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Who is the real disruptor? Exploring collaborations with digital platforms

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Who is the real disruptor? Exploring collaborations with digital platforms

However, Grzegorz Piechota, Research Associate at the Harvard Business School and Oxford University, UK, suggests  it is consumers who are disrupting old business models by their behaviour, not Facebook and Google. 

Speaking at Publish Asia 2018, Mr Piechota, an authority on technology-enabled disruption patterns across industries, including news media, called on publishers to embark on more business model innovation and not just product innovation. 

Publishers have reported mixed results, which should not come as a surprise with any new initiatives. And the best way forward points towards ongoing conversations and cooperative communications to evolve win-win synergies.

Presenting after Mr Piechota were Alice Budisatrijo, Manager, News Partnerships, Facebook and Jonathan Harley, Head of News, JAPAC, Twitter. They described their various initiatives to collaborate with news publishers. Here are some examples:


  • Facebook bundles features to encourage active and not passive content consumption to build audience loyalty and provides content engagement dashboard CrowdTangle for free to publishers.

  • The Facebook Journalism Project provides a holistic approach to serve high-quality journalists and publishers.

  • Facebook’s Publisher Guide and CrowdTangle Playbook can be downloaded by Publish Asia participants here.


  • Twitter has positioned itself as a B2B real-time news platform and provides insights into best practices.

  • Bloomberg launched a video news channel on Twitter called TicToc in December 2017 and expanded coverage to Asia in March 2018.

  • BBC and CNBC now run pre-roll and mid-roll ads in their videos on Twitter.

  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation sponsored a livestream of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2018, and 7 News Australia invited readers to communicate what’s happening at the same event through Twitter Moments. 

Fairfax Media

Chris Janz, Managing Director of Australian Metro Publishing, Fairfax Media, provided insights into how his company has worked with different digital platforms, which each have very different business models. 

He remarked that there is more work to be done before the full value of working with digital platforms can be extracted. He suggested that publishers focus on driving their own business forward while keeping conversations open with digital platforms.

“If you sit back and throw stones [at the platforms], nothing will change,” said Mr Janz, who encourages publishers to be proactive in reassessing the way they work with platforms.

Through Google, Fairfax Media has started to sell to new clients in the programmatic space, and reach small and medium businesses they could not serve in the past. Fairfax Media protects its brand integrity by setting for itself a high bar for the quality events that it associates with. In shifting from manually-sold to automated sales transactions, this new way of working frees up time for sales teams to have genuine, insightful conversations on bigger and broader business issues, and provide more value than before to customers. 

With a rigorous “let’s test and try stuff” approach, Fairfax Media focuses on building high-level relationships with digital platforms across their commercial and product teams. 

At an hour-long breakfast hosted by Google the next day, further details were disclosed of its US$300 million Google News Initiative (GNI) unveiled in March 2018 - a launch which comprised of 37 programmes and features announced over three hours in New York.

Acknowledging that it was challenging for news organisations to keep pace with technological innovation, Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab Lead, APAC said that the GNI was the company’s effort to build a stronger future for journalism.

“If you don’t grow, then we don’t grow,” Liu said, adding that “we’re in a unique and challenging moment for quality journalism.” Liu and her six colleagues then formed four discussion groups for Publish Asia participants to discuss editorial training and innovation, products for news, policy and communication, and monetisation partnerships.


  • For subscriptions strategy, Google has worked with 60 publishers in 18 countries

  • In the area of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google is working with publishers on how to monetise within the AMP environment

  • YouTube player for publishers is one way to reduce cost of video hosting and streaming on news sites especially in times of breaking news and to enable publishers to reach younger audience and drive engagement with video

  • Google is working with the publishing industry to develop signals for quality journalism which will weigh relevance and authoritativeness especially during crisis moments when information is scarce and the the public turns to Google Search for more information

  • To increase the visibility of credible news sites, Google is working with partners such as the Poynter Institute for verified fact checkers and Santa Clara University’s The Trust Project to increase transparency around online news

  • Publishers like the New York Times are using Google Suite for News and are building on top of tools such as Google Sheets for visualisation

  • Free tools for news publishers include Flourish for powerful data visualisations without the need for any programming, Project Shield which protects hundreds of websites in 70 countries and Outline, which enables publishers to build their own VPN on a private server.

  • Google News Lab in-person trainings and editorial partnerships are now available in 52 countries and GNI’s online training centre offers 55 lessons in 12 languages.

(Edited by Tom Benner)




Joon Nie Lau's picture

Joon Nie Lau


2018-06-07 08:41

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