Content pipelines under stress again, says new report

It is not just the newsstand which is under pressure again as a result of the new shopping restrictions in England, according to the latest mediafutures report.

Content pipelines under stress again, says new report
Jim Bilton: “Reaching the target audience across multiple content platforms is the real front-line of any media company’s activity.”

Every content pipeline has come under stress through 2020. And publishers need a more joined-up strategy to coordinate them all. That is one of the key findings of Wessenden Marketing’s latest mediafutures report, produced in association with InPublishing, Flashes & Flames and FOLIO.

Four content pipelines under stress

mediafutures maps four key pipelines of content:

  • The Digital Delivery of content is currently dominated by publishers’ own branded websites and enewsletters in terms of the amount of focus and resource being put into them. Virtual events (B2B skewed) and video (Consumer skewed) are both rising in importance. Social platforms continue to polarise publishers’ opinions as to how valuable they really are.
  • Even the most ardent supporters of the Retail Newsstand are worried about it. Are publishers simply managing decline? Or preparing for an implosion? And can the more proactive publishers gouge share and market position through the upheaval?
  • Subscriptions-First is the obvious strategy for many publishers, both B2B and Consumer, but it is not as simple as it looks and has its own cost issues and challenges.
  • Free Distribution, in all its print and digital manifestations, is either the past or the future, depending on the business model and the quality of the content.

Jim Bilton, Managing Director, Wessenden Marketing: “Reaching the target audience across multiple content platforms is the real front-line of any media company’s activity. It is all change at the moment, with increasing complexity and threat. Having a joined-up audience strategy and protecting the content pipelines are top priorities. Yet the biggest asset any content creator has is the quality of that content. However, that too is an area of massive competition, where some publishers are open enough to admit that they are simply not delivering enough to justify a paid content service.”

Digital magazines and social media polarise opinions

Two specific digital content delivery platforms continue to polarise publishers’ opinions.

  • Digital magazines. Are they a technical dead-end or an important part of the future? And where do the digital newsstands fit into all this?
  • Social media. Are they a competitive threat? Or an important way to drive audience growth? Or just an un-monetisable waste of time?

Jim Bilton, Managing Director, Wessenden Marketing: “There is a lot of talk about being audience-driven in delivering what readers and end-users actually want. Yet behind the talk, there are some hard-nosed financial assessments being made about what is really worth doing. And how much to charge the end-user for it. The report details the different arguments and positions that individual publishers are having to take, market-by-market and brand-by-brand.”

The long-term perspective

With data on the UK going back to 2009, the mediafutures report tracks the long-term trends across a wide range of metrics, which include the shift out of print and into digital, the move from ad revenue to content revenue, the collapse of live events, the drop in retail sales and the rise in subscriptions – to name just a few.

The international perspective

This year, the mediafutures survey has gone international with Colin Morrison’s Flashes & Flames and FOLIO in the USA as two new partners. Comparing the USA with Europe, it is clear that America is deeper into the change process and is more digital than Europe. Yet there is one major qualifier: the US media model is still much more dependent on advertising & sponsorship, which leaves it more vulnerable.

The mediafutures Report Pack Bundle

This year, two reports have been published, with a data bridge linking them:

  • mediafutures EUROPE (177 participating media companies / 60 pages)
  • mediafutures USA (154 participating media companies / 50 pages)

The reports include companies in Consumer Media, Customer Media, B2B, Events and News Media (nationals & regionals). The companies range from legacy, print-only operations through to digital-only start-ups.

The mediafutures Report Pack Bundle is available to buy now from Wessenden Marketing ( at a price of £995.

For more information on any aspect of mediafutures, including a sample of the reports’ contents, contact Jim Bilton (