World Press Trends Report 2024: Twipe’s Top 5 Insights 

Last week, WAN-IFRA published their World Press Trends Report for 2023-2024. Based on the responses of 175 senior news executives from 60 countries, it puts a finger on the pulse of the industry.

We’ve compiled the key learnings and insights from over 50 pages of detailed report to share with you. 

Publishers hold a more positive outlook on the year(s) ahead.

This year’s World Press Trends Outlook shows a notable shift in sentiment. Compared to last year’s predominantly pessimistic outlook, this year greets us with a refreshing wave of optimism. 55% of publishers now express positive expectations for the upcoming year, a significant shift from last year’s 55% expressing pessimism. Even those who reported a generally pessimistic view this year were less pessimistic than last year: under 10% of respondents reported their confidence level as a 2 or 3 on the 10-point scale, nearly half of what was reported last year.  

What’s fueling this newfound optimism? Two key factors are expected revenue growth and a year of important global events.  

Publishers expect a revenue boost, thanks partly to diversifying their income streams. Overall, revenues are projected to grow by 18.5% in 2024 compared to 2023. This would be a continuation of a trend seen in 2023 where publishers recorded an overall profit of 5% (compared to a negative profit of –1% in 2022).  

Additionally, the impact of significant events like elections (US, India, UK, EU, and dozens of others) as well as the Olympics cannot be understated. These events are anticipated to substantially lift advertising revenues, contributing to the overall positive outlook.  

Moreover, while platforms like Meta and X are cutting back on news feeds, this gives publishers the opportunity to work on direct traffic rather than referrals.

Alternative revenue streams are becoming a more important source of income.

While ads and subscriptions remain the primary revenue sources, accounting for 43% and 35.3% of total revenue, respectively, there’s a growing interest in alternative income streams. 80% of respondents cited these “other revenue streams” as a priority area for their company. In 2023, they accounted for 19% of total revenue and are projected to increase to 21.6% in 2024. Events, grant funding, and partnerships with platforms are leading the charge, being the top three most popular alternative revenue streams (see graph).  

For an in-depth look, read our article about how publishers use alternative revenue streams.

Print advertising is expected to fall (slightly), and digital advertising is expected to remain stable for publishers.

Despite these changes, some aspects of the industry remain consistent. Print advertising, though expected to decline slightly, shows a less steep fall than in previous years (5.7% in 2024, compared to 6.2% in 2023). Digital advertising, on the other hand, remains stable, with a modest rise anticipated for 2024 (3.4% YoY).  

Global advertising spend is anticipated to surpass $1 trillion for the first time in 2024. However, over half of the global advertising spend goes to five major tech firms: Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, ByteDance, and Meta. This concentration of ad spending with tech companies indicates that publishers may not benefit equally from the advertising bump. 

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Circulation revenue is expected to see similar trends in 2024 as in 2023: Growth in digital circulation and decline in print.

Circulation revenue trends are also set to follow a similar pattern to 2023. Digital circulation is expected to grow by 7% in 2024, while print circulation continues to decline by 4%. This ongoing shift towards digital is a clear indicator of changing consumer preferences and the industry’s effort to adapt accordingly.  

Nearly four in ten companies describe their digital transformation efforts as “advanced,” while a similar number consider their efforts as “emergent.” This indicates a broad spectrum of digital maturity among publishers, with few feeling significantly behind or ahead of their peers. As publishers embrace a digital-focused business model, the significant cost structure associated with print is diminishing. This reflects the industry’s ongoing transformation in response to the changing media landscape. 

Publishers will experiment with AI but probably not adopt it fully this year.

AI, particularly Generative AI, has become a focal point in the industry, with nearly nine in ten respondents (87%) identifying AI as a priority investment. This surge in interest is partly due to the public release of technologies like ChatGPT. However, despite the increasing acknowledged importance of AI, a majority of companies (72%) still do not have a clear framework for AI adoption and implementation. Furthermore, many publishers are not fully prepared to utilise it, citing factors like limited know-how, rapid technological evolution, and the need for experimentation. 

2024: A year of optimism, global events, and alternative revenue streams

In summary, the World Press Trends Outlook 2023-2024 indicates a positive shift in the news industry. Publishers are optimistic, driven by expected revenue growth and a dynamic year of global events. Diversification in revenue streams, particularly through alternative sources like events and partnerships, is a key focus. Despite a slight decline in print advertising, digital remains stable with a modest rise expected. 

The industry’s digital transformation is ongoing, with a significant shift towards digital content as consumer preferences evolve. Meanwhile, AI emerges as a potential game-changer, though its full adoption remains tentative, with publishers still exploring its implications and applications. 

Author

Sarah Cool-Fergus

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