As we reflect on 2021, it is clear that it was a watershed moment for the news sector. Growing awareness of the critical importance to preserve news and the incentive for big tech to support and partner to make it happen, has led to a new reality and one that we should be really excited about. To kick off the conversation, we sat down with an esteemed panel including Andrew Saunders, CRO Globe and Mail, Jeff Elgie, CEO Village Media, Mladen Raickovic, Head of Canada, Global Partnerships – Google and Erin Millar, Founder of Indiegraf to take a quick look back on 2021 and to take a look at the exciting future for news.
When asked to look back to the dawn of the digitization of news, “disruption” is the word that drove the conversation. Not only did our panel clearly state that publishers were put into a position to have to figure out how to get online to reach new and broader audiences, they were also faced with needing to embrace new technologies, and invest in data science. As legacy business models were turned on their heads with audiences accessing news content on desktop, mobile and other connected devices -a lot of work was required on the back end equating in an additional need for tech and talent. Not to mention significant ongoing investment to push further than ever before.
Today, with the help of developing partnerships within the publisher community and the support of the large platforms, Canadian media outlets have been able to grow their scale. By creating new and independent local news channels, and reaching and attracting new audiences. Tied directly to their mission of supporting democracy, Raickovic declared that “Google is constantly looking for new ways to support the news industry and know that they have an important role to play”. Agreeing, Saunders suggested that this collaboration is key, stating that “our relationships with tech companies have been great. We continue to build and capitalize on that. We are happy that the big tech platforms are supporting the ecosystem.” Elgie added that partnerships with big tech have not only helped with scale, but also with “education support, tech and tools” that have been “cheering us on for the past five years”.
As we turned the conversation to why ad-supported content is important to Canadians, Millar said it best: “the bottom line is that news is important to Canadians.” With other panelists agreeing that quality journalism is expensive to produce, an ad-supported model plays a crucial role in enabling people to have access to information that they may not have otherwise.
With significant investments in AI and analytics, innovation in the news world continues to accelerate in its offering. Publishers are now able to transform and create better relationships with their audiences, maintaining efficiency in using these tools to connect with their readers (via new channels such as audio, video and newsletters), while also building better partnerships with the advertising community.
The consensus is that the newspaper industry has found its feet and continues to be more excited and determined than ever in supporting their customers in the best possible way they can. The future is definitely bright!
For a full recording of this discussion please click here.