Digital Media Products, Strategy and Innovation

By Kevin Anderson, Consulting Services Director, Kaldor/Pugpig.

Puzzles and games as the top of a subscriber acquisition funnel PLUS How to make sense of Google's Core Web Vitals

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Puzzles and games as the top of a subscriber acquisition funnel PLUS How to make sense of Google's Core Web Vitals
At Pugpig, we’re working on a State of the Digital Publishing Market report, and we’re curious to see how many people are using personalisation as part of their strategies. Today, Digiday is highlighting experiments that British publishers are doing to add some level of personalisation to their newsletters. The results are mixed.
Also today, we have another story about bundles, and of course, it relates to the New York Times. But it also shows how the subscriber acquisition funnel is evolving.
Plus we have a few practical pieces on SEO, including how to use Google’s Core Web Vitals scores and a piece by Moz on how to find your ‘true competitors’ in search. And a Reynolds Journalist Institute evaluates the homepages and articles of a range of major and smaller publications using Google’s Core Web Vitals with some surprising results.

Publishers test personalizing newsletters with varying degrees of success
Personalisation is one of those features that users always say that they want, but when put into practice, it can have mixed results. And that is what publishers are finding. The Telegraph has found that a personalised headlines newsletter is driving more traffic to its website. However, the Torstar in Canada used AI to personalise newsletters, and they found that their time was better spent creating a really good newsletter for the largest number of people. There is definitely nuance in how the publishers were using personalisation. What’s key is having a clear sense of your KPIs and understanding if the personalised product helps you achieve them.
The New York Times looks to gaming vertical to grow subscriptions - Digiday
An absolutely fascinating piece about how the New York Times is using puzzles (rather than gaming, which to most people means gambling) to attract subscribers. They are using a free Wordle puzzle to attract people to a premium puzzle subscriptions and then upselling them to a wider content bundle.
Another US pub media group buys a newspaper
Another newspaper flips to nonprofit - Poynter
Dallas public media group KERA has bought a local newspaper. This comes after the public media group in Chicago bought the Sun Times. It’s a very interesting model, and as I said with the situation in Chicago, I will be watching how the public media group and the newspaper merger their cultures as much as how they merge their operations. And I’m also curious about the business model that the pub media groups will pursue. Will they pursue the standard subscription model? Or will they adopt the voluntary membership model that US public media uses?
National Trust for Local News Announces New Model of Community Journalism
Here is the press release from the Trust that helped foster the move.
Top tips to continue to refine your search strategy
How to Find Your Real SEO Competitors — Whiteboard Friday - Moz
The thing that stands out for me is the nuance of serving the same audience. There are times both with SEO and ASO (application store optimisation) when a publisher can be competing for keywords against another property or app that doesn’t serve the same audience.
Making sense of your core web vitals – RJI
Core web vitals scores are one of the ways that Google ranks your site. An RJI fellow looks at the Core Vitals of a number of publications. There are definitely some surprises in his findings.
Google Search adding 'Discussions and forums' section and translated news coverage
This may give publishers reason to pay attention to discussions and forums again. In my consulting work, I found that specialist forums can drive significant engagement with publishers’ content.
Product: Validating ideas and an early digital innovation from USA Today
Idea Validation for a Digital Product: Importance, Approaches, and Criteria | GrowthHackers Community
There are so many things digital publishers can do that they have to decide what they must do. Product management has a number of ways to validate ideas that media companies can use to find market fit and filter all of the ideas and initiatives that they might have.
As someone who now has quite a bit of history in the industry and who had the privilege of meeting and working with so many early pioneers in digital journalism and media, I think that it’s really important for us to know and understand early innovation initiatives. In the US, yes newspaper publishers did try text on TVs (the low resolution of US TVs was only one thing that doomed the effort). And there were a number of people involved in early online efforts that predate the internet. I’m keeping this project in my Evernote because it wasn’t one that I remembered - an early USA Today online sports service. How many of these efforts were doomed because they didn’t generate the fat profits that print did at a time when those profits really were fat?
Podcasting: Buying listeners on mobile games and CNN cuts audio unit
Podcasters Are Buying Millions of Listeners Through Mobile-Game Ads
This caught my eye. I will say that it’s not difficult to buy audience, but the challenge is to engage and retain that audience. I especially saw this for newsletters in my previous role. However, these methods can be a good way to open the top of your funnel.
CNN Kills Off Last Remnant of CNN+, Lays Off Around 20 Staffers
Yes, the last remaining employees who worked on CNN+ are gone but so are many folks who worked on their audio. The new CNN isn’t just pivoting in terms of its political positioning, it also seems less digitally ambitious.
Social and Web3: TikTok marketing and Razorfish's web3 push
A good look at the organic and paid approaches for TikTok.
Razorfish Expands Web3 Offerings To Help Brands Navigate The Future 09/29/2022
It’s the role of digital agencies like Razorfish to be on the cutting edge of things. Cutting through the hype of virtual influencers and an executive who is an avatar, there are opportunities here for publishers. Web3 is becoming an amazingly amorphous collection of technologies that are best unbundled. I mean using AI and machine learning is quite a different proposition than metaverse entertainment and virtual commerce.
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Kevin Anderson, Consulting Services Director, Kaldor/Pugpig.

Digital transformation and product development with a media focus.

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