An industry in flux: TheMediaBriefing.com's 20 most popular articles of 2012

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, Advertising, B2B Media, Broadcast, Consumer Media, Digital Media, Finance and Deals, Mobile, Newspapers

Now is time to take stock of exactly what we've done that really pushed the industry's buttons in the last 12 months here at TheMediaBriefing.com. We've taken a look at some of our most popular articles over the last year, the ones that - hopefully - made the biggest impact on the way you think about publishing.

It's an interesting tour through the concerns and interests of a business in the midst of upheaval, disruption and evolution, and one we'd say is merely the tip of a very big iceberg of news, insight and analysis that we produce. 


1. The economics of Samantha Brick and Mail Online's audience-driven marketing machine by Patrick Smith

Our most-read article of the year was editor Patrick's examination of the financial calculations involved in the Daily Mail's publication of a piece by Samantha Brick. Brick's now infamous article, on the burden of being beautiful, caused a huge, largely negative reaction, but it also drove page views through the roof.

2. NRS data: Is newspaper and magazine web traffic smaller than we thought? by Patrick Smith

Patrick's article on the first release of National Readership Survey figures combining print and online audiences attracted a lot of attention. That was in part down to the truly frightening implication that newspapers may have been overestimating the size of their online readership.

3. Our changes to Pulse and why print publishing needs a user-centric strategy by Neil Thackray

Our parent company, Briefing Media, is going through the same changes and challenges everyone else is. In articles on what's happening at Briefing Media, such as this one from CEO Neil Thackray on turning weekly GP magazine Pulse into a monthly, we explained what it is we're up to.

4. Datawatch: The colossal growth of online video by Jasper Jackson

Our Datawatch series has proved pretty popular this year, but none so much as this - the first of the series - looking at analyst figures on the mind-bogglingly huge growth of online video.

5. How to beat digital disruption by seeing the big picture by Neil Thackray

Another piece from Neil, this was a slightly more enigmatic look at why media organisations aren't brave enough, incorporating some taxing probability theories and some cups with some money in them. Can you solve the riddle? 

6. Declining but still profitable: The surprising truth about local newspapers by Patrick Smith

This one did really come as a surprise to many - the news that each and every one of Johnston Press's local papers was profitable, with a detailed look at one title. It may not have completely upset the orthodoxy that local media is in decline, but it's a revelation that goes against the grain. 

7. The changing role of the homepage and why your website is not a newspaper by Patrick Smith

This post about the way many media organisations are missing a trick by assuming users interact with websites the same way they consume papers, was adapted from one of our weekly newsletters. If you want to subscribe (trust us, it's worth it), you can do so here.

8. Guardian's open journalism project faces revenue and cost realities by Patrick Smith

The financial circumstances of The Guardian are of endless fascination, not least because in many ways it is, as Patrick describes it in this piece: "the canary being sent down the free, ad-supported news mine".

9. Don't panic: 'Tablet publishing will ensure our future' say Condé Nast publishers #wpe12 by Patrick Smith

Conde Nast execs Jamie Jouning and Jamie Bill told that WAN-IFRA Expo in Frankfurt that tablets were the saviour of the magazine business.

10. Announcement: A new chapter begins for Briefing Media by Briefing Media

The announcement that our parent company was acquiring Farmers Guardian and Pulse from UBM caused quite a stir. It also led to the second highest open rate on those daily newsletters of ours.  

11. Interview: Jakob Nielsen on why banner blindness means display ads still aren't fit for the web by Jasper Jackson

For anyone interested in online advertising, Jakob Nielsen's ground-breaking 1996 study into banner blindness is a milestone. When we caught up with him more than 15 years later, it was clear not that much has changed in how advertisers think about ads, or how consumers ignore them.

12. The perils of VAT and digital products by Patrick Smith

Patrick's look at VAT on digital products highlighted some important issues around whether publishers were breaking the law by failing to distinguish between digital and print revenues. You can read our followup looking at coming changes to EU tax law here.

13. Four things you need to know about young people’s media habits by Patrick Smith

Not thinking about the media consumption habits of the future? You probably should be, because as this analysis of Ofcom data on what children and teenagers are up to shows.

14. Who needs editors? The reason behind Ashley Highfield's Johnston Press executive cull by David Worlock

David Worlock has been TheMediaBriefing's visiting cerebral wizard of future-gazing data science since we launched. In this, one of his most controversial articles, he argues that editors have been standing in the way of digital development, and firing them en masse might not be a bad idea.

15. Peter Kirwan’s Long View: How to revolutionise your newspaper the John Paton way

Peter Kirwan is another long-time contributor to the site, producing insightful takes on today's media biz. Here Kirwan took inspiration from the strategy of Journal Register Group CEO John Paton.

16. How long have newspapers got? Circulation to shrink by a quarter in five years by Jasper Jackson

The research that went into this article on the past and future decline in newspaper circulation was well worth the (considerable) time spent on it. The result? A pretty bleak future for newspapers that probably underestimates the rate of print's decline.

17. FT's Rob Grimshaw on the importance of mobile ads, subscriptions and growing in BRIC nations by Jasper Jackson

FT.com managing director Rob Grimshaw is one of the leading figures in the transition from print to digital, and he's a good evangelist for standing up to the might of technology giants like Google and Apple. Here he also filled us in on the FT's plans to launch new editions targeting the BRIC countries. 

18. British Media Awards: Big wins for The Economist, InSkin, Huffington Post UK - plus full list of winners by Patrick Smith

We held the innaugural British Media Awards in 2012 - the finest media awards in the industry - last April, and it's on its way back in 2013. Judging by the number of people who wanted to catch up on who came away with a gong, it certainly made some waves.

19. The digital revolution by numbers: 17 stats that will shape the future of your media business by Jasper Jackson

The 17 stats in this digital revolution roundup contain some really eye-opening facts which could have major implications for the future of your business.

20. How much do newspapers think their audiences are worth? by Jasper Jackson

Another piece of research which was worth a shed-load of data crunching is our analysis of UK newspaper print and online rate cards. It provides an interesting insight into what newspapers say their audience is worth to advertisers. No surprise then that it is a fair bit more than those advertisers are prepared to pay...

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