challenges

There aren’t too many things that we can be sure of in these increasingly bizarre times. But here are two.

Firstly that anyone who says they know what is likely to happen to the Coronavirus outbreak, the global economy and even the media in the coming years is lying. We are clearly in uncharted territory. By the end of the year the crisis might be a receding memory or very much still part of our lives.

Secondly the media as an industry is more than ready to embrace the challenge of Coronavirus. Following on from a decade of digital transformation media companies are highly adept at evolving at a rapid pace. The current unprecedented times could present significant opportunities which might help larger companies develop their businesses and entrepreneurs begin new ones.

The challenges are fairly obvious. Just as Brexit brought a degree of uncertainty to the media in the UK, so Coronavirus is repeating the process writ larger and on a global scale. And businesses hate uncertainty. The first casualty of the era has been advertising, especially in sectors such as travel and events which are most impacted by the effects of the virus. For some companies this will be compounded by the fact that their forecasts also took into significant revenues from both the Olympics and the European Football championships. Both events have been postponed.

The New York Times recently announced a slowdown in advertising bookings due to ‘uncertainty and anxiety’ caused by the coronavirus”. It is predicting a 10 per cent drop in digital ad revenue this quarter. It is a story that will be depressingly familiar to many publishers.

Of course it isn’t just advertising. One of the great media mantras of recent years has been to expand revenue sources to encompass events. Indeed for many B2B businesses conferences is their key revenue stream. Events are being postponed rather than permanently cancelled, but ultimately publishers might have to wait to see a return from their investments.

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By FIPP: The Network for Global Media, What’s new in publishing

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