At the Abu Dhabi media summit, a two-day conference that finished today in the United Arab Emirates, the head of one of the world’s largest marketing groups made some rather direct remarks about newspapers and their dependency on revenue from advertising.
Maurice Levy, head of Publicis, said newspapers need to stop relying on advertising if they want to survive through the digital age. Speaking to The Guardian, Levy said it’s “not enough to have a big audience on the internet.” Levy said newspapers need to find a balance between free and paid content in order to prosper.
“The future of analogue media will not be supported by advertising alone,” he said. “They will have to have profitable access to the internet. It’s not enough to have a big audience on the internet.”
Levy admits online ad spending is growing, but with newspapers shifting from print to digital audiences, advertising online isn’t enough to cover a publisher’s costs.
“Analogue media has to find a new model…content has value and that’s something for which I have a strong point of view,” Levy told The Guardian. “I think media giving away their content is not a good service to themselves. It’s a shame, a pity. This content has a lot of value and it has to be valued reasonably.”
Levy suggested newspapers look at the Freemium business model, in which some content is free but other content or features are paid for by subscribers.
“It is not and/or but and/and,” he said. “We need to have advertising and paid content. Some part of the content could be open and others available on subscription or pay per view.”