Yulia Boyle has been part of the FIPP World Media Congress for 15 years. During that time, the current FIPP Chair has seen the event grow in leaps and bounds – the must-attend conference drawing top speakers, media decision-makers and service providers from more than 40 countries every year.
This year’s FIPP World Media Congress, held in the beguiling Portuguese seaside town of Cascais from 4-6 June in partnership with Media Makers Meet (MX3), promises to be bigger and more impactful than ever before as publishers try to negotiate a year of extraordinary challenges and opportunities.
With preparations for Congress 2024 already in full swing we catch up with Boyle to talk about hot topics at the conference, why Cascais is the perfect backdrop for networking and what makes the event, which has been going for 45 years, so special.
With the media industry facing so many challenges in 2024, has it become even more crucial for publishers to pull together, find common goals and engage in open conversations at an event like the FIPP World Media Congress?
Oh, absolutely. Look, 2024 is throwing us curveballs left and right. It’s tough out there, but that’s exactly why this year’s FIPP Congress isn’t just another date on the calendar – it’s the rallying point where we roll up our sleeves, sit down with our brightest minds across the industry, and hash it out – the nitty-gritty of embracing AI while protecting the rights of creator, innovating in the post-cookie era and finding sustainable models in the face of ad-blocking technologies, ensuring great and credible journalism stands out amid the noise, balancing the gold rush of data-driven insights with importance of privacy for all of us, crafting compelling value propositions to grow and retain subscription in such a competitive market and so much more. And doing it all while fostering international partnerships to pool resources and knowledge to face and tackle common challenges.
You mention artificial intelligence and lot of sessions at last year’s Congress explored the dangers and opportunities that come with the rise of AI. Could you elaborate on what you think the hottest topics will be at the 2024 event when it comes to new technology?
AI’s role in the media will definitely remain a hot topic at our Congress. I anticipate a lot of discussion on how we can collectively ensure that content creators are fairly recognised and compensated for their work. These discussions are key to developing ethical practices that benefit all involved in the media landscape. It is crucial we figure out a fair model where intellectual property rights are acknowledged and respected. I imagine there will also be considerable discussion about Apple Vision Pro and the relationship with major developers and platforms – YouTube, Spotify, Netflix. Their hesitation to develop apps for the headset raises an interesting debate. The reasons behind this could be multifaceted: they may be gauging the market’s receptivity or possibly taking a stand against Apple’s 30% “tax”. The success of the Vision Pro will undoubtedly be influenced by the availability of compelling applications that utilise its new technology, making this a critical issue to watch. As we approach the Congress in June, we’ll likely gain insight into which strategic perspective is more accurate.
The state of digital advertising also promises to stir a lot of debate at Congress 2024.
Yes, there will be talk about the digital advertising landscape undergoing significant changes, primarily marked by the decline of third-party cookies and the rise of major AI platforms aiming to retain users within their ecosystems. Simultaneously, AI-powered platforms are becoming more adept at keeping users engaged on their sites. By leveraging sophisticated algorithms, these platforms can offer personalised content, making it less likely for users to navigate to the publishers’ sites. This will reduce traffic to publishers’ websites, further impacting their advertising sales opportunities. Both trends signify a pivotal shift in how publishers will have to adapt by finding new ways to collect first-party data, develop more engaging content, and rely more heavily on direct relationships with their readers to maintain and grow their ad revenue streams.
During your opening remarks at last year’s Congress, you highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in media and some of the best sessions at the event covered that topic. How important is it that we keep discussing levelling the playing field at global events like the FIPP Congress?
FIPP operates at the heart of the global media landscape, so championing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is a core principle for us, not an option. The content our members produce has a deep impact on shaping narratives and influencing perceptions worldwide, so it is a no-brainer that FIPP should set and uphold the highest standards of in this area. By actively discussing importance of DE&I at our events, we are not following a trend – we are duly recognising and representing the rich perspectives that make up our global network and pledging to make a tangible difference. I deeply believe that this commitment enhances the impact of our storytelling and brings out the collective wisdom and ideas to the forefront.
There were some amazing moments at last year’s Congress. What were some of the highlights for you?
There were so many memorable speakers at Congress last year. Angie Byun, CEO of AB World, shared an excellent account of the ascent of South Korean media to global prominence provided great insights for media executives. For most of my career I have been advocating for the media in languages other than English especially often underrepresented yet brimming with such ingenuity. Angie Byun’s persuasive pitch to the publishing community deeply resonated with me, echoing my conviction that to broaden one’s audience and foster deeper engagement, one must venture beyond national confines and delve into the rich tapestry of world cultures for treasure trove of creativity and fresh perspectives. Another highlight was the presentation by Bonnier’s Jens Mueffelmann. He shared insights on their Marlin fishing magazine and discussed how leveraging a dedicated and passionate readership was key to evolving the Marlin brand into a highly profitable multi-platform franchise. I have always been a staunch advocate for the strategy of cultivating a smaller, yet profitable circulation over aiming for sheer volume. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that publishers are valuing this approach, focusing on high production value even if it means catering to fewer readers. Their aim is to deliver top-notch media products with a unique voice to discerning audiences who value quality and are willing to pay a premium for it.
You’ve been part of the FIPP World Media Congress since 2009. What makes it so special?
Being a part of FIPP for the past 17 years and actively participating in the Congress since 2009 has been a remarkable journey. FIPP and Congress has been instrumental in driving significant business to my previous employer, NatGeo. Personally, I view the FIPP Congress as an essential yearly event for anyone in the role of a global media executive. Just last year, we welcomed close to 500 attendees from over 40 countries, a testament to of the event’s influence. The Congress is more than a mere gathering; it’s a cornerstone of the global media industry, offering a unique platform where leaders from across the globe come together to network, engage in meaningful discussions, and forge deals that shape the future of our industry.
What makes Cascais a great backdrop to all the networking at Congress?
Cascais has such a rich history, scenic beauty, and status of a cultural hub for centuries. The depth of our discussion on the future of media will absolutely be matched by its splendour! Cascais is an ideal location for a global forum of media executives. It has the legacy as a meeting point for the travellers and intellectuals due to a well-connected location close to Lisbon, is really a unique blend of inspiration and convenience. The architecture and sea-side gorgeous landscapes beaches, not only encourages professional networking but also stimulates creative dialogue.
What do you think the media landscape will look like over the next few years?
I recently read a post by Jacob Donnelly, formerly of Morning Brew and now with A Media Operator, who said: “I believe the future of media looks a lot like the past: smaller, niche publications serving focused audiences tied to passions and business needs. Examples: pilots love Flying Magazine and biotech executives love Endpoints News.” This sentiment resonates deeply with me, and I find myself in agreement with his vision for the future of media.