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May 18, 2015, 10 a.m.
Business Models

Survey: News orgs are prioritizing mobile development and placing less emphasis on paywalls

Data and mobile are big winners; working to get readers to pay is losing a little momentum.

Anyone running a news organization — particularly one born in print, still struggling to adapt to the Internet — knows there are too many things to do: too many moves to make, too many innovations to chase, too many places to invest your limited resources of time, money, and attention. Your efforts are finite; you have to pick what to emphasize.

That’s what makes this data set from last week’s International News Media Association World Congress so interesting. More than 500 people from 41 countries gathered in New York for INMA’s annual global conference, and most of the media executives in attendance — 285 of them — were asked what were their most important priorities today. And with comparable data from previous years, we could see what was getting more important and what was getting less.

What’s hot: digital growth, mobile revenue streams, and improved data analytics.

What’s cooling off a bit: paywall development, consumer-paid content, e-commerce, and digital alternative revenue streams.

The survey findings were presented during a talk last Tuesday by INMA CEO Earl Wilkinson.

The top priority overall was “future digital growth,” as 94 percent of attendees responded to the survey saying future digital growth was “absolutely critical” or “very important” — the two highest priority levels on the survey. Mobile development was next at 93 percent, followed by 92 percent saying data analytics, and 91 percent answering that improved mobile revenue streams were a priority.

Priorities1

Mobile revenue streams were the fastest growing priority for the surveyed attendees. This year, 69 percent said growing mobile revenue streams were “absolutely crucial” (even though the slides presented at the talk say “very crucial”). That’s an increase from 63 percent in 2014 and 48 percent in 2013. A focus on data analytics also saw significant growth: 58 percent said it was among their top priorities, up from 41 percent in 2013.

Priorities2

The percentage of publishers prioritizing paywall development, however, has fallen nearly in half. (That could be because their paywalls are already built out; it could also be because paywall revenue has plateaued or even dropped for many publications.) In 2013, according to the survey, 48 percent of media excutives said paywall development was “absolutely crucial.” This year, 27 percent said it was among their top priorities.

Priorities3

All the slides from Wilkinson’s presentation are available here.

POSTED     May 18, 2015, 10 a.m.
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