Social is not the end of content innovation

Early in July, fifteen French media companies founded the “Gravity” alliance to share their user data and increase their advertising campaigns efficiency. Their goal is to free themselves from Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon supremacy which represent 68% of the French digital advertising market.

“Snapchat Newsroom”

French media companies have now successfully adapted their content production process to social networks:

  • They make Facebook and YouTube lives
  • They have community managers
  • They produce videos with “social formats”
  • And some of them even have a dedicated “Snapchat newsroom”.

Every single newsroom has built special processes, content and formats in order to stand out in the Internet Giants’ world.

By doing so, the press targets a wider, younger and more volatile audience to increase its user base on a daily basis. 60% of French people use Facebook every day. The proportion goes up to 70% for Google.

The Internet Giants are aware of their clout : they reach a mass audience and they can make money out of it.

Journalists for Social Networks

To address such a large audience, media companies have to follow Google and Facebook two major rules :

  • First: “Don’t use your own ads on our platforms”

News companies have to set aside their digital advertising sales department. They only get a very small slice of YouTube, Facebook or Google advertising profits.

  • Second: “Post your content directly on our platforms”

Over the past five years, social networks and web browsers have created an internal system that displays content in order to optimize their users’ experience.

Media companies no longer steer users towards their websites: they directly post their articles and videos on social networks.

Media companies don’t bring in money and they lose ownership of their content. By producing free quality content for social networks, they merely have become journalists working for Facebook.

The casino syndrome

Publishing content on social networks can be tempting: once in a million times, it will go viral. You could gain hundreds of new followers in a heartbeat. But it is in fact similar to playing in a casino: 99% of the time you lose your money.

It is only the thrill of picturing you winning the jackpot that keeps you going.

These past five years, media companies have put a great deal of effort to develop a strategy to address audiences on social networks. However, they forgot to design a real strategy for their own websites.

The consequence is that users no longer go to the media’s websites. And why would they when the same content can be found on Facebook?

Breaking through the barriers

There is however one exception : catch-up TV. Last year in France 6,5bn videos were watched on catch-up TV platforms with a 27% per annum growth. It generated €100 million in advertising for media companies.

Catch-up TV is the last resort for news companies to get 100% revenues while keeping full ownership of their content.

Why such an exception? Because the value of those catch-up TV programs is so high users don’t mind breaking through the barriers (subscribing, logging, leaving social networks’ feeds, opening a new tab) to watch them.

These platforms are the only way you can find such quality programs.

Towards an “audience journey” strategy

Social networks and browsers have to be regarded as they are: advertising spaces where media companies sell their brand and increase their user base through social or viral content.

They are only the first step of a full-scale editorial innovation process.

To bring back the flow of users and ear money from advertising, media companies have to develop a digital “audience journey” strategy. They have to use social content as a teaser to attract people to their websites where they will find high value content and formats.

By revolutionizing their user experience and by creating engaging and innovative formats, media companies can get really high retention rates while collecting significant data to increase their revenue streams.

It is only with a global innovation strategy that increases the value of editorial content that media companies will be able to stand out in the digital world.

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