How publishers manage the emerging platform-influenced economics of attention to grow audience and revenue is the focus of a new report released today by the International News Media Association (INMA). 

“How News Media Wins In the Attention Economy” examines: 

  • Platform dependency. 
  • Platform attention revenue. 
  • The value of attention. 
  • Costs of acquiring and retaining attention.

The report synthesises the research of Dr. Merja Myllylahti, a lecturer and researcher at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she serves as project manager for AUT’s Journalism, Media, and Democracy Centre. Dr. Myllylahti is also a regular blogger for INMA.

Key takeaways from “How News Media Wins In the Attention Economy” include: 

  • Social media attention has short-term benefits like driving traffic and subscriptions, yet that attention is not creating much revenue. 
  • Publishers have become dependent on social media platforms despite risks. 
  • The news industry lacks proper valuation models for attention revenue. 
  • Unreliable attention metrics from platform companies have had dire consequences. 
  • Platform subscription services may generate subscription growth, yet that comes with rising costs. 
  • As news companies focus more on subscriber retention than acquisition, attention becomes a vital piece of the puzzle. 
  • There are opportunities for news companies and platforms to cooperate on news distribution and attention monetisation. 
Dr. Merja Myllylahti shares her own research on the topic, including this analysis of various social platforms.
Dr. Merja Myllylahti shares her own research on the topic, including this analysis of various social platforms.

Myllylahti asks if Facebook and Google are “unavoidable partners” for news media companies, is there a road map publishers should explore to better secure their future readers and revenue in partnership with the platforms? 

“The report raises as many questions as it answers, yet they are questions that media leaders and platform leaders are asking of themselves and each other,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA. “Cutting through all potential metrics of success, Dr. Myllylahti asks the blunt question: ‘What revenue is left after all the costs associated with harvesting and monetising attention?’ This report advances that question and conversation in a thoughtful way — with hints of a road map for the future.”

“How News Media Wins In the Attention Economy” is available for free to INMA members and available to non-members for US$795, which includes one year of association membership, all strategic reports, Webinars, and access to all INMA content and peer connection tools.

INMA members may download the report and non-member may order the report by going to www.inma.org/reports.