Instagram is hot but YouTube is not. Publishers around the world are shifting focus this year, according to a recent survey of 30 publishers from 17 countries. The Publishing Trends Report 2022 by Echobox offers insight into publisher’s evolving priorities as they move out of pandemic crisis mode into the new normal.
Respondents indicated that they are most focused on increasing web traffic, utilizing new content formats, and embracing automation. They also share a keen interest in capturing the attention of the all-important youth demographic.
The survey included participants from the following countries: Argentina, Bulgaria, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, and Uruguay. This year, the authors of the report concentrated on data received from decision-makers and social media specialists. News outlets comprised over 50% of the sample.
Publishers’ top priorities for 2022:
- Increase traffic (73%)
- Grow social media followers & engagement (57%)
- Improve quality of published content (50%)
The release of free digital information during the pandemic led to a surge in traffic for online publishers, which – perhaps paradoxically – lead to more paid subscribers. The resulting increase in digital subscriptions even helped offset the longtime decline of print subscriptions. Respondents’ strong interest in increasing web traffic reflects reduced reliance on print revenue, while publishers continue to hone an ideal balance between paywalled and unrestricted content.
Which activities are most important to publishers in 2022?
- Video content 63%
- New social media platforms 43%
- Newsletters 43%
- Finding new audiences 40%
Authors of the study link the appeal of video to declining costs of production, the popularity of short-form content across social media platforms, and video’s effectiveness in engaging audiences.
Although only 43% of respondents listed newsletters as a top priority in 2022, 64% of respondents indicated plans to either start producing newsletters, or increase the number of newsletters they offer. This reflects the focus on turning general web traffic into subscribers.
The most important platforms for publishers in 2022 are:
- Instagram 83%
- Facebook 37%
- Twitter 23%
- TikTok 20%
- LinkedIn 13%
- YouTube 3%
The surge of publishers’ interest in Instagram also points to their desire to expand their audience in the 18-24 range, as they look to the future. Pew Research Center data indicates that 76% of 18–24-year-olds use Instagram, and it remains among the most downloaded apps. Another draw is that Instagram is less publisher-saturated than Facebook.
Why the lukewarm interest in TikTok if younger audiences are so crucial? Survey authors attribute this to the relative newness of the platform. They found that publishers have not had time to refine their strategy to generate traffic via TikTok. Also, fewer young people use TikTok for news content than Instagram, which makes the platform less of a priority for news organizations.
A big change between the 2021 and 2022 survey results was declining interest in YouTube. In 2021, 52% of respondents believed YouTube to be of increased importance. However, in 2022 that percentage fell to just 3%. This would seem to contradict publisher’s strong stated interest in video this year. However, authors suggest that the drop may be due to publishers tailoring video content towards Instagram and other platforms which require formats and dimensions that don’t transfer easily to YouTube. Those interested in producing longer, larger format videos may be using third party vendors or in-house production, bypassing YouTube.
While Instagram is attracting a surge of attention from publishers in 2022, due in part to being less saturated with publisher content than Facebook, Facebook remains a mainstay platform for publishers. In 2021, 40% of publishers surveyed by Echobox stated that “staying ahead of Facebook algorithm changes” was a priority. This points to publishers’ awareness of the continued importance of Facebook referral traffic.
The growing Importance of AI
- 74% consider AI important or very important in 2022
- 67% believe AI will be more significant to their organization in 2022 than in 2021
- Use and implementation of AI is increasing in emerging markets, not just large-scale publishers
- Emerging markets are focusing AI efforts on automation of paywalls and subscriptions
In the 2021 survey, 1 in 3 companies cited lack of time as a major concern. The potential for AI to alleviate pressure and free up time can help publishers focus on a top priority cited in 2022 survey results: creating quality content.