Digital Publishing Top Stories
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10 essential media stats from September 2019

handwritten calendar

Ad Tech’s latest flaws, social media and messaging app usage, podcasting’s impact at Slate, the value of evergreen content and the importance of original reporting by local newspapers.

Here’s our regular round-up of the Top 10 stats from the past month:

1: Online video viewing to average 100 minutes a day in 2021

Zenith’s annual Online Video Forecasts report predicts “the average person will spend 100 minutes each day watching online video in 2021, up from 84 minutes this year.”

In China and Sweden, the average person already spends 103 minutes a day watching online video. Zenith expects Canada, India, Mexico, the UK and the USA to join that list in the coming years.

Online video viewing has grown at an average of 32% a year between 2013-18. This year, “the average person will spend half as much time viewing online video as they spend viewing conventional television,” said Jonathan Barnard, Head of Forecasting at Zenith.

Online video ad spend will be worth a third of the TV ad market in 2021, Zenith forecasts, akin to US$61bn by 2021, up from US$45bn this year.

2: Messaging Apps to hit 2.52 billion users this year

By the end of the year, 87.1% of smartphone users, will use a mobile messaging app – like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger – at least once per month, reports eMarketer.

Next year, the number of mobile messaging app users worldwide will overtake social network users, they note, (although there will be some overlap between the two groups,) emphasising the importance of these platforms to brands, business and publishers alike. 

WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messenger app worldwide, with over 1.5 billion monthly active users. India is WhatsApp’s largest market – with 340 million users – followed by Brazil and the US.

3: Ad tech costs publishers about $235 million a year

The Global Disinformation Index, a UK-based not-for-profit, published research findings showing “that nearly a quarter billion dollars (US$ 235 million) worth of advertising ends up on domains that have been flagged for disinformation.” 

This figure was determined by an analysis of 20,000 websites – sites which are served by programmatic advertising – that have previously been identified as purveyors of disinformation. 

The authors caution that the “report is a snapshot in time of a problem that goes beyond 20,000 sites – and likely includes many more. Our numbers are estimates. Only the ad exchanges know the amount that they have paid disinformation domains.” 

Based on their sample, Google provides programmatic adverts to the largest portion (70%) of domains that they assessed; followed by AppNexus (8%), Amazon (4%), Criteo (4%) and Taboola (4%).

4: Bitch Media asks readers for $150,000 to keep in print

“2019 has been a rough year for nonprofits and a nearly catastrophic one for media outlets,” writes Andi Zeisler, cofounder of Bitch Media, an award-winning, nonprofit, feminist media outlet. 

“In 2019 alone,” he adds, “18 outlets (and counting) have either shuttered their print magazines or disappeared entirely. From print publications like Glamour, ESPN magazine, and Mad magazine to fellow independent outlets like The Establishment, Pacific Standard, and Utne Reader, this is an industry-wide collapse at a scale I’ve never seen before.”

To avoid the same fate befalling Bitch Magazine, the company asked supporters to raise $150,000 so that it could continue to publish a print edition. 

On September 28th, they announced that they had met their goal, and the magazine was staying in print.

5: Tech start-ups generate 10% of Big Tech’s revenues

Tech start-ups spent $44bn  last year on advertising and cloud computing from Facebook, Google and Amazon, according to research by the hedge fund Bridgewater.

As the FT reports, “the $44bn they spent on Amazon Web Service, Google and Facebook advertising compared with roughly $9bn spent in 2013, which accounted for about 6% of the tech giants’ revenues.” 

This spend is more than 0.4% of global economic activity, the FT notes, and “close to the peak of roughly 0.6% reached during the tech bubble of 2000.” As a result, this level of expenditure “will stoke concerns of overheating in private markets,” they predict, where deep-pocketed backers are subsidising frequently unprofitable tech business models.”

6: Netflix tried to sell to Blockbuster for $50 million

Vanity Fair published an extract from “That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea,” by the co-founder and first CEO of Netflix, Marc Randolph, which recounted a disastrous meeting in 2000 between Blockbuster and Netflix.

Having first pitched a partnership between the two companies, the conversation later moved to a potential acquisition. Blockbuster all but laughed them out of the room, the piece notes. At one point last year, Netflix had a market capitalization of $152.7 billion, even more than Disney.

Netflix is under pressure after missing growth targets – domestically and internationally – while new services from Apple and Disney may further challenge its revenue base (and push up acquisition costs). 

Apple announced this month that its new, original, TV service will cost $4.99 a month. Disney+ launches in November, charging $6.99 a month for its standard plan, $2 less than Netflix.

7: Up to 40% of publisher traffic is evergreen

Writing for us here at What’s New In Publishing, Faisal Kalim shared several strategies being used by organisations to promote evergreen content. 

This material, the gift that keeps on giving, helps with SEO as well as creating continuity, authority and Kim Kosaka, Director of Marketing at Alexa, describes as “lasting, compounding value.”

“The more you can use the content you create, the more valuable it becomes. With evergreen content, you produce a piece of content once that provides use for years to come. And, unlike a timely blog post that has a traffic spike that occurs right after publishing, evergreen traffic grows and continues to increase over time,” she explains.

As a result, increasing numbers of outlets are looking at publishing more of this content. 

Kalim observes that at The Atlantic, “more than 50% of the traffic in a given month comes from content not produced in that month,” and that at Wired, 40% of content being consumed is more than a week old.


8: U.S. local newspapers produce nearly 50% of original news stories

“Local newspapers significantly outperform local TV, radio, and online-only outlets in news production, both in overall story output and in terms of stories that are original, local, or address a critical information need,” a new report has revealed

After analysing 16,000 stories from 663 local media outlets in 100 randomly selected communities across the U.S., the researchers discovered that: 

  • Local newspapers account for roughly 25 % of the outlets in our sample, but nearly 50 % of the original news stories. 
  • Local newspapers account for nearly 60 % of the Local news stories in our sample – more than all of the other outlet types combined – despite accounting for only 25 % of the outlets in our sample. 

“Essentially, local newspapers produced more of the local reporting in the communities we studied than television, radio, and online-only outlets combined,” two of the authors, Philip M. Napoli and Jessica Mahone note in a piece for Nieman Lab.

Images: Share of Journalistic Output by Original Stories (top).
Share of Journalistic Output by Local Stories (bottom).

“As policymakers and philanthropic organizations concerned about local journalism consider their next steps, and where to invest their efforts and resources, it may be worth keeping these numbers in mind,” they advise.

9: Less than a third of social media users follow media companies

Insights from GlobalWebIndex outline the extent to which Gen Z (people born after 1997) embrace social media “to keep up with celebrities, celebrity news, and follow actors, comedians, singers or TV presenters.”

Categorising this cohort as Celebrity Networkers, this is a demographic who are 22% more likely than average to follow these areas online. 

For publishers, however, they can take some mild heart in the fact that Gen Z is not that different from the overall population when it comes to following news and media organizations on social (27% vs. 31%) or journalists (12% vs. 13%).  

Nonetheless, given that Gen Z is “expected to overtake millennials this year, accounting for 32% of the global population,” they’re too big to ignore. Their “following” preferences skew much more towards influencers – vloggers and bloggers as well as celebs – than the general population, indicating the importance of influencer marketing and partnerships when trying to reach younger audiences.

10: Podcasting packs a financial punch for Slate

Podcasting accounted for 28% of Slate’s overall business last year, but it will account for half of their revenue this year, Slate president Charlie Kammerer told the Digiday Publishing Summit. 

The company now has 25 podcasts, which they expect to be downloaded more than 200 million times this year. Slow Burn (a great example of evergreen content) is their biggest show; and Kammerer stressed the importance of having your own “podcast ecosystem” to promote content in, highlighting the challenge of discoverability without it.

Podcasts are also helping to drive their membership program, Slate Plus. As we noted in our report, 50 Ways to Make Media Pay, members of this program can benefit from ad-free podcasts, bonus episodes and discounts on live shows (which has included events based around Slate’s podcasts). Slate Plus, now has more than 60,000 subscribers.

Image: Percentage of Slate revenue from podcasts. Via Atlantic 57.