Learnings from 2019’s best news industry conferences

15 November 2019
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As you work on your plans for 2020, we have gathered our top learnings from this year’s industry events (and key working areas for us at Twipe) to help inform your strategy. 

#1. Growing subscriptions at #DigitalSubsParis (March, Paris)

Matthew Skibinski, consultant from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, confirmed the importance of emails and registered users for likelihood to subscribe, and he also gave another example of a high propensity activity: reading on multiple devices. This means that having a good experience on all devices is key for growing subscriptions. Readers want to get the quality content they’re paying for in the format they prefer.

This need for high quality digital experience is something Sophie Gourmelen, General Director of Le Parisien knows the value of as well. 70% of Le Parisien’s audience is on mobile, and now their strategy is focused on moving those readers to apps, where they have much better retention rates. She advised publishers to prioritise their technical platforms to ensure they’re providing great user experiences. If the UX is poor, subscriptions will be difficult, as good content is not enough to overcome poor UX. Read More

#2. Focus on products at the International Journalism Festival (April, Perugia)

Product panelists Ana Jakimovska (The Guardian),  Lucy Kueng and Nic Newman (RISJ), and Lippe Oosterhof (Yahoo News) have seen that the most successful media companies are the ones that have a clear understanding of their product across the entire company. That requires strong product managers, who serve in more than just a delivery role, becoming a true strategic advisor. This is because it is simply not possible for an Editor in Chief to understand all the possible technology, so they need to be able to trust the product people to understand and give guidance. Read More

#3. DGSHabits – what we learned about habit-forming news products (October, Berlin)

While experimenting, publishers need to mix the comfort of predictability and the serendipity of the unexpected. For example, while it’s important to have a predictable publishing schedule, often readers still want to be surprised with the content itself. This idea of a variable reward is key for habit formation, according to Nir Eyal’s “Hooked Model”. He stressed the importance of giving your readers a variable reward for their actions. Using the example of a slot machine, users start to crave the thrill of pulling the lever and seeing what they are rewarded with  we can see the same behavior when users pull down to refresh a news feed today. The unpredictability makes the reward much more exciting and will keep users coming back every day for the surprise. Read More

#4. Monetising audio at GEN Summit (June, Athens)

According to insights from Nic Newman of Reuters Institute, the monetisation model for podcasts is still just emerging today. However it is important that we do not only look at making money right now, but in the long term as well. For example, The Guardian uses audio to both build loyalty and offer sampling of its journalism. Then for the real blockbusters, publishers can even explore paid models. But it is this loyalty aspect of audio that is sometimes overlooked. Read More

#5.  Reducing churn at News UK –  Driving Subscription Growth Using AI (May, London)

Together with The Times and The Sunday Times, Twipe hosted the event “Driving Subscription Growth Using AI” where we shared findings from our year-long collaborative project “JAMES, Your Digital Butler”. Using machine learning and AI, JAMES personalises the distribution of the edition, in terms of time, content, format and frequency. For the cohorts in scope of JAMES, News UK has observed 49% less churn after the project. Read More

This article was written by Mary-Katharine Phillips, Media Innovation Analyst at Twipe from 2017 – 2021.

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