2024 goals for publishers: AI assistant in the newsroom + revenue growth

2024 goals for publishers: AI assistant in the newsroom + revenue growth

The pace of evolution of digital technology is overwhelming us all. But, the coolest cucumbers in the news media industry are betting on just one thing: Looking inward to build on new strengths.

Being in the news industry means you’ve always got your nose in the news. Never a day off from the sensational and the shocking. Maybe that’s why some of the most alarmist headlines seem to just fly past us - probably just another news cycle. Especially so in the digital era. 

But the times, they’re a changing. 

Not just for our readers, but for us all. And fast.

And the times for the global Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry are looking to get tough and tougher, according to a report by PwC titled Perspectives and Insights: Global Entertainment and Media Outlook (2023-2027). 

The key concern is that the M&E industry has hit a downward trend on growth since 2022 which is expected to continue over the period between 2023 and 2027. In 2022, the global M&E industry revenue grew 5.4%, down from 10.6% just a year before in 2021. This deceleration may continue sequentially over the next few years. You can read the full report here

Now, I bet that’s comes as a bummer when the new year is just 30-odd days away. But, all is not glum. Because, the evolving challenges are compelling publishers to find dramatically smarter ways to achieve their goals. They’re targeting growth hotspots around the world with the right technological mix of tools to stay ahead. And that’s what we wish to talk about here. 

The story of Klara Indernach. 

Klara is an AI reporter developed by A German media brand Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien, owned by the DuMont group. In October 2023, this German brand turned off its printing press after 400 years of operations. 

Our printing story is over. This business is totally under fire and the figures you see below, you won’t see next year. We are moving towards being a digital tech company with journalistic content. But the business model and the newsrooms have to change fundamentally. Nothing will be the same as it is today.

CEO Thomas Schultz-Homberg, at the WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia conference in Oct 2023

It runs 3 newspapers with an annual circulation of 247 million copies; 7 radio stations; and has 1,000 employees. Today, it has shifted its focus to tech solutions with top priority being growing the 45 million monthly visits to its websites. 

Today, Thomas Shultz-Homberg’s words may sound alarmist but are they, really? 

“Without technology, there is no future for newsrooms. There won’t be any newsroom left if we don’t do technology. And if as publishers, we don’t do technology, others will do it for us”. 

This is why I say that the next growth hack for news media players is to look inward. Really question anyone within their senior leadership who still holds the opinion that your business can afford to wait before going all in on digital.

Klara writes 6% of the articles written on the publisher’s platform EXPRESS.de and drives 5.2% of total article hits. And, they have seen 80% boost in traffic by automating their content curation.  

This is just one such story. Most business-savvy digital publishers see their future here. 

So, how can you get there without having to get off the bus? 

More importantly, when the digital world seems to be brimming with a constant barrage of solutions and upgrades, what should you prioritise? 

Well, two things: 

  1. Invest in newsroom growth 

  2. Get creative in seeking revenue growth 

Your next question would be ‘Okay, How?’

Grow your newsroom prowess

When we mention newsroom growth, people often think it’s about the headcount. And that may be one way to grow your newsroom. But, in our view newsroom growth refers to growing the skill, effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of your newsroom. 

Here’s where technology must step in. A good Newsroom CMS is only a stepping stone to success. At Quintype, we are constantly enhancing our newsroom CMS’ value through integration of generative AI because we believe it’s the future, as Klara’s addition to the growing global army of of robo-reporters proves. 

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Medien’s Klara takes writing orders from the editorial team. She also detects topics by scanning trending topics in the group’s news channels. If there is no article, she starts to write one.

These robo-journalists are working under the close instruction and inspection of an array of distinguished editors and experienced journalists. Increasingly, creating a man-machine paradigm across the industry. 

Recently, the Associated Press too has joined the Gen AI bandwagon. In outlining  its approach to experimenting with Gen AI, the agency has clarified that it will limit its use to compilation on news digests and other such ‘menial’ tasks. 

Therefore, if some of the most traditional and established names are laying out the rules for how they will and will not be using AI, it is time to pay attention. 

As a digital publisher, you need to upskill your existing talent and help them get the most out of your newsroom CMS and other AI-led publishing tools. They also need a 360 degree understanding of how brand building across various social media boosts your brand’s impact and how to engage your audiences well. 

News media brands could benefit greatly from AI-driven capabilities in providing translations across multiple languages. It could help them target audiences across various regional and linguistic boundaries. 

Get creative with seeking revenue growth

The PwC’s report spotlights advertising as a ‘growth hotspot’ of the global M&E industry. A key observation is that brands have realised the need to build a closer digital connect with their consumers. They are using AI-driven technology to increase their relevance to their target audiences and partnerships with media platforms are giving them access to wider audiences. 

This is particularly important for the news industry in India. According to several reports, India is predicted to become the world’s fastest-growing digital economy between now and 2027, with a CAGR of 9.6% and that of online advertising at 12.7%. 

For media companies trying to grow their revenue in this hyper-charged market that goes into a General Elections frenzy in 2024, your time is now!

Media companies are eyeing collaboration opportunities including sponsored content, bundling offers, and creative product advertising, while focussing on growing subscriber base.

All you need to do then is to arrive at the right mix of content and advertising for your target audience. Experimentation with smart tools will help speed up your progress. 

I hope this post comes as a reminder to refocus your strategy for 2024.

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