As ad revenues continue to shrink, news-media publishers seek alternative ways of monetizing their content. This year's Reuters’ report, “Journalism, media, and technology trends and predictions 2023” predicts one of the most significant digital news trends we will see is a continued investment in new formats and a diversification of delivery channels. In other words, news organizations will continue to repackage their content into new, innovative formats to reach a wider variety of audiences.
Audio content gains — even more — steam
Reuters reports that 72% of publishers say that they will focus on podcasts and other digital audio in 2023. With more than 103 million active podcast listeners in the U.S. alone — an estimate that’s up 5.4% from 2022 — this highly-digestible format is a natural fit for news. One previously promising new format - interactive content for voice assistants - is low on publishers’ priority lists, however, as the business case continues to be hard to make.
The emphasis on podcasts in the news industry is not new. Back in 2020, The New York Times paid a reported $25 million for Serial Productions after realizing how popular — and lucrative — podcasts could be, thanks to “The Daily,” The Times’ hit podcast that regularly tops the charts.
“With an excess of generic news content, publishers are increasingly looking to develop more unique or specialist content that can be bundled with existing subscriptions…or can be charged for separately,” according to the Reuters report.
From ads to patrons to subscriptions, there are many ways for podcasts to prove their worth. Reuters also notes that “Subscription publishers consistently tell us that those that consume audio are amongst their most loyal customers and spend more time with their products.” In other words, investing in podcast audiences can pay dividends outside of audio.
But audio content isn’t all about podcasts. As advanced text-to-speech developers BeyondWords reports, many publishers have found providing quality audio versions of their articles gives busy readers an easy, passive way to consume content from their favorite websites. As text-to-speech tools also continue to improve, creating simple audio content is more accessible to publishers of all sizes than ever before.
The rise of newsletters
Perhaps more surprising than the renewed emphasis on podcasts is the popularity of email newsletters — a format as old as email itself. “Amid the unpredictability of social media, most publishers see investing in podcasts and newsletters as the best way to build a deeper connection with audiences and to encourage them to come back more frequently,” according to Reuters.
Significantly more than half of publishers (69%), told Reuters they would focus on newsletters in 2023. The format has been revitalized, in part, thanks to emerging platforms that connect individual content creators with audiences.
Interestingly, newsletters are proving to be extremely effective marketing and delivery tools for larger news organizations — so much so some publishers are pioneering newsletters as their main product. Reuters points out: “Newsletters don’t require constant updates, and off-the-shelf tools such as Substack can help entrepreneurs to create content and make money with a few clicks. These low-cost models have provided a blueprint for how local media could develop in the future. In the United States, 6AM City and Axios Local have pioneered this approach, with 6AM City reaching around 1 million subscribers across more than 20 cities, with expected revenue of more than $10m in 2022.”
Digital video is still a priority
Digital video remains top of mind for publishers in 2023 — with 67% telling Reuters it was a focus for their teams. Short-form video is even more popular, thanks in part to the popularity of apps like TikTok where journalists have found a way to reach younger audiences.
Digital video allows news organizations to develop a variety of formats from sharing breaking news videos on social media to creating mini-documentaries. The format is versatile and, importantly, loved by younger generations who are notoriously hard to engage. As we reported last year, engaging Gen-Z means publishers should prioritize video content on topics this audience cares about — like climate change or racial justice. The Washington Post does this well. The newspaper started its TikTok account in May 2019, quickly amassing over one million followers. The organization posts daily videos using trending sounds and transitions, taking a comedic approach to tough topics. It is, undoubtedly, a lot of work, but work that pays dividends as The Post builds a new generation of loyal readers — or viewers, as the case may be.
Let the data decide
The creation of new revenue streams by repackaging content will be most effective if it is guided by a clear vision of each individual’s preferences and interests. Reader data is essential. News organizations torn between serving loyal Boomer subscribers, retaining busy Gen-X and Millennials, and attracting a disengaged Gen-Z must balance the needs of each demographic. This requires publishers to know which platforms the various demographics are on and what kind of content resonates with them.
For instance, Digital Content Next reports, “Although Gen Z through Gen X report paying less attention to all forms of news compared with the national average, more Gen Z and Millennials say they are willing to pay for news in the future, compared to older generations (22% of Millennials versus 12% of Boomers).” Publishers might infer from this data that free, ad-supported podcasts might be a better fit for Boomer audiences, while Millennials might be more likely to pay for a niche newsletter or subscribe to a service that hosts premium documentaries.
One thing more news providers — and their audiences — seem united on, however, is that content for the metaverse is not a priority. Only 5% of respondents said this was a priority for them in 2023, which is hardly a surprise given the expense of creating AR/VR content combined with the relatively small number of people with any interest in the metaverse.
But before diving into new platforms and investing in new content types, it's crucial that publishers have the data to develop a strategy. Building an economically sustainable product requires news organizations to ensure they are investing in the right content for the right channels for the right audience — and data on reader behavior and preferences is key to getting this right.
Smooth integration of new products
New formats can make a significant contribution to revenues if they can be created and delivered with minimum extra cost and effort.
Eidosmedia platforms integrate easily with partner applications to allow staff to create and embed innovative content from instant podcasts to interactive graphics,. without leaving the editorial workspace.
Click here to find out more about portfolio enrichment using Eidosmedia partner integrations.
The Marketplace lets you browse and even install third-party apps to add functionality to Eidosmedia platforms - anything from AI language services like text-to-speech, translation and automatic tagging to ML print page layout and advanced analytics and CRM.