Digital transition slowing at Axel Springer?

The transition to digital business at Germany’s Axel Springer SE, one of the largest publishing houses in Europe, might be slowing somewhat, judging by the results of its 2018 business year.

by Michael Spinner-Just | March 12, 2019

Digital activities generated 70.6 percent of total group revenues in the year, down slightly from 71.5 percent in 2017. Adjusted growth in digital revenues slowed to 9.6 percent from 12.5 percent.

Nonetheless, at last week’s results press conference, CEO Mathias Döpfner pointed to an 11-percent increase in digital subscriptions as a positive sign, according to media website Meedia. The company has 512,000 digital subscribers in total, 420,000 of them for Bild, he said. Döpfner said journalistic contents were primarily responsible for the increase, because the company has scaled back marketing efforts. He said stronger marketing would increase the figure substantially and said the company would consider such measures in the future.

Insider “an outperformer” – Döpfner

Döpfner also pointed to developments at the Insider group, formerly Business Insider, as positive. With global reach of about 170 million unique users monthly and strong monetisation of video content, Insider is clearly outperforming Buzzfeed, Vice and Huffington Post, he said.

Separately, Axel Springer announced that it is reorganising Insider and investing in expanding its editorial staff, as well as moving its newsroom to Berlin.

The news aggregator Upday, which Springer built for Samsung in 2014, reached break-even in the last quarter of 2018. In 2019, the app should become profitable and continue to expand, said Döpfner, according to Meedia.

Döpfner also predicted profitability for Politico Europe, which now employs about 60 journalists.

In other recent developments at Axel Springer:

  • It announced the acquisition of CeleraOne, a leading provider of paid content technology in Germany.
  • Ringier Axel Springer Media and StepStone will launch the job portal in Poland in the second quarter of 2019.

The company’s 2018 results press release can be found here.

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