Publishers were thrown quite a few curveballs this year, but they managed to step up to the plate. Each season presented a new obstacle, or growth potential, for the industry’s key players: COVID redefined the office landscape for media companies in Q1, publishing revenue trended upward in Q2, and ad buyers decreased their spending on Meta during Q3. As for Q4, plenty of e-commerce publishers knocked it out of the park after a successful cyber week of high spending—and high conversion rates. Some publishers ended the year with a rousing home run while others struck out. So as a nod to the ones that got it right, and the ones that needed a push forward, here is a recap of some big moves publishers made in 2022.
No matter who rounded the bases, there’s one medium that helped publishers push ahead and channel their monetization efforts effectively: newsletters. The format made a huge comeback in 2022, and publishers toyed with different strategies to retain users. But the news start-up RocaNews’ marketing game plan stood out amongst the rest. By using its $1,000 marketing budget to feed people grocery shopping in poor neighborhoods (matched by the goal of 1,000 subscribers), the startup not only drove subscribers to The Roca Current newsletter but helped spread some good along the way. Other publishers like The New York Times leveraged their gaming products to create an overlap in interests for potential subscribers. With the resounding success of the publisher’s Wordle acquisition, the Times’ premium offerings attracted a wider span of users looking to gain access.
While some publishers were re-establishing their reader retention tactics, others were experiencing a different kind of come-up. Just shy of a six-year launch, short-form journalism site Axios made a $525 million deal with Cox Enterprises. The two businesses will merge with the goal of amplifying local watchdog journalism across the United States. With an acquisition this large, the profits are bound to be plentiful for both companies.
And as big names in the industry were bringing in hefty earnings, others were working hard on their rebound. Once the largest in-flight magazine publisher in the world, Ink hit a low during the pandemic after airlines were grounded. But Chief executive Simon Leslie revitalized the magazine by bringing in motivational speakers to motivate the team and keep spirits high. With a little boost, the publisher got back to an $80 million a year turnover. Regardless of how publishers fared during a tumultuous 2022, the industry witnessed, and can learn from these incredible success stories as we walk into the new year.