Regional business trends and forecasts for 2015: Germany

Interview with Jörg Riebartsch, editor-in-chief of Ostthüringer Zeitung (OTZ), a daily newspaper published by the Media Group Thüringen, which is part of the Funke media group. Before joining OTZ, he held management positions in various newspaper editorial offices.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | February 3, 2015

WAN-IFRA: How is the situation between German publishers and Google likely to develop this year, in your opinion?

Jörg Riebartsch: This is one case where it is quite appropriate to quote EU commissioner Günther Oettinger: “Google remains the chef and the newspapers must get by with their jobs as waiters.” It’s hard to believe that anyone is in a position to break Google’s monopolistic hold on the market.

How much of a threat to German traditional publishers is posed by the local versions of Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and the like? What can the publishers do to meet the challenge?

They pose but a minor hazard. The products offered by the German publishers are good, and the reach of their publications shows that these products are being read. Furthermore, all the studies indicate that readiness to pay for original content is also increasing among Internet users. That will benefit especially the providers of recognised quality and local content.

How will the mobile publishing market develop for traditional publishers in 2015?

In line with the continued explosive increase in the numbers of mobile devices. But here it will be important to concentrate more on concise content and “push” news.

Please comment on the likely development of these revenue sources for publishers:
Paid content,
Banner ads,
Native advertising,
Video advertising?

Paid content and banner ads will grow and should bring slightly increasing revenues. Video advertising will have a tough time. That is also a question of the display quality on mobile devices. And I have so far seen no evidence that native advertising has really taken off.

Will the trend toward consolidated ownership among German newspapers continue – why or why not?

The market can currently be divided into successful media companies that continue to earn money with print, like the Funke media group, for example, and those that have still not managed to adjust their expenditures to the significantly lower revenues. I also believe that the “Excel table worshippers” in management offices are losing influence, and that we are witnessing a return to the awareness that it is readers’ acceptance of a newspaper or magazine that counts – not shuffling financial figures around.

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