The news industry’s digital revolution poses many challenges, from needing to diversify revenue streams to finding new, innovative ways to build community. As a result, competition is growing fiercely among publishers to show value and offer something unique to their readers.
Renowned for its quality journalism and award-winning weekly newspaper, ZEIT media group is one of Germany’s leading publishers well known for its balanced storytelling.
“Different perspectives are important to ensure quality and diversity,” explains Dennis Draber, ZEIT media group’s Senior Manager for Business Development, who helped coordinate between Google News Initiative and ZEIT media group. “Having a broad range of voices ensures not to get caught in ideological bubbles.”
The publisher pays attention to what makes its readers tick, harnessing market research to uncover interests and behaviours. For example, the team discovered that its audience is most interested in literature and travel, and consequently built 200,000-member communities dedicated to these topics.
The specialist interests of its readers appeared to be fertile ground for ZEIT media group, combined with its own reputation for expert deep dives. The publisher spotted an opportunity to add value to the existing offering and create a new revenue stream — by launching live, expert-led summits on topics like education, research, work, democracy, climate, entrepreneurship. During the pandemic, ZEIT media group successfully moved the summits online.
Key to the commercial success of these summits is attracting an engaged, high-quality specialist audience. Google News Initiative supported the team in improving audience segmentation and creating newsletter communities for summit attendees.
The publisher identified potential summit guests through social media, advertising, partnerships, and communications from its database, and gathered insights for content strategy through market research, trend scouting, and the specialist knowledge of its editors. The content produced from these summits was then bundled into a dedicated sponsored content hub and made available to a broader audience through newsletter communication and subscription.