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Top takeaways from WAN-IFRA's 10th Middle East Conference

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World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Top takeaways from WAN-IFRA's 10th Middle East Conference

Following a welcome address from Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates (pictured, centre), nearly 20 speakers, including several from within the Middle East as well as others from throughout the world, shared their knowledge about lessons they have learned and how their companies are developing their strategies for the future.

Here are some of the top takeaways from the many insightful comments we heard during the two-day conference.

The future of journalism is full of opportunities

“Publishers need to restructure the way they work. They should not rely on only one basket: the future is all about dynamism. The future offers great opportunities for journalism.” – Dhaen Shaeen, CEO of Publishing Sector, Dubai Media Incorporated, Dubai, UAE (at right in above photo)

Journalism, technology and lifestyle are all strongly connected 

“It is important to understand that the news industry exists at the intersection of journalism, technology and lifestyle. We're right there in the middle of these three major societal influences. … Developments in any of these areas invariably change what we do and how we do it in the news industry.” – Kerry Northrup, Turner Multimedia Professor, Western Kentucky University, USA, and Chief Editorial Officer, The Newsplexer Projects

Click here to see our interview with Northrup.

Programmatic is going to be huge

“You've probably heard the term real-time bidding (where one machine sells an ad and another machine buys it). What we are seeing now is only the beginning. It will get bigger and bigger.” – Bander Asiri, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cehail Digital Advertising, KSA

Click here for information about WAN-IFRA's recently published report on programmatic

You don't need a big staff to do big things 

“The department that we have is very small – just five guys, but we decided to experiment with new products and services. For example, with limited edition coffee table books with many graphics.” – Luis Chumpitaz, Information Graphics Director for Al Bayan newspaper, UAE. Al Bayan has now produced four of these books, which have been very well received.

People are paying for digital content

“One sign of hope is that our audiences are increasingly willing to pay for content.” – Manfred Werfel, Deputy CEO, WAN-IFRA

Publishers need to promote the level of trust in print

“Ads in print are most trusted, but how many print companies use this? I seldom hear it. As the market has shifted from print to online, the level of trust in advertising has declined.” – Niko Ruokosuo, Founder, Abi Media Network, Finland

Mobile and video are booming worldwide

“The main drivers of advertising right now are mobile and video. This is interesting to me because it's happening everywhere: the Middle East, the US, India. There's an enormous amount of opportunity there as well.” – Ben Shaw, Director, Global Advisary, WAN-IFRA

Revisit your ad pricing strategy

“One of the key strategic levers today is pricing. … With sales people, you'll have a few who are driving margins up, but you'll often have many who are driving them down through giving too many discounts.” – Arunabh Das Sharma, President, Times Group, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd., India

Native ads need to be clear

“At Telegraph, native advertising is all clearly labeled … while we work closely with editorial, their integrity is never compromised. It is very clear and not confusing for the readers. They know they are not being tricked.” – Toby Moore, Publishing Director Magazines and International Sales Director, Telegraph Media Group, London, UK

The future belongs to storytellers

“If there's anything to remember it really is that in 2020 we're not going to be writers anymore, we're going to be storytellers – or Hakawati,” (an ancient Arabic word for storyteller) – Jonathan Halls, Adjunct Professor, The George Washington University and Principal, Jonathan Halls & Associates, USA.

Click here to see our recent interview with Halls

Use technology to give news coverage new perspectives

“We can never get some stories without technology to help us. We have to use technology to make the storytelling more effective.” – Sithikorn Wongwudthianum, Photo Producer, The Bangkok Post, Thailand on how his company has been using drones during the past three years to show their audiences things in ways they could not see before – from protests to earthquakes to fires to floods.

Don't try to please everyone

“We have some people ask 'Why do you do this?' They don't like it. I say 'Are you younger than 25?' 'No.' 'Then I don't care: You are not my target audience.'” – Le Quoc Minh, Editor-in-Chief VietnamPlus, Vietnam News Agency, on his company's two-year-old RapNewsPlus, which uses 4-minute segments of news presenters rapping about the latest news stories. They produce a new instalment every two weeks.

If you want to get attention, do something new

“We can't do things that people have seen before. We have to do things in new ways that people will remember and share on social media.” – Øyvind Naess, Chief of Staff, Verdens Gang AS, which produced a many-sided project to cover Norweigen native Magnus Carlsen's successful bid to become World Chess Champion, including a documentary, ongoing expert analysis throughout the championships and are now producing a related feature film to be released next year.

Click here for our "Best practice in digital media" report, which featured VG's chess project

There are many ways to use print to create great customer engagement

“As long as you engage customers you will create a bond with them,” – Saranga Wijeyaranthne, Director Marketing - Ceylon Newspapers, Sri Lanka, whose company has undertaken several print innovation projects, including one where readers could convert the newspaper into a national flag and another that used mosquito repellent ink throughout the edition of its newspaper on World Health Day last year to draw attention to Dengue, which comes from a mosquito bite and was a national crisis in Sri Lanka infecting more than 30,000 people, a number of whom died.

Digital printing allows print to get personal

“When the paper is personalised we can reach the exact readers that we want to reach so then it becomes very easy to sell ads because the advertisers can easily target the audience they want to reach,” – Samer Sabri Abdel Qader, Director, Prepress & Digital, Masar Printing & Publishing, Dubai, UAE on his company's plans to begin using its new digital press to create personalised newspapers.

Bring in young people to drive innovation

"I have 50 years of experience – no, luggage. It is so hard for us to be innovators. If you want to innovate at your company, get somebody young." – Prof. Samir Husni, The University of Mississippi, USA

Click here to see our interview with Husni

Photo by WAN-IFRA's V Antony. Click here to see more images from the conference.


Brian Veseling's picture

Brian Veseling


2015-04-17 14:10

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