It’s transformation season, and if you think this was a different and busy year for news media, it was. There was a lot of resetting, some small wins and some significant losses, but if I had to bet, it’s all been essential in leading to a fresh revival of our industry. I’m not being frivolous with some inconsequential declaration when I say that 2023 will be the year of re-emergence for news media. Why? The tracks have been set for news organizations to reemerge as innovative tech companies delivering personalized and substantive information. Yes, you read that correctly. Your local news company will become a partner with you throughout your day instead of only providing top-line regional and national news, politics and opinions. Papers have already been resized, optimized delivery routes, restructured prices and reduced staff. So, what’s coming? Ask yourself, what’s the most practical way to engage with the fast-paced lifestyle of today’s modern consumer? As I’ve stated in previous articles, the answer is personalized, convenient and resourceful information.
Please take notice next year of how organizations begin to build tactics to understand each reader and deliver valuable information most tailored to their lifestyle. Delivery and content adaptation are the remaining two elements of news media that will pilot the future. Understanding each reader and enhancing every aspect of what content is delivered and how you provide it is the key to the re-emergence of news media. If you think that you’ve already done this, you haven’t. If you have the data, individualize or group your audiences to lead with lifestyle so that you can create engagement that leads to the discovery of additional content and page views. If you need the data, make a journey for your audience that helps you gain better insight into what they’re most interested in and how they like to receive information. The result will be a sophisticated content model where homepages, newsletters, emails, text alerts and app notifications are personalized to every reader’s preference. News organizations already have engaging content, but there needs to be a focus on realignment of the delivery strategy around that content so that it’s timely, personalized, resourceful and convenient to engage readers constantly.
It only takes one organization to get this right, and it will be the spark that lights the path to the future. This simple strategy is why I’m excited about 2023. If you’re at the tail-end of game-planning for the coming year and wondering how to build out this strategy at your organization, survey your new registrants and subscribers with the intent to deliver them personalized, resourceful content. Consumers are typically more willing to provide additional information if they know you're diligent in understanding them. Furthermore, subscribers want to feel in control of the information delivered to them and will appreciate your efforts to ensure this is the case. Next, become more aggressive with your developers, designers and vendors in structuring the most user-friendly product and flows to capture the most first-party data about your subscribers while delivering the most custom and personalized content. Lastly, reexamine and explore all your delivery vehicles to identify whether user customization is possible, then create and implement wherever applicable.
This strategy will also serve as a pillar for balancing subscription, sponsored and programmatic revenue. Understanding and delivering content subscribers on a sub-personal level is the priority because of its potential to produce higher engagement, monetary lifetime value and long-term retention. Subsequently, a better understanding of your paid and registered audience helps enhance your communication and product value to advertisers. Top-line regional and national news is essential for driving programmatic revenue, which will become highly valuable as third-party data enters a new age.
2023 won’t be a time of panic or turmoil. News media is one of the most powerful concepts in the world and has been in a reset period — the dark before the dawn of a significant new era. Be at peace with what has transpired, and be prepared to show the world what news media can and will become.
Richard E. Brown is a News/Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.
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