Five Truths Publishers Need To Accept To Remain Profitable In 2019 (

According to the “Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions 2019” report published by the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford, 2019 will be the most challenging year yet for journalism. While this is quite a daunting prediction, especially following all the turmoil in 2018, it is not hard to see why this is a prevailing opinion.

Editors and journalists face an enormous task in 2019: finding a way to incorporate readers into the publishing equation in order to remain profitable. In this article, I’d like to propose five truths that publishers must recognize this year in order to successfully monetize their digital content and keep their readers, rather than their investors, top of mind.

1. Subscriptions can’t be your sole source of revenue. According to the aforementioned Reuters report, 52% of respondents expect subscriptions to be the main revenue focus for 2019. Subscriptions, however, cannot be your sole source of revenue. While driving subscription adoption remains the “holy grail” for publishers, as it creates a steady stream of revenue, there are many ways publishers can create incremental revenue.

2. Podcasts can be a game-changer if done right. A whopping 75% of respondents of the Reuters report expect audio to become an important part of their content and commercial strategies this year. This is fairly evident based on the rise in the number of podcasts being produced by publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. While this helps increase the amount of content publishers can put out, as well as add additional ad revenue, publishers need to be careful to maintain control of their content.

3. You can’t rely on big tech to save you. Other than Google, the news industry increasingly places the blame on tech giants like Facebook, Apple and YouTube. Complaints range from a lack of revenue being generated to decreases in traffic referrals and the rise of brand-safety issues. Publishers need to understand, however, that these big platforms are not a white knight who is here to save them.

4. Advanced technologies are your friend, not your enemy. A number of publications, including The Associated Press and Forbes, have already begun to implement artificial intelligence (AI). In 2019, I believe we will begin to see further adoption of artificial intelligence within the media and publishing spaces.

5. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. “The customer is always right.” When did that term lose its meaning? In the past, publishers were often more focused on pleasing advertisers — after all, that was where most of their revenue was coming from prior to the rise of the duopoly. In doing so, however, publishers have ignored the reader. Rebuilding that user trust and user-centric news model will be a challenge for publishers in 2019, but is an undertaking that should be taken seriously.
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