Surge of millennial-focused news sources shifts publishing industry
By Brielle Jaekel
March 23, 2016
The growing popularity of news sources delivering snackable content geared towards millennials is forcing traditional publishers onto mobile-first platforms, but older media companies still miss the mark on delivering the shorter, punchier content these readers want.
With mobile news applications, newsletters and platforms such as Now This and BuzzFeed enticing millennial consumers with the short and sweet approach to news reporting, traditional publishers are increasingly partnering with digital distributors to drive readership. While the millennial news niche is thriving in the new environment, traditional publishers must evolve to incorporate these ideals into their distributor partnerships and be everywhere consumers are.
"What the giant Internet companies still struggle to understand is the fact that mobile content is now almost exclusively consumed through social media directing links, which obviously gives Facebook the upperhand, said Gil Regev, chief marketing officer at Marfeel
. The old idea of daily news being 95 percent consumed by 30-60 year olds is an old notion that neither publishers nor instant article model providers should stick to.
Millennials demand news to be short snippets, personalized and fed over to them, precisely where they are with the notion that publishers should find me with your news, where and when it is relevant to me, do not expect me to tap into your website, for random news,'" he said. The idea is that in such a mobile world, millennials who were born into this revolution, see the mobility of information as a leading preference, make it easy for them to read, fit it to their screen, and make it visually attractive.
They also would like publishers to ensure that they can keep them interested and most importantly to make sure that it is easy for them to share. Publishers and page speed vendors will find that the better and more native the mobile experience, the better the performance parameters become; millennials are extremely 'experience-conscious', same way that the older generation was 'customer service' centric.
Appealing to millennials
Distributor platforms such as Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover are working hard to keep their users native within their apps. After realizing the majority of user behavior on some of these platforms relied on the sharing of news, it made sense to create a native viewing experience.
But these platforms and traditional publishers now have to compete with millennial-focused sources such as theSkimm daily newsletter, news app Now This and media brand BuzzFeed. These sources focus on leveraging the language of the millennial while providing content in a quick digestible format to fit their small attention spans.
Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles are created with the intention of keeping you within these large companies walled gardens to varying degrees, said Mark Cluett, marketing manager at Polar
, Toronto. Millennial news outlets like theSkimm and Now This do quite the opposite: instead of choosing a horse and riding it through this disintermediated world they distribute their content over every channel imaginable where they might find traction: Facebook, Twitter, potentially AMP, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope.
It is not easy as each channel requires different formats and tones to work and address their respective audiences, but the success of these newer outlets is evidence the approach can work, he said.
Social media and media
The millennial news brand knows how to leverage the varying platforms of social media and mobile tools to appeal to audience member. Their strong presence in so many platforms allow them to attract fans by giving them what they want.
For instance, Now Thiss Snapchat Discover channel provides a stream of the top news stories in the Snapchat format while keeping its brand idea alive. While many will enjoy its daily content on the app, a large portion will now be aware of the publication for the first time and seek out its app.
The mobile app provides a similar format of news with short quick videos for users to stay informed without taking up too much of their time.
These larger companies are not interested in driving users away from their platforms, and their algorithms favoring their own content and lack of integrations show just that, Mr. Cluett said. Who could really learn from these millennial media brands are publishers.
Larger distribution channels like Facebook, Twitter, and the like try to convince them they need to choose one large partner to drive traffic and succeed, when there are countless social channels where their content might thrive and uncover new revenue opportunities, especially on mobile, he said.