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BILD's digital MD on distributed content

“Distributed content and the rise of the social new platforms is the biggest change in the media in the past fifteen years.” So argues Stefan Betzold Managing Director Digital at BILD GmbH & Co KG. Yet how should media brands work with Facebook Instant Articles, Snapchat Discover and more?

In his presentation at today's Digital Innovators' Summit, he began by stressing that his news organisation was coming from a position of strength. Bild is the leading news online and sports portal in Germany, boasts a reach of almost half of the German speaking population and has massive digital reach.

Betzold explained that the shift has come about via the growth of mobile. At Bild desktop is now stationary, but mobile is massively increasing. As Stefan explained “there’s a big question around revenue and distribution models – they simply don’t make up for what we have lost in print. The shift to the new platforms has been putting added pressure on media companies and creating new changes. Mobile platforms don’t get the correct value of audience usage and monetisation,” said Betzold.

“Mobile advertising spend is only eight per cent. And we face the challenge from the dominance of the top five US players – Google, AOL, Twitter etc. Effectively we are fighting for just 37 per cent of mobile advertising revenues.”

Difficulties and opportunities

Betzold then began to profile what he sees is the third challenge - the shift towards distributed content, which has been driven by new devices and new technology. He admits that the new platforms present both difficulties and lots of opportunities.

He then talked about the similarities between the issues facing the media today, and those the music industry faced 5-10 years earlier. He outlined that they follow a similar logic, from fully composed high price artifacts eg CDs or magazines, via mid tier, which generated slightly less lees money - download for music and digital content for the media. Through to streaming, which he believes is the equivalent of mobile and integrated platforms.

Betzold then mentioned how Taylor Swift and Adele have kept CD and download sales high by not offering their music via streaming sites. “If a business model doesn't work need to think and initiate. If we give money to distributed content platforms, what do we get? Minimum guarantees? The problem is there are too many publishers, not having the powers.”

Bild works will all the major social platforms, from Instant Articles through to Apple News, and Stefan showed how the brand was working with various platforms. Different video platforms (eg mobile, Twitter and Facebook) require different formats (vertical or horizontal) plus captions and subtitles. On Instant Articles, there is a lot more experimenting, while on YouTube there’s less use of Bild brand, as the content is based around a younger anchor and a more informal editorial approach.

A table then showed why Bild worked with the platforms. For some platforms it's all about money and advertising, while for others the key reason is brand exposure. Betzold also suggested that that the CPMs that were being generated on social platforms were no where near as high as those Bild can achieve on its own website. Also for Instant articles, for example, there is only one revenue source - display advertising. No rich media, native advertising, video or partnerships.

Minimum requirements

Finally Betzold ran through the minimum requirements media needed from the social platforms. These include editorial freedom, control over advertising strategy, access to targeting data, paid content and access to tracking data.

“We need to change this together with the platforms, and we need to stay together as a publishing industry to get the platforms to agree to our requirements!” exhorted Betzold.

“The key takeaways we can earn from associated industries is to analyse, test and learn and be confident and negotiate,” he added.

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