Newspapers aim to innovate

07 December 2010

PARIS: New product development and enhanced branding are among the strategies newspaper publishers will employ to drive growth, a study has found.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers partnered with the Norwegian School of Management and University of Central Lancashire to survey 500 relevant media owners in 100 countries, finding that 18.5% of participants' revenues had fallen by at least 21% over the last corporate financial year.

More than 25% noted a decline in the 11% to 20% range, and almost a third pegged the scale of this contraction at between 1% and 10%.

Around 80% of respondents had lost around 1% to 20% of print advertising income, but 50% reported increased online ad sales, measured against less than a quarter witnessing a drop off.

While the panel represented publications varying in size and reach, new product development was considered the primary goal for a majority of the sample.

Acquiring additional revenues from external sources was another leading aim, and 19% of those polled must boost their takings by between 11% and 20% to meet overall objectives.

This constituted a 4% expansion on the number of organisations which supported such a statement in a similar study last year.

Another 27% of contributors intended to augment returns delivered via "non-traditional" sources by a margin in the 21% to 30% area in the next five years, a 1.3% uptick from 2009.

Over 67% of interviewees hoped to roll out fresh products or services during the coming 12 months, and half wished to streamline workflows and processes, improving efficiency as a result.

Indeed, 60% of executives suggested introducing digital offerings had the greatest potential to save money and strengthen performance going forward.

Marketing and branding, more in-depth audience research and better customer relationship management were other tactics attracting interest.

Redundancies ranked comparatively low on the list, in favour of cost reductions covering materials, printing and distribution the main priorities instead.

Martha Stone, director of the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper Project - led by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers - argued the industry was quickly adapting to the digital age.

"The media ecosystem is changing rapidly, and newspapers and their ancillary businesses are developing new businesses to meet the challenges," she said.

"Our survey documents the reality publishers see in the diminishing print advertising business, but are bullish about building new businesses to replace all or some of that revenue."

Data sourced from WAN-IFRA; additional content by Warc staff