Yahoo Shutdowns, Digital’s Future, Secret to BuzzFeed’s Success, Google’s AMP, America’s Test Kitchen Case Study, TFP’s February Book Picks: Using Media to Drive Change, Digital Publishing Solution Tip: Linking Improvements

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing stories about Yahoo’s decision to close down most of its online magazines, a column proclaiming the death of digital news, how data is driving BuzzFeed’s success, questions about Google’s upcoming Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative, and more.

yahoo headquarters

  • A New York Times report detailed Yahoo’s announcement that it’s shutting down the majority of its online magazines—including food, travel, health, parenting, autos, and real estate verticals—putting dozens of staffers out of work as part of an overall 15% workforce reduction. (See global EIC Martha Nelson’s Tumblr post.) “It’s kind of a blood bath over here,” one employee was quoted as saying in the article. “Only a handful of people are staying.” According to the Times, as well as posts from Politico, Recode, Talking New Media, and others, the digital magazines failed to draw the audience numbers—and advertising—needed to stay afloat, despite the fact that CEO Marissa Mayer invested millions of dollars in hiring celebrity talent to work on the magazines and engineering Yahoo’s Tumblr platform to host the content. The much-touted Yahoo Tech site will continue with a reduced staff but eventually be integrated into Yahoo News, it said.
  • Adding to that was buzz around a USA Today column by Michael Wolff proclaiming the death of not only print newspapers, but the digital news business as well. Citing a Financial Times article, he says there’s no doubt print is “deader than a doornail.” However, he argues, digital paints “an even bleaker picture” for publishers, given falling digital ad revenues, the rise of ad blockers, and an increasingly concentrated flow of ad dollars to platforms like Facebook and Google. What’s more, paywalls as an alternative revenue source aren’t working except for a few top sites, and brands are being diluted with the deluge of content now available to readers across platforms, among other formidable obstacles. “It might be good news to have at least clarified the point that digital is not the future of the news business,” Wolff concludes, with the challenge now being to “return to what it has always been: the alpha and omega of how to boost circulation and ad revenue.”
  • But then there’s BuzzFeed. With about 200 million monthly visitors and about 5 billion video views (and actual profits on the books), digital native BuzzFeed has proved it’s more than a “viral content factory” that churns out cat GIFs, says Fortune columnist Mathew Ingram. In fact, he argues, “no one can deny that BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti understands content and how it functions on the Internet better than just about anyone in the media.” What’s behind that understanding? Data, Ingram says—with an emphasis on how, when, why, and by whom content has been shared. “BuzzFeed’s innovation doesn’t have anything to do with how content is posted,” he explains, citing a recent Fast Company article. “It’s about how that content is tracked across the multiple sites, platforms, and services through which it is distributed. More than anything else, BuzzFeed is the poster child for the multi-platform approach to media.” For more on BuzzFeed’s strategy, see “How BuzzFeed Thinks About Data, And Some Charts, Too,” by publisher Dao Nguyen.
  • And Digiday looked at some questions publishers still have about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is set to officially launch on Feb. 24, according to AdAge. The initiative puts Google head to head with Facebook Instant Articles in terms of offering publishers faster load times—85% faster than standard web pages, Google claims. Of course the biggest question is, how will publishers make money on AMP? Because it doesn’t support header bidding, publishers aren’t able to increase the yield they get from programmatic advertising, the article explains. Another factor in question is speed, and whether all publishers using AMP will be treated equally. Also playing into the mix is the ability to publish video and manage related metrics and staffing costs.

On the Technology for Publishing Blog

  • Read how TFP helped America’s Test Kitchen implement new content processes and technology to better manage its fast growth and expanding volume of cooking- and recipe-related content—spread across websites, magazines, cookbooks, television shows, an online cooking school, and more. Get all the details in our latest client case study, now available for download!
  • Our February Book Picks list is also out, with selections focused on using media as a platform for education and change. Learn how media and technology, including digitization, social, and mobile, have the power to drive global transformation.
  • In this week’s Adobe Digital Publishing Solution Tip, Monica Murphy details new linking capabilities that give readers additional ways to navigate to destinations inside and outside of an app.
  • Also check out our most recent Women in Media roundup and Infographic Pick of the Week on blogging trends and best practices.

Image: Politico

Visit our blog for highlights of interesting and noteworthy stories from the publishing world every Friday, and sign up for TFP’s This Week in Publishing newsletter. Think we missed something great? Let us know! Leave a comment below or drop us a note.

Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.