This time last year, publishers were far more optimistic about their commercial prospects. Nearly a fifth (19%) of their sample of editors, CEOs, and digital executives are pessimistic about the upcoming year, compared with less than half (44%) who are confident. A softening in subscriptions, increased prices, and decreased advertiser interest are the main concerns. Layoffs and other cost-saving measures are predicted by them.
In addition, they discover that a majority of publishers (72%) are concerned about rising news avoidance, particularly regarding important but often sad topics like Ukraine and climate change, with only 12% unconcerned. There is a high level of importance placed on explainer material (94%), Q&A forms (87%), and inspirational stories (66%) by publishers this year. Providing more positive news was a less common option (48%). The majority of publishers polled (80%) indicated that they plan to invest more in subscriptions and memberships in 2023, ahead of both display and native advertising. More than half (68%) of respondents expect paid content income to increase this year despite the pressure on consumer spending.
Publishers expect three of their revenue streams to be essential this year. There has been a significant increase in revenue from tech platforms for content licensing (or innovation) since last year, with 33% expecting significant revenue. There have been multi-year deals negotiated in some markets with several big publishers, often in conjunction with government policies championed by these publishers.
As more laws are expected to ban ‘harmful’ information on social media this year, many respondents (54%) worry that it will make it harder for them to report stories that governments disagree with. The remaining third (30%) is less concerned, while 14% is not concerned at all. Instead of focusing on Facebook (-30 net score) and Twitter (-28), publishers will focus on TikTok (+63), Instagram (+50), and YouTube (+47), which are popular with millennials. Despite concerns about monetization, data security, and broader implications of Chinese ownership, TikTok’s interest in vertical video storytelling has increased (+19pp compared to last year).
With Twitter’s impending implosion under Elon Musk’s leadership, journalists have been forced to consider its usefulness. Their survey found that 51% of respondents thought the loss of Twitter would negatively affect journalism, while 17% thought it would reduce the reliance on the opinions of a vocal but unrepresentative group. LinkedIn (42%), Mastodon (10%), and Facebook (7%) have emerged as the most popular alternatives. Others find it difficult to find a comparable replacement.
News companies are rethinking how they cover climate change as its effects become clearer. The majority of companies have formed a climate team (49%) to strengthen coverage, and one-third have hired more staff (31%). One-third (30%) have developed a climate change plan for their company, and just under half (44%) are incorporating climate change into other coverage (such as business and sports).
Podcasts and digital audio (72%), as they’ll as email newsletters (69%), have proven beneficial in fostering loyalty to news brands in terms of innovation. The use of digital video formats (67%) has also increased over the last year, possibly due to TikTok’s meteoric growth. However, only 4% plan to invest in the metaverse, indicating growing skepticism about its potential.
To provide more personalized experiences, media businesses are discreetly incorporating artificial intelligence into their products. More than a third (28%) say this is now a regular part of their work, and 39% say they have conducted trials in this area. ChatGPT and DALL-E 2 demonstrate potential for increasing production efficiency and generating new kinds of semi-automated content.