Last week, the European Innovative Media Publishers association (EIMP) had the pleasure of co-organising and speaking at a virtual event on the news media landscape in Europe and the development of advertising over the last twenty years. The event, which was hosted by Forum Europe, kicked off with a presentation of a new series of reports from Accenture on trends in the news media landscape in several European countries, and was followed by a round table discussion with EIMP member and New Media (Denmark) Chair, Anne Sofie Christensen-Dalsgaard, Centre on Regulation in Europe – CERRE’s Lara Natale, and Accenture’s Amit Singh.
The Accenture reports find a fundamental change in the news media landscape over the past two decades, which has significantly disrupted traditional newspaper revenues: from 2003 to 2019, newspaper revenues fell €16.2 billion. The largest share (44%) of this decline was from the loss of printed classifieds revenue, which once contributed €9.9 billion to newspaper coffers and now contributes just €2.6 billion. Classified advertising now mainly happens on specific websites which offer job advertisements, second-hand cars, real-estate listings or similar niches.
At the same time, a significant majority (64%) of the expansion of online advertising has come from new growth rather than displacing the existing traditional markets. This comes partly from SMEs, which can now choose from a diverse array of advertising platforms at a range of prices.
In fact, European SMEs have been one of the chief beneficiaries of this bigger pie, as they can now afford online advertising tailored to those who need to see it. Christensen-Dalsgaard stated during the debate: “There’s been a lot of worry about the local media, about how well they would deal with the digital transition. A lot of our members are quite successful in gaining membership subscriptions… we have business models that work well in this digital world.”
The Accenture report also points out that improving the underlying technology of digital news, including front and back-end technology for content profiling, aggregation and dispersal is key to attracting and building audiences. While some legacy publishers have railed against online platforms and their role in Europe, others see it as a case for just creating new business models.
“For our members we do believe that our content is high quality and our business model supports the high quality journalism they produce,” said Christensen-Dalsgaard. For forthcoming discussions on regulation, legacy media are interested in “getting money from the tech companies, and we’re not interested in this part.” She pointed to the fundamentally different way New Media uses platforms such as Facebook as an example of this new aspect of media plurality. “We bring something new to the table, we have different solutions, it’s going to be really interesting to see if we do get an impact on this.”