With 15.7 million Australians consuming news electronically,1 it will become more appropriate to describe this section as ‘News Media’. Australian publishers are responding accordingly, developing diversified media platforms, funded by consumers. These platforms provide access to professionally-generated content and adjacent capabilities across marketing and journalism driven broadcast.
While success of subscription-based models has somewhat offset the decline in print readership, future success within news media will rely on the consolidation of brands and products, the continued introduction of more integrated content models, and new payment models.
1. The consolidation of brands and capabilities
2. Integrated content businesses
3. New payment models
The steadying of core businesses and much-publicised failings of trust across the social media landscape has seen publishers become more confident in defining their position and unique value in the market. These positionings are determinedly audience-centric, right from national and metro brands such as Australian Financial Review and Daily Telegraph to local brands. These are supported by content models built on deep customer relationships, and with content across more channels, they can offer broader reach and integrated solutions to advertisers.
The consolidation of brands and capabilities (as illustrated by the merger of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax in 2018) will create more opportunities to build end-to-end experiences from printed news to broadcast, creating stronger media brands that have greater flexibility as to where to pursue growth.
‘All digital content must require a value exchange.’²
There is an increasing acceptance that premium content requires an exchange of value, with an intensified industry-wide focus to prove this case. This is based on growing confidence in the value of curated and professionally generated content. With a high digital readership of 15.7 million Australians,3 reaching people with stories that matter is clearly not an issue – it’s about finding the right model to fund them. Currently, there are two revenue streams, first from advertisers, second direct from consumers. For consumers, the digital subscriptions has been the primary model, driving increased customer lifetime value. If the value proposition is high, with quality, independent and exclusive content, readers have shown a willingness to pay. For example, the New York Times saw an additional 265,000 digital subscriptions in the last three months of 2018 alone.4 As news media brands begin to grow beyond their core, they will need to develop new tailored propositions with different payment models to transition readers to subscribers.
New payment models are being tested, offering insights into overcoming barriers to subscriptions to maximise revenue across multiple segments. For example, start ups such as Newsadoo optimise the subscription model by providing premium content from a number of publications for one subscription fee. Similarly, Apple’s acquisition of Texture in 2018 has driven its premium ‘News +’ offering, allowing access to over 300 magazines for US$9.99 a month. These consolidated subscription models value add in different ways such as curating content across publications, or providing audio narration through unique features such as Curio. Alternatively, addressing the barriers to subscription models directly, Blendle uses a credits system that allows the purchase of articles across a wide range of publications through one point of access without a time commitment. Ultimately, the correct approach will depend on brand/content portfolios and in many cases a blended approach will be the optimal solution.
‘We look to maintain the craft of the print newsroom and marry it to the skills of broadcast and video.’⁵
Advertisers have the ability to partner with high-quality, trusted media partners to develop branded content in order to build valuable relationships with their audiences. This is evident through the development of new businesses based on specialist content, as illustrated by New York Times' Wirecutter review site, and marketing capability, as illustrated by News Corp’s Sudden.ly.
News media brands have the potential for significant adjacent growth by prioritising the depth of advertising relationships through professional content, reach of channels from digital to broadcast and the use of extensive data to plan end-to-end marketing campaigns.
To support the growth of businesses fueled by content, whatever the medium of reaching a reader, news media brands will redefine what it means to be a publishing brand. Similar to the music industry, it is evident that a stronger focus has been placed on leveraging content in a range of monetisable forms, from broadcast, consultancy to events. The Australian Financial Review and The Australian have embraced this opportunity, building deeper relationships with audiences in key sectors. In larger integrated media businesses, this will mean relationship programs that bring together more properties to ensure customers get long term value from their subscriptions.
'Core to our future growth is leveraging professionally generated content across each of our platforms - from print and online, through to podcasts and events..'⁶