The balancing act of publishers

World Press Trends 2019

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The findings of the 30th edition of the World Press Trends report underscores the ongoing conundrum of the industry: Overall global revenues in 2018 continued to shrink as did some newsrooms, yet paying audiences and demand for quality news continue to increase.

The report analyzes the data collected from WAN-IFRA’s annual survey of more than 50 countries, in addition to the insights and data from its global partners, including ZenithOptimedia, IPSOS, PwC, Chartbeat, Parse.ly, and IO Technologies.

In the fog of questionable content today, consumers are increasingly seeking trusted, quality content. And this is not lost on publishers who are sharpening their focus on building engagement with their readers who are likewise more willing to pay for content, and more,” says Vincent Peyrègne, chief executive officer of WAN-IFRA.

This year’s data also shows the myriad challenges facing publishers, but, quite interestingly, statistical evidence of the impact of a free and independent press on several critical societal issues.

This year’s analysis was conducted by Dr. François Nel, reader in Media Innovation at the Media Innovation Studio, University of Central Lancashire, Dr. Coral Milburn-Curtis, associate fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, and Prof. Castulus Kolo, Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Munich (Germany).

World Press Trends features many of the industry key performance indicators. Some of the findings from this year’s report include the following:

  • Global revenues (print & digital) declined by 3% (YoY 2018) with much of that hit coming from print advertising revenue (down 7%). Digital advertising revenues increased by 5% and are forecast to improve in 2019.
  • Paying news audiences increased by 0.5% to 640 million per day in 2018, fuelled primarily by the continued strategy and growth in getting readers to convert to digital subscribers (up 11% YoY). Nearly 54% of newspapers’ overall revenue comes from circulation sales.
  • Despite much of the focus on digital transformation, print revenues still account for about 86% of news publishers’ revenue. In 2018, print circulation declined only 1% globally. Naturally, that picture varies from region to region and from country to country.
  • This year’s World Press Trends offers robust statistical evidence that shows direct and strong relationships between a free and independent press and factors that indicate the strength of democracies, the health of societies, as well as both the wealth of nations and the fortunes of its people.
  • Google continues to be the most important traffic source for news media companies globally, accounting for two out of every three page views from the leading global technology companies, according to an analysis of data from Chartbeat. Yet the relationship with tech platforms remains tenuous if at times hopeful.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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