Our process of defining campaigns and explorations at the end of 2016 gave us six areas to tackle, ad blocking, data, ad UX, mobile, publisher ventures and off platform publishing. As we began defining objectives and actions we also recognised that our campaigns were based on key industry issues defined by our Members and that there was a need to campaign on AOP’s fundamental purpose, the advocacy of premium content.
The need to pursue this goal with focus, to apply the correct resources and expertise and the opportunity to raise the status of premium content creators requires us all to come together.
As we have said in the InsideOut Program “The world has never needed premium content creators more than it does today, but does the world know it?”
What are AOP going to do about it?
With platforms mediating content and monetisation, Publishers are being disconnected from users andadvertisers. With anyone able to disseminate “news and information” and become a ‘publisher’, Premium
Content Creators are less easily recognised and appreciated. Our fundamental belief is that the world today needs Premium Content, delivered with integrity, more than it ever has. Therefore we are embarked on this central campaign with a showcase opening at Inside Out that included Christian Broughton, Editor of The Independent, Nic Newman, Professor Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford and Juan Señor, Partner at Innovation Media.
There are some big questions that we need to answer so that we can generate focused, productive action.
Nic Newman’s piece gave a very clear perspective on how people view premium publishing and on what basis they are prepared to exchange value.
Nic pointed out that there is a fundamental issue of trust; with UK trust levels particularly low when compared to say Scandinavia. Whilst trust is not the only driver
(availability of alternative content sources is another) there is a significant correlation between trust and a person’s willingness to pay for services or for example their tendency to use ad blockers.
So, at some level the Industry needs to act on Trust.
With that said, the session was generally quite optimistic for the opportunities available to enterprising publishers.
For those exploring paid content it was shown that younger people (specifically 25-34 year olds) are more ready to pay for content than others. Netflix and Spotify are the bar and in short “we need to think about creating journalism products that contain as much or more value than Netflix or Spotify”
The discussion made it clear that “binary thinking” was counterproductive - Juan Señor implied:
- Advertising is dead
- Paid content is the future
- Turn away from social networks
- Specialist content is the only future for paid content
- The future is dark
All assertions that believe the fact that Publishers are operating many complex and interrelated models successfully.
Focus on unique content - specialist stuff, high integrity stuff, many and wide opportunities, new brands continue to surprise us and yes, you can be unique in news as the growth of The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph demonstrate.
Explore consumer experience of news content - how easy, how involving and differentiating, create community connections, explore how data is used to build experiences.
Don’t leave the functional experience to Facebook - customisation, convenience, frictionless payment journeys, the sense of being known, they all offer value.
Easy availability is key - multi devices and easy access to other services e.g. service bundling.
The value of the brand is central - superior writers, distinctive tone.
Deliver Plurality - could you aggregate more sources?
His final point on value exchange can prepare the path for many Publishers; The Industry needs to explain its existential funding crisis because most people perceive Premium Publishers as wealthy and powerful entities.
And two crucial factors are far more effectively solved collectively.
- Speak more clearly about the problems of the news industry - and internally about success
- Differentiate what a trusted brand looks like in social networks (verification and better branding)
The conclusion is that there is great opportunity within the complexity and that opportunity can be supported by some clear actions required at an industry level.