The strategies that newspaper publishers are deploying to overcome shrinking printing revenues are becoming clearer. However, they are not expected to overcome the fall in print revenues from 2018 to 2022.
Dutch newspaper publishers recognise that the long-term decline of print advertising revenues is not being offset by the rise in digital revenues. Circulation revenues are relatively stable (y-o-y change of -0.5%), with the drop in print subscription numbers compensated by an increase in subscription fees. With respect to the historically large base of print subscriptions, a relatively high conversion rate of print to “hybrid” subscriptions is noted, where customers receive full-time digital access during the week and a printed newspaper for the weekend.
In the publishers’ search for cost-cutting opportunities and alternatives, a clear trend is emerging. Publishers tend to gear their strategy to the target audience and the newspaper title. While titles with a traditionally more specific target audience are now focusing on maintaining subscription numbers high by offering high-quality articles (print and digital), other titles are using their brand name to compete in the online (advertisements) market via their news websites. Video content partnerships also help publishers achieve their digital strategy of becoming the largest (news) website and therefore are able to attract advertising revenue.
Other initiatives aim to invest in targeted solutions for advertisers. For example, De Persgroep acquired online advertising brochure and offer platform Reclamefolder.nl to optimise conversion. Another initiative is NLProfiel, a partnership between Sanoma, TMG and De Persgroep that enriches and analyses visitor profiles to provide advertisers with profile data, better in quality and quantity. The aim is to connect more media and e-commerce parties in the coming years.
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Publishers’ chosen strategy will have more observable effects in the years ahead. By rolling out new digital strategies and focusing on their news websites and app content, publishers may position themselves in a new field in which they compete with other popular news websites such as nu.nl and nos.nl. Other companies, for example Talpa Network, which just acquired (photo) news agencies Hollandse Hoogte and Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau, may also be joining the news website market. This could lead to a shake-out in the Dutch newspaper industry. Bottom-line, chosen strategies need to deliver double-digit growth to overcome the fall in print revenues in the 2018-2022 period.
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