Rediscovering Digital Media: Insights from Digiday in Milan

Last week, after some six years of absence from the world of digital media, I had a somewhat unintentional return to it. I say unintentional because my mind was set on other things; however, I found the experience gratifying because everything was still so familiar – even the main problems that digital media faces. Six years ago, they were the same.

I had the chance to attend the first two days of Digiday’s Publishing Summit Europe, which promised to (re-)visit issues such as building products to monetize audiences, sifting through data, and incorporating insights – enduring themes for all media owners. The programme sounded promising, and indeed, attendees from some of most renowned publishing houses like Business Insider, Schibsted, or Conde-Nast had some interesting insights, all under the savvy lead of Digiday’s editor Brian Morrissey.

My main key takeaways are (a) the newest darling in many publishing houses seems to be the digital subscription, followed by new digital products and branded content, (b) the bearer of hope when it comes to ad revenues is still the video advertising, and (c) the biggest, most persistent problems for most publishers are the new data protection law, and of course, the duopoly Facebook and Google.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, you are right: all this does not sound new at all. Nevertheless, publishers across Europe have shown some really good, innovative approaches to monetising media and expanding audiences. My favourite example from the conference was Freeda Media, a super case by founder Andrea Scotti Calderini. What makes Freeda Media stand apart is its success with a social media first strategy and the fantastic expansion in the European Market which is really a difficult feat for most publishers. Here is a link to this particular presentation for those interested:

Still, there were other great examples such as Business Insider’s Managing Director Julian Childs speech on growing and unifying international audiences, or Vice Media’s Chief Content Officer Tamara Howe’s great insights into their experiments with video content and advertising and, last but not least, a sound presentation about the BtoB project of Business Vogue.

I would have loved to say I that was surprised by any of the solutions presented, I wasn’t. Maybe it was Digiday, maybe it was the deep-seated digital publishers’ dilemma with monetising content; nevertheless, the strongest part of this somewhat pricey conference was the networking meetings, which could be arranged beforehand between participants.

All things considered, I look forward to attending the next conference on insights about monetising digital media. Firstly, because I truly felt at home, and most importantly, there is still hope as something interesting is always happening in this industry. The next conference INMA’s Digital Subscription Summit, to take place this week in Stockholm, has been sold out for two weeks.