News UK

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  • July 1, 2019

    Reader-first news media: From transition to transformation

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    The number of people willing to pay for online news now roughly matches print paid circulation, and will soon be substantially greater, with publishers increasingly demonstrating that their strategies are influencing industry outcomes. Our thesis is that subscriptions work in some cases, but that a more systematic reader-first approach benefits all cases, recalibrating management focus to media’s core purpose. Effectively implementing such an approach is a more radical, transformative development than is sometimes assumed. The winners will deploy sophisticated, bespoke audience acquisition and retention funnels and undergo detailed appraisals of the trade-offs necessary for optimal user experiences.
  • February 27, 2019

    The price is right for UK’s national newspapers

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    The average cover price of national newspapers has risen by 58% since 2010, more than twice the CPI increase of 22%. Are publishers “shooting themselves in the foot” at a time when buyers and advertisers are defecting to online?. To settle this, we analysed all the cover price events by national titles between 2010 and 2018, which reveals the relative success of The Times when it has raised its price. For mid-market and popular titles, cover price hikes have on balance reduced circulation revenues and, by lowering reach, drained advertising revenue: a lose-lose scenario.
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  • November 5, 2018

    UK Radio’s evolution towards a digital future

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    ­­­­Radio faces challenges from Spotify and other online audio propositions, while the radio “dial” is challenged by smart speakers and global tech. UK radio broadcasters have risen to the occasion through innovation. New DAB stations have helped radio achieve record audiences and revenues. Combined digital listening is now over 50%, but FM remains the primary platform. The current mix of FM/AM and digital maintains radio’s relevance for the medium term. The long-term future is digital—a wide-ranging sector review is required to determine how to support digital radio’s growth and the question of a future switchover.  
  • July 30, 2018

    Quality media, Ozone protection

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    The Telegraph, The Guardian and News UK (The Times and The Sun) will jointly invest in The Ozone Project to develop a state-of-the-art platform to sell their digital inventory. Ozone will add value to news digital inventory and seek to win back advertiser expenditure on Facebook and Google’s various properties, (indirectly) reigniting interest in placement next to quality news media content. Each JV participant operates a distinct business model, which risks friction, but this digital reboot is crucial. By 2020, Ozone could add circa £30 million per annum – not a trivial contribution to a national newspaper newsroom.  
  • June 4, 2018

    News brands and reader subscriptions: Towards a sustainable futur [...]

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    Print remains the primary revenue driver for most newspapers, but after 20 years of online news publishing we ask the critical question: how will publishers sustain newsrooms at scale when print has disappeared, or has contracted to a weekend luxury experience? The question needs to be answered in the context of both: 1) Rapidly declining advertising revenues in print media; and 2) A tiny and shrinking market share of digital advertising revenues. We believe these circumstances strongly imply the race for audience scale is more investor fallacy than a sustainable business prize; and besides, over-reliance on the advertising market for quality content provision is unappealing, particularly to proudly independent news publishers. Reader revenue, long assumed to be an impossibility for general quality digital news services, is the only answer. Registrations, membership and subscription models are being explored, tested, adopted or exploited by almost every major quality news provider in the US and Europe. The transition to subscription is hugely attractive, but requires first and foremost a new editorial strategy, requiring a wholesale business transformation.
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    October 17, 2017

    News and Facebook

    Even though Facebook is not a producer of news, 6.5 million UK internet users claim to mainly source their news from the platform. Posts and shares by friends in the user's network, in the context of Facebook's algorithm, determine the order of stories in the personalised News Feed, removing the control of the news agenda that publishers have for their websites. Premium publishers operating a paywall (The Times, The Financial Times) have a lower key approach to Facebook than publishers generating advertising revenue from referral traffic to their websites or from on-platform consumption of Instant Articles. The latter will seek to stimulate social media engagement, optimising stories through attention-grabbing headlines, and installing Facebook’s share and like buttons on their websites. Case studies of the news stories that were prominent on Facebook (measured by likes, comments and shares) in the periods leading up to the Brexit Referendum and General Election 2017 votes respectively demonstrate that newspaper brands (the Express for Brexit, and The Guardian for the General Election) achieved the highest reach on Facebook during these periods, despite being ranked below other news brands (BBC in particular) in terms of traffic to their websites
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    February 26, 2016

    Trinity Mirror starts New Day

    Trinity Mirror is launching a national newspaper, New Day, into a challenging marketplace: declining volumes of -7%, and the loss of £121m (-9%) in advertising in 2015 alone. New Day has been inspired by market research into lapsed newspaper buyers. While consumer behaviour is largely driven by a shift to digital, mobile and social media distributed news, some consumers want a different print product from anything in the marketplace. In digital, New Day eschews the need for a website or App, focusing on social media to market the product; a rare example of a strategy that does not blur or compromise print and digital objectives.

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    February 19, 2016

    Independent, i and content publishing models

    The sale of the i, the innovative 2011 launch by the Independent, inevitably led to its parent’s death in print form and pushes two media experiments into the marketplace. ESI Media becomes the first publisher to switch a traditional national news brand into a digital-only service, while Johnston Press has developed a new local-national platform to compete with Trinity Mirror. Content publishers will increasingly experiment with vertical models and membership models for a range of services including access to some content as the challenges of the digital advertising market begin to mount.
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    August 13, 2015

    Print advertising hits structural wall

    UK advertising is having a bumper year – some of the strongest growth for two decades – but print is receiving none of this upside. The year started soft then plummeted in the weeks immediately before and since the General Election, with increasingly serious implications for the sector. A reasonably steady UK economy and explosive TV and digital spend evidence a structural decline for print media display, though specific factors also point to some cyclical effects. We forecast a slowing of the rate of decline in H2 2015 and 2016, but we believe sooner or later the industry will have to work closely with agencies and brands to establish new terms of engagement for print media.

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    April 30, 2015

    Party positions on media & telecoms for GE2015

    The UK’s three main Westminster parties converge on sustaining the dynamic growth of the digital economy and the vibrant creative industries. The biggest area of divergence is on the EU. The Conservatives plan to hold an “in-out” referendum by 2017, while Labour and the Lib Dems are pro-EU and plan to engage with the Digital Single Market. Other important areas of disagreement include the future of the BBC and the Licence Fee, press regulation and reform of media plurality policy.