Readers at the heart of business strategy and four other publishing trends for 2020

One thing is absolutely clear: Readership research is in a period of disruption and will continue its road to transformation in 2020 with the role of measurement councils evolving.

The International Publisher & Data Conference (IPDC) held in Lisbon in 2019 revealed that most markets are dealing with similar challenges, from cost cutting, to adapting samples and moving beyond Average Issue Readership.

With that in mind, it’s worth examining the top trends:

1. Publishers will put readers at the heart of the business strategy

It’s a fact that readers no longer read news from a couple of trusted sources. Advertisers started “chasing audiences at scale across the internet”, as The Guardian UK’s chief revenue officer, Hamish Nicklin, said. The venerable British newspaper in 2019 showed a small profit after a three-year plan to become sustainable by “putting the reader at the heart of everything”. Now over half its revenues comes from readers. As Nicklin said, “…we’re definitely more of a digital business, and more of a reader-focused business”.

2. The future is hybrid

The overwhelming message at the IPDC was that the future is hybrid, using cross platform, cross media measurement in which print can remain valued by many, providing it coexists with publishers’ online efforts. Cross media audience measurement is a growing trend globally among publishers who “want to win back trust, both from audiences and commercial partners”, as FIPP’s Piet van Niekerk points out.

3. Big data will deliver actionable insights… if analysed properly

Audience engagement and analytics researcher, Hanne Brasseur, from Brussel’s public service medium VRT NWS, believes data doesn’t mean anything until you analyse it. By having a ‘culture of data’ online analytics helps her newsroom make good editorial choices (in real time), take strategic decisions and grow loyal audiences.

4. Context is vital for advertising

Under-investment by advertisers in print and online news brands is a risk. Denise Turner, insight director of Newsworks in the UK, pointed out at the IPDC that research and analysis has demonstrated the importance of context and the quality of environment – it’s worth paying a bit more because you get much more effect. Although the quality environment was more expensive, it was 42% more cost effective.

5. Not all digital is equal

A study by Lumen in the UK showed that just because an ad is viewable, doesn’t mean it’s been viewed. Quality content delivers 2.6 times more attention to advertising. Lumen recommends that given that more relevant ads lead to greater attention, ads that are fit for purpose, and made for the platform they appear on with time invested in device-appropriate creatives, will be more viewable.