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Hi there!

In our previous newsletter, I was writing about the problems newsrooms have to deal with on a daily basis regarding audience engagement. The problems we are addressing at Qurio are mostly technical, but on a macroscopic level, the main issue we are trying to tackle is the lack of trust. And because news outlets are businesses that need to produce revenue the lack of trust affects mostly revenue. 

 

A couple of weeks ago, this year’s Digital News Report was published by the Reuters Institute in Oxford. What struck me the most was “news avoidance”. Yes, it has happened to each one of us but the data from the research is alarming.

 

News avoidance is high and increasing. Reuters’ annual report surveyed more than 93,000 people in 46 countries. Finnish citizens reported the highest levels of trust (69 percent) while Americans reported the lowest (26 percent). Meanwhile, those who selectively avoid the news “often or sometimes” rose dramatically across the surveyed countries in the past five years, including having doubled in Brazil and Britain (to 54 and 46 percent respectively).

 

Below, there’s a screenshot of Greece’s -my home country’s- most visited news source according to Digital News Report. It’s exactly what people don’t want according to the research. Breaking news, drama, negativity, [don’t look at the Prime Minister], it just makes you wanna break your screen. 

Now you’ll ask, so how come this is the most visited website in the country?

 

Drama increases pageviews and engagement, according to the data, it's not what people want. And that’s exactly the reason why most hard news websites don’t offer subscriptions or memberships and rely heavily on advertising, programmatic or commercial.

Here are some excerpts from the research: 

“While some individual news media have clearly been very successful at building online reach or convincing people to subscribe, and developed new offers across podcast, video, and newsletters, this year’s data show many publishers are still struggling to come to terms with structural changes that have been ravaging the industry for more than a decade. These challenges are compounded by the fraying connection that journalism and news media have with much of the public in many countries. More people are disconnected, interest in news is down, selective news avoidance up, and trust far from a given.

While a succession of crises including the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the importance of independent professional journalism, and significant growth for some individual media brands, we find that many people are becoming increasingly disconnected from news – with falling interest in many countries, a rise in selective news avoidance, and low trust further underlining the critical challenge news media face today: connecting with people who have access to an unprecedented amount of content online and convincing them that paying attention to news is worth their while.”

So while most news outlets are driving their numbers up with breaking news and drama people are repulsed to connect with the brands meaning their willingness to subscribe to newsletters or any paid product is decreasing. 

 

And the Digital News Report is validating this.

 

The practical problem occurring with selective news avoidance though is the lack of trust that leads audiences to become more and more reluctant audiences reluctant to give up their data for news sites.

 

Beyond concerns about subscription diets, media companies face another challenge in maintaining advertising revenues in the face of the imminent phasing out of third-party cookies. Without these cross-platform trackers, media companies are looking to build up their own first-party data that can give them more leverage with advertising companies – and increase the rates they can charge. News companies now routinely ask for an email address before people can see content or access additional features such as commenting. In some countries (Portugal, Finland, and Switzerland), publishers have collaborated to provide a single login system that works across multiple online websites and apps. But how do audiences view these issues?

 

Across countries we find that only around a quarter (28%) have registered for one or more news websites in the last year. Those in Portugal (44%) are most likely to have given their details, but people in Germany (19%), the UK (16%), and Japan (14%) are least likely to have parted with their information for access. These differences may relate to the extent to which registration walls are being pushed by publishers in each country, but the relatively low levels in general reflect a continuing reluctance amongst consumers to give up email addresses or other personal details – especially if content is available elsewhere. Most news websites simply do not have a clear enough value proposition to persuade people to do so.”

 

At Qurio, we’ve heard these problems throughout our customer discovery journey. Research comes to validate them once more. What we are working on is how to solve them efficiently and creatively.

 

That’s why we’d like to hear from you. 

 

Hearing from newsrooms is an everlasting process for us. So apart from the product side, we keep trying to talk to as many newsrooms as possible so we can understand their needs and build something that fits their needs. Problems keep piling up, and we are here to help solve them.

 

Do you work in a newsroom? We’d love to hear about your problems with audience engagement. Also, we offer pro-bono coaching because we’ve been in your shoes and know how hard it is. 

 

Or, if you know someone whose role is an audience or product role, please let us know!

 

That’s all for this week, and please, get in touch with any questions simply by responding to this email.

 

And don’t forget, we need a few more hands-on-deck and are hiring full-stack engineers to help us build Qurio. So feel free to share this email if someone you know is interested!

 

Have a great weekend,

 

Tassos

 

PS. You can FW this email to friends and colleagues that might find it exciting and subscribe to our newsletter here.


Thought provoking ideas
 

Here’s a great piece by James Breiner about news avoidance and potential solutions: News avoidance: endless crises wear people out - What’s really interesting is his take on “doomscrolling”: “Since all the major social media depend on advertising to generate revenue, their algorithms drive users’ attention to news items that provoke emotional responses, such as anxiety, fear, anger, and hate.” - Can Qurio help with doomscrooling? What do you think?

 

NYT’s Wirecutter affiliate strategy is based upon trust and drives revenue. Affiliate marketing is a dynamic endeavor, with myriad factors driving strategic decisions on how to sustain a healthy revenue stream while maintaining consumer trust. In this Q & A with Digital Content Next, Leilani Han, Wirecutter’s executive director of commerce, shares her insights on strategies driving Wirecutter’s success. 

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