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“The single greatest threat and the single greatest opportunity”: Insights on AI and publishing, from FIPP World Media Congress 2023

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“Come for the storytelling, stay for the community”

Attended by more than 400 delegates from 43 countries, the FIPP World Media Congress in the Portuguese town of Cascais kicked off with a look at the innovation that’s happening in the face of severe disruption.

Congress 2023 brought together people from a cross-section of media and technology sectors, who explored key industry topics with the foremost global experts.

“A quarter of the way into the 21st century and I think we can agree that so far it’s a time of great crisis, but also a great opportunity,” said FIPP President and CEO James Hewes in his opening address. “The speed at which our industry and the world is changing has never been so rapid.”

One of the things that humans are very bad at is estimating both the impact of change and the rate of change. Change will continue to get quicker and quicker and quicker, and that’s something we need to respond to.

James Hewes, FIPP President and CEO

Juan Señor, the President of Innovation Media Consulting Group in London—one of the world’s leading news media consultancies—talked about how we can respond to these new challenges.

Here are a few key insights from the session Thrive or Dive? Discover the Latest Innovation Trends in Media:

1. “Come for the storytelling, stay for the community”

A new business model emerging of selling bundles and what that means, getting people to come for the storytelling, for the journalism, but they stay for the community. We give them education, entertainment, and so on.

Bundles breaking through… great cases from the States, from Europe, in terms of how to sell a bundle at a time where we had to dismantle the bundle in the past. We also have very interesting insights into micropayments. 

These are things that were lost, we gave up on them. They’re coming back and is a very interesting new way to engage with readers in terms of establishing a commercial relationship. 

2. “Dismantling of the traditional article”

New formats is a fascinating chapter this year because the storytelling that we’ve done in the past has changed dramatically, and this is creating a lot of loyalty. 

We’re talking about the dismantling of the traditional article, the bullet points storytelling, new formats, finite content, incredible brevity approaches to telling stories. 

3. AI: “The single greatest threat and the single greatest opportunity”

For many of you may be the last train in digital. We missed the social train, we missed the mobile train. Some people missed the search train. Let’s not miss this train.

So what I’m going to do is I’m gonna try to give you some framework of top-mind thinking with canvas, the top publishers. We’ve also canvased the platforms, creating AI to really try to give you a strategic framework of how to go about this, because this is the subject and this is the innovation to get your head around. We need to understand AI right now. Understand it, don’t fight it. It’s a great dilemma, it’s a great paradox, and we need to get this one right. 

It’s the single greatest threat and the single greatest opportunity. And we’ve been here before with existential threats to our business. But this one is the deepest. It’s a threat because it is gonna kill our business model. It kills search revenue, it kills the CPM model. The CPM model was languishing, it was dying, but it’s gonna kill it off. It’s a threat because why should I subscribe to anything when a deep mind, an oracle, a God on Earth, can gimme all the answers? Think about it. Why subscribe?

The threat to search is a threat to us soon. Now, people have a place where you can get all the answers to your hobby, to your passions, to your whatever is your immediate need for information. That’s what we do. We are there to provide that information, that newsworthiness. Now there’s an oracle out there, a deep mind that’s being created that could supplant us. 

However, it’s a great opportunity because it can generate vast amount of revenues in terms of syndicated content. If we get this right, it’s a great opportunity as it will decentralize the web. And obviously it is opening space beyond the dominance of big tech, right? It’s shaking the foundations of the duopoly. Google is scared witless with spending billions into this, and they’re playing catch up. And this duopoly could be replaced with a new duopoly, with a trifecta, but the threat is there. 

And that is an opportunity for us. It’s also gonna usher a torrent of crap. So it’s a great opportunity for us to once again, provide verification of all the, the crap out there. Uh, contrast it, expose it, and create objectivity. And this is not just political, fake news, but it’s consumer fake news, people being told that, uh, if you whatever, use the scream or this, you know, this thing, you’ll become ageless or become younger.

People will search, will ask the deep mind, the oracle, and then hopefully would come to us to verify that that’s true. When it’s really important, when it’s a live critical decision. What are the latest trends? What’s the color this year? What’s the best recipe for this? Well, do I really trust? 

So it’s a great opportunity for us to play that role of arbiter, of verifier of what is coming, what’s already out there. 

You can watch the entire session here: