INMA Media Innovation Week Hamburg 2019 - Daily Round-up

Deep.BI is in Hamburg , Germany for INMA’s Media Innovation Week 2019. We’ve had the chance to meet with some amazing companies and had some great opportunities to talk about our user scoring with acquaintances both old and new. However, we’ve also had the chance to hear from so many really great speakers. Take a look with us back over our time here, and find out how innovative approaches to data strategy are helping the news media to explore new frontiers. 

Day 1 - September 23

The new media evolution

Axel Springer has rebranded itself as a “media and tech” company and is ready to prove itself.


“Europe’s largest media house has repositioned itself as a “media and tech company,” according to Betzold, with an emphasis on data-driven customer differentiation, revenue model diversification, and an aggressive infusion of enabling technology.”

Don’t count advertising out just yet 

A presentation from 5 media companies: Schibstead, Mediahuis, The Irish Times, Russmedia, and Ekstra Bladet addressed the continuing role of advertising in revenue strategy. Despite the current strong focus on user engagement and subscriptions.  


Advertising benefits when data strategy makes sure that it can be tailored to the interests of the users, even on a broad scale. 

Editorial is no longer just about the news

A presentation from Funke’s Hamburger Abendblatt followed and covered how a strategy focused on user-centric revenue generation had transformed both editorial and sales. 


That means an editor is now responsible for selling…[a]nd on the other hand, the sales department can’t just do a sales campaign based on a pay model. They need to know what editorial is doing.”

Seize the chance to build user engagement

Pit Gottschalk, publisher of football newsletter Fever Pit’ch focused on how start up media must move away from traditional top down models to generate a closer relationship with readers to drive subscription revenue.  


By creating engagement and value, I am closer and closer to small payments and membership.

New content and paywall strategies fire up 5 news brands

Unconventional approaches to paywall strategies, revenue generation and other issues facing news media today were revealed in 5 case studies presented by the news brands: Mittmedia, Republik, Die Zeit’s Z2X Festivals for Visionaries,, and Russmedia. 


Only 20% of acquired (subscription) customers are acquired in the first 60 minutes. The vast majority are acquired during the rest of the time (that a piece of content is available). So in effect, that means the paid content business is a long-tail business model.

Day 2 - September 24

Reader revenue is no Holy Grail

Day 2 kicked off with an exciting presentation by Grzegorz Piechota, INMA’s researcher-in-residence, who said that the next big thing in reader revenue may actually be innovation in advertising revenue. 


Many publishers feel divided between serving their advertisers and their audiences, Piechota said, but that is not necessarily true. He questions if there is really a difference between the objectives of advertisers and the objectives of users.

3 more case studies from Gazeta Wyborcza

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza’s digital newsroom chief Aleksandra Sobczak discussed how opposition reporting affects subscriptions. In addition, Schibsted’s Maria Nervik touched upon personalising subscription models, and Amedia’s Helge Birkelund addressed livestreaming events.


Apparently when we defend our values, it translates into business results,” [Sobczak] said. Digital circulation has grown nearly 15% so far this year as Gazeta Wyborcza has focused its editorial voice on supporting causes ranging from underpaid teachers to the gay community.”

Try, fail and then try harder

Markus Barmettler, head of data and analytics at NZZ discussed what happens when technological innovations to prevent churn misfire. Fabian Rosekeit, growth manager for NWZ, followed up by discussing NWZ’s strategy to integrate all of their activities through a CRM. 

We realised that retention starts with day one of the customer relationship — and sometimes even before,” [Barmettler] said.

Failing fast isn’t so fast at all

Zeit online CEO Christian Röpke said that in the media space these days new business models appear so suddenly and grow so quickly that a company’s internal organisation cannot evolve fast enough to manage them well. 


The idea of “failing fast” — to clear the road of weak ideas so that new projects and experiments can be tried — gets stalled by decision-making that can take too long.

Paywalls are no one-size fits all solution

Philipp Westermeyer, podcast entrepreneur and founder of Online Marketing Rockstars expressed his skepticism at what he termed the “rush” to lock everything behind a paywall.


I would go to a fixed price as much as possible,” he said. “If you have a certain reach and you have a certain trust and you have a certain awareness and brand perception in a community, that’s what you charge for.”

Day 3 - September 26

Growth strategies are still hit or miss 

After 10 local and regional publishers in Austria and Germany participated in a benchmarking study focused on the “whys” behind reader revenue results at their companies. […] All participants agreed on one thing: 0% reported being very satisfied with the results of their reader revenue strategies.

Success in digital subscription is not about what system or technology companies use, it is mainly a cultural problem...Publishers are stuck in an old way of working, trying to navigate growth strategies across multiple silos. “And this is where most houses are still struggling, to break out of the silos and work together,” he said.”


“Exploring what data publishers gather about subscribers, all participants report tracking visits, articles/pageviews, and reading time. Only 10% report tracking payall views, paywall clicks, and purchases. It seems publishers do not know what actually converts, [Grzegorz] Piechota said.”

Paying to play

Kent Schacht of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) and Satwant Singh of the National Basketball Association (NBA) challenged the INMA audience to consider that fighting churn and improving retention rates is a difficulty facing all content providers, not just the media. 


“Over the last few years, we’ve been working very hard to make a transition, make a change, in how we reach that new audience, how we focus on that customer experience, but also not alienating the whole group of valuable customers we had already.”

Growth is achievable but sustainability could be more difficult

Schibsted’s senior vice president for consumer products, Tor Jacobsen, sees three main drivers for the market going forward: The first one is strengthening existing products. Second, to explore pricing and packaging to create the best offers for customers. And the third to generate new subscription revenues from increasing digital readers.”


“I think it’s been a very interesting journey on the reader revenue side. The question is: Where will the growth come from in the next years? We still think the market will be struck by higher volumes. But to stay on the higher curve instead of the lower one, we think it needs a shift in focus from volume to value.”


Europe talks

 A panel with editors from German, Belgian, and Polish media houses that had all collaborated with 13 other newsrooms in last spring’s “Europe Talks” effort -- initiative designed to generate direct one-on-one, face-to-face conversations between people with markedly different political views on key issues in the then-upcoming European parliament elections. Most of the participants seemed to agree that its sole effect was promotional. Citing its limited success in changing people’s minds and or countering the extreme polarisation that characterises much of European political debate today.


According to Poland’s Aleksandra Sobczak:“I think it was driven by the media, but it was difficult to sell it, frankly. The stories weren’t popular enough (with readers). They might have changed people’s opinions in a very little amount but it was not much.”


News by the number

In a presentation from the BBC, Amanda Farnsworth, head of visual and data journalism, and John Walton, data journalism editor explained how data driven journalism has enriched the BBC newsroom, and considered its implications for the profession as a whole.


“If you’re not able to have the expertise to work with numbers, then you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities, and you’re going to miss opportunities to explain the world to your audiences,” Walton said.”