The study, which I conduct in collaboration with Martha Stone of the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project and Erik Wilberg of the Norwegian Management School, is the largest of its kind and in 2010 had responses from nearly 500 newspaper owners, publishers, editors and senior commercial managers from 78 countries on all five continents.
Not surprisingly, the 128-page report is packed with great information and selecting my top 3 findings wasn't straightforward. But here's what I think and why I think there's some reason for cheer as we wrap up the first decade of this Millennium and gear up for 2011:
- The impact of the global economy recession is easing. No, we're not out of the woods yet. Far from it. But a third fewer publishers (18.5 % in 2010 vs 28% in 2009) reported severe revenue declines – that is more 20 per cent. Declining print advertising revenue was the biggest driver of overall revenue decline, with more than 80% of the respondents saying they lost between 1% and more than 20% of their print ad revenue, with the most pronounced declines happening in Northern Europe and North America regions. Meanwhile online advertising revenue and content revenue did not take the same hit as print revenues, with half of the respondents reporting growth, many reporting no change, and a handful, less than one-quarter, reporting a decline in the last fiscal year.
- Advertising-supported print products are no longer enough. The vast the vast majority of the world's news publishers recognise their traditional revenue sources of print advertising and newspaper subscriptions will no longer provide the financial returns of years past and, in response, the publishers are making it a top priority to diversify their revenue streams and to development new products and new channels.
Publishers are bullish about mobile.
- Innovation - and mobile - are keys to future success. One question summed up the publishers’ collective desire for the future of their business, and that is, new business growth. Respondents in both 2009 and 2010 spoke loudly and clearly: the way forward is through investment in new product development for new revenues. We consider this to be one of the most important findings of the study. . Other clear investments for newspaper companies were marketing and branding for newspapers, increased audience research and investment in customer relationship management. In 2009, investment in new product development was followed by marketing and branding for the newspaper, increased audience research, investment in customer relationship management and investment in editorial technologies. This year, investment in new product development was followed by marketing and branding for the newspaper, and then "mobile platforms." When asked, “Please consider which of the following platforms could be opportunities for your organisation over the next three years,” the top choices were mobile phones (58%), followed by Websites (54%) and e-readers, such as Kindle and iPad (53%.). Clearly the emerging importance of mobile is an important take-away from this year’s study and, of course, we’ll be investigating this in some greater depth in 2011.
We’re already working on the 2011 survey and planning to expand the study to 10 languages by including Arabic, along with (in alphabetical order) Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
For academic citations of the report, please use: STONE, Martha, NEL, François and WILBERG, Erik. (2010) World News Future and Change Study 2010. Paris, France: World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).