Hot topics for media owners in 2009

What were the hot topics for media businesses in 2009?  What provoked discussion and debate?  Based on the stats from my own Penmaen Media blog, looking at both the number of views and the time spent on each article over the last year, some clear trends emerge.  I’ve summarised the top 5 topics, and included links to the most-read articles:

1. Paid online content

No surprises that paid content is the hottest of hot topics: in 2009 many media owners were testing the waters on paid online content – or perhaps just talking about it!  I posted some tips on how to build an online paid content strategy which proved popular, as did a similar set of ideas for reinventing online content for publishers.  More recently there has been a good deal of debate – and various surveys – on whether subscriptions or micropayments are the way forward – I think it all depends on the type of content.  Some publishers – such as the Racing Post and Spectator – are actually trying paid content for real – more info on their approaches in this article on examples of paid online content.  I’m sure this debate will continue well into 2010…

2. Subscriptions

As advertising dwindled and newstand sales grew even tougher, the previously neglected sector of subscriptions generated more interest.  I documented some successful subscription strategies after talking to a few publishers.  I also looked ahead to how subscriptions may develop in future.  The recent survey by Wessenden, CDS and InPublishing showed how publishers are instigating a quiet digital revolution in subscriptions.  I believe many of the traditional disciplines of print subscriptions will become increasingly relevant as publishers attempt to develop online subs.

3. Building communities

Good media content always creates a community of interest, and the cleverest media owners encourage that community of like-minded people to share information and connect with each other.  I explored the commercial potential of this in a post on turning a media brand into a meeting place. Another popular article looked at the qualities required to create a community that is valuable enough to its members to charge an entrance fee: read more here on creating profitable communities from media brands.  Many media owners have been toying with creating members clubs or associations; here are some ideas on how to invite your best customers into a club.

4. What not to do!

In 2009 running a traditional media business seemed a bit like negotiating a minefield, with readers and advertisers rapidly shifting to new media platforms, while  media owners had to weigh up which opportunities were worth the investment of time and money.  No wonder there were plenty of people interested in avoiding pitfalls for magazine websites, or checking out whether their business was displaying the warning signs for publishers….

5. New commercial opportunities

With online display ad rates tumbling, media owners have been avidly seeking out new commercial opportunities. Many are considering adding video and audio content, aiming to use video to grow ad yields.  Others are finding new ways to package their online audience; here are some popular tips on how publishers can grow online ad revenues.  Many print publishers are expanding into events; which means learning new commercial skills; there was plenty of interest in an article on creating events sponsorship packages.

I hope this list of hot topics and links gives you plenty to think about over the Christmas and New Year break, and provides some direction for your 2010 strategy.

Carolyn Morgan

Penmaen Media creates practical digital media and marketing strategies, and has particular expertise with media businesses.  If you would like some guidance on your 2010 strategy, please contact us for an intial discussion.