The massive layoffs announced at the start of 2019 have left many people wondering if this is the beginning of the end for media publishers.
The truth is, these layoffs are just the tip of the iceberg — a small indication of large-scale problems the industry has tried to ignore for over a decade and must now confront.
From 2007-2016 there was widespread hope that digital ads would save the old model. That hope has now crumpled, and these layoffs are a result of publishers trying to adapt to their new reality.
But does that mean this is the end? No — it’s just a reckoning.
Publishers that accept the death of the old model, and find their place in the future, can still thrive. Businesses that do not make a radical shift will fail.
Publishers now face the choice of reinventing themselves or going bankrupt. The only question is, which side of the story will you be on?
Well, if you’re reading this article, chance is already in your favor.
3 media CEOs came together to discuss the changing industry: Justin Smith of Bloomberg Media, Pam Wasserstein of New York Media, and Jon Steinberg of Cheddar.
They revealed the following insights and strategies, which have enabled them to flourish at a time when other publishers are nosediving.
HOW TO: Pivot your company to survive and thrive in the new world of digital publishing
1. Nichify your brand in order to serve narrower markets more energetically
Generalist brands are losing traction. If you currently serve multiple niches, break your offerings down across sister brands that can devote their full attention to each of those audiences.
These don’t need to appear as completely separate brands. NY Media has 6 sister brands, but they make it easy for readers to access all 6 from their homepage →
New York Magazine
2. Create dynamic offers to boost conversions for your digital subscription
Superfans will want to subscribe right away, but first-time readers shouldn’t see the subscription offer until they’ve explored your content and seen the value you provide.
At NY Media, the timing of your subscription offer depends on the breadth, depth, and frequency of your engagement with the content. Make your subscription equally personalized →
3. Scale your ad distribution through OTT skinny bundles and a hyper-focus on content
When your product is in a premium environment, you’ll generate much higher returns. However, you need the content volume and quality to earn your place on those top distribution platforms.
Use dynamic ad insertion to get high returns on a small audience. If you’re new to how it works, this 3-page white paper does a good job of breaking DAI down →
DAI Best Practices
4. Enter new partnerships with clear expectations and a willingness to walk away if they aren’t the right fit
You need to know exactly what you want out of a deal and what business outcomes you’ll use to measure its success. Not every partner will be right for you, but you won’t know until it’s too late unless you have absolute clarity going into it.
If you have an ecommerce brand, consider publishing with Amazon to collect additional user purchasing data. Here’s how NY Media’s “The Strategist” does it →
The Strategist Amazon Profile
If you’re not sure which partner will best serve your needs, give each of the top players a chance to impress you. Jon breaks it down step-by-step →
5. In your content creation, prioritize quality and trustworthiness
In the age of fake news, platforms and audiences will pay more for trustworthy, high-quality content. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to differentiate your brand and rise above the noise.
Trust in media is dropping among younger age groups, aka exactly the demographic your partners are trying to grow. Make it a priority to buck this trend →
6. Regularly reward your top talent and fire underperformers
It sounds harsh, but if you want to avoid the huge layoffs hitting the rest of the industry, you need to be consistently weeding out employees that aren’t a good fit.
Jon has never implemented a layoff in his entire career. Listen to him explain how he runs his team →
Full Presentation: https://youtu.be/FlfeYUPNSiA