Digital growth challenges for European publishers

Summary of CEO Panel Session, September 29th, 2016

Four weeks ago publishers from France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Belgium came together for the “Digital Growth Conference” in Leuven. Please find below a brief summary. Contact us if you would like to receive more information or presentations.

Digital success through extreme focus on your readers

image-1024-1024-25151Keynote speaker Alan Hunter, Head of Digital for The Times, first shared their strategy of how to grow digitally. “When we announced in 2010 that we would go for 100% paid model, nobody in the industry believed we could make it. Today, we have visitors from all over the world trying to understand how we did it,” he said. One of the key factors of success for The Times was the integrated organizational approach, where the editors, product managers and technical people are located on the same floor. He shared examples of how The Times uses videos on social media to draw audience to their websites.

Digital pennies have replaced print pounds

The day finished with a panel discussion with Sophie Gourmelen, CEO of Le Parisien, Gert Ysebaert, CEO of Mediahuis, and Alan Hunter, Head of Digital at The Times. The participants together with Danny Lein, Founder and CEO of Twipe, discussed the challenges faced by European publishers in the light of a growing digitization of the market today.

“The biggest threat to our business arising from digital disruption is that of advertising. Digital pennies have replaced print pounds. In order to survive we have to find a way for people to pay for journalism.”
says Alan Hunter, Head of Digital of The Times, about the newspaper industry.

Central in the discussion was the speed at which the world is changing. In less than 10 years time, Facebook and Google have eaten up most of the advertising business. This speed creates huge challenges for print newspapers, which have been working in the same processes for more than 50 years.

“Accelerating the transformation of the newsroom is the biggest challenges for Le Parisien,”
says Sophie Gourmelen the recently appointed CEO of Le Parisien.

The core business of newspapers is the creation of quality content. With the advent of the Internet, there has been shift from quality to quantity. With the increased focus on paid content, newspapers today are again much more focusing on the quality of the content.

“Our unique added value is the creation of quality content. I see huge opportunities to leverage this capability through video, virtual reality and new forms of digital storytelling,” says Gert Ysebaert, CEO of Mediahuis.

“Is it a newspaper? Is it a magazine? – We just called it dS Avond”

Digital Evening Editions are seen as a means of publishers to deliver additional premium content to their paying subscribers. Johan Mortelmans, Head of Digital at dS Avond and Edouard Reis Carona from L’édition du Soir, presented their approaches of digital only evening editions. L’édition du Soir has now 1.5 million readers a month and has become a crucial part for the online audience.

The evening editions have served as internal “start-ups” in the large newsroom as they allow to experiment with new digital formats as well allow to introduce a new tone of voice for the print content. Three years after their launch, the teams working on these editions will in 2017 be integrated in the overall newsroom. That will be one of the largest challenges.

Will Google DNI save the European publishing industry?


Bénédicte Autret, Head of strategic relations at Google Belgium, told the audience that it is not really the intent of Google to save the European publishing industry with its Digital News Initiative (DNI). The goal of DNI is to foster innovation by working on 3 pillars: new tools, training and funding.

This year Twipe together with Mediahuis received funding for EngageReaders, a new editorial analytics solution that helps editors every day in making better publications. A clear example of how DNI practically moves projects foreword.


Experience the event through images and stories in this mobile magazine!



Team Twipe

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