Creating new audiences and revenue streams will require re-thinking value propositions. Three publishers in Germany, The Netherlands, and the United States shared their experiences in selling products, video, and audio at the Brainsnack Seminar of the INMA World Congress of News Media on Wednesday. 

“In the future, publishers will earn more money by selling products than by selling print magazines, Katharina Neubert, managing director of Sport BILD, told INMA members. “For us, this is a fact.”

The first sentence gave the audience pause. The second really had their attention.

And that, she explained, is why news media companies must diversify.

Sport Bild's Katharina Neubert emphasised that media companies need to consider diversifying with product offerings beyond traditional core products and services.
Sport Bild's Katharina Neubert emphasised that media companies need to consider diversifying with product offerings beyond traditional core products and services.

“Print is limited by the digital shift in media consumption behaviour,” Neubert said. “Product development can answer that by building new products. It’s estimated that German magazine publishers will earn 26% of their revenue from non-print or digital products this year.

BILD recently introduced two most successful non-publishing products:

Bike BILD bike deal: BILD partnered with a bike manufacturer who produced and distributed the bikes, guaranteeing a certain amount and revenue share. BILD provided advertising space, promotion space, and the brand license.

“This year we will take more sales from the bike commissions than from the bike magazine itself,” Neubert said. 

Glossy Box: A partner provided 3,500 free products with a minimum value of US$10 each. The magazine promoted the box, packed the box, and distributed the box via online shopping. Doing so much of the work in-house was high risk with a potential of high revenue. It was so successful, they are doing it again at Christmas. 

Neubert’s advice when considering partner projects: “Don’t stick to the products that make you successful. Stick to your brand.”

With a more traditional new product, video, De Telegraaf has the same mindset: It’s all about the brand. Mandy van der Wal, director of video at De Telegraaf, shared how the company’s 3-year-old video production initiative now has a goal of 3.5 billion viewers a year and 220 journalists working on it. Some videos are behind the paywall, others aren’t.

Mandy van der Wal explained De Telegraaf’s success is due in part to its relentless testing.
Mandy van der Wal explained De Telegraaf’s success is due in part to its relentless testing.

“Every day we test,” she said. “It is trial and error. Every single day. Test test test. You have dialogue every day with your consumer. You ask relevant questions every time.”

She and the editor-and-chief and CEO went into people’s homes to ask their opinion of De Telegraaf video. Because of this, Neubert said, 70% of videos are watched to completion. The production costs are low so the initiative is profitable. 

“The effort is less [than TV], and the money is coming in.”

Gatehouse Media has 156 daily newspapers and 400 Web sites in the United States, and is increasingly trying to diversify its regional and local business. In addition to IT services, events, and a large marketing services business, Gatehouse is investing in audio content.

“Smart speakers are being adapted faster than the iPhone was,” said Jeff Moriarty, senior vice president/digital at Gatehouse Media. “They are being adopted and getting penetration faster than television and radio. It’s with this in mind that we’re thinking about audio. One of the keys has been to audio enable our newsroom. We have three such spaces, some are former closers or conference rooms. We’re getting our newsrooms enabled to create audio.” 

Gatehouse Media is heavily diversifying in a variety of audio content, explained Jeff Moriarty.
Gatehouse Media is heavily diversifying in a variety of audio content, explained Jeff Moriarty.

Gatehouse features 24-hour streaming content, a pop-up stream, podcasts, and radio station that will be live for a week or two around an event. It is now experimenting with audio atoms. These can be dropped into a podcast or subscribed to. His audio news feed, for example, has information about U.S. news, U.K. news, and car seats (because he has a young child).

“People will probably configure these things,” he said. But at the end of day, you want to get in your car and say, ‘Tell me the news’ and have it be things you’re interested in.”