Doc­tor talks 'rel­e­vance, re­la­tion­ships, rev­enue'

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Contents - ▶ BY MARY L. VAN ME­TER NEWS & TECH EDITOR AND PUB­LISHER

SAN DIEGO – The Key Ex­ec­u­tives Mega-Con­fer­ence 2018 San Diego opened in late Fe­bru­ary with a record break­ing 730 me­dia ex­ec­u­tives in at­ten­dance. Jeff Light, pub­lisher and editor-in-chief of the San Diego Union-Tri­bune, wel­comed at­ten­dees and set the tone with his open­ing re­marks on the topic "great jour­nal­ism drives great suc­cess."

In 1990, the num­ber of daily news­pa­per jour­nal­ists was 56,900 and in 2018 the num­ber is 25,000, ac­cord­ing to key­note speaker Ken Doc­tor, me­dia in­dus­try an­a­lyst and au­thor for New­so­nomics.

Doc­tor fol­lowed up with a clear roadmap and bench­mark of the in­dus­try. He ex­plained that the cur­rent trend hap­pen­ing is mega-clus­ter­ing, with three chains own­ing 25 per­cent of lo­cal press. "Google and Face­book have built an unas­sail­able ad du­op­oly with 89 per­cent own­er­ship of the dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket. They've left maybe 10 per­cent, table scraps, for news and all other ad-sup­ported me­dia. That 10 per­cent still rep­re­sents $1.4 bil­lion and fi­nally, pub­lish­ers are now ac­knowl­edg­ing that the first big dig­i­tal rev­enue stream, dig­i­tal dis­play, is go­ing, go­ing, gone, just like the print busi­ness that's ebbing away even more quickly," he said.

"Com­mer­cial rev­enue isn't go­ing away, but dig­i­tal dis­play — op­ti­mized by Google and Face­book — is for news pub­lish­ers. That's why the smartest pub­lish­ers have pro­foundly moved their com­mer­cial staffs to the pur­suits of branded con­tent, mar­ket­ing ser­vices, video, au­dio and events, all ar­eas out­side the di­rect line of the du­op­oly death ray," stated Doc­tor.

"The Wash­ing­ton Post has reached the 1 mil­lion dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tion mark, and that gen­er­ates about $100 mil­lion a year in rev­enue, al­most all of it new in the last sev­eral years. You can do the math: about $100 per dig­i­tal sub­scriber per year, achieved even with Kin­dle, Ap­ple News, and Prime dis­count­ing and over-the-dig­i­tal tran­som subs for the full-price pay­ers. By com­par­i­son, The New York Times, with twice the num­ber of dig­i­tal news sub­scribers, av­er­ages $125 per sub," Doc­tor said.

“Then there's the Post's more than tripling of dig­i­tal au­di­ence in four years. That hasn't quite led to a tripling of pro­gram­matic ad rev­enue, but it's more than dou­bled.”

“In or­der to suc­ceed pub­lish­ers will have to con­cen­trate on a long-term vi­sion with pas­sion, pru­dent re-in­vest­ment, and ac­cep­tance of lower profit, cross­over fi­nan­cial strat­egy, next-gen­er­a­tion tal­ent and mo­bile prod­uct fo­cus. Eighty-eight of our dig­i­tal rev­enue comes from 12 per­cent of our au­di­ence and 65 per­cent of all U.S. dailies have a pay­wall. "In or­der to over­come the cur­rently mar­ket chal­lenges our in­dus­try must fo­cus on rel­e­vance, re­la­tion­ships and rev­enue," he said.

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