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Publishers must be prepared to overcome several roadblocks on the path to establishing revenue models that combine both advertising and subscription sales. One common challenge involves departmental silos that contribute to disparate audience data and hinder business growth.

In this article, we’ll dig into whether publishing executives are over-confident about the success of their organizations’ interdepartmental collaboration efforts. We’ll also share thoughts on the current media landscape and the way forward from Mark McCartney, Director of Quality & Best Practice at Lineup Systems. McCartney brings over two decades of media experience and deep knowledge of customer behavior to his role at Lineup.

Why interdepartmental collaboration is critical

Collaboration breeds innovation, and the need for publishers to get creative is greater today than ever before.

“When I started out in publishing, the industry was thriving. Literally, the phones would be ringing non-stop. The need to collaborate wasn’t really there,” said McCartney. “But, the need is stronger today. With so much competition and emerging types of media, publishers have to think of new ways to serve their customers.”

For example, collaboration between departments can offer media companies valuable insight into issues such as the factors driving subscription churn among their readers. This information can then inform other areas of the business, like ad creative and targeting, to help publishers optimize ad campaigns for audience engagement.

Interdepartmental collaboration initiatives built on a true desire for meaningful discovery deliver benefits to multiple teams. This style of open communication takes the guesswork out of achieving company goals and cuts to the chase to uncover real, actionable answers around what makes audiences tick.

In addition, collaboration with marketing and audience teams can help ad sales reps deliver valuable knowledge to advertisers to win and keep their business. The more you as a publisher can demonstrate that you know your audience, the more attractive you’ll be to potential customers.

The current landscape


The chart above shows that more than three quarters of publishers who are focused on increasing subscription revenue believe their departments are either already fully or mostly collaborating to grow this new income stream-”or that they’ll be working in lockstep soon. The data is from our recent report with research from Adweek, titled “Combined Revenue Models Gaining Traction in Media Industry.”

The report states that publishers may be underestimating the challenges associated with interdepartmental collaboration. As part of its research, Adweek suggests publishers may have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to how they view their teams’ ability to unite to drive company-wide change.

“Publishers must ask, are we collaborating in the smartest ways possible?” said McCartney. “For example, not being in the office lends itself to people getting used to other ways of working together. Back in January, the thought of working from home and collaborating would have been seen as quite a challenge. But now, people are comfortable with it.”

In the U.S. alone, inefficient knowledge sharing costs large enterprises $47 million per year, according to the Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report. In addition, 60% of employees surveyed for the report found it difficult at best to get mission critical information from their colleagues.

“U.S. knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours every week either waiting for vital information or working to recreate existing institutional knowledge. That wasted time translates into delayed projects, missed opportunities, frustration among employees, and significant impact on the bottom line,” the report said.

The way forward

Despite the general mood of 2020, the future isn’t all gloom and doom. Media companies can break down barriers to interdepartmental collaboration by preparing and supporting their teams to work together. This could include setting up transition teams for new initiatives, facilitating smoother communication processes, and working to resolve internal conflicts more effectively.

The key is to take action, however small. You can get started with one priority. For example, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Chris Kerwin, Group MD at Immediate Media, said his company identified a need for finding better digital tools to facilitate collaboration such as workshops and brainstorming sessions.

It also helps to stay focused on what you already do well, and where you want to get to next. While various teams may have different ways of reaching an objective, they can unite around their common purpose.

“One of the things publishers know very well is their customers. When you combine the knowledge of customers with advertising, that becomes quite a powerful proposition to brands,” McCartney said. “As time progresses, publishers will use more of that information to offer better solutions to advertisers. The data is there, and it’s a bright future in that regard.”

You may also need to expand your team before you can get your interdepartmental workflow functioning at its best. Opening your job applicant pool to remote candidates can enable your media organization to attract top talent from outside of your local area.

Finally, as more publishers begin to change the way they work, whether that includes working remotely or offering agency services to their advertisers, technology is key to easing the transition.

Afton Brazzoni

Afton helps B2B companies serve their audiences with captivating, refreshing, effective clarity through storytelling. She brings 12 years of experience in marketing and communications, with a background in journalism, to her mission to deliver clients excellent content that drives their businesses forward. Afton has extensive experience developing strategies and content for growth-oriented organizations such as technology companies, higher education institutions and the tourism industry, as well as for entrepreneurs.