This report looks at how news organisations are creating innovative editorial formats and seeking commercial opportunities ‘beyond the article’. The report and analysis are based primarily on case studies discussed in interviews conducted between December 2016 and January 2017 with startup founders, senior editorial leaders, technology directors and commercial executives at news organisations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, Turkey, and the Philippines. We have found:
All of the cases involve some form of distributed content, either the well-known process of spreading content through social networks or increasingly via messaging platforms, apps, and emerging virtual reality stores.
The news organisations are moving beyond using distributed strategies simply to achieve scale. The editorial priorities included trying to build a more direct relationship with their audience, trying to increase engagement, or trying to reach a specific audience – in the case of Helsingin Sanomat a youth audience.
Display advertising is playing less of a role in monetising these distributed audiences. The news organisations in this report are utilising a number of commercial strategies for these projects including sponsored content, native advertising, commercial partnerships, and the sale of services.
While the virtual reality projects involved a great deal of resources – the resources only available to news organisations with a global reach such as the Guardian or the New York Times – most of the projects do not. One of our case studies, 140journos, has a full-time staff of only 10.
And the case studies show how news organisations have developed product management processes not only to increase the pace of innovation but also to try to increase the chance of commercial success.