FML Blog

Finding sustainable business models online, discovery widgets on publishers sites and the mid-term review of the DSM strategy

Friday, May 19, 2017      Future Media Lab.       0

Karin Fleming

(Left) Karin Fleming, Communications Manager at EMMA/the Future Media Lab.


In this bi-weekly news round-up, Karin Fleming shares the news that caught her eye over the last two weeks. The news round-up is a way for the Future Media Lab. team and members of the Future Media Lab. network to share articles about innovations and developments in the media sector, including references to relevant media policy debates. To get this round-up sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter!


The search for sustainable business models online. A new factsheet from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows that more European newspapers are charging for content online. The factsheet looked at 171 news organisations in six countries – the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Finland and Poland – and found that 66% of newspapers and 71% of weekly newspapers and news magazines had some kind of pay model, with the most common being a freemium model, followed by metered paywalls and then hard paywalls. Who pays for the content also differs country-by-country, with people in more competitive markets (Germany) less likely to pay for news online than those in countries with smaller markets (Poland, Finland). You can find the factsheet here.


Labelling news as “fake” may increase the likelihood it’s shared. In March, Facebook rolled out a new fact-checking feature that labels debunked articles as “disputed”, ostensibly to warn users against sharing the article, thus preventing it from spreading further. However, these labels seem to have the opposite effect: rather than slowing the spread of fake news, traffic to some fake news posts have actually increased after the warning label was applied. Other reports suggest that the feature isn’t effective since stories that are flagged as debunked are still circulating without the “disputed” label, or the label is only applied after the story has gone viral.


We must remember: “the news ain’t fake”. National Review correspondent Kevin Williamson shared this secret in a recent article, titled “Consuming Journalism 101”. In the piece he reminds readers that while any news organisation can make mistakes or have problems with bias, for the most part they are not trafficking in fiction. But as the world has become more partisan, the disdain for news sources that bend in a particular direction has increasingly become problematic, creating a kind of mass hysteria where people deny any reality that doesn’t fit into their worldview.


Why are publishers still using content discovery widgets? A new article in the New York Times dives deep into the use of content discovery widgets on otherwise reputable news sites. These widgets – often listed at the edges of news sites under a banner titled “Related Content”, “You May Also Like” or “Around the Web” – put users just a click away from the internet’s underbelly and largely use misleading headlines and clickbait to navigate people away from publisher’s pages to advertising content. The disreputable nature of such content – and the fact that much of it is easily debunked – begs the question: is the revenue boost it brings worth giving space to untrustworthy content?


Mid-term review of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy. Last week, the European Commission published the mid-term review of its Digital Single Market strategy, which was adopted in May 2015 and consists of 16 key measures covering such issues as copyright, AVMS, geo-blocking, VAT, enforcement, cross-border e-commerce, parcel delivery, and the role of online platforms. While the Commission’s press release called on co-legislators in the Parliament and Council to swiftly adopt proposals currently on the table, the overall progress has been mired in internal negotiations. In POLITICO’s mid-term report card, they gave just a score of 51%.


Regulating internet giants. Data has quickly become the “oil of the digital era” and the giants who deal in data – Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – have grown to dominate their respective fields. The abundance of data in today’s world changes the nature of competition: it protects companies from rivals and creates network effects that only perpetuate their dominance. The Economist argues that this new “data economy” necessitates new antitrust remedies to make sure that its not dominated by a handful of (American) giants.


Innovate or dissipate! This was the main call that came out of the PPA Festival (#PPAFestival), which took place last week in London. Myles Davidson pulled together his key take-aways from the sessions he moderated throughout the day, including the importance of staying true to brand authenticity, why throwing away old, redundant metrics is necessary, and how continued experimentation is the key to future-proofing your brand. For more ideas on innovative possibilities, check out our renewed blog series, “In Touch With Innovation”, where we talk to media start-ups from across Europe to see what they are doing in the fields of content creation, curation, dissemination and monetization.


Overview of the AI landscape for content creators. AI is increasingly playing a role in the creative industries by helping speed up existing processes and even automating the creation of content. Wibbitz (media partner of the Future Media Lab.) put together an infographic that compiles 35 AI companies whose technologies are automating the creation of four types of content: text, audio, graphic design and video.

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