Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

“Next year, I predict many more publishers will push to establish business models with which, as one executive at a national publication recently put it during my research for the Tow Center’s Platforms and Publishers project, ‘you can kind of give the finger to the platforms.'”

Digital advertising has become an unreliable and messy foundation for the business of journalism, and many smart publishers have begun to aggressively pursue alternative or additional revenue streams. That trend will continue.

Internet users are increasingly installing ad blockers in response to annoying ads (popups) and privacy concerns (eerily on-point and data-driven ad for that top you recently considered buying). This in turn hits revenues of publishers and platforms that rely on ad dollars as a major, if not dominant, revenue source. And ad agencies, too, are seeing falling profits as advertisers cut spending in response to concerns around ad performance, among other issues with how ads are delivered by opaque algorithms and where those ads are seen (for example, alongside hate content on YouTube).

As I recently wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review, there is a cleanup coming for digital advertising, but the efforts may primarily benefit the very platforms that currently gobble up nearly all the growth in digital ad dollars. For example, the new Chrome browser rolling out in January will filter out certain ad formats, like popups, and Google has a say in whether an ad is unacceptable or a publisher’s site is “failing” for including it. Publishers’ hands are tied when it comes to advertising because Google and Facebook own the space and write many of the rules.

In the last couple of years, publishers scrambled to use platform products like Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, and Snapchat’s Discover, which promised to return to publishers some of that ad revenue they lost to platforms in the first place.

Now, publishers are identifying other paths forward. In 2017 alone: The Guardian established a nonprofit in the U.S.; The Atlantic launched a paid membership program; The New York Times is aggressively courting digital subscribers and halved the number of articles that can be read for free, the first major change since 2012. And even Wired is putting up a metered paywall as a “hedge against the future.” While it may be far-fetched to imagine a future free of ads or platform distribution for the vast majority of publishers, diversifying revenue streams can give publishers the leverage they need in those relationships.

Next year, I predict many more publishers will push to establish business models with which, as one executive at a national publication recently put it during my research for the Tow Center’s Platforms and Publishers project, “you can kind of give the finger to the platforms.”

Nushin Rashidian is cofounder of the news organization Cannabis Wire.

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Burt Herman   Things get real

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Jake Levine   The return to now

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Paul Ford   Go global

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

https://adulttorrent.org