By SIV JUVIK TVEITNES, Head of the media division in Schibsted

With news brands in solid positions and more than one million digital subscribers, it’s time to take on a new ambitious strategy for Schibsted’s news media. 

This article was first published in Schibsted Future Report 2022.

For the last few decades, the media industry has faced enormous challenges, struggling to find its way into a new digital landscape. We have undergone – and are continuing to undergo – a digital transformation. How people consume news and content has radically changed. Information flows are increasing exponentially, and our business models and ways of working have changed with new trends.

This has all been very challenging, and like many others, Schibsted has made many difficult decisions along the way. It’s been a time of reorganizations, cost-cutting, mergers and concern about the future.

But today, the picture looks different in Schibsted. All the work we put in, all the reorganizations we initiated, along with the increased pace of innovation and development, have borne fruit. We have achieved our goal of sustainable digital media. In September 2021, we reached one million digital subscribers. And the willingness to pay for news is growing in both Norway and Sweden.

During the pandemic, a solid digital trend has also revealed a future in which digital revenues grow more than print revenues fall. So, as we move forward, we can focus on growth. And to operationalize this ambition, we have defined six must-win battles.

1. Strengthen our journalistic positions

Our news media brands have significant growth potential, but this requires us to invest and innovate. The competition is hard, and our users have high demands for quality, credibility and user experience. We must continue to strengthen their loyalty and confidence in us.

At the same time, our brands hold different positions. For instance, for VG and Aftonbladet, it’s about being the most important news destination. While Aftenposten aims for a more explanatory role, Svenska Dagbladet strives to deliver a smart news experience. Bergens Tidende and Stavanger Aftenblad are investing a lot of resources in strengthening their respective regional positions, just as our local news brands aim to improve their local positions. E24 is Norway’s largest online destination for financial and business news. And the news service Omni’s desired position is to be number one among the forward-leaning news consumers in Sweden.

The common denominator is that we all depend on a visionary product strategy to stay ahead when it comes to meeting the needs of tomorrow’s media users – at the same time as we meet their needs today.

As a response to this, our product organization has developed a vision, one that is spot-on: ‘To be a natural part of everyone’s daily habits’.

2. Challenge for new positions

We have significant potential for creating new media products and services that can bring even more value to people’s lives. Consolidations characterize the media landscape, and these create opportunities to explore new products and revenues – both inside and outside our core business.

Our investment in the podcast platform Podme is one example of a non-traditional media product we focus on in several countries. It has moved from being a venture investment in Schibsted to becoming part of our core business. We will pursue our interest in companies and brands where we believe we can be good owners. It’s natural for us to focus initially on the Nordic region. But in Schibsted, anything is possible…

3. Grow subscription with smarter offerings

The willingness to pay for journalism is high in Norway and Sweden. In these countries, we have been pioneers in the market. We have been driving this trend through our high-quality journalism and our continued work to add value to our products and the user journey. The growth potential remains excellent in winning more customers and developing smarter offerings across our brands. 

Moving forward, we will grow in three ways:

  1. Through our existing brands, as we have done in the past.
  2. Through a bigger and broader portfolio of brands, such as Podme and our acquisition of the outdoor recreation magazine Fri Flyt. More investments will follow.
  3. Through a more interwoven portfolio. We must create seamless user journeys that meet people’s needs. We will continue to experiment with bundling products. The initiative in E24 is an excellent example of how we can reach a much wider audience and broaden our content by offering E24 along with our other brands.

4. Reinforce our premium advertising position

Competition in the advertising market is fierce. The pandemic posed a significant challenge for our advertisers and us, but the outlook is much brighter, and activity in the market is picking up. We believe that we still are – and will continue to be – a solid alternative to the global giants. We will continue to invest in – and strengthen – our current premium advertising position. To strengthen our position, we must have control of the regulatory changes that will affect how we and others, not least the tech giants, run our advertising businesses.

We must also invest in first-hand, high-quality data, which we obtain by increasing the number of logged-in users. If we succeed, we will continue to have a significant competitive advantage. Developing our effect metrics, exploring e-commerce opportunities, and growing our content marketing business are other areas that will be particularly important in the time ahead.

5. Grow our people and attract talent

The talent competition is intense but extremely important. We must be able to attract the best people while developing those we already have. We are now entering a new and unexplored territory, where hybrid jobs and flexibility will be the norm. We don’t know how this will affect collaboration, culture and loyalty. Still, we must have a clear plan for recruitment, competence development, leadership development and career planning.

Diversity and inclusion are also high on our agenda, in the whole of Schibsted and across society. We have improvement potential that we take very seriously.

6. Improve our data and tech foundation

Our growth strategy is entirely dependent on us using data in more sophisticated ways – and continually striving to improve the user experience. This applies to advertising, subscriptions and product development for all our brands, both individually and across. We also see a lot of untapped potential in using technology such as artificial intelligence.

We must succeed in getting as many people as possible to log into our products. Access to data on our users is vital for creating even more relevant new products, such as through personalization. People use our products in different ways, and we need to consider this.

Our common platforms, the editorial, subscription and advertising platforms, provide us with a substantial competitive advantage and ability to scale. Continuous development of these platforms is also vital to achieving further growth.

Finally, the ability to stand firm and look ahead with another, ambitious perspective serves as a powerful source of motivation for all of us working within News Media in Schibsted. We do have world-class news media brands. We have an amazing organization of talented people who help ensure that we can continually develop quality products and services that meet our users’ needs.

The fact that our strong news media brands also are part of a larger Schibsted family, with a solid financial position that is willing to invest—not only within our core areas but also to look at opportunities beyond that—gives us the best starting point and the best conditions we’ve had for many years to reach new ambitions and new heights.

Most importantly, this gives us the muscle power to pursue our societal mission to have a broad reach and strengthen democracy through free and independent high-quality journalism. Something that is more important than ever.

 Read and download the Schibsted Future report.

Photo: Schibsted