Our Picks: 6 Events that shaped the media landscape in 2013

Marijn Deurloo

The media industry saw its fair share of interesting developments in 2013. Now, it’s time for some reflection. Let’s look back at the key events that shaped the industry’s landscape last year and identify key learnings and patterns.

1. Jeff Bezos acquires the Washington Post

The 250 million dollar deal that had everyone talking last year: Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post. Analysts and journalists rushed to put down their thoughts on the deal and its meaning. Whatever Bezos’ motivation may have been, a few things are clear:

  • Brands matter, even age-old ones like the Washington Post, and publishers should seek to build a brand.

  • Publishers can learn from the deal and embrace a new spirit of entrepreneurialism

  • The media industry needs a more customer-centric approach and it will be interesting to see how Bezos’, who has built a successful ecommerce empire by focusing on great customer service, introduces some of his methods and experience into the Post.

2. Yahoo buys Tumblr

Another acquisition that set the media industry abuzz last year was Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr. The blogging platform has become one of the fastest growing media networks in the world, seeing 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 signups every day. The business reasons behind the deal were pretty clear, and set the tone for 2 important trends that will continue to influence the landscape in 2014:

  • Engagement is king – Tumblr has a valuable audience of consumers that are very engaged online. 24 billion minutes are spent on the site each month and Yahoo stands to reap the benefits.

  • Mobile is key – More than half of Tumblr’s mobile users use the mobile app on an average of 7 sessions per day, opening up a range of advertising possibilities for Yahoo.

3. Newsweek and other weeklies struggle to keep up

Weeklies had their golden age in the 70’s and 80’s when classified ads and train station newsstands were still a thing, as Mediashift’s Denise Lu writes. Now, commuters have smartphones which grant them access to an almost unlimited supply of news and information at any time. This has taken a toll on many weekly newspapers, many of which shut down their presses or started testing new revenue models in 2013. Newsweek, for instance, is now looking to rebuild itself as a “boutique” or “premium” product. Key takeaway:

  • Weeklies should aim to benefit more from subscriptions and personalization, rather than relying solely on advertising

4. Native advertising on the rise

Native advertising was a term we heard a lot in 2013. Native ads are in essence set of advertising approaches that integrate advertising more fully into the reader’s content experience. The approaches are controversial, given that many see them as deceptive. Regardless, publishers were pretty keen on embracing these ad options last year and will likely continue to do so in 2014. The reason is simple:

  • Marketers are always looking for ways to seamlessly integrate advertising into the reader’s experience, and native ads offer brands the possibility to build relevant and engaging conversations with them.

5. Mobile referral traffic explodes

Last year was indeed the year of mobile. Publishers saw their mobile referral numbers surge in 2013. Half of Buzzfeed’s traffic now comes from non-desktop devices, Forbes’ mobile traffic increased by 40% and 30% of The Awl’s traffic comes from smartphones and tablets (more interesting data here).

Publishers also saw traffic from Facebook mobile users grow by a remarkable 253%, as The Next Web’s Emil Protalinski reported in October. What does this mean?

  • Social media networks like Facebook will continue to challenge publishers in the quest for reader’s eyeballs – especially on mobile.

  • Mobile went from being an afterthought to the first thought in 2013

6. News Corp acquires Storyful

News Corp, the media empire founded by Rupert Murdoch in the late 70’s, acquired a three-year-old startup called Storyful at the end of last year. Storyful, which is largely seen as “a trusted agent for user-generated content,” will help News Corp make sense of and curate the massive amounts of videos, posts and other forms of citizen journalism that come out of world events. The deal makes our list because it is highly significant:

  • User generated content is the new currency and publishers should look for innovative ways to integrate it into their media mix

Got other picks for events that shaped the media landscape last year? Share them with us in the comments or follow us on Twitter and Linkedin to explore this and other media news.

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