Social, Video Drive Publishing Revenue as Popularity Soars

Share |

"The digital business that we run today requires that we have a direct relationship with our users," said Meredith Kopit Levien, chief revenue officer of The New York Times. While The Times' proprietary app lives on millions of mobile screens, she explains that social is invaluable for driving sales. "We are most focused on that: building subscriptions and also selling advertising."

That comes from an article in Ad Age about a new campaign the Times is running called The Truth Is Hard, focusing on the craft of journalism. While The Times can do certain things smaller publishers cannot, social media is not one of them. A chief revenue officer would not be touting social networks if it did not pay dividends.

In a survey of over 50,000 global internet users, GlobalWebIndex reported that "around 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is devoted to social networking and messaging, with digital consumers engaging for a daily average of over 2 hours." A robust 94% have at least one social media account while the average user has "about 8... up from only 3 in 2012."

An article on theMediaBriefing site gave seven key findings from the survey. Though most publishers know the social habits of their audience, these findings can supplement that knowledge when deciding where to put your resources. Let's take a look.

Number 1 is that, of course, social keeps growing.

Number 2 is the growing popularity of Instagram with Snapchat coming up fast. I think we will see more success stories for publishers with those platforms in the coming months. In fact, Snapchat just unveiled custom stories, a new feature that lets users create groups with their own stories. "So if your business is hosting an event, for example, you could create a group story and allow anyone in attendance to add their content," reports an article on the Small Business Trends site..

Number 3 is that online video is a fully established platform. Among all internet users (aged 16-64), 92% watch video clips online each month—92%! Podcasting came in at 36%, still quite significant given its relative newness. In an AOL Platforms poll of 300 premium publishers, the majority said they expect digital video to be their number one revenue driver this year.

And Facebook has a new tool that lets publishers use its data to sell video ads. From an article in Ad Age: "The program, called Audience Direct, is a fundamentally new way for Facebook to help media partners sell their ads. It gives publishers the power to sell their own ad inventory directly to advertisers, keeping their own ad tech infrastructure in place." 

Number 4 is about Netflix—70% of those 14-19 watch Netflix every month. Number 5 is that young people love to binge.

Number 6 is that U.S. audiences lean towards free streaming services. More time (40%) is now spent on free streaming services than on paid content (35%).

Publishers' answer to this might be bundling. Scribd just reported that they have over half a million subscribers paying $8.99 a month for access to material that includes ebooks, audiobooks, sheet music, documents and now news. "People have been talking for a long time about how to monetize journalism and we think we've come up with a really interesting answer," CEO Trip Adler said.

Number 7 is "cord-cutting may be on the cusp of going mainstream... Although Deloitte found that Pay TV subscriptions are holding steady (74% of U.S. households) their research also noted that 'two-thirds of pay TV consumers say they keep their pay TV subscriptions because it is bundled with their Internet.'" That may not last. So the way you come across on mobile should become even more vital.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
If not, you're missing out on daily strategies, tips, profiles and case studies that can build your audience and increase revenue. To sign up, please contact Nevena Jovanovic.

Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…