The Digiday Publishing Summit 2022 came at a critical time for the media industry. As the world emerges from unprecedented times, the publishing and media industry is confronted with new challenges and transformative possibilities. Novel forms of data collection and insight are driving new acquisition strategies, more intricate and diverse revenue streams are emerging, and editorial products have fundamentally changed in a post-Trump era. This year, the summit was an opportunity to learn about the current state of the industry and get an idea as to where it’s going. Here are our key takeaways:
One community, many revenue streams
According to Jeff Litvack, CEO of Golden Peak Media, building multiple revenue streams through connection with a single community is the key to success. Forging genuine reader relationships comes through owning and understanding your community and being able to address their needs. A more intelligent approach to collecting and utilising user data will allow media companies to deliver the right message at the right time, improving the overall experience users have with your brand.
This deeper relationship with readers opens the door to a diversified revenue strategy, as customers are more likely to interact with ads and products tailored to their preferences. Being able to rely on multiple revenue streams is an important insurance policy that should not be overlooked, especially when macroeconomic trends and world events pose such a huge risk to publishers’ acquisition and retention rates.
3rd party cookies are out, but many are still getting to grips with 1st party data
The so-called ‘cookie-pocalypse’ presents an exciting opportunity for publishers who are already well-positioned for contextual targeting and boast strong relationships with their audiences. Third-party cookies are well and truly gone (or going), and first-party data will be critical to the publishers’ success moving forward.
Yet, Avi Zamik of The Arena Group admitted that for many, building a first-party data strategy is still akin to playing ‘whack a mole’, and there’s a steep learning curve to overcome in knowing how to best extract and leverage their findings. Proper investment into effective data collection, storage and activation can no longer be overlooked.
Take control of your brand with content licensing
Michelle Myers and Cori Murray pointed to brand licensing as a potential monetisation channel for publishers with strong brand equity and trusted voice.
Licensing deals are proving to be lucrative for publishers who want to diversify their revenue beyond the standard methods, such as subscription or advertising models. But while it’s an effective way to take back control of how your content and brand are used elsewhere, it’s still a relatively under-utilised revenue source among digital publications today.
Change the way you think about commerce
Though linking off-site for e-commerce is standard practice, it leads to lost data insights, missed ad opportunities and adds friction to the user experience. Bolt & BDG Media are innovating e-commerce practices by turning to in-content checkout, shifting their business model from purely publisher into merchant.
Though this brought a steep learning curve, especially as customers became accustomed to transacting in a new online domain, they’re maintaining a leading edge by rethinking commerce.
NFTs could be the future of publishing
According to Yang Adija of Turner Sports, NFTs (‘Non-Fungible Tokens’) present a great opportunity to create value because it’s possible to create scarcity in a digital format for the first time.
From Turner Sports’ perspective, NFTs are the perfect fit for their sports audience and created an ideal brand partnership with the NBA to release collectable trading cards. They’re also looking for additional ways to leverage NFTs, such as through gamification, wherein they can drive NFT values up whilst cultivating a sense of community.
Upsell within your own ecosystem
A case study of AXIOS demonstrated how effective it can be to have multiple verticals that are synergistic and conducive to up-selling. In this case study, we saw that AXIOS have doubled down on 4 different business news units that focus on the smart financial professionals niche: Core Media, Axios Local, Axios HQ, and Axios Grow.
The idea being that they could use one vertical as an entry point and environment to learn about users before cross-selling them relevant content from within the ecosystem.
A tight and focused niche is a key element of this strategy because it allows you to consistently provide relevant value beyond the initial entry vertical.
Rethink newsletters to survive saturated inboxes
As summarised by stakeholders from Jeeng, the typical user’s morning journey consists of two steps:
- Scan inbox and delete irrelevant emails
- Open and read the remaining relevant emails
The crucial question is how can publishers’ newsletters survive step one? For obvious reasons, content, as a general rule, is assigned less priority in a user’s inbox than work or personal emails.
To gain some real estate in a user’s mental bandwidth, publishers need to be creating relevant hyper-personalised newsletters that pique a reader’s interest and can compete with everything else.
It’s clear then, that personalisation doesn’t just stop with a publisher’s on-site content, but instead reaches to all interactions with a customer.
Tech & personalisation are crucial to high ROI on email newsletters
To maximise ROI, the principle aim of email newsletters should be to bring users back to your site whilst also sticking to a coherent strategy that ties relevant ads to the content that pulled them in. Jeeng suggests personalising emails and investing in tech solutions that focus on making them more readable than deletable as the key to success. With 67% of publishers reporting that email newsletter personalisation has been effective and the majority of publications in the process of increasing their email engagement budget, it seems the industry recognises the power of email.
- Focus on building multiple revenue streams from one tight-knit community.
- First-party data is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’; it's the status quo.
- Content licensing, NFTs, eCommerce, and upsells all present near-future opportunities for additional revenue streams from loyal audiences.
- Newsletters and emails are still viable, but they need to be relevant and personalised.
Missed the Digiday Publishing Summit this year? Check out the speakers and events here.