Change and innovation is key
The genie is out of the bottle – social media has changed publishing forever.
The dominance of social networks has resulted in business models shifting for the entire media sector. Those publishers most vulnerable are content providers dominated by ad-revenue with a dependency on revenue-sharing agreements, but there is a huge amount of opportunity to prosper if they embrace change and innovation.
The key considerations for publishers are centred on data, revenue, and control. It’s no secret these elements control the viability of social business models.
While just 14% of publisher revenues come from distributed content on third party platforms, and there are well-documented mass losses within the sector, the duopoly of Facebook and Google acquired a fifth of global advertising revenue last year earning a combined $106bn, placing publishers under severe margin pressure.
Regular changes in algorithms and revenue sharing agreements make it difficult for publishers to control business models. Despite growing its audiences the Chicago Tribune witnessed reach of organic posts dropping from 25,000-50,000 to 4,000-6,000, without supplementing with paid posts.
Data transparency and high quality reporting are pre-requisites to sector confidence. Whilst the perceived audience behaviour insights of social networks are inflated, publishers don’t own audiences or conversations denying them the opportunity to make data-driven decisions.
We know the issues, so what are the 5 things publishers can consider?
1. Promote change and innovation
A culture of change and the development of diversified business models are essential for publishers to regain control. Social can offer much more than reach and an anonymous sales funnel.
We know of publishers who are fearful of change, remaining dependent on audience reach driving CPMs and social revenue-sharing agreements – yet if they are bold real opportunities await.
2. Synchronise platforms
Continue to combine platforms to achieve mass reach but synchronise with a platform controlled by publishers themselves. Allowing complimentary brand penetration to regain control, operating their own social business models on demand and gaining live audience insights.
3.Understand the subscriber journey
The shift to paywalls and paid content within media means the data behind the conversion is what’s become so valuable, being able to understand what type of readers are most likely to subscribe and what type of content they engage with.
4. Align content and data
Ensure editorial and marketing teams are cohesive, creating resonating articles in areas where readers really engage and share. Bleacher Report is a great example of this, concentrating on deepening connections with audience members with engaging, targeted content rather than aimlessly chasing mass scale.
5. Own the conversation, understand your audience
There are new capabilities for publishers to become social entities for themselves, synchronising audiences with social networks to gain the advantages of reach with a new generation of live social business on demand. Allowing the sector to truly begin owning the conversation.
Publishers have significant opportunities, but it starts with embracing change.
Luke Newsum is a market executive at GLOBALDRUM.
 Digiday, 2017
 Guardian, 2017
 Chicago Tribune, Medium, 2017
 Digiday, 2017