Digital Content Next (DCN) recently released findings from its second annual DCN Distributed Content Revenue Benchmark Report. The research, written about here and here, provides marketplace intelligence on distributed content strategies and the challenges confronting publishers when working with third-party platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and others. The report confirms that despite the constant changes in distributed content policies and business practices, little has changed for publishers in the last 12 months.
Facebook and Google generate the most distributed-content revenue for publishers outside of Over-the-Top (OTT). However, together they account for less than 30% of the total distributed content revenue and represent only 5% of the total average digital revenue for publishers. Overall revenues from distributed content grew from 14% in last year’s report and now represent 16% of the surveyed publishers’ digital revenues.
Additional Key Findings
Monetization of distributed content for H2 2016 and H1 2017 represented an estimated $10.1 million and $10 million average revenue. For companies providing data for both H1 2016 (last year’s report) and H1 2017 for this report, distributed content revenue grew by an estimated 37% year-over-year.
Video, consistent with last year, represents 85% of the total, $8.3 million in 1H 2017, driven by TV/cable companies’ OTT monetization. The remaining 15% cuts across social media, Google AMP and syndication.
Facebook generated the most revenue for publishers, capturing $1.3 million (50% of social platform revenue) in H2 2016 and $1.5 million (59% of social platform revenue) in H1 2017.
Out of the specific third-party platforms tracked, publishers are active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. However, for monetization purposes, publishers are still most active on Facebook and YouTube.
Despite the challenges, DCN found that publishers remain active across a range of channels distributing and monetizing content off their sites at levels relatively consistent with last year’s findings. Still, publishers remain cautious about increasing staffing for distributed content monetization.
1. Concentrate negotiation at the executive level of your company management; do not leave negotiations to lower-level management and/or individual brands or businesses.
2. Focus on products that leverage your core business, are replicable, get new money, and have the potential to scale.
3. Negotiate for business requirements that support scaling in partnership agreements:
ad server integration;
third-party measurement integration;
management reports (e.g. roll-ups by publisher and/or marketer);
and-data for advertising and subscription monetization.
4. Test and measure content consumption and monetization through both advertising and subscription on third-party platforms and compare results to on-site metrics to inform monetization strategies.
5. Centralize responsibilities or use active cross-functional teams for managing third-party partnerships.
Advertising is the most common form of monetization of content distributed on third-party platforms, with more than 85% of total average revenue sold directly by publishers. While distributed content remains an essential part of publishers’ strategic plans, the revenues earned do not match publishers’ investment. Importantly, publishers will continue to participate and test to find the best value and revenue model for their premium content.
In efforts to quantify the spread of false information online, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, examinesthe reach of fake news in France and Italy. Both countriessee fake news as a serious issue. However, thereport, Measuring the reach of “fake news” and online disinformation in Europe, determined the reach of fake news websites as less than 1 percent of each countries online population.
The study based its analysis on 300 websites in each country that independent fact-checkers identify as publishers of false news. The research combines analytics from ComScore and CrowdTangle to measure usage of both established news and fake news sites. comScore, a web analytics company, uses a combination of panel-based and server-side measurement to provide usage data and CrowdTangle, a web tool, collects engagement data for Facebook accounts using the Facebook API.
The data also shows that the total time spent with fake news websites each month is lower than the time spent with established news websites. Online users spend an average of 178 million minutes per month with Le Monde (France), and 443 million minutes with La Repubblica (Italy), that’s more time than 20 fake news sites combined.
Still the impact of social platforms must also be accounted for in this analysis. Unfortunately, Reuters cannot measure Facebook’s average monthly reach or time spent for any website or article linkFacebook. (Only Facebook has access to this data.)
However, Reuters did examine the average number of Facebook interactions (shares, comments, reactions) with each news outlet to access user engagement. Importantly, based on this analysis, Reuters determined that a few of the fake news websites generated more or as many interactions as established news brands. In fact, one fake news site in France generated an average of over 11 million interactions per month, at least five times greater than established news brands
While the research suggests that articles from fake news sites registered low reach and social engagement in these countries, there are still those one-off articles that reach high levels of engagement. The problem poses serious implications and what still needs to be determine is the impact of the false information on people’s attitudes and beliefs.
Nearly half of all editors, CEOs, and digital leaders (44%) are even more concerned with the powerful role of social media than they were a year ago, reports Reuters’ Journalism, Media & Technology: Trends & Predictions 2018. Publishers note their disappointment with social platforms, particularly with Facebook because of the platform’s role in the circulation of fake news, the lack of promised video revenue, and the decline in referral traffic to many news websites. As a result, publishers plan to be less dependent on social platforms. As one executive summarizes, “Expect more news organizations to pull out of deals with Facebook, Apple, and Snapchat that they consider are not delivering sufficient financial return, focusing instead on building more direct readership.”
Predictions for Publishers:
Restore consumer trust in journalism
Publishers are continuing to strengthen consumer trusts in news brands. Unfortunately, too often quality journalism is posted side-by side with low quality content and misleading information. Most social platforms fail to distinguish between the two. In 2018, publishers will continue to pressure social platform companies to set standards and do more to differentiate brand news content.
Less reliance on advertising
Publishes are working to diversify their revenues to ensure less dependence on advertising sales. In fact, 62% of publishers say that advertising will become less important over time. Publishers need to shift their strategies from reach and advertising engagement to subscription models and tenure.
Improve data capacity
Publishers believe that data is important to their business needs. Nearly two-thirds of publishers (62%) report that improving data capacity is their most important initiative this year. It’s also imperative for publishers to understand and comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) starting this May. The GDPR requires that publishers ask users for consent to use email addresses, to profile and to share their data with third parties working on their behalf.
Predictions for Social Platforms:
Expanding into TV programming
Social platforms are moving into the television business. While Facebook’s early attempts at Facebook Live failed and Facebook Watch has yet to become a must-view entertainment hub, the company is still forging ahead. Facebook is actively looking to secure broadcast programming rights and plans to develop new content to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
New social messaging offers
Growing messaging and access to news is important for social platforms. Reuters Institute data, shows messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger are growing not just for messaging purposes but for accessing news as well. Facebook is launching a tween messaging app specifically targeting this demo. The idea is to draw the tweens in early and eventually expand their usage to age appropriate entertainment and education content.
Publishers and social platform alike are thinking about new business practices and monetization opportunities with their user base. Importantly, as they shift their strategies to meet 2018 goals, it’s key to keep a consumer focus, especially in the development of new content offerings, personal data information and GDPR compliance and new technology implementations.
Public trust in the media is at an all-time low, yet Americans still believe that the media plays an important role in today’s democracy. A new report from Gallup and The Knight Foundation, “American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” reveals that more than eight in 10 Americans (84%) believe the media either has a “critical” (44%) or a “very important” (40%) role in democracy. So, if journalism is essential to the foundation of democracy, why is its trust in such a fractured state today?
The Gallup/Knight Foundation research provides several insights to this question. The research identifies the spread of inaccurate information on the internet as one of eight leading consumer concerns. In fact, three-quarters of Americans (73%) state the “spread of inaccurate information” as their top concern, with young adults, ages 18-29, highest at 80%. Consequently, adult’s top concern centers on the “distribution” of false news and information.
Share and Share Alike?
The spread of false news and information is further intensified by the sharing and forwarding of news stories, a common practice among consumers today. In particular, social media offers an easy and accessible gateway to share information. Close to two-thirds of Americans (64%) state they frequently/occasionally share news stories with friends, family, or social media followers.
The Gallup/Knight research suggests that Americans are beginning to recognize the pitfalls of social sharing when ideological viewpoints and biasness are not always vetted properly to ascertain credibility. In fact, more U.S. adults believe that citizen videos (58%), the internet (57%), news aggregators (54%), and cable news (52%) have a more positive impact on the U.S. news environment than social media (42%) sites like Facebook and Twitter and political leaders using social media to directly communicate to users.
What exactly do consumer view as fake news?
The Gallup/Knight Foundation defines fake news as “misinformation with the appearance of legitimately produced news but without the underlying organizational journalistic processes or mission.” The research found that consumers have a broader sense of fake news and include: presenting false information as if true, reporting stories before facts are checked, slanting stories to depict a specific point of view and accurate stories showcasing political views negatively.
With so many news sources available, Americans find it hard to stay up to date and informed. Interestingly, even with numerous news outlets, consumers report difficulty finding a balanced source. Four in ten respondents (44%) state that they cannot name an objective source. While consumers also seek news aggregators, more than half of users (57%) are concerned with their method of story collection. Most often these hidden algorithms are not shared.
U.S. adults also recognized political affiliation as a large influencer on the views of the news media. More than half of democratic respondents (54%) report a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the news media. However, the opposite can be said of republican respondents, where more than two-thirds (68%) view the news media in an unfavorable light. Further, respondents report confusion when it comes to sorting out the facts (41%). Democrats tend to be informed about current events and more confident that they can sort out the facts (52%). Republicans on the other hand are more skeptical about sorting out the facts are Republicans (52%)
While Americans have access to more news media outlets than ever before, it a complex ecosystem to navigate. Distribution, aggregation and technology are all strong influencers of the news as well contributing to the proliferation of misinformation in the public domain. Supporting trustworthy publishers and journalists is more important than ever before so that they can distil accurate information and weed out the inaccurate in order to safeguard the democracy of the media.
Today, more and more resources are available digitally. The days of manually searching for data in basement archives are long gone. However, given all of the digital resources available, the process requires significant human effort. AI and automated journalistic processes can help ease that burden.
The Tow Center and Brown Institute have identified three major journalistic AI achievements to date:
Finding needles in haystacks: AI can find and fact-check faster than the human eye.
Identifying trends: AI can parse through data, again faster than humans, and group findings into categories to identify trends.
Examining an application of AI or computation as the subject of the story itself: Since AI algorithms are built by humans, AI can also proof itself for unintentional bias in its applications and outputs.
Further, there are several new successful applications of AI in newsrooms. One is Wibbitz, a resource used by USA Today to create short videos. Others include News Tracer, an algorithmic prediction tool that helps Reuters journalists gauge the integrity of a tweet and BuzzBot, software from BuzzFeed, which allows the collection of information from on-the-ground new sources. Still, journalists must be careful to evaluate the credibility of AI data, its sources and understand how the algorithms work.
Key steps to integrating AI in the newsroom:
Train editors and reporters to incorporate AI as a new resource for storytelling.
Develop and promote the use of AI guidelines regarding the ethical use of data. Further, public disclosure of methodology is a must especially in terms of editorial values and standards.
Small operations for which AI is too expensive should consider partnerships with academic institutions.
Reporters and journalists should continue to be transparent about AI usage in a report or how it’s used in the production of a story.
According to The Tow Center and Brown Institute, journalists have two main responsibilities. First, they need to present the information to the reader in a clear and concise manner. And second, they need to explain its authenticity. This includes the practice of AI, including full disclosure of details and formulas for its algorithms. Importantly, as AI helps facilitates the newsroom, journalists need to question and critique the process and the information received.
Consumers are swamped with video content options. New services continue to emerge in a fragmented marketplace of distribution platforms. It’s overwhelming for consumers and, as a result, much video content is left undiscovered and unwatched. Today’s video publishers need to do more than create (or acquire) must-see content. The need to attract and engage consumers and provide a return on investment to marketers.
Consumers have an appetite for new content. Half of consumers (55%) report they are looking for a new TV show or movie to watch at least once per week; 83%, a few times per month. Close to three-quarters (72%) of consumers are watching more video content than a year ago and just less than half (46%) are paying for more content.
Yet, consumers are frustrated with the content discovery process. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers agree that they often struggle to find something to watch, despite there being many choices available to them. Further, the findings show that half of consumers (50%) are frustrated when they search for content to watch compared to finding content to read (37%) or music to listen (32%).
Interestingly, pay-per-view customers (38%) enjoy searching for new video content to watch more than cord-cutters (31%) and cord-nevers (23%). Even cord-cutters are bothered by the process of finding content to watch. In fact, 74% agree that despite there being a lot of choices available to me, I often struggle to find something to watch and 61% also agree that searching for something to watch is frustrating.
There are several key influencers informing consumers viewing decisions. Streaming content plays an important role in content discovery. Eight in ten of all consumers (79%) and 90% of consumers under the age of 30 years old agree that streaming services play a large role in their discovery of new video content. Social media also helps consumers find what to watch (50%), especially for those under the age of 30. Interestingly while there are frequent discussions on social media about video content to watch, consumers don’t necessary based their viewing choices on these discussions.
Further, less than half (48%) of respondents said they are influenced by what their friends and family watch. Meanwhile, FOMO (fear of missing out) reportedly also drives 25% of consumer viewing habits.
Pay-TV subscribers and non-pay TV streamers differ in the top influences on new content discovery. Personalized recommendations appear to be missing its mark ranking number six for pay-tv subscribers and ranking number four non-pay TV steamers.
Browsing is still a popular way for consumers to find video content to watch. Almost half of consumers (47%) report that they came across a new show they recently watched while browsing for something to watch. The other top responses included commercials/advertisements looked good (44%), read a great review (32%), recommended to me based on another show I previously watched (27%) and people I know wouldn’t stop talking about it (23%). Consumers are also unpredictable. Eighty percent state that what they choose to watch is largely driven by their mood on that given day.
While 79% of consumers report they’ve watched a TV show or movie based on a recommendation from a content service and 90% state like what is recommended to them, personalized recommendations are still not the go-to source for consumers. Four key contributing factors as to why personalized recommendations are not working for consumers include:
Friends and family know better
Personalized recommendations are the shows the services are promoting
Not sure if the recommendation will be liked
Don’t want to waste time on starting a new show that may not be liked
Consumers want more clarity as to what is behind the personalized recommends. Consumers report they are more likely to watch personalized recommendations if additional context is included:
Provide criteria for high rating; provide details such as fast-paced, exciting, good characters (83%)
Allow to access reviews directly from platform (75%)
Quantify likelihood of enjoyment based on previous viewing habits or others with similar profiles (72%)
Offer specific reasons for poor ratings, for example, boring (72%)
Ability to link to reputable critics’ reviews directly from platform (68%)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help consumers find more content to fit their taste. AI can assist in content curation organizing content by themes. It can also use consumer insights to classify and target consumer segments to test recommendations. AI can look beyond genre categories and include a director, favorite actor, sub-sub-sub-genre, decade, special effects, costumes, etc. Personalization needs to be even more adaptive and include a temperature reading of mood. Content platforms should ask consumers how they feel. After all, 80% report their video content selection is often based on their daily mood.
Expanding the search function beyond individual platforms is also important to consumers. They not only want to know what to watch but where to watch. Helping consumers navigate the video content marketplace will assist the content selection process so that video gets found – and watched.
Fake news reaches one in four Americans, according to a new research study from Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, Andrew Guess of Princeton University, and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter. The research provides the first individual-level estimates of visits to fake news websites. It analyzes web traffic data gathered from a sample of 2,525 Americans during the final weeks of the 2016 election campaign, from October 7 to November 14, 2016. Survey questions are also included in the analysis to provide insight into demographic and attitudinal variables and visits to fake news websites.
Overall, 27.4% or more than 65 million Americans age 18+ visited an article on a pro-Trump or pro Clinton fake news website. In total, fake news websites represented an average of approximately 2.6% of all the articles Americans read on sites focusing on hard news topics during this time-period. The pro-Trump or pro-Clinton fake news that people read heavily skewed toward Donald Trump. Consumers read an average of 5.45 articles from fake news websites with nearly all pro-Trump (average of 5.00 pro-Trump articles).
It’s important to note that fake news reached only a subset of Americans. Almost six in 10 visits to fake news websites came from 10% of people. Dr. Brendan Nyhan identifies these people as “voracious consumers of hard news” and “people intensely engaged in politics.”
Interestingly, supporters of Trump are far more likely to visit fake news websites than Clinton supporters. Among Trump supporters, 40% read at least one article from a pro-Trump fake news website compared with only 15% of Clinton supporters during this time-period. Trump supporters are more likely to consume pro-Trump fake news and less likely to consume pro-Clinton fake news relative to Clinton supporters. Further, older Americans, over age 60, are much more likely to visit a fake news site than younger people.
The research examined the URLs visited by a respondent immediately prior to visiting a fake news website. The association between Facebook usage and fake news website visits offers a direct inference in identifying Facebook as the most significant facilitator in directing people to fake news websites.
Fact checking is a current response to fake news. However, only one in four respondents said that they (25.3%) read a fact-checking article at least once from a dedicated national fact checking website. This is compounded by the fact that only 62% of the respondents say they are familiar with fact-checking. Importantly, the study found no instances of people reading a fake news article and a fact-check of that specific article. Consumption of fact-checks is concentrated among non-fake news consumers.
The research found the reach of fake news is wide yet narrow. Social media consumption offers consumers selective exposure of like-minded people and websites that reinforce personal and political biases. In other words, social media, specifically Facebook, offers a direct path to factually inaccurate but attitude-consistent information that reinforces their political views as theories of selective exposure predict.
Accenture’s research, which surveyed 24,877 consumers in 33 countries, found that 48% of consumers expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. And Accenture believes that this entails “next generation personalization” which they call “hyper-relevance.” Many current personalization tactics are static and relate to certain consumer behaviors. However, Hyper-relevance—like today’s digital consumers—is “always on.” It is much more dynamic, constantly changing and always available.
rather than focusing solely on customers’ purchase behaviors and preferences or relatively fixed attributes, such as their address or number of children, Accenture says it is essential to understand on customers’ needs in a given circumstance and the evolving context in which they make decisions.
As such, data gathered from website visits, social media posts, or previous purchase histories will not suffice. Rather, what’s needed is information that is much more personal in nature—such as health data transmitted via wearable biometric technologies. Needless to say, that’s getting highly personal. And when things get that personal, the potential rewards go up immensely. However, risk also rises.
It is heartening to note that two-thirds of those surveyed said that they are willing to share personal information with companies. But there’s a catch. They will only do so in exchange for some perceived value. And if that value exchange—or the trust upon which it is based—is broken, customers will quickly move on.
Accenture emphasizes that securing and maintaining consumer trust is a prerequisite to achieving the promise of intelligent personalization. They point out that it takes time to build trust, but that it can be shattered with one wrong move. Thus, companies must counter that risk by constantly presenting themselves as trustworthy, keeping their promises, and upholding their end of the value exchange agreement.
As companies seek to deliver hyper-relevance, Accenture makes three recommendations:
1. Look beyond the traditional customer journey
Companies that distinguish themselves with hyper-relevant experiences look beyond the traditional customer journey. They identify and prioritize those areas where hyper-relevance can deliver added value and quickly address the unexpected. Ask questions like: What can we offer once we realize our customer has missed her flight? Received a job promotion? Been forced to flee a hurricane? In these situations, customers need different things and relevance becomes supremely important.
2. Rethink data
Hyper-relevant companies don’t rely solely on descriptive analytics or traditional sources of information. They invest in predictive analytics, collaborate with an ecosystem of stakeholders to capture real-time snapshots of every consumer, and mine data in new ways to understand the customer journey that extends beyond core products and services and across channels. In addition, hyper-relevant companies redouble their data security efforts. They ensure customers have full control of their data across touch points. They eliminate duplicate requests for customer information and permissions. And they make sure all customer data is secure and visible to employees on a need-to-know basis.
3. Earn trust continuously
Trust must be a key consideration when designing hyper-relevant experiences, creating new customer value propositions, and serving as a critical resource when customers need them most. A company’s commitment to delivering the experiences that were promised and meeting customers’ expectations is paramount. Hyper-relevant companies understand their baseline level of trust, and eliminate issues or irrelevant offers that detract from the trust quotient. They make trust sustainable by establishing a rigorous process and a robust, cross-functional governance structure to continuously measure trust and hyper-relevant effectiveness—and act on their findings. Most importantly, they manage trust as the critical growth enabler it is.
The virtuous circle
Companies that are attentive to their customers’ concerns and reinforce their trust quotient are more likely to persuade customers to share personal information. That, in turn, helps to inform the design the kinds of hyper-relevant experiences that today’s consumers expect. So, while companies are finding valuable ways to leverage data to super-serve their best customers, they have also begun to realize that the digital trust consumers place in companies is as critical as the data itself.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and others continue to report increases in subscriptions. Undoubtedly, this is a trend that media organizations of all types would like to get in on. It is helpful, then, to understand who these subscribers are as well as why are they willing to pay for their news. A new study, The 3 types of news subscribers: Why they pay and how to convert them, from The American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs identifies the emotional and behavioral factors that affect consumers’ news subscription decisions. The research methodology included the use of in-depth interviews to uncover the values and motivations key to subscription habits.
Three types of subscribers (and how to attract them):
1. Civically Committed: those individuals supporting goals and initiatives that reflect their personal values. The Civically Committed subscribe to a higher-than-average number of subscriptions.
High willingness to pay for news content.
Views their support of journalism as a moral duty.
Subscription decisions are more emotional than practical.
Subscribes to a higher-than-average number of publications.
Prioritizes organizations whose goals and values align with their own.
High loyalty; likely to pay for subscriptions even if they aren’t using them.
Low price sensitivity.
Likely a news organization member, or donor.
Subscribes and donates to multiple news sources.
Likely donates to other causes and/or volunteers.
Strategies to attract
Publicize the news brand’s mission, values and community role. Ensure the brand’s mission and agenda is public. The Civically Committed support news organization aligned with their thinking.
Partner with civic-minded organizations and brands. Affiliate with causes the Civically Committed are already involved in and become part of their community.
Create events where they can meet journalists and get to know one another.
Reward them with appreciation. The Civically Committed see their subscription as an extension of themselves. Remember to thank them and be personal.
Allow them to donate to a news publication by adding a philanthropic relationship to their subscription. The Civically Committed want to support journalism.
2. Thrifty Transactors: consumers who pay for no-nonsense value and are highly selective in their subscriptions.
Moderate willingness to pay for news content.
News subscriptions are a combination of utility and relevance.
Price sensitive; needs to have high value.
Loyal to a small, highly curated number of publications.
Specific reasons for subscription such as part of a daily ritual.
Subscribers usually have at least one publication related to hobby or special interest.
Fans of coupon clipping.
May rely on a news publication for its coverage of one topic (look for digital users with high engagement in one area).
Strategies to attract
Provide excellence and ensure content stands out as high value and unique. Thrifty Transactors look to dedicated sources for items that really matter to them. Find these subject areas and serve the Thrifty Transactors.
Consider offering subscriptions by verticals or specialty areas. Thrifty Transactors only want to pay for the content they use so make sure they know the details of the publication’s reporting areas.
Think of magazine marketing partnerships to promote subscriptions of like content.
3. Elusive Engagers: generally do not like subscriptions. They see news and information as a commodity that should be free.
Low willingness to pay for news content.
Utility drives subscriptions.
Sees news and information as a commodity.
Not comfortable with transaction and commitment of subscription.
Likes free trials.
Likely to find content through search.
Strategies to attract:
Offer one-time-payment options with no commitment and include easy cancelation policy. It’s important to avoid monthly payment reminders.
Monetize Elusive Engagers outside of subscriptions. Market other products such as books, souvenirs, e-commerce, third-party paid promotions, etc.
The subscriber segments identified in this research are based on behavior, attitudes and beliefs, not demographics. This means an individual’s group will not likely change as they get older. However, further analysis of the segment groups by print and digital usage and demographics are also valuable in establishing marketing and monetization plans. Importantly, pinpoint the key differentiators of the news brand by segments to use in acquisition and renewal strategies.
Though sometimes it seems like we’ve been talking about it forever, Facebook became a leading referrer to publishing websites only in mid-2015, according to Parse.ly data. Around that same time, other news broke that was poised to impact traffic drivers: Google officially launched AMP.
Today, the two news stories again converge. We’ve seen Google take the “referral king” crown back, with Google accounting for 44% of traffic to our network, and 12% of external traffic to media sites specifically coming from Google referrals AMP pages.
We can thank supply and demand for some of this. According to Google, there have been more than four billion AMP pages published and over 25 million domains creating AMP pages. Google purports that AMP brings benefits that can explain the rise in referrals. The web giant commissioned a study that shows that “AMP leads to a 10% increase in website traffic with a 2x increase in time spent on page. For e-commerce websites using AMP, the study also found a 20% increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP pages.”
While these numbers point to a fairly big success for AMP so far, multiple causes likely contribute to the big picture numbers. Some of this shift to of referral traffic back to Google, AMP or otherwise, may be result of user preference for broader sources of information. Digital Content Next’s recent research showed that consumers have low levels of trust for news they get via social media, which could be a contributing factor. And perhaps the decline in Facebook as a primary driver of publisher traffic reflects Facebook’s desire to keep people in their app to try get a grip on the shifting tide of awakened media consumers.
However, it definitely shows the success of Google’s ability to sell AMP as a non-proprietary solution, versus Facebook Instant Articles. In short, development work done for AMP isn’t constrained to one audience or platform. Our research on referral traffic to publisher websites shows that the additional benefits may be mounting.
Adoption of AMP, it seems, has not just been embraced in Google searches but more broadly across the web. Over 3% of visitors to our publishing network visit through AMP off of Google, from sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. For context, all of Twitter’s referrals to publishers’ websites only accounts for 2.5% of total external referral traffic.
Whatever the cause, for publishers still considering the adoption of third-party distribution channels, or considering their continued support in 2018, understanding these numbers for your site and for the industry should play a role in decision making. Audience acquisition, engagement, and retention through them becomes not just an editorial strategy, but a product development one as well.
As the digital landscape continues to shift, it’s essential to understand the value of trust in digital media and the components needed to build a successful consumer relationship. New DCN research,Trust as a Proxy for Brand Value, shows that consumers today are increasingly using social media as their digital gateway to access information from news to entertainment. In fact, Facebook’s newsfeed is the number one place users go to get digital content.
Interestingly, our research uncovered that, while consumers use social platforms as a principal access point for information, they often do not trust the content they find there: Only 55% of consumers trust the information they find on social platforms. Furthermore, significantly fewer Millennials (45%) trust the information they find on social media. It appears that newsfeed automation and algorithms have a hand in the problem. Six in ten consumers (62%) agree that “there’s so much random content on social media, there’s no way to tell if an article is credible or not.”
As a result, a younger audience of “Social Skeptics” has emerged. Seven in ten of these consumers choose quality brand sites for content and prefer brand sites/apps for information. In fact, 41% of Social Skeptics have subscribed to digital content, which also signals a preference for premium content. This high-value audience is quite desirable: 61% are under the age of 40 and 68% purchased an item in the last month based on an ad they saw online.
The DCN research also showed that “fake news” and the spread of misinformation is impacting consumer trust in digital media. Eighty-two percent of consumers agree that “there is a lot of fake news on social media.” The fake news problem doesn’t stop there. Fifty-five percent of consumers surveyed noted they find a lot of fake news on brand sites and apps as well. Younger generations (Millennials and Gen-Xers) are even more likely to say there is a fake news problem. Misleading headlines, too many ads, and sensational, clickbait articles are top items that break consumer trust.
Brand sites build trust by delivering on key attributes, such as credibility and accuracy, which correlate highly to both trust and importance. However, there are also hidden drivers which are less obvious—but correlate highly to trust. These include popularity, virality, and personalization, all of which are important strategies to employ and very much a part of the algorithms of platforms.
Four key building blocks of trust that brand sites should incorporate into their strategies were uncovered in the DCN research. All four components are important in establishing and maintaining brand trust.
attribution: confirming information with multiple sources;
reputation: acting as an authority;
navigation: ease-of-use /smart user experience;
prediction: positive past experience and direct relationship with the consumer.
Consumer trust in brand sites also positively impacts advertisers on the site. Higher trust in brand sites results in a trust halo effect for advertisers. Brand sites provide a significant boost in advertiser trust and positive perception compare to social media and YouTube.
Two attributes that highly correlate to the importance and trust of advertisers on brand sites include emotional connection and identification with the style and tone of the brand site. In terms of building trust for the advertisers on a brand site, these two components resonate significantly with Millennials as compared to other generations.
Consumer expectations around trust is higher for brand sites and apps. Consumers expect them to be trustworthy, credible, accurate, and up-to-date. Thus, brands should closely monitor trust and work to maintain it as a key differentiator in the volatile digital media marketplace.
Digital Content Next (DCN) and the Reuters Institute both released significant studies on trust in digital information within a week of each other. Here’s a topline analysis of the many consistencies in the findings important to navigating the future of digital content and building trust in media.
First and foremost, it’s important to note each methodology and identify the differences. Here’s how they compare:Here are some of Reuters’ top findings (and how they compare with DCN’s):
Social media is trusted less than the news media in its ability to separate fact from fiction. Respondents think newsfeeds are filled with inaccurate information, extreme agendas, and strong opinions, perhaps encouraged by social media algorithms.
Supports DCN’s findings of 62% agree “There’s so much random content on social media, there’s no way to tell if an article is credible or not.”
A significant proportion of respondents feel journalists do a good job in checking sources, verifying facts, and providing evidence to back up claims.
Supports DCN’s findings regarding the building blocks of the Trust Model and the importance of key components: brand sites must focus on four key areas to build trust: attribution (confirming multiple sources), reputation or authority, navigation/user experience, and prediction — building a direct relationship with consumers that builds upon past experiences.
In talking about trust, people mention television brands more than any other type of media (e.g. print or online).
Supports DCN’s findings in the regarding top trust brands – Newspaper and TV/Cable legacy brands historically rooted in media.
Some media outlets are taking sides, encouraging polarized set of opinions.
Supports DCN’s recommendation that Brand sites and apps should focus on what’s vital to consumers to drive trust, position their content as regularly updated, respected, and authentic in addition to the core positioning of high quality and trustworthy.
A substantial minority who trust social media, do so for its broad range of views and authenticity.
The news media needs to differentiate itself more from information that has not gone through the same professional checking processes
DCN’s recommendation that fake news and distracting settings are significant problems in the digital landscape. A good opportunity for premium publishers to market themselves as a destination to avoid these annoyances.
The media need to do a better job in separating facts from opinion.
Correlates to DCN’s discussion of vital drivers of trust. Premium content should be in-depth, respected, expert and authentic. These are the definitions of trust that move the needle.
Build a more representative media – in terms of age, politics, economic outlook, and gender – is likely to help answer the criticism that media is only looking after the interests of the establishment (we don’t speak to diversification of reporting).
Building trust takes a strong commitment from publishers and platforms, alike, to develop a successful consumer relationship. It requires understanding and strategically implementing components and drivers of trust. Importantly, the need for self-monitoring is essential to ensure accurate and credible reporting is commonly practiced.
Viewability is at the center of every digital media buy. It’s the metric that assures consumers have an opportunity to see a digital advertisement. The Media Rating Council (MRC), an independent third-party, has established a framework for measuring and reporting viewability. The MRC’s standard for viewability includes two factors: the amount an ad is shown on screen and the amount of time the ad is viewed on screen. A display ad is considered viewable if half its pixels are on the screen for one second. A video ad must be on screen for at least two consecutive seconds. The standard is meant to be a minimum threshold for determining an “opportunity-to-see.”
Not surprisingly, the research shows that the more viewable a digital ad is and the more screen time it has, the more likely it is to be effective. The more viewable campaigns are, the more likely they are to lead to a consumer action to buy, click or register, etc.
However, viewability is one of many factors connected to a campaign’s success. Additional metrics such as ad interaction also show a positive relationship with conversions. Specifically, Magna reports a direct relationship between consumers who interact longer with ads during exposure and their conversion rates. For example, the longer consumers interact with ads during exposure, the more likely they are, at some point, to convert to an action.
The research provides confirmation that the MRC baseline of viewability is clearly connected to ad effectiveness. It is significant to note that the research also proves that higher levels of viewability required by some agencies (80% to 100%) has no additional impact on ad effectiveness.
It’s important for marketers to experiment and test viewability rates and engagement levels to find the best performing combinations. Importantly, measurement of campaign success should include metrics that relate to performance goals. Other metrics such as such as cost, conversion task, target audience, ad format, frequency and others may also to the story of an ad’s performance.
Brand safety measures are a key concern for advertisers given recent headlines highlighting safety limitations in the programmatic advertising buying process. Advertisers and brand marketers often resort to open exchanges and ad networks for large volumes of inventory and to reach demographic targets. As a result, their ads may be found next to offensive or inappropriate digital and video content. The CMO Council, in partnership with Dow Jones, examines the impact of unsuitable ad placement on consumer satisfaction and perception of digital advertising in their research report “How Brands Annoy Fans.”
To provide context, the research also provides insights on the consumers’ view of the digital content environment. A full three-quarters of the 2,000 consumer respondents surveyed in North America and in the UK report that they are concerned with the growing number of fake and biased news sites. Further, consumers surveyed rank social media last among their five most trusted information channels, following friends, TV, search engines and newspapers. As a result, 60% of respondents now seek their content from brand sites with trusted content.
These findings indicate that environment impacts the overall advertising experience. Most consumers (88%) state a negative advertising experience may make them think differently about the advertised brand. Nearly half of all consumers (48%) indicate they would rethink purchasing brands or would boycott products whose ads appear alongside digital content that offends or concerns them. Further, 38% report they would lose trust in a brand that advertises next to objectionable content.
Importantly, ad placement in specific channels has a direct impact on how consumers perceive those brands. Additional findings on the effect of ad placement on consumer intent include:
64% of consumers state they respond better to ads delivered from a trusted news site than those that appear on social media or search.
If ads are near to objectional content, 37 percent report it changes how they think of the brand, and 11% state they will boycott the brand.
Advertisers and programmatic platforms need to take these findings to heart as consumers are ready and willing to their business elsewhere. Importantly, where marketers run their ads is just as important as the ads themselves. Brands need to ensure their ads are adjacent to appropriate content among trusted-brand websites in well-lit environments.
What makes a great headline, and why? How can headlines make the casual skimmer stop and read? While much has changed in media’s shift from print to digital, these fundamental questions haven’t. Editors and writers correctly describe headline writing as an art — but with all the technology out there, there is a scientific way to put evidence behind that art, and help publishers grow their engaged readership as a result.
Reading, scanning, skipping, sharing – our reading behaviors have changed dramatically in recent years. Chartbeat data shows that on average, only around half (55%) of readers who click through to content actually read what they land on.
The context of headline writing has changed as well. Media objectivity, which involves writing factually true and balanced content, is sometimes at odds with the goals of social media marketing, which values metrics like shares, likes and clicks. Increasing readers’ engagement with content can align objectivity and editorial integrity with the need to grow audience in a world where more than half of traffic to publisher sites is driven by platforms like Facebook.
However, publishers can support those better reading behaviors. Recent Chartbeat research shows that despite our changing reading and writing habits, there are scientific ways to improve the likelihood that something will get read.
The role of language and technology
In an analysis of around 100,000 headline tests and 250,000 individual headlines, we examined linguistic traits of successful and unsuccessful headlines and found that language really does matter.
What we see is that words like “what” and “where,” as well as numbers, quotations and superlatives (like best and worst) lead to more readership, whereas using question marks or time references can actually hurt. Interestingly, short headlines actually have a negative effect on readership of content as well, whereas notably longer headlines have no effect.
In a separate study, we also looked at the impact of headline testing technology and its ability to improve the number of visitors who read for more than 15 seconds. What we found surprised us. In a comprehensive evaluation of headline tests that use Chartbeat’s multi-armed bandit testing model, we discovered that alternative headlines – ones that, without testing, would never have seen the light of day – outperform the original roughly two-thirds, or 62% of the time. That means most headline writers only get headlines right the first time for 38% of stories. But technology can vastly improve these results.
A headline should not only entice readers to click and see more; it should drive consumption of a story. Of those 62% of stories, the alternate headline saw on average a 78% lift in traffic. It also led to a 71% lift in readership, measured by quality clicks: visitors who spend more than 15 seconds or more of engaged time with an article.
The bottom line
While gut instinct around language matters, technology can enhance that ability to find the right fit between content and audience. This, in turn, can dramatically improve engagement with content.
These days, publishers wear many hats. They have to write, edit, promote, monetize, optimize and grow quality audiences. The good news is that science — both in terms of predictive modeling and engagement-focused technologies — can help us improve the imperfect art of writing so we can better connect with readers and, ultimately, with each other.
Fraudulent news poses new challenges in today’s digital society. As such, there is a need for best practices and practical solutions to repair tainted digital information streams. In an effort to develop effective solutions and remedy the information disorder, the Council of Europe commissioned research to delve into the digital information and communication process. The newly released report, Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policy, offers a detailed insights at a global scale and examines the agents, messages, and audiences involved.
The term “fake news” was intentionally not used in the report. Instead, three new terms were introduced to better define the reporting and sharing of false and inaccurate information.
Dis-information is false information purposely created to harm a person, a social group, an organization or a country.
Mis-information is false information not created with the intention of initiating harm.
Mal-information information that is based on reality used to bring harm to a person, a social group, an organization or a country.
The phases and elements of information disorder
Three components are identified in the process of information disorder: the agent, the message, and the interpreter. Agents are involved in all phases of the information chain from its creation, production to distribution. It’s important to explore and provide context to agents to identify them and their motivation. Discovering who the agent is, and the purpose of the message is an important part of the evaluation to help stop the information disorder process.
Evaluating the agent
Is the agent acting as an official person/group (e.g. intelligence services), a politician, a news organization or an unofficial person/group?
Is the agent organized as an individual, an official business group (e.g., PR firms or lobbying groups) or a group casually organized group around common interests?
Is the agent motivated financially to profit from the information, politically to discredit a candidate, socially to connect with a specific group of people or psychologically to gain status?
Is the agent human, automated by technology or both?
What audience is the agent targeting?
Is the agent’s intent to mislead??
Is the agent’s intent to harm?
Examining the message
The message itself also needs to be examined. Analyzing the content for key characteristics is important to determine the accuracy of the information. Asking these questions will also help to identify intent of content.
Is the message for short-term or long-term intent?
How accurate is the message?
Is the message legal or does it include hate speech or privacy infringements, etc.?
Is the message posing as an official source to appear credible?
Who is the intended audience?
Factoring in interpretation
The last component to evaluate in the process of information disorder is the interpreter, the recipient of the message. Audiences, individuals or groups, all react to messages in different manners. Understanding how individuals and groups consume information is critical to understanding the flow of the information. Further, identifying what audiences do with the information, such as commenting, or sharing, are an important part of understanding the intent of the content.
A few efforts were introduced last year to stop the information disorder. They include Tim Cook’s, CEO of Apple, call for Public Service Announcement about dis-information, new technologies to take down bots, and the addition of labels to identify different types of content on social media. Facebook and Google have also announced ways to prevent fake sites from earning ad revenue through their advertising platforms. Unfortunately, none of the programs impede the continuous flow of fraudulent content.
The issue is complex and efforts toward solutions need to work across multi-levels using technology companies, consumers, educational institutes and others. Importantly, it’s essential for all constituents to receive steady reminders
Consumers are very familiar with digital recommendations. Suggestions online are a constant and come in all varieties from recommendations on new products to purchase, to new songs for your playlist, to new individuals to connect with to news posts in your newsfeed. As consumers spend more time on social platforms consuming content and expressing their views on just about everything, more data is collected, and more algorithms are employed to extract value from consumer information. However, consumers appear mystified as to what usage data tech platforms collect and how it’s parlayed into algorithms to impact their content results.
The Tow Center for Digital Journalism examines this question and others in their study, “Readers are hungry for news feed transparency.” In all, they conducted 13 focus groups across four cities with news consumers. The goal was to understand consumer usage and to clarify the role of algorithms in terms of tech platforms’ accountability and transparency, particularly in the distributed news environments.
Key findings include:
1. Tech platforms and news habits
Participants claim that their news and information consumption on tech platforms is more of a consequence and not their main intent upon visiting. They believe the ease and convenience of accessing news when visiting social platforms fuels this pattern of news consumption.
News audiences understand few details about platform algorithms. In fact, many participants have little awareness of algorithm usage. While, others see algorithms as filters for relevant content and personalization. Still others think their usage remains independent of algorithms and generally overestimate their degree of control on their news feeds. Interestingly, many participants said they are willing to leave tech platforms because of the lack of transparency with their algorithms and privacy practices.
3. Local news
Participants think local news has little to no visibility on tech platforms.
Audiences claim they can recognize publishers’ brands on platforms. They also admit to sharing fake news, thinking at the time it was accurate and truthful. Many participants identify what the Tow Center refers to as the “third-person effect.” According to the participants, they of course, recognize solid news brands but it’s “others” who do not and end up sharing fake news.
Participants link fake news to social platforms and place responsibility on them for allowing fraudulent information to be shared. While consumers debate platforms’ ethical responsibilities, they agree that offering ineffective solutions to identify fake news is not the answer. Further, audiences also see platforms as often having political biases. They think platforms are quite challenged in their ability to remain politically neutral.
5. Privacy on social platforms
Participants are concerned with tech platforms’ black box practices and lack of transparency, yet they appear resigned to the practice of data collection. Surprisingly, data collection is viewed as the price paid for accessing these platforms. Not surprisingly, the younger the participant, the more accepting of a platform’s data collection practices.
6. Business models
Participants acknowledge the value of news content; however, they often engage in practices to avoid publisher paywalls. The ease to which consumers can access news content on social platforms reinforces the practice of non-paid for content.
In terms of advertising, native advertising and the use of sponsored links such as “recommended links” or “partner content” is viewed with little trust and appears to carry negative views on the publisher.
The research suggests a necessary unveiling of algorithm practices for both publisher and tech platforms to maintain a trusted relationship with their audiences. It’s essential to offer tools and education to verify brands and the legitimacy of content and to unveil algorithms, tracking and privacy policies.
As Facebook and Google continue to dominate the US digital advertising market — and capture nearly all its growth — digital publishers look to paid content for stable revenue and diversification. Consumer subscription models also provide publishers with a strong consumer touch point, allowing for deeper data and insights for content development and engagement. New Digital Content Next (DCN) proprietary media strategy research, DCN Paid Content Benchmark and Best Practices – Part 1 provides marketplace intelligence on paid content revenues and deal structures to support premium publishers with ongoing efforts to accelerate revenue diversification.
DCN members are actively developing paid content initiatives including direct-to-consumer subscription products and third-party revenue streams for licensed content. The study shows that monetization of distributed content for the first half of 2017 represent an estimated $22.4 million average revenue for the 20 participating DCN member companies. This report encompasses branded SVOD products (e.g. PBS Passport) managed by digital publishing operations, it does not include long-form digital video content through third-party virtual MVPDs (e.g. Hulu Live), SVOD services (e.g. Netflix) and download-to-own channels (e.g. Amazon). These businesses are for the most part run from corporate distribution operations.
One quarter of digital revenue comes from digital content subscriptions, and 27% from paid content overall. It’s important to note that eight companies reported less than 5% of their revenue coming from paid content.
Eighty percent of paid content is comprised of consumer subscription products sold directly by publishers, while the balance is divided between licensing and syndication (11%) and third-party sales of consumer subscription products (9%).
Companies reported an average of 12.3 digital subscription products sold directly to consumers, however after adjusting for the large portfolios of print brands included in the study, the average is 2.9 digital subscription products per company.
Facebook and Google technologies and policies limited publishers’ ability to leverage new audiences sourced through distributed content. Such subscription business models require the control of paywalls, the ability to track and differentiate the experience of repeat visitors, and the capture of data to manage the relationship with subscribers. Facebook and Google’s recent announcements of plans to support publisher digital subscription models with subscription tools and new policies are promising but still at early stages of planning and activation.
DCN identified five best practices publishers developed for successfully managing paid content.
Support commitments to paid content initiatives at the highest levels of top management.
Invest in premium content — including the creation of original content — for direct-to consumer subscription products that inform, educate, enrich, benefit, entertain and thrill consumers to drive subscriptions, high levels of engagement and renewal.
Support direct-to-consumer subscription products with opportunity for growth with investments in dedicated staffing, marketing, and technology and develop disciplined subscription marketing operations to optimize your marketing spend.
Where possible, push for a high level of accommodations from key third-parties – Amazon, Facebook and Google in particular — for subscription content and products. These platforms need to continue to develop policies and tools that provide for the data capture, paywall management and the direct customer relationships required to manage a subscription business.
TV/cable companies should also consider launching strongly branded Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services.
While there are many examples of digital subscription success, there are still those publishers who exhibit a cautious yet opportunistic approach. DCN Paid Content Benchmark and Best Practices (which is only available in full to members of DCN) serves as the starting point for additional member research on paid content planned for 2018. Next up is a series of case studies that will dive deeper into the strategies and best practices that are driving success for select DCN member companies.
The UK TV industry has always punched above its weight class. Smaller than Oregon, with a population equivalent to that of California and Texas (66 million), the British TV sector is a vibrant £14 billion a year ($18.58bn/yr) business, which has created formats, content, and executives, who have made their mark around the world.
So, what the can media organizations everywhere learn from their smaller cousins across the pond? Here are seven ideas and considerations (not, by all means, unique to the UK) worth exploring:
1. Consider moving millennial orientated services online only
We know that millennials consume content differently. They’re more likely to watch video content on devices like smartphones and laptops than older demographics. They’re less likely to watch TV-like services on an actual TV.
Against this backdrop, in 2016 the BBC made their youth targeted TV network, BBC Three, online-only. In part, the move reflected the fact that younger audiences are increasingly consuming less linear TV. But, it also yielded major savings (estimated at c.£30 million / $39.6 million p.a.) as the online-only service requires less original programing, and isn’t burdened with the same transmission and distribution costs.
The BBC’s move didn’t just make financial sense, it was also an effort to more explicitly take content to the spaces that their younger audiences inhabit.
2. Explore opportunities for ad free options
British viewers have grown up in an environment where TV advertising is much less pervasive. The BBC, for example, has no adverts at all, just trailers for other BBC programs and services.
“Seven in ten (67%) say they like to watch TV programs and films on demand to avoid adverts, or because there are no adverts,” UK communications regulator, Ofcom, recently noted.
This preference – coupled with the use of ad blockers on web based TV services – should be a cause for concern, given the continued importance of traditional advertising. One potential solution, explored by the UK’s oldest commercial broadcaster ITV, is to offer a premium IP delivered service that mirrors the ad-free experience provided by HBO and Netflix.
In 2013 the network launched an iOS app that allowed Apple users to watch the last thirty days of their content (from five different TV services) without advertising, as well as live simulcast of ITV3 and ITV4, for £3.99 ($5.27) per month.
The service, called ITV Hub+, has now been rolled out to other platforms including Smart TV’s. (It also costs £3.99 a month.) Will consumers pay more for this convenience? Evidence suggest they will, and this is therefore a model that other broadcasters may want to emulate.
3. Be everywhere
Given the range of ways in which audiences consume – and access content – it’s increasingly incumbent on broadcasters and other content providers to be as accessible as possible.
The BBC iPlayer, an internet streaming, catchup, television and radio service from the BBC, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has always been available across wide range of devices, including mobile phones and tablets, PCs, gaming devices and Smart TV’s.
BBC Three, their youth orientated service, doesn’t just live on the BBC’s own app and web services, it also has its own YouTube channel with full episodes – and entire series – available to watch.
Other UK broadcasters have followed suit. The ITV Hub, for example, is now available on 30 different platforms, including Google Chromecast, and Xbox. At the end of 2016, the broadcaster noted that consumption (the measure of the number of hours watched) is up by 43% in the past year; and, interestingly, that Live TV accounted for c.30% of all requests.
4. Embrace bingeing, archive access, and offline viewing
On-demand services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix have changed viewing behaviors. As a result, traditional broadcasters need ask whether they too should go “all in” and do things differently.
That might mean releasing new series in their entirety, offering new content for download and offline viewing (which the BBC and others offer) as well as providing “digital boxsets” so that audiences can binge on older shows.
These moves are not just designed to protect revenues and audience share, they also reflect evolving consumers behaviors. Failure to respond to these expectations means that traditional broadcasters risk being left behind.
5. Serve better ads, because audiences still watch a lot of TV
It’s not just online ads that are often terrible, many TV commercials aren’t great either. And yet, we continue to watch a lot of TV, creating prime conditions to deliver strong, effective, advertising to captive audiences.
“The average time spent watching broadcast TV across our 15 comparator countries,” the UK communications regulator noted, “was 3 hours 41 minutes per person per day in 2015.”
That’s a lot of screen time (most of it live viewing) which, when coupled by the mass audiences TV can still reach, continues to remain attractive to many advertisers.
6. Innovate and experiment with new forms of ad delivery
TV’s mass reach makes it an appealing medium for advertisers. Yet, at the same time, we also know that audience’s attention is increasingly fragmented. For many younger audiences, TV is already the second screen, and has been for some time.
As far back as 2012, the Pew Research Center found that 58% of smartphone owners used their phone to keep themselves “occupied during commercials or breaks”. But, Pew found, respondents were often engaged in second screen activity related to what they were watching. This resulted in advertisers trying to find new ways to engage audiences on their second screen. (See some great examples below targeting Game of Thrones fans).
Personalization, time-shifted ads and the use of products (like Sky AdSmart in the UK) to serve different ads to different households (or different people in the same household) against the same content, may still be relatively small markets, but they’re expected to grow quickly. As such, they’re a technology that broadcasters need to be doing more than keeping an eye on.
7. Recognize online revenues can be a major growth area
In 2016, TV revenues in the UK were worth £13.8bn, a figure which is remarkably resilient considering that TV revenues in 2011 stood at £13.3bn.
The sector’s revenue mix has also proved to be surprisingly durable. In 2016, 30% of UK TV revenue was generated by advertising, compared to 29% in 2011, subscriptions accounted for 46% of revenues in 2016 and 44% in 2011, and broadcasters enjoyed 30% of total UK display advertising in 2016, down just 1% from five years ago.
However, this relative stability doesn’t mean that sector can rest on their laurels. Finding new revenue sources, remains important. And in this space, online revenues are growing fast.
In 2011, online revenues were worth £0.3bn for UK TV companies. Jump forward to 2016, and this figure was £1.7bn, a substantial increase. Given this rapid growth, and stagnation in other areas, expect more efforts to be focused on this space.
“Despite fundamental changes in the advertising market over the last ten years,” writes regulator Ofcom in their latest UK Communications Market Report, “the television advertising market has remained very resilient due to its primacy in providing mass audiences.”
That’s not going to change any time soon, but as viewing habits on both sides of the Atlantic continue to evolve, so broadcasters and advertisers need to refine their strategies accordingly. This means finding new ways to capture attention, serve relevant – and increasingly targeted – ads, and experiment with new revenue models.
Three areas that I believe merit more attention are: more flexible pricing models – recognizing that many audiences love to watch certain shows, series or events, but that they don’t necessarily want (or can afford) a year-round subscription – simulcasting shows (nationally and internationally) to prevent piracy, and identifying opportunities to both reduce churn, and discourage the illegal sharing of logons and subscriptions.
What we see in the UK, as well as here in the US, is that although TV’s business model is changing, there are opportunities to diversify both content distribution and income strategies. How broadcasters continue to respond to the challenges – and opportunities – presented by digital disruption, is a subject many of us will continue to watch with interest.
Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon, a Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. (And, by way of disclosure, Damian is originally from the U.K.)
The continuous stream of false information and mounting consumer mistrust challenges today’s media environment. When fake news becomes a daily battle cry for consumers and politicians alike, it’s time to rethink current reporting practices. The PEN American Center’s new report, Making News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth, reviews journalism and media interactions to identify how best to rebuild consumer trust in news outlets today.
Figuring out fakes
What exactly is fake news? It includes clickbait and misleading headlines as well as fraudulent news for profit or political reasons. On the other hand, “good-faith mistakes” or editorial points of view don’t fall under the fake news umbrella. PEN America defines fraudulent news as “demonstrably false information that is being presented as a factual news report with the intention to deceive the public.”
Importantly, while there is no quick-fix to stop fraudulent news, restricting or governing speech is not the solution. That said, digital media’s content and search algorithms are no excuse. Popular information channels like Facebook and Google need to behave responsibly, given their powerful roles. When Google shares content to supply a search result and Facebook curates content for its newsfeeds, they take on the responsibility to ensure the information they share is truthful. Social media and technology platforms need to step up their game to curtail the spread of fraudulent news.
The game plan
The report calls upon users, news outlets, policymakers, educators, social media and technology platforms and others in six key areas to support consumers in their efforts to combat fraudulent news and rebuild trust in media outlets. The six steps approach includes:
1. Educate to create informed consumers of news across all platforms.
Policymakers and educators:
Identify effective forms of news literacy education.
Engage and prepare teachers to educate the public on news literacy.
Use all media platforms to inform citizens about the foundation of news literacy.
2. Equip the public to differentiate between fact and fiction.
Technology, social media platforms and other news intermediaries:
Identify those producing fraudulent news to ensure they do not profit from advertising revenues and marketing dollars.
Develop or invest in technologies and practices to quickly identify fraudulent efforts (e.g. bots) that increase traffic and suggest credibility of information.
Detect fraudulent traffic so it’s visible to users.
Fortify partnerships with independent fact-checking organizations. Ensure their work is easily available and understandable to users.
Encourage news literacy plans and support through funding and partnerships.
Introduce users to content outside their personal views. Ensure users can control what they see and receive.
Appoint independent spokesperson(s) to reply to the public questions on these policies.
Collaborate with academic researchers and civil liberties advocates to understand effectiveness of educational programs and policies.
Ensure employees can speak candidly about preventing the spread of fake news.
Guarantee there is an appeal process for those identified as publishers of fake news.
3. Exemplify the values of collecting and distributing credible news.
Highlight transparency practices including the editing practices and the management of errors.
Carefully label content to identify information reports versus an opinion or analysis.
Ensure independent spokesperson(s) focuses on transparency and accountability.
Assist in the public education regarding the harms of fake news.
Proactively engage in civic and education initiatives to improve media literacy.
4. Engage users of different groups to better understand the passion or trigger points that influence their trust in the news media.
News outlets, social media platforms, educators, research institutes, and civil society:
Identify and understand the drivers of media distrust.
Offer opposing sides of topics to fight fraudulent news.
Include voices from across the political spectrum.
Ensure objectivity in operations and including the reasoning behind conclusions.
5. Expose those who purposely spread fake news.
News organizations and civil society:
Report the ways in which fake news is created and distributed.
6. Empower people to help disarm fake news practices.
Policymakers, news outlets, social media platforms, and civil society:
Refute those who deny validity of news.
Protect sources especially with concerns of national security.
Support the news of those in the minority.
Publicly reject all efforts to denigrate the news media or undercut the legitimacy of their work and reaffirm commitment to the freedom of the press.
Counter government efforts to close or limit media outlets.
Defend freedom of the press.
Consumers, news outlets, social media and technology platforms all have a role in combating fraudulent news. Importantly, empowering consumers is the ultimate solution to reviving trust in media. Today’s users have the right to exchange information but now they need the necessary tools to conscientiously access its credibility.
Over the past year, advertisers have devoted more dollars to programmatic native than ever before. And it’s easy to see why. Programmatic native gives native scale, while bringing more efficiency and data-targeting into the equation. Nativo, TripleLift, Sharethrough, Unruly, and Bidtellect are some of the most well-known players/programmatic native exchanges in this space.
To get a clearer picture of today’s programmatic native ad market, my company, MediaRadar, pulled together some of the most pressing trends on the year so far.
It’sa growing market
The number of advertisers placing native in Q1 2017 was nearly identical to Q1 2016 (2,318 vs. 2,326 brands). However, there was a sharp increase in Q2 2017, where the number of advertisers grew 42%, from 2,100 to 2,981 native programmatic advertisers. Why the surge? Good performance. As I have shared previously, programmatic native is generally evaluated on the same KPIs as display. In a contest against most standard IAB ad display units, programmatic native scores well with high click-rates and engagement. And it can scale.
Penetration is low
Despite the fast rise in programmatic native, 122,241 brands were buying advertising online in the first half of the year. This means that as a% of total, only 2.5% of those brands buy native programmatic. We are only scratching the surface here. Even though large national brands make up the early adopters, there is still significant room for programmatic native to grow. This is welcome news for native exchanges that sell this kind of advertising. They know the opportunity is poised to grow substantially.
Renewal rates are mixed
While total numbers are strong, quarterly renewal rates on programmatic native remain challenged, with only 20% renewing. Specifically, the brands buying in the first half of 2017 share just 20% of the same brands from the first half of 2016. So, for programmatic native to continue its expansion, brands will have to recognize its benefits and make a long-term commitment to the format.
Campaign duration varies
Campaign duration remains short, with most native campaigns lasting a median of one month. In Q1 and Q2 2017, 14% and 20% of advertisers ran multi-month campaigns, respectively. During this time period, renewal rates on longer campaigns were much higher than shorter-term campaigns. This is why renewal rates and campaign duration are often tied together tangentially. Longer campaigns mean more of an opportunity to tweak and amend programs, which feeds into higher renewals.
Programmatic native is on the rise. And while there are some challenges – namely measuring performance of programmatic native and no definitive, standard set of metrics, as well as some market confusion about what programmatic native can offer – the benefits outweigh them. Yes, the market is still in its infancy – relative to its potential – but it’s becoming increasingly popular. And it has a lot of room to grow.
A study conducted by International Center for Journalists survey set out to answer a critical question: Are journalists keeping pace with the digital revolution? Despite making strides in leveraging new technologies, the study concluded that the answer is no.
The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms takes a deep look at the adoption of digital technologies at a wide range of news media organizations worldwide. Working with Georgetown University, the International Center for Journalists conducted the study in 12 languages, and received more than 2,700 responses from journalists and newsroom managers in 130 countries.
Key takeaways include:
Newsrooms still face a deep technology gap.
Digital journalism has made some substantial gains.
In an era when fake news and hacking have proliferated, too few journalists are taking the proper precautions.
While most newsrooms find it challenging to gain trust with their audiences, there are two major exceptions.
New revenue models are emerging, but not fast enough.
Newsrooms have yet to fully embrace analytics data to make decisions.
Journalism is a young person’s profession.
The digital training journalists want is not what their newsrooms think they need.
Today’s media organizations
The report examines technological investment, use, and staffing across different types of newsrooms in the digital age. ICFJ identified three newsroom types based on their primary distribution platforms:
Traditional news organizations, which disseminate information primarily in the legacy formats of newspaper, television, print magazines, and radio. Though these organizations may have a website or some digital presence, their primary platform is a traditional format.
Digital-only news organizations that exclusively publish in an online format.
Hybrid news organizations, which use a combination of traditional and digital formats. Many hybrid organizations have transitioned from being traditional news outlets.
The report finds that digital-only and hybrid newsrooms are outpacing traditional media in most of the world. In fact, according to the ICFJ, news organizations that disseminate content primarily in traditional print, television, and radio formats are disappearing from the global media landscape. Overall, the majority of journalists surveyed work for news organizations that are either fully digital (33%) or a hybrid of traditional and online (40%). About one-quarter are employed by traditional news organizations.
Today’s newsrooms have access to a multitude of new platforms and formats — from social media to mobile apps to virtual reality, which they use to distribute their stories and reach wider audiences. Though the range of tools has expanded, the news industry relies heavily on the two social media giants: Facebook and Twitter.
Though digital-only and hybrid newsrooms are more likely to use Facebook, traditional organizations (which use digital but not as a primary distribution format) are not very far behind. Three-quarters of traditional newsrooms reported using the social media site to push out content, compared to 93% of digital-only and 91% of hybrid.
Hybrid organizations are the most likely to cut their newsroom staffs, with 41% reporting that their staff size has decreased in the past year. Traditional newsrooms are a close second, at 38%. Digital-only newsrooms are at the opposite end of the spectrum, with only 17% reporting that their staff size has decreased, compared to the 50% that reported adding more staff members.
Digital-only newsrooms are also more likely to have older personnel – in the 51-55 age group – than both their traditional and hybrid counterparts. Traditional newsrooms also have a higher percentage of staff in the 25-29 age group than hybrid ones, following digital-only newsrooms in this category.
Hybrid and digital-only newsrooms are more likely than traditional newsrooms to have digital content producers/editors and tech professionals on staff, though the number of these positions remains small compared to established roles.
The study shows that many journalists are hired into their positions without experience working in digital media or significant digital skills. While on-the-job-training remains an essential tactic for staff-strapped media newsrooms. However, news professionals almost universally agree that training is important to help them meet the demands of their job.
As the report points out, the digital era is forcing newsrooms to adapt to a constantly evolving space. They face an array of major challenges, including shifting revenue models, attracting loyal advertisers, engaging audiences, and developing new storytelling formats. While journalists (and the media organizations they work for) continue to experiment with a range of digital tools, the report makes it clear that continued investment, innovation, and development of the digital skillset is required.
A year after Apple announced the arrival of the subscription app model as part of a wider sweep of changes it made to its App Store policies, the size and scope of this new app category is exceeding analyst expectations. It is also paving the way for content companies to grow audience numbers and engagement.
Content companies that embrace the model can plan their business with high confidence that they will attract high-value users and generate a predictable cash flow. This is because consumers who buy into subscriptions commit to a recurring fee and – generally speaking – stick to their decision. Their resolve is inextricably intertwined with a concept known as the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Simply put, people who have invested time or resources in something don’t want to see it go to waste. Think of the times you rented a movie and, even though it wasn’t great, you watched it to the end. Now you’ve got the gist.
Consumer commitment colored by this fascinating bias bodes extremely well for companies that offer subscription apps. In fact, as far back as 2014, research found consumers would buy into subscription apps if the price was right. Specifically, the Branchfire research into consumer attitudes toward subscription apps found that “$10 a month is the sweet spot for subscribers.”
Are subscriptions right for you?
Fast forward, and the range of subscription apps has expanded to include much more than streaming media providers like Netflix and Spotify. Data provider App Annie reports that “in-app subscription revenue from non-game apps, particularly within the media streaming, news and dating categories, is rapidly increasing.” Overall, App Annie forecasts revenue for non-game apps to grow at an incredible rate of 25% – reaching $33.8 billion in 2021.
It’s good news that subscription apps are gaining traction. But not all media companies that can offer their app as a subscription model should do so. If you’re asking users to open their wallets, you need to offer value for money.
A crowd-pleaser across the board is fresh and relevant content. Obviously, media companies do this by definition. That said, in order to merit a monthly recurring cost, the content must be exclusive, or engaging – or both. Regularly releasing new features is also a plus.
Finally, apps that remove the friction from navigation, or help users accomplish important tasks (book a reservation, register for more information, streamline sharing) are also a hit with time-crunched consumers and multi-tasking mobile users.
Do your homework
Before you decide to release a subscription app, do your homework to make sure your audience engages frequently, and deeply enough, to merit the investment in the first place. This is where audience measurement data around the who, when and why of app usage in the form of behavioral data and insights is a must. Even better if this data spans all the platforms that encompass consumers’ daily routines.
Finland’s Verto Analytics focuses on precisely this, quantifying the user journey from one device to another and measuring from the point of consumer interaction across all platforms, media, content and devices. In April Verto posted high-level research into news access and engagement across platforms, highlighting how (and when) valuable audience segments engage with news content.
The day-in-the-life data and visualization underscores the importance of offering content to consumers on their terms – and across all platforms. But it also reveals interesting “windows of opportunity” during the day when content companies might use their presence to interest consumers in a subscription offer.
Raising awareness of your app is an important top-of-the-funnel activity. However, you also need additional data to plan your app marketing and acquisition campaigns – and ultimately benchmark your performance against your peers.
You must also consider several important criteria, which are raised in the 2017 Subscription Apps Report, such as: What is the proper price range for a subscription app? How long is too long to wait for a user to convert and commit to paying a recurring cost? When are the best months to reach and engage potential users?
Compare costs and contexts
The report finds that it costs $161.38 the cost to convert an app user into a subscriber. However, the number may skew high since the subscription app category Liftoff tracks includes Dating Apps, Utilities, and Finance. These types of apps vary significantly in the value they offer and the monthly subscription fee they charge.
It is essential to remember that subscription apps (and their users) are about long-term gains, not short-term bargains. Granted acquisition costs high, but media companies can also increase conversion rates by using all channels at their disposal – including email, push notifications and print ads in their own media properties – to reinforce their value proposition.
Provided they are powered by appropriate messaging and effective targeting, subscription app campaigns can engage and re-engage audiences all year long. This is very different to other categories, such as commerce, which take their cues from seasonal triggers such as holiday sprees or back-to-school shopping.
Companies that offer subscription apps have a huge window of opportunity in which to run campaigns and hit targets. Liftoff also finds that there are some stand-out months, such as September and March, when the “cost to acquire a user who subscribes to the app pays dividends beyond the promise of a more predictable business model powered by more sustainable revenues.”
Above all, keep in mind that driving high conversion rates for your subscription app a journey, not a destination. Regardless of your app subcategory (news, lifestyle, sports) or your campaign objective, your results will be determined by your ability to orchestrate all of your channels to take advantage of all the opportunities to communicate with consumers in ways that are easy, engaging and effective.
Peggy Anne Salz is the Content Marketing Strategist and Chief Analyst of Mobile Groove, a top 50 influential technology site providing custom research to the global mobile industry and consulting to tech startups. Full disclosure: She is a frequent contributor to Forbes on the topic of mobile marketing, engagement and apps. Her work also regularly appears in a range of publications from Venture Beat to Harvard Business Review. Peggy is a top 30 Mobile Marketing influencer and a nine-time author based in Europe. Follow her @peggyanne.
How has both consumer consumption of news and traffic patterns changed year-over-year? What about the role of platforms? Every October, media analytics platform Chartbeat identifies macro trends in audience behavior and news consumption to help publishers understand major shifts and discover new growth opportunities. These just released trends, rolled up from Chartbeat’s network level data from 2016 to 2017, sum up the key findings:
1. It’s not a mobile first-world, it’s mobile-only.
In looking at platform-referred traffic by device type, we see that mobile has made stunning gains year-over-year. Last year, traffic from Google had just tipped over the 50% mark for mobile for the first time ever, showing a 51% mobile vs 42% desktop split. But from 2016 to 2017, Google mobile traffic grew from 51% to 60%, and Facebook’s grew from 78% to 87%. For publishers with high dependencies on platform-referred traffic, it is significant to note that most visitors are now coming via mobile. At least for platform-referred visitors, it is practically a mobile-only world.
2. It’s not that Facebook traffic is down, it’s that Google is up.
Traffic that was referred from Facebook and Google to premium sites has been fairly steady over time, with Google driving roughly 1.25 billion visits per week and Facebook around 1 billion. The ebbs and flows in their traffic have stayed pretty consistent each month—until now.
Due to recent major news events including the solar eclipse and hurricane Irma, we saw traffic coming from Google escalate in unprecedented ways in September. Recent reports have described a decline in Facebook traffic, but in looking very closely at multiple data sources, we see a different picture: While it is true that Facebook’s share of total traffic is down, the missing piece is that, in fact, the pie is much larger, and Google is up.
So what does this mean for publishers? Newsworthy events, particularly those that are unfolding over time, are huge moments for search activity leading to direct traffic. Social traffic does not spike until afterwards, mainly around more emotional, reactionary content.
3. Demand for video is not constant; it spikes around breaking news.
In looking at consumer engagement with video content, we see that it’s much more dependent on what’s in the news than text is. Below we’re looking at how much time visitors spend watching video, relative to the time they spend with text. The first notable thing is that this line isn’t at all constant — demand for video content really changes across the year. When we look closer, we see that spikes in video watching correlate with a few highly visual stories in the news (like hurricane Irma). And that makes sense: for highly visual news, readers look for a highly visual news medium.
It is noteworthy for publishers that video demand is variable, and deeper insights here should lead to a better content strategy and smarter monetization.
4. Longer time reading content drives higher loyalty.
How can media companies build and grow a loyal audience? Focus on engagement.
Why is engagement as a metric so important? Chartbeat research shows that half of visitors who click through to an article hardly read what they land on: 45% spend less than 15 seconds on the page. As you can see in the graph below, a new reader who engages for a longer amount of time during their visit is more likely to return. And the more they return, the more pages they consume and the longer they read on the page. This in turn, means they also view more ads on the page. Overall, optimizing for engagement can drive loyalty, and revenue.
5. The homepage is not dead– it’s the place for your most vital audience.
Is the homepage really dead? Not at all. Yes, Facebook and Google are prime sources to target new readers, and those first time visitors are more likely to land on an article than a homepage. However, to our surprise, in looking at how article and homepage consumption changes by loyalty (based on the fraction of days a user visits in a two-week period), our data shows that frequently returning visitors build strong homepage habits.
As readers become more loyal, they use front pages more actively.
Visitors who come more than every other day (hitting the 50% threshold), visit more front pages than articles
Subscribers (see dotted lined below in contrast to the solid lines) demonstrate higher overall engagement, at first with articles, but as they become more frequent users, their homepage consumption then begins to spike
The lesson for publishers? It is becoming increasingly clear that there are different tools in the publisher toolbox as it relates to building and growing a loyal audience. While platforms are for acquisition of new visitors, driving direct traffic on your owned and operated properties is critical to retention. The homepage is more important than you might think–it’s where you’ll lose or retain your most loyal readers.
For the past several years, marketers shifted digital ad budgets “gleefully to programmatic engines that promise efficiency and hands-off effectiveness.” These days, as much as 80% of all online display activity is transacted through technology-based exchanges that offer promises to “hyper-define, hyper-target and hyper-engage with minimal human monitoring.”
In retrospect, it all seemed to just a little bit too easy: superior targeting, engagement and tracking—and all for lower costs. However, in response to significant concerns around fraud and brand safety, the advertising industry is taking a collective pause on programmatic.
That’s not to say programmatic won’t continue to play a meaningful role in the advertising ecosystem, but its flaws have been exposed. There is a dark underbelly associated with with programmatic advertising (see: the 2016 US president election and Facebook-fake news aftermath. So, today many big brands, experienced marketers, and agencies are in the process of carefully reevaluating their adtech-enabled digital media buying strategies.
Here are the key findings that media executives and marketers need to be thinking about:
Digital can be a dangerous place
“Buyer Beware” might be the best sign to hang outside of the digital advertising gates. Of the marketers engaged in programmatic advertising buying, more than half (52%) are focused on risk and reputation management across ads placed on social media sites. Marketers are also aware that issues like ad fraud plague brand safety.
Guilt by association
The overwhelming majority of marketers believe that inadvertent association or negative adjacency has had a direct (and negative) impact on their brand. Some 78% of respondents say that unintended associations with objectionable content, images, topics, audience or conversations have hurt their brand’s reputation.
Reputation management problems lead to lost dollars
Brand safety and integrity in advertising are not simply reputation issues anymore; they can directly impact the bottom line. When consumers were asked about their reaction to seeing the brands they love being associated with inappropriate or questionable content, the answer was clear: Customers will walk away with their wallets—even if it means walking away from their most beloved brands.
Marketers not waiting for industry solutions
Marketers are taking specific steps to ensure the integrity of digital ad placements and, by extension, the integrity of the customer’s experience. First and foremost, marketers are developing stronger digital advertising guidelines for agencies and buying networks to adhere to. And many are choosing to move to programmatic direct buys and private exchanges rather than having their programmatic dollars spread across open exchange networks.
Core recommendations focused on proactive governance & adjusted KPIs
Marketers are taking specific steps to ensure the integrity of digital ad placements and, by extension, the integrity of the customer’s experience. First and foremost, marketers are developing stronger digital advertising guidelines for agencies and buying networks to adhere to. And many are choosing to move to programmatic direct buys and private exchanges rather than having their programmatic dollars spread across open exchange networks.
The programmatic advertising train has left the station and there’s no risk of stopping it or even slowing it down in a meaningful way anytime soon. The actual and perceived benefits are simply too powerful. As well, with deep-pocketed and influential behemoths Google and Facebook so thoroughly dependent on the category’s health to grow and be successful, its likelihood of continuing as a force for years to come is practically guaranteed.
But it’s emerging from the shadows, and marketers are getting more sophisticated about how they assess its performance, and how they plan its role in broader strategies moving forward. While this trend should cause companies like Google and Facebook to at least pause, it’s hard to imagine how it doesn’t translate positively to both tightly controlled ad buying networks and premium publishing brands. At the end of the day, it is about targeting and engagement, where premium properties continue to hold sway.
Tim Bourgeois (@ChiefDigOfficer) is a partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based digital consulting company specializing in strategic roadmaps, digital media audits, and online marketing optimization programs.
The transformation of the media business shows no signs of slowing. While all areas have been disrupted, local news has been among the hardest hit. These neighborhood news providers have seen steady cuts and closures. This has left “news deserts” in which wide swaths of America have a troubling shortage of local news coverage. Undoubtedly, local news remains important to the communities it serves and its survival essential.
The report, Local Journalism in the Pacific Northwest, explores the experience of 10 local media outlets in the Pacific Northwest. Through expert interviews and analysis, the report offers insights into a microcosm of how digital disruption is impacting local journalism more widely across the United States.
Like all media, local journalism faces enormous economic pressures and continues to evolve to address these issues. The report finds that continued experimentation is essential to success. However, some of the older digital formats — newsletters and podcasts — are experiencing a resurgence both in popularity and revenue generation. The upheaval in local journalism has also produced new possibilities for journalists and storytellers.
Here are three key takeaways from Local Journalism in the Pacific Northwest:
1. The practice of local journalism is evolving.
The report finds that role of local journalists is changing. Even the notion of objectivity is being reexamined as journalists seek to authentically engage audiences and reestablish trust. This includes elements of engaged journalism, with an emphasis on listening to communities, as well as harnessing digital platforms to tell stories in new and interesting ways.
Video and social media are already well-established means to engage audiences and share the news. Local journalists are also increasingly enthusiastic about exploring different approaches to their work. This includes solutions journalism and a recognition that you can maintain journalistic independence and integrity while still being active— and visible—in the community. We can expect to see a greater emphasis on the role of analytics to shape content and inform the beats that newsrooms focus on, as well as an increased importance attached to journalists with data and visual—particularly video—skills.
2. Local media needs to be more diverse in staffing and content.
While the report unsurprisingly finds that local newsrooms will continue to shrink in terms of staffing, it emphasizes that newsrooms must become increasingly diverse. Efforts to this end are essential so that these publications better reflect and engage the communities they serve. As those interviewed point out, many communities have seen a significant change in the racial and economic profile of their readers since the bulk of staff were hired. Thus, they need to improve their understanding of their audiences, as well as the priorities and expectations of these audiences. And, in addition to staffing up newsrooms that look more like the communities they represent, the skill-set of these journalists needs to address emerging digital formats and analytic tools. Engaging local journalism must reflect its community and their information needs while leveraging multimedia storytelling.
3. Outlets are experimenting with multiple ways to increase revenue.
The report outlines the significant pressures on the local ad-based business model. These include the fact that many advertisers are focused on ad targeting at scale and only willing to pay “digital dimes” rather than “print dollars.” It also looks at offline pressures on local advertising such as like shift of Main Street businesses from local shops to national chains.
Thus, local media providers are exploring with a range of ways to expand their revenue base. These include paywalls, subscriptions (including special offers and sales through third parties, such as Groupon), events, income from foundations, sponsorship, and membership models. These efforts are part of a wider move to diversify revenue and reduce reliance on print advertising and subscriptions—which are declining overall. Finding the right revenue mix to support local journalism is a strategic priority and, typically, a combination of methods is required for success.
The report explores several more significant takeaways based upon the research. They cover issues that include metrics, on and offline engagement, the rise of visual content, and the need to create unique content. As the report states, “We can see the positive impact local journalism can make on communities and the wider news/information ecosystem on a daily basis. It supports community, democratic, and civic needs and remains valuable to audiences and communities alike.”
Local journalism bears a great responsibility and must evolve to reflect the diverse communities it serves. At the same time, it most continuously experiment with engagement and delivery tools, as well as monetization models in order to remain relevant and economically viable.
According to Kantar Millward Brown’s fourth annual Getting Media Right study, 40% of marketers believe their media investments should be allocated to cross-channel and cross-device marketing, rather than any single channel like mobile or television. But less than 50% of advertisers in the study had confidence that their ad dollars are currently being effectively allocated in this manner.
It would appear that despite the seemingly endless amount of data available, advertisers still feel that gaps exist in available research, hampering their ability for decision making. And one of the biggest white spaces is in cross-platform and cross-channel data, with more than half of advertisers (61%) arguing there are gaps in holistic measurement.
Almost every marketer queried (90%) said that while their digital strategies are integrated into their overall brand strategy, most still don’t understand the impact of these strategies across channels. Seventy-four% say this is because it’s tough to maintain an integrated brand strategy in a fragmented media landscape.
For cross-channel comparison and understanding, marketers must effectively have a currency that can be utilized across all channels. But we still lack a true apples-to-apples to comparison between the old and new platforms. Traditional platforms like television and radio still primarily focus on reach and frequency metrics, while online and mobile advertising is primarily based on ROI or sales.
When it comes to measuring cross-channel performance, reach and frequency is the most widely-used metric, but it still is only used by about half of advertisers; ROI or sales is used by 47% of marketers, highlighting the difficulty the industry has had in bridging the gap between digital and traditional media.
ROI is the bane of existence for many marketers, identified for the third year in a row as the single hardest metric to get right. Though a majority of marketers feel confident in their ability to track digital channels like online and mobile, 54% have difficulty tracking traditional channels and half have difficulty tracking cross-channel ROI.
When you break it down even further, the ROI divide between traditional and digital channels is apparent. While 64% of marketers use it to measure online and half apply it to mobile, only one-third use ROI to measure TV and other traditional media.
It’s not like marketers don’t believe in those platforms. If ROI measurement improved, over half would increase spend on most channels. More than 75% would increase spend in cross-channel and the individual channels that fuel it.
It goes to show why attribution is so important and central to the overall health of the advertising industry. Accurate measurement leads to increased trust among marketers and their media agency partners, which leads to higher spends on advertising.
Digital advertising was supposed to be more efficient than television, print and radio, with technology giving marketers the ability to reduce waste by targeting only those who would want to buy their product.
But as we all know, now, the digital advertising industry has yet to fully deliver on that promise. To do so, unlocking understanding to cross-platform measurement is a crucial next step.
Social media is transforming the way Americans consume news. According to a a new study from Pew Research Center, News Use Across Social Media Platforms, 55% of Americans 50 years of age and older now get their news on social media platforms reports a new study from Pew Research Center. That’s a 10% jump from a year ago. As expected, 78% of adults under 50, are also more likely to get news from social media sites.
Interestingly, social media usage for news also increased among non-whites (from 64% last year to 74% this year) and among those adults with less than a bachelor degree (from 60% last year to 69%). In terms of specific platforms, Snapchat skews youngest for news – 82% of users are 18-29s followed by Instagram where 51% of users are 18-29s. Media consumption patterns are becoming even more multifaceted with news content available on multiple platforms and on several devices.
The Pew study identified two distinct measures to show the usage growth of social media. The first is to measure the change in the number of users who get their news on these platforms. This measure concentrates on social media’s shift in volume. Based on this measure, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat registered an increase in audience usage. Reddit, Facebook, Tumbler, Instagram, Linkedin, and WhatsApp did not.
Many U.S. adults use multiple social media platforms to gather their news. At least 26% get news from two or more of social media platforms, up from 18% in 2016 and 15% in 2013. In fact, at least 90% of Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp users, are likely to use at least two social media sites to access news.
Consumers still access traditional news publications and digital news websites. On average, one-third of adults still access branded digital news sites. Linkedin (58%) and Twitter (55%) users are most likely to also access digital news sites. Instagram (48%) and Facebook (33%) users access at a much lower rate.
Adults are clearly using multiple access point for their news consumption. It’s important for digital news brands to continue to develop strategies to connect to audiences via social channels, while maintaining their brand value and trust in these disparate platforms.
Millennials are modern day media unicorns. Marketers, advertisers and content providers are all chasing these mythical, mysterious creatures; digital natives whose behaviors potentially preempt the next wave of mainstream media consumption.
But how do you spot one in the wild and target it with your brand and content?
“Many commentators argued that the larger screen sizes and resolutions of PCs, laptops and tablets would forever anchor them at the center of video consumption habits,” recalls Felim McGrath, senior trends manager at GlobalWebIndex.
“Although these devices remain important to Millennials, video engagement [and] the boom in video consumption on mobiles and via social has had a profound impact on the industry,” he said via email.
“The growth of live-streaming is a key example here,” said McGrath, “providing an entirely new format for brands to engage with consumers. ”
According to GWI’s latest data, 28% of all internet users have watched a live stream on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, as this product rapidly becomes mainstream. Interestingly, however, it’s the emerging markets that are leading this charge, with Europe and North America bring up the rear.
3. Emerging platforms can help by-pass millennial ad-blockers
Given the propensity for ad-blocking around the world, particularly in the mobile-first markets of Asia-Pacific, it’s imperative that publishers improve the ad experience and find new ways to achieve the same revenue raising goals.
Although mobile ad-blocking adoption has taken off more slowly in North America and Europe, data from other regions indicates how this might evolve if consumers become more aware of the tools they can use in this space.
At present, GWI has previously reported, “only half of internet device owners in the United States are even aware that they can block ads on their mobiles.” Yet, at the same time, “1 in 3 [American] smartphone owners say that they see too many ads when browsing the mobile internet.” You don’t need a crystal ball to join up the ad-blocking dots.
“The opportunity for brands is apparent here,” GWI’s Katie Young wrote in a recent blog post about live-streaming. “As ad-blocking continues to grow in popularity, across both desktops and mobiles, it’s more important than ever for brands to engage consumers via entertaining content and native advertising. ”
This is important for brands, given the prevalence of ad-blockers with younger audiences. GWI’s global sample found that 44% of Gen Z (16-20 year olds) and 51% of Millennials (21-34 year olds) had used ad blockers.
Although still a niche, and for some a rather baffling market, large media companies – and an increasingly sizable millennial-led audience – are enthusiastically embracing this emerging vertical.
“This is a significantly underestimated and often misunderstood industry,” according to McGrath. “Our research shows that, globally, a fifth of Millennials watched an eSports tournament within the last month.”
Led by engagement in China and other Asian markets, GWI’s research indicates that internet users in APAC are 32% more likely than the global average to view eSports tournaments.
Although a relatively nascent genre in North America and Europe, ESPN already has a dedicated eSports vertical, with other networks such as NBC Sports and TBS also following them onto the field, making this an online genre worth keeping an eye on.
Analysis from Newszoo, published in February this year, predicted that the eSports market will be worth $696 million this year (a year-on-year growth of 41. 3%) growing to $1. 5 billion by 2020. The top market, revenue wise, is North America, with incomes of $257 million anticipated this year, rising to $607 million at the end of the decade.
“While this medium is still developing as a platform for brands, the marketing potential and revenue opportunities which this new genre of gaming entertainment offers needs to be better understood,” said McGrath.
5. Look to China for an insight into the mobile future
Finally, for an indication of where all four of these previous trends are aligning – and to see how innovative publishers and media companies are addressing these challenges – McGrath encourages industry leaders to look more closely at some of the biggest APAC markets.
Both South Korea and China have played a pivotal role in the advent of eSports, with Chinese media giant Tencent reportedly committing $15 billion to the genre over the next five years.
The dramatic growth and diversification of Tencent (now the 10th biggest publicly traded company in the world by market value) and other players in China – such as the news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and the video app Mango TV, which is expanding rapidly among Chinese millennials – offer a further heads-up as to how social and mobile may evolve in more western markets.
Subsequently, McGrath identifies China as the overseas territory that industry leaders in the USA and elsewhere should be monitoring more closely. “Consumers trends within the country are often examined but the lessons here are still worth understanding,” he suggests.
Although China is a distinctive market, McKinsey noted back in 2012 that “the ingredients of a winning strategy are familiar. ” Their recommendations – such as the need for authenticity, digital experimentation, and the linking of all online activity back to core brand goals – would be recognizable to anyone working in this space, wherever they may be in the world.
Jump forward to 2017 and China’s biggest social networks are real pioneers, having typically absorbed other activities – ranging from eCommerce to transportation, video calls, messaging services and digital payments – into their apps, creating their own online walled gardens and a model for growth that many in Silicon Valley seek to imitate.
“The evolution of social media in the country, particularly within the realm of commerce and gaming, is leagues ahead of that seen in western markets,” McGrath concurs. “Also, it’s Chinese companies that have truly grasped the vast potential that the smartphone offers, across almost all industries,” he said, making them – as well as the Chinese market – one to watch.
Collectively, these five developments provide publishers with a range of insights into key considerations such as evolving delivery formats, emerging content genres, and new potential revenue sources. Given their impact and influence of these areas on millennials, these are trends that no media company can ignore. To do so, risks overlooking a lucrative young audience, and means publishers may be on the back-foot when these habits tip over into the mainstream. That’s a scenario every company should clearly seek to avoid.
Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon, a Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies at Cardiff University.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of digital video, autoplay ads have become one of the most common forms of online video advertising. But that could change if Google and Apple have their way.
In recent months, both companies have hinted at browser-based features that will potentially curtail autoplay video’s impact. In April, for example, Google teased an ad-blocking feature in both the mobile and desktop versions of Chrome that would limit auto-start content. And in June, Apple unveiled an upcoming autoplay-video-blocking feature for its Safari browser. How might this impact proliferation and adoption of autoplay among publishers? To answer this question, we first need to know how many publishers rely on auto-start video inventory.
The Big Picture
At MediaRadar, we examined nearly 63,000 video ads from January to June of this year to get a better sense of how the industry is reacting. Here’s what we found:
Nearly one-third (31%) of publishers auto-start 75% or more of their on-site video ad inventory.
Roughly another third (30%) of publishers auto-start between 50 and 75% of their video ads.
Just under 40% of publishers are less reliant on autoplay video ads, auto-starting 50% or less of their inventory.
So what do these findings mean for digital publishing/advertising? Here’s a closer look.
Websites that use auto-start ads stick with them.
Among our study’s three segments that embrace autoplay video ads, there’s no broad shift in websites reducing their dependency on auto-start video inventory. In fact, we see exceptionally low variance month-to-month. Most sites have chosen a model and stayed with it consistently in 2017. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t one singular type of media company that supports autostart ads – they can be seen practically everywhere.
There are some commonalities across the types of publishers using auto-play.
Publishers that use auto-start video ads the most have some commonalities. Smaller websites – think niche, regional, enthusiast, business-to-business, as examples – have fewer overall impressions. This likely drives the need for video inventory, which is sold at a higher cost per impression. These same websites have the highest incidence of autoplay video advertising. This shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as bad news. Presumably, video ads running on these sites are highly-targeted and likely to be well-received. Sites reliant on programmatic advertising were also more likely to employ auto-start video.
How might Google and Apple shake things up here?
While the threat of Google Chrome stripping out auto-start videos is real, it’s not imminent — at least not yet. Based on past experience – like with Google AMP, for example – we found that most publishers have taken a wait-and-see approach before making a change in their business practices. Apple could be a more interesting company to watch as their advertising interests are limited. They have no dog in the auto-play fight, so to speak, and could dramatically disrupt things for publishers and advertisers if they decide to block these units more aggressively via pre-installed software or hardware.
A new WAN-IFRA analysis finds that publishers receive minimal revenues from distributed content on Facebook. The report, Reality-Check — making money with Facebook, focuses on new business challenges for publishers, specifically the rise of digital platforms like Facebook. The analysis concentrates on Facebook since it’s one of the most popular social network in the world with 2 billion users. It also owns three leading networks — Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Facebook is now a source of news for half of all adults in major countries, and it is already the biggest source of referral traffic to news websites.
Facebook’s technology matches users with other users, content providers and advertisers. The more people use it, the more useful and valuable it becomes for all constituents.
Grzegorz “Greg” Piechota, author of the report, identifies three distinct manners in which digital platforms disrupted the news media industry: 1) separating products and services, 2) sidestepping access to audiences, and 3) disengaging content consumption from the advertisements that fund the content. Facebook masterfully unbundled articles and headlines on publishers’ websites, offering pieces of content without seeing the publisher’s homepage or website.
The platform also blended professional and amateur journalists and treated them as equal, thereby competing for the same consumer attention. Facebook provided just enough publisher content that consumers can sidestep a publishers’ website.
Overall, news publishers cannot rely solely on distributed content monetization programs. Facebook and other digital platforms. WAN-IFRA members report that Facebook contributes on average 7% of their digital business revenue, consistent with learnings from DCN’s Distributed Content Revenue Report released earlier this year. Interestingly, Facebook appears to share proportionally less revenue with content creators than other platforms do.
News publishers should continue to build diversified revenue streams to include digital subscriptions, e-commerce and branded content. Importantly, they can no longer rely on the most common digital-publishing business model based on advertising revenue.
News publishers should address not only Facebook, but emerging digital disruptors. Forward thinking is critical to serve and engage new consumer news behavior.
Publishers need to assess Facebook’s new programs from both consumer and business vantage points. Facebook plans to let users subscribe to a publisher’s content directly from their mobile app. Users will be able to access contents behind paywalls. It’s initial testing is set to begin in October 2017.
However, there are still many questions to be answered before news publishers decide whether to participate:
Will consumers subscribe to the news publication or Facebook?
Who sets the price?
Will Facebook receive a revenue share?
How does the subscriber access the content – via Instant Articles or the publisher site?
What data will Facebook share with the publisher?
Digital platforms transformed business models and created new products to attract consumers, publishers, and advertisers. Notably, news publishers are taking steps to embrace new business-models, explore product innovation, diversify revenue sources. As publishers continue to explore the most effective ways to work with platforms, it is important to shift focus from audience development to customer acquisition and retention.
Millennials – the ‘distracted demographic’ between the ages of 18 and 34 were weaned on the Internet and spoiled by content choice. They have grown up to become the largest generation in the U.S. with a wallet to match. If you think it’s a lucrative audience ripe for the taking, think again.
Tapping the significant opportunities and tackling the even greater challenges around influencing this massive audience requires a deep understanding of digital content consumption trends and how their evolving media habits make them different from the rest of the population.
This is where Millennials on Millennials, the research program and research report series from global performance management company Nielsen is breaking new ground to offer critical insight into topics that impact Millennials and the media industry as a whole. The inaugural report and the second in the series, released in August by Nielsen’s own Millennial associates, leverage Nielsen audience datasets to shed important light on the “why’s” behind key engagement trends and highlight the ways brands, marketers and content companies can seek connect with this highly coveted demographic.
While the first in the series uncovered hard truths about Millennials (they are glued to their smartphone, they are distracted by multitasking and they are bothered by advertising -unless it is a precursor to accessing free content), the second volume of research reveals hard numbers around their digital media and social media usage.
It’s no secret that Millennials are engaged with digital content during all waking hours of the day and keep their devices close by – and turned on – when they sleep. In fact, Millennials are glued to their smartphones (1,179 minutes each in Q4 2016 on their devices compared to 659 minutes for those aged 35-49).
Top of the list, and leading by a massive margin, is communication via social media platforms and apps. Unsurprisingly, these platforms have grown up with Millennials and are now an integral part of the daily routine. While social communication use has plateaued at an extremely high level, growth is getting a boost from Millennials that have broadened the number of services and apps they use. Specifically, 70% of Millennials report using two or more apps for messaging. Notably, Millennials are also 8% more likely than users 35 and older to use messaging apps for group conversations.
Millennials aren’t just connecting in more ways; they are consuming more content across more platforms. Digital music consumption, a topic examined in the report, is witnessing the most significant – and surprising shift.
You would imagine that digital consumption via Internet and apps is reducing Millennials’ appetite for traditional radio tune-in. However, Nielsen has found the opposite is true. The research pegs weekly reach of broadcast radio among Millennials at a whopping 93%. At the same time on-demand streaming is going strong. More than half (60%) of Millennials say they use two or more apps to stream music.
Interestingly, podcasts are also winning over Millennial audiences and a growing share of their attention. Nielsen reports 37% of Millennials listen to podcasts at least once a week, while 13% say they listen every day, compared with 5% of consumers 35 and older who tune in on a regular basis. (Little wonder media companies, including the Washington Post, are scrambling to turn readers into listeners with the help of compelling podcasts that mash up news, analysis and celebrity.)
More Content, More Consumption
The good news: Nielsen confirms the plethora of content offers and options “has actually inspired increased consumption” among Millennials. With so much digital content to choose from Millennials aren’t opting for one or the other; they are consuming all of the above.
The not-so-good-news is that more isn’t always better. “Millennials are an unfocused audience and they are less likely to stay loyal to specific media the way other generations are,” the report states. Millennials may be making more space in their lives for more digital media consumption, but this also increases competition for their attention.
Winning the loyalty of this demographic will be an uphill battle, and winners will be the companies that adapt their offer to the evolving media habits of multitasking Millennials, not seek to limit them.
Most adults today use a combination of different sources and platforms to get their news reports the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017. The global report is based on a survey of more than 70,000 people in 36 markets, with added qualitative research in many of the countries. Social media is a big part of this media mix, as are TV, websites and apps. In fact, two-thirds of social media news users in the United States also watch television news (67%) and two-thirds also visit mainstream websites or apps (66%). Further, only a quarter (24%) of the respondents think social media does a good job in separating fact from fiction, compared to 40% for the news media.
News brands struggle with their branding on distributed and social platforms. Reuters tracked over 2,000 respondents in the UK to see if they could remember their path to a news story found on Facebook, Google, or others. Only 37% of respondents could recall the name of the news brand when coming from search and 47% when coming from social.
Trust in the news media varies greatly across countries. According to the report, less than half the population (43%) trust the news media. Trust in the news is highest in Finland (62%) and lowest in Greece and South Korea (23% each). There appears to be a strong correlation between consumer distrust in the media and perceived political bias, especially in countries with high political polarity like the U.S where trust in the news media registers at 38%.
The news also appears to be impacting the consumers’ emotional psyche. Close to a third of respondents (29%) state they often or sometimes avoid the news. Many say the news negatively impacts their mood and heightens concern over their inability to rely on the news to be true.
Outside the U.S. and UK, growth in social media for news is leveling off many markets. In its place, messaging apps that are more private and do not algorithmically filter content are gaining in popularity.
Mobile access for news is increasing in many countries. Mobile news notifications have grown significantly in the last year, especially in the US (+8 percentage points), South Korea (+7), and Australia (+4). This has many news publishers working with third party distribution like Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP for quick efficiencies for content loading on mobile devices.
Mobile news aggregators show usage growth, notably Apple News, and Snapchat Discover for younger audiences. Both have doubled YoY usage with their target audience.
Smartphones are now as important for news inside the home as outside with 46% of consumers using their smartphones to access news in bed.
Voice-activated digital assistants like the Amazon Echo are emerging as a new platform for news, outpacing smart watches in the US and UK.
Overall, YoY growth of digital news subscriptions across all demos, especially among those under 35 years old. Specifically, online news subscriptions in the U.S. grew from 9 to 16% subscriptions. Across all countries, approximately one in ten consumers (13%) pay for online news.
Ad-blocking growth has leveled off on desktop at 21% overall and is only 7% on smartphones. Interestingly, in some countries, more than half state they have temporarily disabled their ad-blocker for news in countries like Poland and Denmark (57% each) and the United States (52%).
Melissa Bell, Publisher and co-founder, Vox Media comments on this analysis “if we work to rebuild trust with our audiences, we may find our way to more stable, significant businesses.” She’s identify a few key questions for publishers to think about and address as they continue to provide quality news content across platforms.
What is currently not being offered to audiences? How can content appear essential to them?
Can the sense of community be recreated for audiences around the country – or the world?
How do publishers help audiences seek knowledge instead of simply publishing information?
How can publishers help audiences feel less anxious with today’s news content?
Importantly, publishers need to solve problems for their audiences. Digital news publishers’ focus on quality, transparency, and accountability will allow audience trust and engagement to follow.
With so much mobile app time concentrated in the top apps, it can feel as if every other publisher is fighting for the scraps. As a small or medium-sized publisher, how does your app succeed when half of all app engagement occurs within the Top 10 largest apps overall? Potentially even more discouraging for publishers, on an individual basis 96% of a user’s time spent occurs within their top 10 most used apps, according to comScore’s recently released 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report.
While this app environment is certainly challenging, it’s actually more positive for smaller-to-medium-sized publishers than it might seem at first glance. Many of these publishers today focus more (or even exclusively) on their mobile web strategy knowing that it’s easier to capture large mobile audiences this way than on mobile apps.
The downside of this strategy is that mobile web audiences tend to be a mile wide and an inch deep – they provide audience scale, but not engagement. On a per user basis, the advertising opportunity within the app is leaps and bounds better than the mobile web. In fact, the average visitor for the Top 500 apps spends 16x more minutes per month than the average visitor to the Top 500 mobile web properties. For this reason, moving the needle on acquiring and engaging more app users even a modest amount can have a significant impact on monetization.
To further illustrate this point, a 2015 analysis conducted by Jacob Nelson based on comScore data examined the digital audiences for 25 leading news publications. One of the major findings from Nelson’s analysis was that “while apps comprise an average of just 6% of the 25 news properties’ mobile audiences, they account for nearly half (45%) of the time that audience spends with those properties.”
Given the incredible opportunity for apps, here are three strategies publishers should consider to more effectively acquire and engage app users:
1. Offer users a reason to download the app.
This is somewhat obvious but nevertheless a critical point to make. Publishers can’t just assume that “if you build it, they will come.” In addition to an app taking up storage space on a user’s phone, there’s also a degree of friction that users face in going to the app store and downloading an app. If a publisher doesn’t offer the user a reason to put the app on their phone in the first place, most users will default to the lower friction alternative of visiting the mobile website – or even worse – not accessing the publisher’s content at all because they don’t have that prompt readily available on their screen.
One reason many people download an app is for easy access to that publisher’s content. It might be that some users simply need a reminder of this. Communicating to a publisher’s high engagement mobile web users that they can access the same content via the mobile app can be an effective way to convert any “low-hanging fruit” web visitors to app users. A more aggressive marketing approach could be offering a promotion for downloading the app, in the form of a discounted subscription or access to other special or premium content that they couldn’t otherwise get.
2. Serve up relevant content to drive usage frequency.
Once you convince someone to download your app, your next goal needs to be getting them to use it. The best way to do this is to meet and exceed their need for high quality content. This can be done by personalizing users’ feeds to put the most relevant and engaging content directly in front of them. A one-size-fits-all approach might not be optimal if it means a low or modest signal-to-noise ratio for the reader. If every time a user opens the app they instead see a selection of articles that is most likely to interest them, this creates a self-reinforcing habit that increases the likelihood that they will return to the app frequently – and spend more time while they’re there.
Timeliness of content is another important factor to consider. If you want to maintain a loyal audience, you have to be prepared to provide great content to the user whenever he or she demands it. Some users may even appreciate you tellingthem when you have content that is relevant to their personal tastes and interests. comScore found that interest in push notifications grew to 43% in 2017 from just 27% last year. Millennials tend to be much more receptive to these types of alerts than older generations, with 63% of them always or often agreeing to an app’s request to allow push notifications.
3. Get your app on the user’s home screen.
This last recommendation is the most challenging, but if your app is relevant enough to get promoted to a user’s smartphone home screen, then there’s a far greater chance your app will get used with more frequency. In fact, comScore found that 80% of mobile users intentionally move apps to their home screen, and 61% of those home screen curators cite app usage frequency as the top factor influencing their decision to promote an app to this premium position.
It was also found that there is an extremely high correlation for users’ “most essential” apps being placed on their home screen. This again comes back to quality, quantity and timeliness of content. If you have a lot of content that is relevant to the user at the moment they desire it, then your app will feel essential to the user, which might result in them giving you some of the best ‘real estate’ on their phone, setting your app up for success.
It’s important to remember that a small percentage of users can make up a huge percentage of overall media engagement and the corresponding advertising opportunity that comes with it. While having audience scale is important, it’s also important to drive loyalty and engagement to maximize monetization opportunities. Apps are an ideal way to get the most out of these loyal readers, or even convert casual readers into loyal ones. Modest gains in driving app usage and engagement can have a meaningful impact on the economics of digital publishers.
Adam Lella is a Senior Marketing Insights Analyst at comScore and co-author of The 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report. His research has spanned across numerous industry topics including digital, TV, e-commerce and advertising.
In its report, Top 5 Video Trends in an IP-based World, Parks Associates examines both the challenges and opportunities presented by the rise of OTT video viewing. In addition to outlining these trends, the report looks at larger market challenges such as allowing content distributors to own the consumer relationships and the evolution of storytelling, content production and delivery in an IP-based world.
According to the report, these are the top 5 video trends today:
Users expect opportunities to interact with their content.
This presents challenges in terms of flexibility and responsiveness, but provides an opportunity to learn more about—and appropriately monetize—audiences.
Global, IP-based video services will be the next big revenue pool for content makers.
This presents challenges to reaching a global market for everything from technology to legal and localization issues. However, the opportunity for monetization at scale and in hyper-local and niche contexts is huge.
Live TV is not dying; it is shifting to connected devices.
The technological demands of delivering live content at scale are quite high but audiences are attracted to real-time content, which creates a must-watch revenue opportunity.
Consumers will demand new, diverse types of content.
Creating new content types is never easy, but for those who do, audiences and earnings are sure to follow.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in the success of video services.
Though already being effectively implemented in a range of media settings, AI is hardly a perfected technology. There’s plenty of work to be done. That said, Parks sees it as the key to the evolution of personalization, with monetization opportunities to match.
For each of its key trends, the Parks Associates report offers real world examples while outlining the associated challenges and opportunities. And this, of course, is the most practical way to capitalize on digital’s promise: Understand and address the challenges while creating solid revenue strategies that support a long-term strategy
Getting ones’ news digitally is not just for millennials—it’s the norm these days. In fact, nine in 10 U.S adults get their news digitally either via desktop or mobile. We’ve also seen strong digital native brands, those originally founded on the web like Vox Media or Huffington Post, emerge as leaders in the news marketplace. The new Pew Research Center research looks at 36 digital native news outlets that averaged at least 10 million monthly unique visitors in Q4 2016. The analysis provides an excellent snapshot of the digital native news industry’s audience strategies to increase outreach and engagement.
Usage and engagement
Overall, digital native news outlets are performing well. Monthly unique visitors for the 36 sites for the digital native news outlets increased 12% in 4Q 2016. Users also spent a healthy 2.4 minutes per average visit.
The use of digital native news apps is an important part of audience strategies. Close to two-thirds (61%) of the highest traffic digital-native news outlets have apps available for either iOS or Android. Mobile compatibility is an important part of their overall strategy and user engagement. In fact, 42% of these new outlets have apps supporting both iOS and Android.
User outreach is key to building and sustaining engagement. Almost all digital native publishers (97%) offer newsletters. Three-quarters produce podcasts and 61% have comment sections on their articles to promote consumer feedback. Digital news outlets also rely on social media to engage their users: All of those covered have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Almost all have Instagram accounts (92%) and are on YouTube (97%). Less than 25% have a Snapchat channel or account.
Digital advertising continues to grow as a proportion of total advertising revenue, a trend that Pew points out is driven in large part by growth in advertising on mobile devices. Interestingly, based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year, more than eight-in-ten (85%) U.S. adults now get news on a mobile device compared to 72% just a year ago.
The report cites eMarketer estimates that digital advertising grew to $72 billion in 2016. Mobile advertising revenues accounted for 65% or $47 billion of the digital ad sales revenue. Desktop advertising revenue on the other hand continue to decline, now at 35% of total ad revenue. And, as ever, the report emphasizes the dominance of Facebook and Google in both banner and mobile display ad revenue.
Building a strong native digital news brands includes a platform native approach aligning publisher, platform and consumer strategies. Digital native publishers should experiment to find their unique voice and consumer connection. Importantly, the strength of a native digital news brand is deeply rooted in an engaged reader relationship.
It was just a matter of time – we all knew it had to happen eventually – but the other shoe is dropping on digital advertising’s most glaring weaknesses: accountability and fraud. Brands are taking steps to exert more control over growing online advertising budgets, and rely less on external agencies to do the job.
This is according to a new survey from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) of 35 global companies with more than $30 billion in ad spend. To wit: nearly 9-of-10 say they are pulling back spending in ad networks that don’t allow third party verification, and three quarters of them say transparency is an “escalating” issue.
Though short of revolutionary, these survey findings indicate a meaningful attitudinal shift among brands: now more comfortable with the digital channel, and under pressure from CFOs and CEOs to get waste under control, they’re putting pressure on the source – the media buying function.
Former Mediacom CEO Joe Mandel set this process in motion back in March of 2015 at an Association of National Advertisers meeting when he declared: “I personally believe we’re living through the least transparent time for the media industry in our careers”. Fast forward to May of this year, when WFA’s survey was conducted, and we’re beginning to see empirical evidence of the backlash.
What this means for different constituents in the digital marketing ecosystem:
Whenever there’s talk of “digital media” in general, it’s important to remember that Google and Facebook comprise 70%+ of the activity. So evolving media buying practices are largely targeted at getting Google- and Facebook-enabled advertising under control.
These media buying shifts are significant, especially in light of the TV, radio, and print channels over the second half of 20th century, which were remarkably stable; it tooks brands awhile to respond to fraud and viewability issues because they hadn’t really had to deal with media buying challenges since the introduction of TV advertising in the 1950s.
As brands get more comfortable with theirs hands on the online media buying controls, new opportunities will emerge for channels beyond Google and Facebook. Nearly half of respondents in the survey indicate they are shifting away from using CPM as the key pricing metric, and this favors niche players and premium brands.
Agencies have been bracing for this market shift for years, and have been aggressively investing in their technology infrastructures and talent pools as a way to prepare. (See WPP’s list of investments on Crunchbase.) As is the case with brands, agencies are maneuvering to become less reliant on Google and Facebook, and those that haven’t are vulnerable and risk obsolescence.
Peripheral players in the ecosystem – lawyers, auditors, verification companies and watchdog groups – are boosted by these findings. Almost 90% of survey respondents said they already have or are planning to include “specific media/financial audit right clauses” in contracts, suggesting that brands are putting agencies on notice, and plan to keep a closer eye on activity moving forward.
Given that digital will soon account for nearly half of all advertising spending – and was barely its own unique line item as recently as 2000 – brands are smart to be re-thinking their approaches to online media buying. Indeed, many industry experts will credibly claim that these changes are long overdue. Regardless, the trends signal an interesting new chapter in digital marketing, where opportunities will emerge for organizations – brands, agencies, and publishers alike – that evolve to accommodate changing marketplace demands.
Tim Bourgeois (@ChiefDigOfficer) is a partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based digital consulting company specializing in strategic roadmaps, digital marketing audits, and online marketing optimization programs.
The Privacy Act of 1974 emphasizes the need for both “notice and choice” to protect consumer privacy online. “Notice” gives consumers the information about data collection and use, and “choice” allows consumers to determine whether their data is collected and shared. But do the checks and balances of “notice and choice” really help to protect consumer privacy?
The Digital Privacy Paradox: Small Money, Small Costs, Small Talk Report by Susan Athey, Christian Catalini and Catherine Tucker from the National Bureau of Economic Research, offers insight on the privacy paradox and the inconsistencies between privacy preferences and actual consumer privacy choices. The research examined how more than 3,000 undergraduates engaged in privacy preferences while choosing an online wallet to store and manage digital bitcoin currency.
Different wallets, different incentives and encryption offerings were proposed to evaluate privacy offerings of different dimensions. Students could choose between four wallets: Blockchain, a hybrid web/self-managed wallet, Circle or Coinbase, both web wallet services or Electrum, a self-managed wallet. Participants were also asked about their preferences in privacy features (privacy from peers, intermediaries and government) and their degree of trust in financial institutions, startups and government to ensure a balanced and randomized sample.
Findings showed that regardless of their privacy preference, students shared their friends’ data when given a small incentive. Surprisingly, even the more privacy-sensitive students responded to the incentive offering.
One incentive gave students a pizza in exchange for three friends’ email addresses. Interestingly, a clear majority of the students chose pizza. Neither gender or levels of privacy sensitivities had any effect on choices. Six percent of the students appeared torn in the decision process and provided invalid emails.
In addition, when privacy required additional effort — such as encryption technology — students often went with without it in their transactions. In total, 55% of participants tried adding encryption and only 49% of those who tried succeeded. The remaining participants transacted without encryption.
Small incentives can misdirect people. To ensure privacy practices, current policies should be reviewed to determine how people can be protected from their willingness to discard privacy practices. Consumers need to make meaningful choices when it comes to privacy and incentives often cloud the decision-making process.
With the introduction of new advertising formats, ad types, and methods of buying and selling inventory, consumer publishing is undergoing some big changes. To get a closer look at what’s working, MediaRadar conducted the “2016 Consumer Advertising Report,” using our data science-powered platform to review these trends for 2016 and Q1 2017.
Here’s a look at some of the most notable findings.
Native advertisers up 74 percent.
High CPM ad placements are surging. Native ad buyers, in particular, are up, rising three-quarters (74%) from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017. This represents the largest growth in buyers for any ad format. Looking back further, we found that demand for native has nearly tripled since January 2015, which had less than 1,000 buyers (981). In January 2017, there were almost 3,000 (2,882). Consumer advertising is shifting as audience consumption patterns evolve. We foresee advertisers will keep spending more on native because it often outperforms traditional ad units.
Print ad spend declined 6 percent.
The number of print ad pages in Q1 2016 was 117,551. Compared to Q1 2017, the number of print ad pages has decreased 8 percent year-over-year to 107,698. Similarly, estimated print ad spend has declined 6 percent from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017. However, even with this decline, there are still a considerable amount of pages being bought. We notice niche and enthusiast titles are on the rise, with some regional titles flourishing.
Programmatic buyers down 12 percent.
According to our data, 45,008 advertisers purchased ads programmatically in Q1 2016. In Q1 2017, however, the number of programmatic advertisers dropped substantially, falling 12 percent year-over-year. On the quarter, more than 5,000 fewer advertisers (39,415) bought programmatically.
After years of growth, the decline in programmatic buyers is likely attributed to concerns around brand safety – especially given the recent problems for companies like YouTube. This form of advertising continues to evolve as brands seek more control over where their ads are running. We expect to see programmatic rise as more brands move to programmatic direct models.
Our report showed that native is surging, and buyers are investing accordingly. Print ad spend is declining as a whole, but is buoyed by vertical subject matter and titles. Publishers can also expect to see programmatic rise as more brands shift to programmatic direct models. It will be interesting to see how these developments play out in the second half of 2017.
A good website redesign challenges the status-quo. It questions a site’s navigation, layout, and plan and demands efficiencies without sacrificing user experience. Accordingly, a well-planned and researched design proposal will achieve improved user engagement, page views and time spent. The Engaging News Project, an initiative of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas, investigated the impact of design testing to provide news organizations with necessary audience feedback before going live with redesign.
To do this, the Engaging News Project partnered with a major Canadian news site and a major U.S. news site to conduct two experiments. The first experiment, the online test, showed consumers the old sites and the redesigned sites. They were then asked questions about their perceptions of the site. In the second experiment, the live test, the redesigned homepage was shown to a random audience (approximately 8,000 persons) in real-time. Key usage metrics were collected on these users to measure engagement.
The Canadian sites redesign focused primarily on the number of photos and the amount of text featured on the homepage. The new site included more photos and less text compared to the existing version. The U.S. sites differed most notably in page width, emphasis on photos, and the amount of content. The new site featured a wider design and more vertical content. The new site had fewer photos at the top of the page, but larger photos after scrolling, compared to the old site.
Live site tests consistent with experimental online test for most metrics The redesigned Canadian site in both the online experiment and live test, was favored. More page views per visitor, a lower bounce rate, and higher average time per visit were generated. Consumers appeared more engaged and spent more time on the site when they went to the site on their own (live experiment) versus those being direct to the site (experimental design).
Interestingly, findings for the U.S. website, both online experiment and live test, favored the old site. The new site registered a higher bounce rate, lower time on page, and shorter scroll depth in comparison to the old site.
Article recall differs Article recall for some articles was better on the new site and for others on the old site. Differences in overall recall corresponded with the presence of images and where the articles were placed on the page. For the Canadian website, those using the new site recalled more articles than those using the old site and for the U.S. website, there were no differences between overall recall on the old or new site. Importantly, overall recall did not differ based on people’s age or based on previous experience with the websites.The Engaging News Project further identified which specific articles on the sites were recalled and what might account for these differences. For the Canadian website, three articles were recalled more on the old site more than the new and six were recalled more on the new site than the old. For the U.S. two of the top 10 articles had better recall on the new site than old and six articles had better recall on the old site than new.
Placement in the first column may also affect article recall
The amount of scrolling to reach an article may impact recall and
They found no differences in recall when articles are of equal focus in either old or new site.
When undertaking a website redesign, clear objectives and metrics must be defined and tested. Online site design testing ensures consumer feedback and quality assurance prior to going live. It should be included in all news site redesign plans.