Skip to content
Home » Blog » How are the German media preparing for the future – in 16 points

How are the German media preparing for the future – in 16 points

Success in the digital world is becoming a question of survival for the world’s press. Digital-first strategies and the emergence of paid content are undoubtedly the most important changes to be made in the history of the sector. To meet these challenges, discover the strategic intentions of the German press, more combative than ever!

By David Sallinen, New World Encounters

The digital transformation of the press is radically changing organizational modes, work processes and, of course, the business model. To understand how fast these changes are taking place in the industry, the Association of German Press and Digital Publishers (BDZV) conducted a survey to closely examine the forecasts of 79 publishers and editors, 39 editors in chief, as well as 14 purely digital publishers. The aim was to analyze their plans for the coming years in order to identify priorities for the sector. All of the professionals who responded to the survey represent almost 60% of the circulation of German newspapers, which is admittedly a very good sample.

Here are 16 points to remember:

A favorable context for the emergence of digital offers thanks to strong growth rates.

  • In 2020, publishers expect double-digit growth rates for revenues from electronic versions, paid content, and the number of new digital subscribers. For their part, digital advertising revenues will also continue to grow (+7% in 2020), while advertising revenues and subscriptions to traditional print media are expected to decline (-4%), with stable revenues from print newspaper sales.

In this year alone, about half of the publishers expect a 20% increase in revenues from digital distribution.

  • These figures demonstrate that quality journalism can be developed in the digital world. This is gradually encouraging more and more publishers to go further and faster. As a result, publishers are setting ambitious goals…
  • By 2025, 54% of German publishers want to be able to compensate for losses in print with digital revenues. By 2020, only 1/10th of companies say they have succeeded.

Of course, to achieve such goals, a great deal of transformation work needs to be done in many areas, including the very specific area of editorial staff.

  • In 2020, nearly half of all companies will have their processes and strategies entirely focused on digital. In three years’ time, 80% to 90% of them will declare that they want to do so.
  • Between now and 2023, almost all editors will announce that they will restructure their organizations to meet the requirements for the “Digital First” strategy.
  • As a result, the reorganization of editorial offices will lead to a clarification of the division of labor between reporters and editors. In concrete terms, reporters must work in a media-neutral way. In five years, this model will be a reality in 84% of editorial offices, according to the survey.

All publishers are aware of this, paid content is essential for the new model!

  • 98% of the publishers attach the greatest importance to paid content because it will be the revenues from the sale of digital content that will ensure the company’s existence.
  • For a third of the media that have not yet introduced a paywall, they plan to do so in the next five years.
  • By 2023, they want to increase the share of premium items from the current 31% to 51%.
  • Winning new digital subscribers and retaining them are the two priorities for 94% of the press in Germany.

A new preoccupation is asserting itself: to better understand what works in order to improve and stick as closely as possible to the reader’s expectations.

  • To boost their sales, companies are analyzing editorial content through increasingly sophisticated measurements of user behavior. They use artificial intelligence and develop personalized offers for each user.

Editorial innovation is central to winning over and retaining users.

  • Editorial newsletters have proven to be particularly attractive. 68% of editors say they use them today, and all the other publishing houses intend to follow the lead in the next three years.

Reaching new targets thanks to the popularity of podcasts.

  • 63% of publishers regularly publish podcasts, and some major publishers already have a large portfolio.
  • In the coming years, 80% of publishers plan to deploy podcast offerings to meet the needs of new audiences.

To achieve these results, we will have to work differently, going beyond the silo approach to encourage new cooperation and creativity within teams.

  • Today, only 1/3 of the editorial offices have implemented multidisciplinary teams. In 2023, 92% of the editorial offices want to set up multidisciplinary teams.

And since innovation should not be just a word and should always be kept one step ahead:

  • 62% of publishers want to deploy editorial research.

In conclusion
The 3 main axes to remember are :

1. The future belongs to digital journalism in Germany.
2. Digital subscriptions will be at the heart of the sales strategy.
3. New customer acquisition will be achieved through new podcast formats and newsletters.

David Sallinen, CEO and Founder of New World Encounters and Upgrade Media. Digital strategies consultant.