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@BigDataExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz

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Publishing Profitability Survey Shows Mix of Optimism, Naiveté

Publishers today have surprisingly little knowledge of which and how many third-party companies – such as Google, advertising vendors and others – are accessing and profiting from their user and audience data. That was one of the results revealed today in the Cxense Publishing Profitability Survey. The survey of more than 380 qualified US publishing executives, conducted by Cxense in conjunction with Editor and Publisher magazine, showed that nearly 80 percent of respondents simply do not know who accesses their audience data. The survey results were released at the International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress by Cxense (Booth 9).

Of publishers that understand which third-party companies access their data, more than 20% acknowledged that the third parties are “likely earning more money from our data than we are.” Nearly 70% of the respondents said sites like Google, Yahoo and Facebook that pull content from their site and use their data are “frenemies,” while 16% of respondents consider them enemies.

The survey also showed that readers are accessing publishers’ content via mobile phones more often than through print, tablet devices or personal computers. In fact, 34% ranked print as the least important means for readers to access content.

Will Publishing Bounce Back?

More than a third of respondents said they don’t believe the U.S. news media industry’s ad revenues will ever surpass its all-time high from 2005, while about 29% said they believe they may surpass the 2005 numbers in 2-5 years. About 31% said they don’t expect the numbers to surpass 2005’s high for 5-to-10 years, and just 6% said they expect the numbers will surpass 2005’s high during the next 2 years.

Nearly 89% of respondents were optimistic that their company’s digital revenues will grow during the next 12 months. 36% of respondents ranked “showing advertisers we understand our readers and can target them effectively” as the key to increasing their revenues. Nearly 26% said “making content personalized for each site visitor to increase loyalty and time on site” as most important to future revenues, followed by “converting readers to paid subscribers” at about 22%. Around 11% of respondents ranked “making advertising personalized for each site visitor to increase effectiveness” as most important, with “introducing e-commerce to publisher sites” ranking fifth at less than 6%.

Key Survey Statistics

  • 78% of publishers admit to having no knowledge of which and how many third-party companies are accessing their user/audience data
  • 34% of publishers don’t think ad revenues will ever surpass the all-time high of 2005; 60% think it will take 2-10 years to exceed that level
  • 89% of publishers expect their company’s digital revenues will grow during the next 12 months, with ad sales ranking as the top reason why at 62%
  • 40% of respondents list smart phones as the most prominent platform for accessing content; 34% list print as the least prominent.
  • 47% of respondents currently have a paid digital subscription to a newspaper; 37% say they would consider paying for subscriptions while more than 15% said they would not consider a paid digital subscription.

To view the complete results of the 11-question survey, visit

About Cxense

Cxense (pronounced see-sense) helps publishers succeed in a digital world. Using audience data and advanced real-time analytics, Cxense creates hyper-relevant content recommendations, targeted advertising and predictive search that help increase digital revenue for publishers, and provide users with a better experience. By capitalizing on Big Data to match user preferences and create unprecedented personalization online, publishers gain more engaged and loyal readers, higher advertising revenue and increased digital subscribership. Cxense is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with offices around the globe. Customers include AEON Group, Aller Media, Alma Media, Amedia, Archant, A. H. Belo Corporation, Bonnier, El Comercio, The Economist, Egmont, Eniro, Globo, Local World, Morris Communications, MTG, Naspers, Nippon Television, Polaris Media, Rakuten, Grupo RBS, Ringier, Schibsted, Summit Media, Tamedia, VOYAGE GROUP and Yomiuri. More information can be found at

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