisher (and not likes of Google and Facebook) are a priority for publishers. Most noteworthy, the data that these dedicated readers provide is highly valuable for further innovation.

“To do this, a first step is pull together their siloed data – editorial data, user data and commercial data.” Recommends Kevin Anderson, an international media and communications consultant.

Publishers can speak directly to the (loyal market) using the data that is gathered. Digital innovations are stimulated through various avenues of e-commerce endeavours.

  • Rationalisation is key

With the technological world developing at such a speed, industry leaders need to know when to be innovative, and when to reign it in.

As Anderson comments: “To pursue new opportunities, just as important to knowing what to do, industry leaders must urgently figure out what they [should] stop doing”

How true! And how completely overlooked a lot of the time. Audiences are getting more advanced by the day, but they still want their content in an easy and user-friendly format. The skill lies in finding the balance between knowing your options, and which ones not to take.

Most of all, the product should be your focus. Refine it to what the the audience demands. This is the secret to keeping your audiences loyal, interested and keeping your retention high. Studying the data and applying its findings keeps the audience satisfied. A happy audience means more foundation to create an e-commerce model which could lead to the monetization of further innovation.



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