What the newspaper trends of 2014 mean for the industry’s future
Across the globe, the newspaper media business is exhibiting a new vitality. That vitality was reflected in the theme, “New Voices, New Reality, New Energy,” at the 66th World Newspaper Congress, held earlier this month in Torino, Italy. This annual event embraces all aspects of the newspaper media business and also encompassed the World Editors Forum and the World Advertising Forum.
Newspaper media command a huge audience, as revealed in the WAN-IFRA World Press Trends Survey. About 2.5 billion people around the world read newspapers in print and 800 million on digital platforms. The data also showed that overall, paid digital circulation increased 60% globally last year and rose more than 2,000% over the last five years. Survey results are based on data from more than 70 countries, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the global industry’s value.
In reporting the findings to Congress attendees, Secretary General of WAN-IFRA Larry Kilman noted the following ways in which newspaper media are working to increase engagement with digital products:
by increasing their social media presence to interact with audiences and building their brands;
by promoting upcoming material and providing incentives through database marketing;
by improving site navigation and restructuring pages based on audience interest, to encourage increasing page visits;
by developing audience knowledge based on past visits to enhance their experience and increase the time they spend.
Digital issues were also prominent at the World Editors Forum, where a report on the Top 10 Newsroom Trends in 2014 was presented. Five of the top ten trends were specific to digital—rebooting mobile strategy, social media verification, newspapers’ online video, digital mega-stories, and native advertising—and indicated the importance that newsrooms place on dealing with rapid technological change.
At the World Advertising Forum, Abba Newbery, Director of Advertising Strategy, News UK Commercial, emphasized how the relationship between print newspapers and tablets benefits readers and advertisers. Other speakers delved into new business models, non-traditional and disruptive revenue streams. And the challenge of digital audience metrics, an important issue for advertisers and publishers, was addressed by Mark Hollands, CEO of The Newspaper Works, Australia.
One aspect of the newspaper media business which spans both editorial and the business side is the increasing importance of data and analytics. Much has been made of recent ventures in data-focused journalism, such as statistics and data-driven predictions that will figure more and more heavily in mainstream journalism. Publishers and journalists, in the U.S. and elsewhere, are now relying on hard metrics to assess the readership and engagement of a given story. The more these measures are used, the more successful newspaper media will be in understanding the interests and desires of our audiences.
Data plays a critical role in our increasingly personalized world. Newspaper enterprises have enormous amounts of data at their disposal to deliver a customized news experience. The opportunity lies in analyzing and leveraging that data to create and strengthen products for consumers and advertisers.
The advertising landscape has changed dramatically, as consumers choose whether or not to view ads and prefer relevant, personalized material. Advertisers are looking increasingly for precisely targeted audiences. The experience newspaper media have with user engagement and behavior across their product lines will enable them to satisfy both consumers and advertisers.
Technology changes the manner in which journalists report the news. Unchanged is the critical need for a free press. That freedom is being challenged on multiple fronts around the world. We have seen journalists in Venezuela and Hungary threatened with violence or had information suppressed in the past couple of months. Here in the United States, New York Times reporter James Risen could face stiff fines or jail time for not sharing confidential sources, which shows why we need a federal shield law for reporters to be able to covering our government without fear of prosecution.
It is encouraging to see at the amount of growth, innovation and investment in the global community of newspaper media. I am proud to say that the NAA will be partnering with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers in bringing the World Newspaper Congress to our hometown of Washington, D.C., June 1 – 3, 2015.
I’m eagerly anticipating where our industry will be in 12 months. With the wealth of talent and energy at our disposal, it will be an especially exciting year.