Digital Publishing Guest Columns
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The Independent Publishers Alliance (IPA): Next steps

Last month we announced our intention to start The Independent Publishers Alliance (IPA). We, the founders of the IPA, have spent much of our careers at independent publishers and it felt to us, at least, that independent publishers have largely been left to fend for themselves.

A previous article in March signaled this move and we asked publishers to sign up, provide contact details, and give feedback on the sort of framework, structure, and issues they would like the IPA to cover.

We took in over 70 responses in total – from large independent digital-only publishers operating across multi-platforms to niche, specialist publishers dedicated to narrow verticals. Added together this group would more than match any large publisher in the UK in terms of audience.

Not only were we delighted that the industry response validated our initial instincts (and that others felt like us), but we were also interested in many of the points made when we offered publishers the chance to comment further…

One of the most challenging aspects of an Independent publisher is keeping up with innovation and technology as you don’t have teams committed to these areas. Often you are left learning from much larger publishers, when the case studies are not entirely relevant for smaller platforms.”

As a useful example of where I see the value of an alliance on key industry issues, right now I’m interested in how independent publishers appear to be getting left out of the conversation about Google and Facebook paying publishers for news. I think this is one example of the vital ecosystem of independent media not being given enough attention in the broader conversations of how journalism is valued and sustained. I love the idea of an alliance pushing the interests of independent media within such issues, and the publishers supporting each other.”

As well as a way to collectively bargain with the big online platforms, I strongly believe that as an industry, we should all be pulling together to create new ways to measure and show reach, attention and brand recall that don’t leave it all in the hands of the largest players.”

I really hope a body like this can help to strengthen the voice of the little guy in this industry.”

I think this is your time!”

The top three areas pinpointed as key topics that publishers would like support on were Technology (69%) Advertising (67%) and Reader Revenue (52%). This has helped concentrate our minds and confirm the schedule for the remainder of 2021.

At the end of April 2021, we will host three video conference roundtables addressing each of the initial areas of focus (Technology, Advertising, Reader Revenue). The aim is to understand these initial requirements and to focus our subsequent content and events around these topics. If this is something you would like to be involved with, please get in touch at the following email address: independentpublishersalliance AT gmail.com.

Thereafter we will be holding 2 events (we hope these will be face-to-face) in June and October 2021, with a further networking evening in December. 

We are delighted that the What’s New in Publishing team are supporting us and will create a portal on their platform to be the home of the IPA. Here, content from the events and relevant articles will have a platform. We are extremely grateful that this relationship can be allowed to flourish in its rightful home.

In addition, Sovrn //Gold have taken up a sponsorship. This is invaluable in helping to get us get off to a strong start and it will allow some of our events to be underpinned financially. Great news. It would be accurate to point out that IPA co-founder Jon Westbrook works at Sovrn but he promises not to push the agenda!

If you are a vendor and would like to discuss supporting the IPA please get in touch.

All the best

Dan, Alex and Jon

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