World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Eleven practical solutions for increasing revenues in your newsroom

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Eleven practical solutions for increasing revenues in your newsroom

#1 Stay true to your purpose

  • Don’t lose sight of your purpose to serve your readers and communities as you explore new revenue streams. Focus on delivering quality journalism with integrity as a core offering.

  • For example, The Times in UK stopped featuring breaking news and focused on providing value to readers who come to them to get deep analyses of what happened, not what or when.

  • Increasing trust in content comes before increasing trust in advertisements and purchases (see results of ADTRUST study in Australia and findings of a similar survey conducted by WAN-IFRA and Syno Int carried out in Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea which are available exclusively to Publish Asia participants).

  • It’s possible to sponsor content intelligently and ethically by providing quality thought leadership reports (The Economist, UK, reports that 95 per cent of C-suite executives like to encounter ideas beyond current thinking, and up to 70 per cent are willing to be active advocates for quality content producers.)

#2 It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers right now

  • Many speakers remarked that they were on an ongoing journey best taken with a can-do attitude. Anthony Tan from Singapore Press Holdings shared the vivid metaphor that even though they were not out of the woods, new “green shoots” of growth have already started to sprout.

  • It’s more important to be bold to explore new things, and Alfian Talib from New Straits Times Press Malaysia shares the mantra, “Fail fast, learn fast, and improvise.”

  • Persevere through different phases. For example, in wooing new female audiences, The Financial Times (UK) started with ‘throw everything out there and see what sticks’ to shortlisting actionable metrics to clarifying which metrics matter and where to use them.

#3 Discard limiting beliefs to reinvent news publishing

  • Not too young - Readers as young as age 17 are willing to pay for news as long as they can identify with your mission (Schibsted, Norway  & Sweden)

  • Not the enemy/disruptor - Collaborate with digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, and stay ‘frenemies’ with them (quips Anthony Tan of Straits Times Holdings, Singapore)

  • Not just chasing circulation revenue - Advertising revenue is still important.

  • Not just journalists - Welcome new talent into digitised consumer-centric newsroom like software developers, user experience designers, product managers and social media experts.

  • Not just advertisers - Get other people to pay for content by producing content valued by retailers, content marketers, donors to causes, and so on. Shift from B2B to B2C (Grzegorz Piechota, UK)

#4 Really listen to readers and activate brands on-ground

  • Dedicate a Readers Editor and Readers Intelligence Unit to find out what readers want, use insights to produce valuable content and guide advertisers to do the same (The Hindu Group, India).

  • Earn readers’ and advertisers’ trust through value-adding initiatives with combined on-ground and digital activation that nurture community relationships (Dainik Jagran-inext, India, developed the India Intelligence Test supporting 1,500 schools in assessing students’ scholastic aptitude, attracted 100 sponsors for a fun bicycling event and ball, and raised awareness on food wastage).

  • Develop a deep understanding of the culture and needs of local readers and serve these needs (Bali Post, Indonesia, promotes inter-faith harmony, supports the community with cremation funding, and educates and inspires youth on culture and religion).

  • Extend value to key print readership groups with onground events (SPH Magazines’ flagship product THE PEAK organised Singapore inaugural Diplomatic Ball which attracted 200 ambassadors, high commissioners and business leaders to enjoy a multicultural evening of conviviality, community and charity).  


#5 Diversify your media offerings

Bring publications online and augment the text article with video, social media, podcasts, related stories. Find fresh ways to appeal to Generations X to Z.

  • Expand vertical offerings into lifestyle, education, parenting and so on, and optimise distribution (Malaysia)

  • Find new way to engage audiences by developing podcasts for passive consumption during commutes, in the car, gym, kitchen, garden and so on (BFM Radio, Malaysia).

  • Produce niche content for educating children, business undergraduates, professionals, home buyers (The Hindu Group, India)

  • Utilise LIVE video to gather breaking news ahead of other publications; luck favours who is present for unplanned events (Reuters, UK)

  • Feed animated real estate colour ads through QR codes to overcome the limitations of black and white static print advertising (30 per cent classifieds revenue increase for Jang Media Group, Pakistan)

  • Make print media sexy again by adding Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality elements to specific campaigns (Jang Media Group, Pakistan)


#6 Augment with stable recurring revenue streams

  • Invest in lucrative non-media markets like property, and healthcare services for an ageing population (Singapore).

  • Kompas Gramedia in Indonesia diversifies into education, hotels, logistics, and events.

#7 Harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to grow revenues

  • Use data-mining strategies to understand readership motivators better and reach new reader categories (Taiwan, UK, Singapore).

  • Support advertiser success by sharing insights into audience preferences gleaned from advance data analysis (UK).

  • Learn more about how the Financial Times, The Times/Sunday Times, and United Daily News play with data

#8 Be bold about multi-pronged transformation

  • Reposition your vision, and support it with congruent changes in culture, digitalisation, newsroom and organisational structure, market expansion and brand identity (South China Morning Post in Hong Kong set the ambitious goal to lead the global conversation on China despite being banned in China).

#9 Leverage legacy resources

  • When celebrating the country’s major historical milestones, create virtual gallery of front pages through the years (Jang Media Group, Pakistan)

  • Harness archives to produce small print orders across large list of titles (The Hindu Group has sold half a million copies so far and is aiming for five  million over five years)

#10 Be strategic about monetising subscriptions

  • Provide all content for free to grow readership for a specified time period until circulation goals are achieved (South China Morning Post)

  • Increase cover price slowly to give readers time to adjust (e.g. The Hindu Group, India increased circulation revenues by 12 per cent over five years while others were flatlining)

  • Start with a tight paywall, then provide two free articles a week (The Times, The Sunday Times, UK achieved 70 per cent increase in digital subscription with this strategy) 

#11 Nurture partnerships

  • Form an alliance, like the airlines have done with Star Alliance, to woo advertisers with cost savings that economies of scale provide (The Hindu Group, India with One India alliance).

  • Bring in experts to establish a content marketing unit that uses best practice to activate consumer interest that convert leads to sales across multiple onground and online channels (Singapore Press Holdings with Brand New Media from Australia).

  • Explore collaborations with digital platforms: more from Google, Facebook, Twitter and Fairfax Media

The above reflects just some of the value that comes from devoting two to three days to connect with leading players and partners in the news publishing industry. Join us at future WAN-IFRA events to gain more inspiration and tap into the resources of an evolving tribe thriving at the exciting edge of journalism!

(Edited by Tom Benner)




Joon Nie Lau's picture

Joon Nie Lau


2018-06-07 08:58

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