Sunnier Side of the Office

The Year of the Paywall

You may have noticed over the last several months that a number of publications have announced paywalls, like Business Insider, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and Bloomberg, as Axios reports. Others that had existing paywalls — the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal — have over time made their paywalls stricter.

But in media circles, the conversation is turning to whether there are too many paywalls competing for subscription money. After all, the average person isn’t going to subscribe to five different publications, so the danger is that if too many publications rely on subscription revenue to survive, most of them won’t make it.

There’s a debate now about whether subscription bundling could be an answer that lets some local newspapers — which have been in a tailspin for years — get a share of revenue that’s being gobbled up by national ones like the NYT, WSJ and Washington Post. Bundling is already happening with services like Netflix and Spotify. While any real major movement on this front remains to be seen, it’s worth keeping an eye on how so many media properties compete for people’s time and subscriptions.

Can Apple News Make Video Distribution Work?

By Zuli Mohammad

The desire for video content is still on the rise, with about 53% of people saying they want to see more video from marketers. Apple has taken note and is building up its video strategy by asking publishers to distribute videos via Apple News. However, as this is a newer strategy for Apple, publishers are still waiting to see the revenue proven out.

Apple News was developed in 2015 as a mobile app and news aggregator, reaching affluent people in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s. It’s undergone several changes from its look and feel to adding in new pieces of content, and is continuing to work on its business/revenue models.

In early 2018, Apple News added a “Top Videos” section to the app’s main page. Apple is hoping this section will help drive greater distribution of publisher content amongst the app’s 60 million monthly users. Apple has also begun inserting skippable interstitial videos that publishers hope will generate money they aren’t yet receiving from the current distribution on Apple News. Trevor Fellows, EVP of digital sales and strategy at NBCU told Digiday, “The amount of revenue each publisher sees will vary depending on how much content they distribute and traffic they get on the app, and Apple’s cut will also influence it.”

Apple is hoping that publishers with high-quality content would potentially see longer watch times and higher engagement rates and be considered a valuable resource. But if the ROI isn’t there, Apple will have to look into continuing to readjust its revenue model.

NBCU To measure TV Ads Based on Business Outcomes

NBCUniversal is pushing beyond the usual TV measurement (how many people saw ads) and is taking a page out of the digital media playbook by connecting ads to business results.

“In an effort to convince advertisers that TV can demonstrate the same kind of return-on-investment as digital media, the company is working with to show brands business outcomes that result from their ads, such as increases in web visits and sales,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “The company will work with advertisers to define the outcome they want to measure, and then work with media measurement firm iSpot to track the success of the campaign.”

The move is not a common one for TV networks to make, and it’s also a complicated one. “Tying TV viewing to business outcomes provides advertisers with greater validation that their ads worked, but the measurement process is complicated and has yet to go mainstream,” said the WSJ. “The approach entails patching together various data sources and formats from third-party vendors, such as sales and digital behavioral data.”

This Week in Social: As F8 Would Have It

By Jessica Gaylord

Amid the chaos of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that Facebook found itself in the middle of, the platform pressed on last week with its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose. Here are some of the most important announcements and new features delivered on-stage at F8:

Clear History

Of all the announcements given at F8, this one is clearly to placate people upset by the Cambridge Analytica fallout. The Clear History feature will let users see information about the apps and websites they’ve interacted with. Users can then delete this information and turn off Facebook’s ability to store the information associated with their accounts moving forward.


No popular app is ever safe from Facebook’s grasp for long, and Tinder is apparently no exception. Facebook saw the 200 million single users on its platform as an opportunity to launch a dating service named FaceDate. No left or right swipes so far, however—the feature isn’t intended to be a way to hookup. Zuckerberg claims FaceDate is going to be for “building real, long-term relationships.” Sure, Jan.

Augmented Reality

With 1.2 billion users on Messenger as of 2017, Facebook is trying to make the app as appealing to marketers as possible. With a new AR feature, businesses can encourage users who contact them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with contextual AR effects filters. Some companies who have already tested the waters include Nike (virtual shoes), Kia (put the new Stinger in your driveway) and Sephora (virtual makeover).

We’re only scraping the surface of everything announced at F8, so we recommend reading a full recap to get a better idea of what Facebook is up to. What’s clear is that despite the setbacks of Russian interference and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is attempting to shed the controversy and go full steam ahead.