Online News: The Rise of Aggregators

Audio Apps are the next high for online News consumers, says Reuters Report

Mobile news notifications have emerged as an important route for content. Messaging platforms (WhatsApp etc.) are giving social media platforms such as Facebook competition particularly in the online news segment. So is it end of the road for algorithms like search engine optimisation or social media optimisations? Or is it too early to announce the death of SEO and SMO?

Google News, Apple News, Line News, Snapchat Discover, Flipboard, SmartNews are the new super heroes in the online news segment. In addition to enabling rich media mobile alerts from preferred publishers, Apple News released Spotlight news feed last year. Google News equipped with its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative continues to lead the march worldwide, commanding 21% of Asia’s online news market pie.

According to a recent report released by Reuters, destination web sites and apps have a slight edge over search engines and social media. The statistics that indicate rise of Aggregators particularly in Asia are:

  • Search (60%) is the most favoured gateway for online news in South Korea, followed by Aggregators (37%)
  • Aggregators are the most favoured gateway for online news in Japan commanding 40% of the share in the segment
  • Aggregators have 31% and 25% share in Taiwan’s and Hong Kong’s online news market respectively

Ethics for Aggregators

So what do typical online news consumers do while using an aggregator? They sift through the publisher’s sites to identify what interests them and bookmark/ save the content for page break and an ad free reading experience. Aggregators such as New York Times Now App leads the reader to news reports from across the web. It is but appropriate that the aggregators compensate the original publisher for republishing their content. Countries such as Germany are mulling over laws akin to copyright laws to ensure that the interest of original publishers is watched. A debate or at least a to-do list on the ethics of aggregation is a predictable outcome.   

In a book titled The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, Astra Taylor compares online media to fast food. She says: “We don’t think much about where we click, how that information made its way to us, or who’s getting paid a living wage to produce it.”

Aggregators lead us to a situation where interaction with the original publisher is no more a mandate. According to an estimate nearly two-thirds of web users access news from “side doors” (apps, search, social media in order of preference). Email (newsletters) gateway too has made a comeback in news dissemination.

In Asian context, individual media brands are subsumed in major portals. In fact, the algorithmic approach to news segregation has led to a situation where news consumers are more likely to read from sources they wouldn’t have accessed otherwise. A report says nearly two-third web users remember the path (app, social media or search) they use to land on the story page, but less than half of them recall the brand that featured the story.


Audio Apps Vs Video Feeds

Audio apps are the other interesting development news consumers can look forward to. Audio app doling out weather summaries or match updates are imminent. This is predicted to have implications for radio. Though video remains far more distributed format on the web, so far text is the preferred format for news consumption. Will Audi Apps alter this dynamic?

Digital Subscriptions: Bundling or Syndicated Content  

Coming to the business or the revenue models, the US market experienced a clear jump in digital subscriptions, owing to “Trump Bump”. In some European markets bundling print and online subscriptions is proving to be a significant formula for monetising online news. Given the technological advantage that these nations have, they are deploying Big Data models to work out differential pricing to accommodate the preferences of their customers. However, availability of free content continues to be the main barrier in monetising online news. Clearly there is no fit all answer to monetisation of online news.

McKinsey pointed out in its report last year that it is too early to write off print, particularly in Asian markets. One of the key evolutions of print could be providing syndicated content to portals. Newspapers in South Korea derive a chunk of their revenue by supplying content to Naver and Daum- the two portals. Reuters report reiterates the point that advertising, donations and syndicated content are significant sources of revenue for news players.









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