The Media Minute 08.05.2020

In the early days of the pandemic, the team at nonprofit media outlet, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, rallied to produce content that would help its audience during an anxious, uncertain time. Recognizing that people were spending more hours at home amid shelter-in-place orders, the team decided to host a series of free livestream meditations and Buddhist teachings to aid individuals in their altered lives.

COVID-19 has reinforced the need for publishers to diversify their revenue sources. With advertising proving to be both a problematic, and an unreliable income stream, for many outlets right now, the race is on to find other ways to make media pay.

Every digital publisher worth their salt has some form of video on their websites. They may be using existing content, or they could be leaning into user generated content, but the transition from text to video that began a decade back has had a major effect on the entire publisher workforce, from editorial to operational to revenue roles.

Publishers plotting a growth strategy as advertisers look for ways to put media dollars to work during the second half of the year have a significant incentive to hone their digital strategies. Those efforts include ways to boost monetization, while also improving the reader experience.

With Labor Day only five weeks away, it has become clear that a substantial number of publishers, both in New York City and elsewhere, will not be returning to their offices in anything resembling full force before 2021. Moreover, organizers of a few industry events set for early next year have already announced they will be moving them from in-person to online.

Editor & Publisher Magazine (E&P) announced today that it has partnered with the Local Media Consortium (LMC) to manage the 25th Annual EPPY Awards, one of the most prestigious honors in digital journalism in the United States.

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The Media Minute 07.29.2020

Live events – a trillion-dollar industry – were one of the first casualties of COVID related lockdowns, according to FIPP’s latest report on virtual events. However, businesses and individuals rapidly shifted to working from home, and integrated video conferencing software into their daily lives.

Recently, creative agency Mustache has retooled ads for clients like Grammarly and Instacart to ensure the ads are relevant for the cultural moment due to coronavirus. That means the agency has gone back to its previously created ads and cut out scenes of people together in places like elevators or ride-sharing.

The future hasn’t changed—it’s just been accelerated. That’s a common take on the pandemic’s likely long-term impact, and it rings true. The extent to which white collar workers will return to their offices, students to their classrooms, and all of us to the comfortable privacy of video-less calls remains to be seen.

Many publishers have spent years steadily building a live events business, only to see those efforts quickly dashed during the coronavirus pandemic. In trying to predict when the live events business will recover for publishers, I’ve been monitoring a variety of news developments and other indicators for any reason to be optimistic.

As many legacy news outlets struggle to survive, industry analysts are looking to digital startups as a promising way to revive coverage of local news. After all, digital-only means you don’t need massive presses or barrels of ink or fleets of trucks.

According to recent data on how people are accessing news about the coronavirus pandemic, more than 25 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in the United States reported getting their news from Instagram within the last month. The age group was unsurprisingly the most likely to use social media as a news source in general.

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The Media Minute 07.21.2020

Depending upon which experts you heed, the U.S. Postal Service is either just a few months away from insolvency or it’s in no danger of running out of cash any time soon. The purpose of accounting, one of my favorite professors used to say, is to give people the information they need to make decisions.

We know digital editions are having their moment in the sun right now, or as Rick Edmonds recently wrote for Poynter, “replica editions, the ugly ducklings of digital news, have suddenly become strategic.” Many publishers have asked questions on using digital editions in their habit-formation strategies. Today we’re sharing answers to some of those questions.

The company’s annual GameBeat Summit 2020 was set to take place at the end of the month in Los Angeles and as the pandemic grew more severe, more and more precautions were put in place to keep guests safe. Eventually, however, it became illegal to hold events at all and just three weeks ahead of showtime, vp of strategic partnerships Gina Joseph said her team started adapting the event to be entirely virtual.

Google is taking steps to prevent advertisers from inadvertently supporting websites that promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19 which contradict scientific evidence about the respiratory illness. The ban shouldn’t affect most mainstream publishers, which hope Google’s algorithms are smart enough to differentiate between misinformation about COVID-19 and legitimate news.

Net sales fell 12.1% in May, compared to May 2019, for the 1,360 publishers who report to AAP’s monthly StatShot program. Similar to the April report, the net sales figure was heavily influenced by a steep drop in returns, which offset a decline in gross sales in the month.

In this one-on-one interview with E&P publisher Mike Blinder, Dohrn reveals to the industry the results of the study as well as reviews the best tactics and practices he sees in order to continue to drive revenue through COVID-19.

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The Media Minute 07.14.2020

In this episode, we replay a panel discussion from the 2019 FUSE Media Summit last November. Brian Kroski, CEO and Principal at Kroski Consulting, talks data strategy with executives from a mix of B2B and consumer publishing companies, including Natalie Williams, COO at Brief Media; Sean Griffey, CEO at Industry Dive; and Katie Herrell, VP of Digital Platforms and Products at Active Interest Media.

We know digital editions are having their moment in the sun right now, or as Rick Edmonds recently wrote for Poynter, “replica editions, the ugly ducklings of digital news, have suddenly become strategic.” Many publishers have asked questions on using digital editions in their habit-formation strategies. Today we’re sharing answers to some of those questions.

After August 15, publishers will be asking people for their consent to gather data to show them ads again, as the revamped version of the Internet Advertising Bureau Europe and IAB Tech Lab’s Transparency and Consent Framework kicks in.

News publishers are responding to the coronavirus pandemic with several key strategies aimed at emerging from the health crisis and economic slowdown stronger than before. Many of the strategies look promising, such as developing “advertising solutions” that are broader than selling ad space and fostering reader loyalty that outlasts the pandemic.

What would a world where Facebook and Google actually paid news sites for the information they provide look like? We might be closer to that day than we think. The impact that both companies have had on the advertising revenue of local news organizations has been documented in the past, as have the larger consequences of their presence.

The dramatic impact that the novel coronavirus has had on the United States and the world is undeniable. There are many different ways to view what has happened, and I do not wish to be political—I trust that everyone can handle politics in their own way.

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The Media Minute 07.07.2020

Companies of every size are looking for that magic equation that drives innovation and provides true value to the consumer. There is, of course, no simple answer, and in the new reality during and after COVID-19, it might be even less clear. However, based on my experience working with brands of all stripes and sizes over the past 25 years, the ingredients of innovation are…

Climate change is a growing concern for readers across the world. Almost seven in ten (69%) people consider it to be a very, or extremely serious problem, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020. The role of the news media is critical in influencing levels of public concern.

The relationship between Facebook and its largest advertisers is really one big dysfunctional loop — Facebook’s continual detachment drives advertiser frustration. Advertiser frustration, in turn, drives and hardens Facebook’s detachment. The latest standoff is fueling the cycle once again.

Publishers Time Out Group, Meredith Corp. and Vox Media announced new virtual events set to take place over the remaining summer months. Time Out’s Experience:NYC and Experience:LDN, Meredith’s Food & Wine Classic and Vox Media’s Pivot Schooled will each engage audiences through carefully curated talks, performances and special offers.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has significant ramifications for publishers and their handling of consumer data, not just in California but across the country and the world. Similar to the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation, CCPA is the first overarching state-level privacy law in the United States and will likely give way to similar laws across the country.

Since March 2020, news organizations have had to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to publishing. It is not just traditional print publications dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19. Digital news outlets and nonprofits have also had to weather the storm, but they are rising to the challenge.

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The Media Minute 07.01.2020

Today’s publishers are working to survive in a new reality where media consumption is up, but revenues are down. The relentless news cycle has editorial teams running at top speed to deliver original, insightful content to readers and viewers hungry for a new understanding of a changing world.

A new study by marketing platform LiveIntent shows that some publishers are seeing surges in revenue via online newsletters. The newsletter categories that have registered the highest bumps include shopping (103%), home and garden (55%) and business (31%).

For marketers, 2020 started out with so much promise — but this changed rapidly as the industry faced a global epidemic head-on. Not only did our own daily routines come to a screeching halt, for many of us our professional lives did as well. Almost as quickly as lockdowns began, we saw drastic changes in the realm of digital media and advertising.

The New York Times has cited its crossword puzzle app as an important source of paid subscription growth, but games can help to keep readers engaged in other ways. Publishers should consider how a gamification strategy fits with their goals of boosting reader revenue, urging repeat website visits and reducing churn.

It’s a law publishers are also taking seriously in the expectation that more states will adopt similar privacy legislation. “This regulation continues to hold us all to a level of accountability, ensuring that we make smart decisions with sensitive data and information of our consumers and employees,”

Chris Krewson likens the economic fallout for local news organizations from COVID-19 to the health impact the virus itself has had on individuals. Those who were healthiest to begin with are most likely to survive. Those with compromised immune systems could emerge with permanent damage or not emerge at all.

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The Media Minute 06.23.2020

As people stay at home around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, online traffic has surged. People are clicking through mobile and web news alerts at 43% higher rates than they were prior to the crisis, according to my company’s notifications platform, which is used by USA Today, the BBC, and The Wall Street Journal, among many other media outlets.

The UK subscription box market is estimated to be worth £1B by 2022, according to a report for Royal Mail created by GlobalData Consulting. It will be up 72% from 2017. “The business model also presents significant opportunities for international expansion, with our survey revealing that nearly 90% of subscription businesses make at least some of their sales overseas,” it adds.

In figuring out how to wring value from the present surplus of digital events, publishers are using them to collect valuable first-party data that can be used to monetize other parts of their business, ultimately reducing their reliance on third-party cookies.

The coronavirus pandemic has been painful for publishers that have lost advertising revenue. But it has also been an opportunity to promote paid subscriptions. Local newspapers that offered 90-day trial subscriptions for free or at steep discounts need to have a strategy to retain those readers as lockdowns ease and many people get back to their former routines.

Though many independent publishers interviewed by PW last week reported a drop in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, several said sales are—surprisingly—up for the year, buoyed by strong interest in backlist titles, direct sales to consumers, and enhanced digital initiatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of newsrooms to impose massive cuts, layoffs and furloughs—so much that several media organizations have called on Congress to lend crucial financial assistance to the industry.

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The Media Minute 06.17.2020

According to the Forbes Coronavirus Cancellation Tracker, more than 83 million would-be event attendees have been affected by the pandemic. And that’s just those who’ve had their events canceled or rescheduled so far. Even once large gatherings resume, there will inevitably be attendees who will decide not to go due to lingering concerns about the virus.

Email newsletters, once thought of as low-tech and unfashionable, are proving increasingly valuable to publishers looking to build strong direct relationships with audiences, says this year’s Reuters Institute Digital News Report.

The third quarter in the most normal of times is a media lull, landing smack dab in the middle of languid summer months, used more as a preparation for the critical fourth quarter to end the year. This summer, advertisers have their plates full as they settle into the most unusual summer in memory.

In an open letter being sent to the ad industry today, a group of publishers and tech companies are calling for a fundamental change in the way their audience data is accessed during open programmatic trades.

In response to Monday’s Day of Solidarity, which saw more than 1,100 publishing workers demanding that the industry take action to diversity its workforce and to publish more black authors, three of the Big Five publishers issued statements saying that they will do just that.

It’s been rough out there in sales land during this health crisis. And yet, web traffic is spiking for media companies. So, what do we do to leverage that and take a bad situation and make it better for our advertisers?

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The Media Minute 06.09.2020

Depending on their age and stage of life, the nation’s two youngest generations are getting a first taste of what it’s like to be a remote worker, home-schooling parent, or web-only shopper. Within a very short period, the way Millennials and Gen Zs buy products and consume media also has changed dramatically.

Puzzles, games and comics have long been a staple of newspapers and beloved by their most loyal readers, and I’m sure most editors can relate to how angry subscribers get when the results of the previous day’s crossword doesn’t appear in the paper.

The uptick is driven by increased video production, higher viewership and, crucially, the resurgence of advertisers looking to reach a large audience. As quarantine restrictions loosen, advertisers are running video ads to raise product awareness, providing a much-needed boost to advertising demand.

Publishers that post articles on Facebook have a new worry. An Australian court ruled this week they are liable for defamatory comments that other people make about those posts.

The social network’s parent company, Facebook, recently revealed that it was not sublicensing Instagram images used in website embeds—which could create headaches for associations and others that share their social images.

Business owners were still optimistic when COVID-19 started its relentless march from opposite ends of the country to eventually coat the nation. But with reported cases rising higher every week and the death toll in the U.S. creeping toward triple digits, projections of businesses reopening grew later and later.

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The Media Minute 06.02.2020

Over the past two decades, companies of all stripes have embraced affiliate marketing as a way to drive quality sales, attract new customers, and generate high-value leads. What’s more is that the model’s pay-on-performance compensation structure has made it possible for brands to cost-effectively test campaigns.

Want to make marketing a competitive advantage for your business? You’re gonna need a flywheel. No individual hack, no short-term set of investments, can compete. Likewise, growth hacking in its classic form is often plagued by short-term returns, and processes that quickly stop working once the hack is popularized.

Over the last few months, virtual events have been used as an incentive for people to subscribe to publisher paid-for programs. Since launch in April, Verizon-owned TechCrunch has hosted 10 members-only investor Q&A series events, Extra Crunch Live, via its subscription tier, Extra Crunch.

Publishers have seen a surge in web traffic and paid subscriptions among homebound readers during the coronavirus pandemic. With lockdowns gradually ending in the next few months, a key strategy will be to retain those subscribers by reminding them why they signed up in the first place.

Four major book publishers have filed suit against the Internet Archive for copyright violations relating to the Open Library project, setting the stage for a major legal fight over one of the internet’s longest-running ebook archives.

In the span of just a few weeks, the entire world has been plunged into an inconceivable ordeal. A global pandemic has led to an unprecedented collective psychosis. The fear caused by uncertainty about the present and the future amplifies the turmoil. People get sick, and others unfortunately die.

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