Looking back at 2017, three themes emerge: more media consolidation, reorganization, and diversification. Last month, for example, Meredith bought Time Inc. in a $2.5 billion deal backed by the Koch brothers. In October, Hearst acquired Rodale, the family-owned publisher of titles such as Prevention, Men’s Health, and Runner’s World, and earlier in the year Wenner Media sold Us Weekly and Men’s Journal to AMI—further shrinking the ranks of small and midsize publishing companies.

And just last week, Disney announced it’s acquiring the assets of 21 Century Fox in what reports called a “historic” $52.4 billion deal that will spin off Fox Broadcasting and bring FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, popular Fox movie franchises, and a wide range of other properties under Disney’s roof.

Restructuring for Greater Efficiencies

Meanwhile, as we’ve detailed in our This Week in Publishing posts, both traditional and digital-native media orgs like Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Condé Nast, and others underwent major reorganizations, resulting in budget cuts, layoffs, reductions in title frequencies, and print closures—say goodbye to Self and Teen Vogue.

Other pubs that folded this year included the Village Voice, fashion mag Nylon, and old-timers Surfing and Skiing Magazine.

As the Atlantic’s recent article “How to Survive the Media Apolcalypse” notes, 2017 was “a uniquely miserable year” for many media organizations: Ad money became ever more scarce—in part because the Trump administration upended the news business, making the “ecosystem uninhabitable for advertisers,” the article says—and VC-funded companies are now having to face “VC reality.”

Diversifying to Grow Revenue

But what also stands out this year is the growing number of partnerships and new ventures publishers are investing in as they look to diversify beyond their traditional businesses. To offset market shifts and loss of advertising revenues to social and tech platforms, publishers have been increasingly expanding into e-commerce, events, travel, and other areas.

Hearst, for instance, recently launched a new “voice-first” brand for Amazon Echo and has been experimenting with its digital-native Best Products site, which serves as a “laboratory to test multiple affiliate commerce strategies at once,” according to a report. BuzzFeed’s all about affiliate commerce too, saying last month it has expanded its commerce content staff to 19 full timers.

Elsewhere, Newsweek announced a travel and tour business that will incorporate the publisher’s editorial content. And at the Washington Post, revenue from its Arc Publishing operation—a content management system the newspaper built for itself and now offers to other publishers as a service—has doubled year over year, and it’s projected to do so again in 2018.

Building Successful Content Strategies

In addition to staying on top of this year’s industry news and trends, we looked at ways to keep your “content engine room” up to date and agile with Content Strategy articles on building the foundation for content monetization and using a micro-process approach to editorial experimentation. We also posted a Q&A with 2017 magazine of the year Mother Jones, along with some great infographic picks on upping your email game, how to do data visualization right, the latest in SEO, and more.

And to help inform your decision-making, TFP Book Picks highlighted key business and industry reads and our Media Metrics roundups covered the latest research on everything from technology and audience trends to industry earnings and growth. Just a few examples of what you may have missed: a look at the DNA of “the Four,” a guide to building a story brand, and insights on how to use data to gain competitive advantage. And TFP’s most recent Media Metrics post highlighted digital-first in newsrooms, Snap’s user growth, average time spent with media, and more.

Looking Ahead

What can we expect in the new year? Much more on the game changers we saw in 2017, including voice-activated apps, pushback against platforms, first-party data, skinny bundles, and artificial intelligence, all of which Folio recently noted will “have a deep impact on the survivability of media businesses into the future.” Among other predictions: a push for greater transparency in the media, more experimentation (with tech, business models, and new products), and women taking on an increasing number of leadership roles—something we’ve detailed throughout the year in our Women in Media posts.

To be sure, 2018 will continue to bring plenty of challenges and opportunities. We’ll keep you informed of changes and shifts we see coming, provide advice for optimizing your content processes and tools, and post regular updates on the latest industry news and research along with Monica Murphy’s InDesign Tips. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletters for more!

Wishing You Happy Holidays

With every year that goes by, all of us at Technology for Publishing feel blessed for the people we get to work with, and the pivotal projects we get to contribute to. In a climate that has been challenging to many, we are honored to help so many navigate the adversity and find success. Wishing all a season of peace and kindness, and may your new year be blessed with new experiences, health, and happiness.

CEO Margot Knorr Mancini’s blog on content strategy shares valuable insights and observations from her experiences in the publishing industry. Check out her other articles in our Content Strategy section. Have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to know more about? Drop us a note!

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.