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The COVID-19 conundrum: News media post pandemic

On May 26th, David Chavern, President & CEO of the News Media Alliance, who represents around 2,000 news publishers in the United States and Europe shared his thoughts and ideas on the current state of news in the United States — with an emphasis on both challenges and opportunities — and discussed ways in which News Media may sustain professional journalism into the future.

In this moment, where audience and demand is higher than ever, for the news publishing industry it’s the best and the worst of times, since it’s surrounded by an economically constrain reality.

Traffic during COVID-19 There has been a traffic boom, almost form the get go of the crisis, caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Many publishers experienced a hundred percent increase on its digital traffic. And this was due to people trying to find out what was going on in the world, but particularly, what was going on in their communities. This was a big change from the nationalisation of news attention.

Thus, there was a huge refocus of attention, back to local. Economically speaking there are two main impacts.

First a boom in digital traffic, and second a huge concentration at the advertisement marketplace.

The second phenomenon translates into hard times to monetarize marketing opportunities. And the first one, the increase of digital subscriptions, did not make up for the loss of advertisement revenue.


COVID-19: Ad-Blocking and Cowardice From a survey conducted by Ad Safety Vendor IAS of consumers, 78% report sentiment towards a brand advertising near coronavirus content, furthermore 26% are not likely to engage with an ad adjacent to coronavirus content and 32% say that the suitability of being near coronavirus content depends on brand.

This is reflected into lots of advertisement removed from the Ad space, on top of those that disappeared due to the crisis, like tourism.

COVID-19: The return to local Due to the pandemic, people became reattached to their local news brands, and digital subscriptions can be translated, in a post-lockdown world into long term relationships.

We must bear in mind though, that print still subsidies the digital delivery (that is hard to monetize).

The future of news publishers is secure, since demand is clearly there, but this pandemic acts as a catalysator, where the future is accelerated. And it forces everyone in the news media business to rethink how to ern revenue moving forward.

Nourishing mutual relationships with subscribers is key on top of the quality of news.

COVID-19: Distribution Systems Clearly the distribution system has been disrupted, and the News Media industry, has lost control over distribution. Today Google owns the whole infrastructure around the digital advertisement market. So, the big question for the news publishing industry is, how to build a sustainable business?

Terms of trade must be set, and as an industry there must be a request for return of value from Facebook and Google.

A few samples exist (Spain and Australia) but this is clearly work in progress and there are still lots to do. This remains a hot topic.

By Romina Gersuni, FIBEP VP Comm & pressrelations Global Strategy Manager

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