Polled in the annual World Press Trends survey, WAN-Ifra found publishers “remarkably optimistic” given the backdrop of geopolitical instability, changing relationships with tech platforms and issues raised by generative AI.
The association’s research editor Teemu Henriksson says the “resilient positivity” is one of the key findings of the newly released World Press Trends Outlook 2023-2024 report.
Just over half (55 per cent) of the news executives surveyed for the report said they were optimistic about the next 12 months. Looking further ahead, the level of optimism rises slightly, with almost six in ten (58 per cent) respondents saying they were positive about their company’s prospects over the next three years.
“This marks a clear shift from last year, when the majority of publishers were pessimistic about the near future,” he says.
The report is available for free download by members, or contact email@example.com.
Director of insights and editor-in-chief Dean Roper says many publishers are clearly concerned about ongoing challenges to the industry and their businesses. These include speed of transformation and innovation, diversifying their revenue streams, securing a sustainable business model, better understanding and engagement of their audiences.
“But there also has clearly been great progress on all those fronts, and others, in the last years to bring this level of optimism. And, certainly, this varies from region to region, market to market and publisher to publisher.”
Other findings from the report include:
-revenues on the rise: Publishers expect their revenues to grow by 15.2 per cent in 2023, and by nearly 19 per cent in 2024. Much of this confidence is driven by the expectation that continued investment in new revenue streams is starting to pay off;
-advertising the leading source: On average, advertising accounts for nearly half (43 per cent) of respondents’ projected revenue over the next 12 months, with reader revenue comprising just over a third of their income.
-print continues to prevail: When combined, print advertising and circulation generate more than half (57 per cent) of respondents’ total expected revenues.
AI top investment area: Nearly all respondents (87 per cent) identified AI and automation as the leading area for investment over the next 12 months, closely followed by data analytics and intelligence (86 per cent).
Oregon university’s Damian Radcliffe said the report confirms publishers’ “juggling act” of preserving all-important print and advertising revenues, while at the same time diversifying their income streams and exploring the possibilities that digital technologies such as generative AI present.
The Carolyn S. Chambers professor in journalism, who is the author of the core analysis of this edition of World Press Trends, says the “tightrope isn’t an easy one to navigate, but we are seeing examples of success and innovation around the world, offering potential inspiration for publishers large and small across the globe.”
The World Press Trends Outlook 2023-2024 report is based primarily on an online survey conducted between July and September 2023 among WAN-Ifra members and other senior media executives. Two-thirds of respondents were CEOs, publishers and managing directors, and another third were either commercial directors/heads of strategy or executive editors. The 175 complete responses came from 60 countries around the world, 58 per cent of these ‘developed’ economies and 42 per cent from ‘developing’ economies.