Digital Publishing Platforms
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The Must-Read Publishing Stories You May Have Missed August 9th 2019

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77.5% of shares now through ‘dark social’, why making content free on the internet was our biggest mistake, and more…

The rise of ‘dark social’

‘Dark social’ may sound like a place to buy questionable items on Facebook, but it actually means something much less sinister…unless you’re in audience development and analytics.

It refers to the growing way that people are sharing content through private messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack and direct messages on social platforms and email.

The traffic generated through these shares shows up as ‘direct’, but the source is actually unknown. When people click on links in these apps, the URLs lack referral tags which makes them difficult to track.

This week, a study revealed that over three-quarters of shares this year have been made through dark social. The good news is that although the sources of these shares might be difficult to track, people tend to be more engaged when coming from a private conversation than through Facebook.

It looks like there’s a silver lining to this particular ‘dark’ cloud.


What’s new this week

Why making content on the internet free was our biggest mistake… and how to fix it

Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation for Zenith Media, explores how free content on the internet is destroying our credibility and our businesses, and looks at how we can turn it around.

10 essential media stats from July 2019
Facebook’s record fine, The Athletic’s milestone, the growth of smart speakers, live podcasts and global advertising markets. 
Google updates algorithm to reward freshness, with 20 questions for publishers to “self-assess” quality
Google has launched an update to their search algorithms, focused on surfacing “fresh, helpful information through featured snippets.”
Where 73% of newsrooms are going wrong: Insights from The Atlantic
73% of newsrooms focus their attention on page views alone rather than how readers are actually engaging with content. But page views offer limited understanding of an audience.
How people in the UK are accessing news: 6 key findings
Ofcom have released their annual report into news consumption in the UK, aiming to inform an understanding of how people in the UK access news, and how this is changing over time.
77.5% of shares are on “dark social” and other trends publishers are in the dark about
People are increasingly sharing content through messaging apps and other platforms that cannot be tracked by regular analytics software. Such shares are called ‘dark social’.
How publishers are using messaging apps to engage readers
The tide is turning on Facebook as a news platform. People are being pushed to the safety of messaging apps by privacy fears, exposure risk, content clutter and declining relevance. 
With dynamic paywalls and targeted marketing, news subscriptions continue to grow
Halfway into 2019, news publishers continue to push their digital subscription numbers up with dynamic paywalls and targeted marketing to attract and retain subscribers.
What American media can learn from Europe
With research finding that 52% of media executives will focus on reader revenues this year, European news media is at an advantage. So what can US newspapers learn from Europe?
“Thinking like a publisher means thinking big”: Lessons for content teams
What does it mean to think like a publisher? Here are five things that make IMPACT’s content successful.
The true cost of social (and it’s getting more and more expensive)
Businesses are pouring generous budgets into ads on these platforms with the average small business spending between $9,000 to $10,000 per month. 
How the “pivot to privacy” puts a premium on first-party visitor relationships
After a recent round of scandals — from Equifax data breaches and election hacking to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica leak — it’s understandable that consumers have privacy on their minds.
How to reanimate ‘zombie subscribers’ and bring paying readers back to life
Most publishers know that the cost of losing subscribers is often greater than the cost of generating new ones.

Download WNIP’s comprehensive report—50 Ways to Make Media Pay—an essential read for publishers looking at the multiple revenue opportunities available, whether it’s to reach new audiences or double down on existing super-users. The report is free and can be downloaded here.