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May 2022 RR blog edit 01 1

Industry-changing conversations: Four areas publishers should be aware of

Published: 31 May 2022

In today’s tumultuous media environment, publishers need to pull together to find ways to safeguard revenue, nurture talent, and build a sustainable future. This month, AOP has been involved in a number of discussions with the wider industry – encouraging publishers to practise what they preach, get involved in the conversation, and inspire change. Here’s what some of those discussions were about…

The OAP consultation to decide the industry’s regulatory future

As previously covered in our blog, the AOP is concerned with the lack of scrutiny shown towards adtech intermediaries. And we are not alone in hearing alarm bells. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Online Advertising Programme (OAP) will review the regulatory framework of paid-for online advertising to tackle the evident lack of transparency and accountability across the whole supply chain. Following consultation with our members, we have submitted our response.

The publishing industry is a self-regulated environment but, all too often, we see third-party vendors entwined in the supply chain, with unclear intentions and operating for purposes outside of their licensing agreement. Without the necessary regulatory power in place, these players often fly under the radar, avoiding the appropriate penalties for their behaviour.

This shirking of responsibility is currently enabled by ambiguities and a lack of transparency in the digital supply chain. We need an empowered and informed process with a thorough understanding of the industry to ensure adtech intermediaries are held to account and stay strictly in the lane they are designed to operate in — nothing more and nothing less.

In a well-regulated market, publishers will be able to identify which third-party technologies provide a safe and legitimate service, and which might be a threat, making it much easier for them to fulfil their obligations around compliance and user experience.

The AOP’s response to the OAP focuses on preserving the nuance which allows us to do what we do well as a self-regulated industry, while ensuring regulators have a bite to match their bark and bring intermediaries in line. The ominous presence of a regulator who can loom large over our self-regulatory system will create the healthy level of threat needed to encourage collegiate behaviour and transparency from third-party vendors.

CRUNCH 5.2: The great resignation or great opportunity?

The difficult journey we’ve all been on over the past couple of years has led to widespread re-evaluation of what matters most in life. This has contributed to a talent shortage across many sectors, whether automotive, agriculture, finance, media, or publishing – with 70% of publishers and 93% of solutions providers reporting a staffing shortfall, and journalism particularly hard-hit.

But this ‘great resignation’ is also a great opportunity for publishing to move on from business as usual. In the past, the media industry has been fairly lambasted as being elitist, lacking in diversity, and unfairly focused on the education standards of entrants.

In response, inspiring initiatives such as RISE, from Creative Equals, and the All In Hub, from the Advertising Association, are communicating what the industry has to offer to those beyond the previously-favoured talent pool, while companies like Good-Loop and The Brixton Finishing School provide opportunities to gain industry education and experience regardless of socioeconomic and ethnic background.

Our latest CRUNCH event, hosted on May 26th, brought together a range of inspiring industry leaders to discuss the topic of talent, and why there needs to be cross-community forums within our industry to ensure every voice is heard with equal weight and equal power.

Subscriptions are soaring — our steering group needs your voice

In a recent report from Press Gazette, it was revealed the world’s largest English-language news publishers now have more than 30 million digital subscriptions between them.

This is historic news. Previously, the publishing industry was solely reliant on advertising revenue, but this all-eggs-in-one-basket approach was not conducive to long-term survival. After re-examining and diversifying their revenue streams, publishers introduced subscriptions to fortify their bottom line and protect their continued existence in a digital world where social media noise threatens to drown out professional media.

What was revealed — as could have been guessed from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — is that consumers are happy to pay for quality content. The simple transaction of money in exchange for worthwhile media is well-understood and publishers have capitalised on this to great success.

The rise of subscriptions, also evidenced in our latest DPRI report, has helped to inform wider publisher strategies that will create more exciting change — such as creating curated content to specific individuals and streamlining the user experience — as publishers move away from being anything to anyone, to something for someone.

Our steering groups at AOP bring together peers from a diverse range of publishers across B2B, B2C, and news, all with their own experience, advice, successes, and failures to share in an environment of collective learning. Together, we will be able to develop solutions that work for publishers and audiences alike. We are currently consulting with our members to identify people who can contribute to this wider conversation on revenue streams.

Celebrate the changemakers at the AOP’s annual awards ceremony

Lastly, we must remember to celebrate those in the industry who are working tirelessly to create positive change. In this spirit, we’ll be holding our annual awards ceremony on June 15th at Old Billingsgate – there are a few tickets remaining, so act fast to secure your spot at what’s set to be a night to remember!

The media landscape continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, but it is vital we take the time to slow down and recognise how hard these journalists and teams continue to work. Our awards acknowledge the truly dynamic trailblazers who have raised the benchmark for creativity across the digital media space. We look forward to seeing many of you there in celebration of our industry’s pure resilience.