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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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