Resiliency, adaptability, and innovation in news media during the past two years of a global pandemic portends a robust decade ahead for publishers that prioritise subscriptions, embrace “smart” data, and establish a new relationship with the Big Tech platforms, INMA President Damian Eales said today.
Volunteer president of INMA the past three years, the New York-based Eales is the global head of transformation for News Corp, a role in which he looks at areas of collaboration and efficiency. This includes looking at global technology systems, co-location of businesses, and leveraging synergies across the company.
Speaking to nearly 250 members during Wednesday’s live INMA Webinar, Eales said:
- New digital expectations: The pandemic has accelerated “overnight” news media’s customer base as “digital customers” with new consumption patterns and digital expectations.
- Psychology changes: Subscriptions and streaming have become more normalised as a result of the pandemic, changing the psychology of the media-consumer relationship.
- The importance of data: The pending phaseout of third-party cookies offers positives as well as negatives for news publishers. On the subscription front, publishers will move from anonymous to known to subscribed to value-added. Advertisers gain targeting and more relevant ads for customers.
- Advertising relevancy: Data-fueled advertising is becoming more relevant to the content that surrounds it, while advertorial is getting more sophisticated, targeted, and useful.
- New revenue generation: Content’s ability to generate leads is “unquestioned,” yet what remains to be seen is if it can be done at scale.
- Big Tech relationships: Google, Meta, and publishers have begun to establish foundations for a sustainable relationship, though more work needs to be done. The recent settlements with Australian publishers are an “economic recognition of the value” media companies create, generating millions of dollars for the country’s media.
- Wholesale adjustments in work patterns: Successful leaders in the future will need to determine how to balance flexible working with an ability to elicit the creativity that comes from a team, and the value that comes from teams collaborating in person.
Eales opened the interview with INMA Executive Producer Mark Challinor praising the adaptability of media companies during the impact. He concluded the interview with optimism about the decade ahead, as media companies are still “young” as digital organisations. How publishers performed during the pandemic should inspire confidence and optimism.
“One of the privileges of being in INMA is being part of a community where you’re seeing a lot of what’s happening, not only in your business but broadly across the industry,” Eales said.
Regarding INMA, Eales said:
- New technologies have been embraced and scaled during the pandemic, driving up INMA membership and levels of engagement.
- The association’s Board of Directors adopted a new statement of mission, values, and community, on which INMA will build in 2022.
- INMA will get back to physical conferences, yet this is challenging to navigate given the COVID variants making international travel difficult.
Fusing his roles at INMA and News Corp, Eales reflected on his seven-year relationship with INMA. Looking strategically at the state of media, he said his first INMA World Congress in San Francisco in 2014 was akin to a “group therapy session.” Today, the new media playbook is emerging and “core ingredients of what the recipe for success” have emerged:
- Taking a readers-first approach.
- Negotiating a new relationship with the digital platforms.
- Building better, more engaging, and more effective products.
- Getting smarter about data.
- Advertising remains a big part of media revenue streams and needs to retain focus.
- Putting renewed focus into the newsroom of the future.
INMA is covering each of these subjects with its initiatives, Eales emphasised.
INMA members may view a recording of the one-hour Webinar featuring the INMA president by clicking here.