World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

#WPE14: Publishers must learn this: It’s all about what content is swiped to the right

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World News Publishing Focus
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#WPE14: Publishers must learn this: It’s all about what content is swiped to the right

The cool thing is that the abundance of services offering very low cost music and films has made it completely unacceptable to illegally download these from unauthorized sources such as Pirate Bay, etc. No one steals music and films anymore. At least no one I know.

This leads to the question: Could news publishers launch the same kind of service to make news something the broad public would accept paying 8-10 euros for every single month (which is the standard average price for free streaming of music – films a bit more)?

I never ever spent 10 euros a month or more on music back in the days when I would have to go to the music shop and buy a CD. But, today I happily put down the 10-15 euros for unlimited music and films for several reasons:

  1. The services are included in something I’m used to paying for anyway so it doesn’t feel like a real cost (it’s included in my phone subscription plan).
  2. I don’t have to subscribe only to one or two of the music and film providers – I get them all and I can decide what I want when I want it.

Could news publishers copy this concept? The answer for me is clear: NOPE!

The model of including a news subscription in e.g. a phone company’s subscriptions is already done (look at Telmore in Denmark where you get Politiken and other media included). The problem is that news providers cannot agree, and should probably not agree, on delivering their stories to a central place where I can get news from all sources in the same service.

Content marketing or brand marketing?

It’s the age old question, I know…: Should publishers go for content marketing or brand marketing? I’ve had this discussion hundreds of times – mostly with publishers of course. And guess what they all say: “Our BRAND is our most valuable asset – it is so well trusted that our readers come to us because they believe that we will give them everything they need in news.”

But the problem is that just like I don’t care much which record label is behind a song in my music streaming service, I’m not that interested in knowing who provides me with an interesting news article. It’s that simple… the young generation today gets their news from all over the place – actually mostly from their connections on social media. They often look at it this way: “If the news is that important, it will find me.”

Young people are so much better at distilling huge amounts of information than we think. They go through hundreds of messages and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat, Medium and so on… every single day. They “like” and “block” users and posts constantly.


Here’s why: They “massage” their news and message feeds in an unheard of way so they only get stuff they find relevant and block out what’s noise for them.

Did you get that? They work actively to customize their news feed to suit their desires and needs! They know that the more they interact with their news sources (especially Facebook “likes”) the better and more relevant stories they get served. It’s worth the effort – that’s why it works, and that’s why a young consumer spends tons of time on Facebook and very little time on news sites.

This is about to become a whole lot more normal with the advent of “glance-able” wearable devices such as smart watches and head-worn devices, such as Google Glass.

We’ll “glance” headlines on various wearable devices during a busy day, and perhaps swipe to read later, like or block. The interaction with my news feed is going to be so much easier – and I’ll use it more often because I know it is worth the (very small) effort of swiping a headline left (“dislike”) or right (“like”). Just like Tinder… no, I’m not on Tinder, but millions of people are, and they rate pretty much everything (and everybody) they see. Rating is deeply embedded in everything the young generation does! 

Their own curators

They’ll be their own news curators because the news services will learn from their habits and over time get to know what they like and which topics they consider breaking.

Newspapers or other media outlets will soon no longer decide what is breaking news – each individual consumer will. The established publishers can suggest but not dictate.

For me it’s both breaking news if a school is closed in our neighborhood and if the USA invades Syria. Two distinctly different things – but for me they are equally earth shattering. I want both headlines on my smart watch or Google Glass – but I couldn’t care less if some pop star is once again arrested for drunk driving… so that headline is going to be swiped left and celebrity news will immediately rank lower on my news feed.

In a recent discussion about this, one of my friends in the industry told me: ”One could argue that there is an essential difference between what I like to hear, see, do, etc. (which only I can decide) and what I need to know, hear, do, etc. (which I might need help to define) in order to lead a good responsible life...”.

That’s true to some degree – but don’t think the young generation is ever going to trust one or two news brands and pay for their exclusive content “in order to lead a good responsible life...”.

Sorry… if I’m 20 years old and totally comfortable with news coming from 100 different sources, including my friends and favorite bloggers, I’m not going to dedicate half an hour a day to a single news brand because I should be “responsible” and not just read what I like.

To conclude: Can news publishers learn from Netflix and offer “all-you-can-eat news” for 10 euros a month and be successful? Not as long as they think their individual news brand is “all-you-need news”. There’s a huge difference.

There is only one way forward if you ask me: Learn from consumer behavior and adapt! Respect that the success criteria is not to be a 100-year-old famous and trusted news brand, but success lies in publishing stories, videos, Snaps, posts and tweets that are swiped right and not left.

Kim Svendsen is Marketing Manager at CCI Europe.


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2014-10-14 09:27

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