I’ve been writing about presentations I watched at Digital Media Strategies 2014, including talks by Verdens Gang, Axel Springer and the New York Times. So apologies if publishing isn’t your thing.
But that’s sort of the joy of discussing media companies, how do they become more than mere old fashioned publishers. How do they find new streams of revenue and restructure so that subscriptions work and digital actually makes some money?
One of the spots at the aforementioned conference was CEO of the Financial Times, John Ridding having a fireside chat with Ken Doctor, President of Newsonomics.
Many interesting facts, figures and opinions were teased out, so I thought I’d round them up here.
How does a newspaper create new digital products to attract new customers? Understanding your market and adapting your offering accordingly is key, according to Denise Warren from the New York Times.
At Digital Media Strategies 2014, Denise discussed new products, including NYT NOW and their development in the context of selling digital subscriptions.
As the pioneers of the paywall, what do the New York Times team have to say about making revenue from digital and innovation in product development?
Is achieving integration of print and digital publishing the pursuit of the Holy Grail? Well, it certainly sounds nice listening to a publisher talk about burgeoning digital revenues in multiple channels, alongside beautiful print products.
Verdens Gang is a Norwegian newspaper with a daily circulation of more than 200,000, in a population of 5m. Across print and digital, 1.8m people use VG daily.
At Digital Media Strategies 2014, editor-in-chief and CEO of VG Torry Pedersen gave the lowdown on how they integrated print and digital effectively, along with how they monetised smartphone and tablet content.
Culture is the key, as is so often the case in disrupted industries where big brands have to adapt and are competing with pure-plays that have started on the right foot.
Torry used the analogy of Haile Gebreselassie vs. Usain Bolt to describe print and digital. They both run but they run in very different ways and they shouldn’t have the same training regimen. The same can be said of magazine-style high quality print products compared with the fast-moving multimedia world of online news. The two teams can’t necessarily work together.
That’s why from 2000 until 2011, everything at VG was separate for print and online, from ads to editorial. In 2011 the two were joined back together once again.
The same thing happened with mobile and desktop, the two had separate ad sales and technical teams from 2010 until 2014 (though the same content team). Now ad sales and techies across desktop and mobile are integrated.
So what are the challenges that VG has overcome and how is it moving forward?
Yesterday, the Telegraph announced the introduction of a 'metered paywall' which allows visitors to read up to 20 articles before having to subscribe for more.
There are two options: a 'web pack' which allows access to the website and content via apps at £1.99 per month, and a 'digital pack' which adds tablet access and loyalty club membership at £9.99 per month.
But can a paywall ever be a good idea for a general news site like The Telegraph though? And how will it affect the newspaper in terms of SEO and traffic to its ecommerce pages?
Paid content is and has been a big business -- if you're in the right market.
Unfortunately for consumer-oriented news organizations, the right market isn't their market.
But could that be changing?
While it's understandable that news sites want to maximise online revenues as offline ad sales decline, but they run the risk of damaging the user experience.
Several popular newspaper sites are now cumbersome and slow to load, thanks to the sheer number of elements on the page.
Having looked at the page speed of the top e-commerce sites in the UK, I thought I'd do the same with news sites. So which is the slowest?
Whether you're an internet giant like Google, Microsoft or Facebook, or a small publisher trying to carve out a niche, chances are one of your biggest priorities is solving the mobile monetization riddle.
The good news: there's little reason to believe that the future of mobile advertising isn't bright.
How big will it be? That remains to be seen, but even if it's not as big as the staunchest bulls believe, it's still going to be big by virtue of volume.
Google may be online advertising's 800 pound gorilla, but using its digital dominance to push into traditional advertising markets has proven to be a real challenge.
In 2006, for instance, Google began trials of a platform designed to help advertisers more efficiently purchase ad inventory in newspapers.
In 2009, the search giant killed the offering. Ditto for a similar platform created to move radio ad inventory.
So perhaps it won't come as a surprise that Google has decided to throw in the towel on Google TV Ads, an extension to AdWords that made it possible for advertisers to "bring digital buying and measurement technologies to traditional TV advertising."
The internet may not be a spring chicken, but with most ad budgets still out of proportion with where it sits in the ad world, there's still plenty of room for growth in internet advertising spend.
Need proof of that? Look no further than Nielsen's latest quarterly Global AdView Pulse report, which looks at ad spending across multiple channels, including the internet, television and newspapers.
For many newspapers, the decision to erect a paywall has been a decision of last resort.
And for a seemingly good reason: despite the obvious need to generate the type of revenue that advertising often can't provide alone, asking the consumers of your content to pay for the privilege can be a difficult undertaking.