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What’s been happening in the world of digital publishing over the last week? Here’s your weekly round-up of news, announcements, product launches, and more.

Audience engagement

Inside the Guardian: six years of candour, courage, and craft

After six years and more than 250 pieces, Guardian’s Inside the Guardian series is drawing to a close. Born originally out of reader curiosity about newsroom life, the series has gone behind the scenes to reveal how Guardian uncovers major news stories, devises different editions and products, and harnesses new technology. Read more

Why it matters: The article states, “The series may be over, but we’ll continue to keep our readers and supporters abreast of how and why we do what we do, via our growing suite of newsletters, podcasts and our annual report.” It appears that the publication is taking on new – more up-to-date – formats of engaging its audience.

Trends

Meta releases newsletter platform numbers, and it’s good news for Substack

A new blog post from Meta marks the six-month anniversary of its newsletter publishing platform, Bulletin. Amid its plugs for the writers who publish work on the service, the company lets the Verge know just how many publishers it has on board to help compete with companies like Substack and Twitter: 115.

Unlike Substack, the buzziest newsletter platform of the moment, you can’t just start writing with Bulletin — Meta has continued to add writers to the platform in batches instead of having a public sign-up process. While the number implies that the company isn’t doing a huge push to get people on the platform as fast as possible, that does appear to be on purpose, at least to some extent (there’s always the possibility it hasn’t been as successful at courting writers as it planned). If it wanted, Meta could probably get those numbers up by letting anyone sign up to write, but for now the company’s still promising to “thoughtfully increase the number of creators” over the next year. Read more

Why it matters: As the author points out, “While it’s probably too early to write off Bulletin over how the testing is going, it doesn’t seem like Meta’s seeing the same runaway success it has with some of its other clones. Its copy of Snapchat’s stories feature has become a massive part of Instagram, and Meta is just one of the companies trying to prove that Clubhouse’s social audio is more of a feature than an entire platform.”

Media job cuts hit lowest point since 2008

Job cuts in media and news specifically are on track to hit a 14-year-low in 2021, according to the latest data from Challenger Gray & Christmas. Read more

Why it matters: “An unprecedented level of job cuts in 2020 led to fewer-than-expected cuts in 2021.”

Future of Digital Publishing

Why US publishers aren’t signing up to Google News Showcase 

Armed with a $1bn budget to pay publishers for the use of their content, Google unveiled Showcase nearly 15 months ago.

The programme has gone live in 14 countries and has more than 1,000 publication partners, including leading titles in the UK, Canada, Australia and Germany.

But the service has yet to launch in Google’s native, and most important, market – the United States. Read more

Why it matters: Just like the article states: “Several large publishers are underwhelmed, and some “offended”, by Google’s Showcase payment offers…Publishers are concerned by a contract clause stating that they agree Google does not owe them any money for their content beyond Showcase payments…Publishers are sceptical about the quality and discoverability of Showcase, doubting its potential to help them find new readers and subscribers”


Private investors plot Forbes buyout

Investment firm GSV is working on a bid to buy Forbes Media at a $620 million valuation as an alternative to Forbes’ announced SPAC merger, Axios has learned. Read more

Why it matters: Just like the article states: “BuzzFeed’s public listing last week added to growing skepticism about the SPAC market for media companies. Its shares are down roughly 40% from its opening price, and 94% of investors redeemed their stock following the merger news.”

Tech

Taboola teams with Microsoft to launch audience network

Taboola is teaming with Microsoft to design a real-time service that allows advertisers to bid for ad inventory across many places on the open web — content that’s accessible via any web browser, easily linked to and doesn’t require logging into an account. Read more

Why it matters: As Sara Fischer explains, “Firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Spotify launched audience networks to extend their advertising reach across areas where they’re dominant, like social, commerce, search and audio. Taboola’s building an audience network that reaches people outside those big platforms.”

TikTok rival Triller to go public via merger with SeaChange International

Short video app Triller is set to go public via a reverse merger with video-tech company SeaChange International, the two companies announced on Wednesday. The combined entity will be valued at approximately $5 billion. The boards of both companies have approved the proposed merger and the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals. Read more

Why it matters: As the article explains, “The two companies say TrillerVerz is positioned to become a leading AI-powered social media platform for content, creators and commerce. TrillerVerz plans to expand its revenue streams by increasing its global footprint and investment in new growth opportunities across the creator economy and emerging technologies.”

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See how one digital publisher increased its organic traffic by 600% with Google News Top Stories Carousel + best practices and troubleshooting tips

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