This week, the News Media Association (NMA) wrote to ministers to say that it is becoming “increasingly difficult” to fund quality journalism, and the diversion of advertising revenues is to blame.
Marketing spend going to the likes of Facebook and Google doesn’t cease to increase whilst newspaper advertising revenue plummets. The NMA warned that the impact of media plurality and the functioning of democracy “will be profound”.
This is not a new issue for our so-called ‘old media’. The European Union just recently proposed strict new copyright rules aimed at making it easier for publishers to make money out of their work online. Google is likely to be hit hard, as YouTube and Google News may have to pay out more for hosting content or showing parts of it.
However, this directive has been a long time coming and, on its own, may not be enough to save traditional media. Furthermore, traditional media haven’t sat back on their laurels waiting for help, many have explored new ways to monetise differently.
The paywall has been a monetising strategy for many - but it’s been far from plain sailing. After The Times put up its paywall it lost 87% of its traffic. Some speculated the end of The Times, but they were wrong. Other papers with significant readerships, like The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Daily Telegraph, have followed suit with paywalls.
The Guardian has chosen to do things differently. The site rewards its members with content that the general reader cannot see. The CEO explained that it’s not about blocking content, it’s about treating members with access to new things. It’s early days for The Guardian, so this model has yet to prove its worth.
CityAM followed another different route in June this year. The site opened its doors to corporate brands looking to publish content on its website. The revenue for CityAM will be a monthly fee for a package, and unlike native advertising, the company name will be clearly visible in order to distinguish between brand journalism and CityAM’s independent journalism.
Suffice to say that traditional media will continue to evolve their monetisation strategies in order to fight for independent and quality journalism. It will not be extinct in the near future, so brands need to continue to engage and build relationships with those most influential to their audience. However, gone are the days of large press conferences and standard press releases being sent en masse. As journalists are fewer and more time-poor, standing out and making yourself heard is harder than ever.