Journalism Goes Fully Digital: Publishers Can Now License Content with Ease

A story of how to create new revenue models and suddenly embrace digital transformation.

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Client
Journexx GmbH
Sector
Journalism, Publishing, Worldwide Content and Media Licensing
Role
Lead UX Engineer, Frontend Code Support
Challenge

The entire publishing industry looks “a bit” anxiously to the future, overwhelmed by Google on the one hand and the power of the "new" competitors from social media on the other. Independence always was one of the unique selling points for publishers, but now the industry needs a common platform that operates in its interests and on which the industry can perhaps act together for the first time.

But the most important thing: Neutrality!

Introduction

The idea behind Journexx is to create a global trading platform for professional editorial content. The story of why there is a need for this is quickly told.

Publishers have a lot of articles in their archives. This is often due to the 4-stage value chain in journalism:

  1. Find a topic
  2. Thorough research
  3. Writing articles
  4. Publishing

Normally, after an article has been published, it's lifecycle is over and no matter how much effort has been put into researching it, it falls directly into the archives.

Even if, for example, the "India Times" is looking for a well-researched article about a topic from Germany from a renowned German newspaper, then the hurdles are very high, especially if they have no correspondent abroad.

There are only few to no developed search and acquisition channels for such a thing, except one inquires directly with the newspapers individually. Then you might get something suitable after a long wait, but most likely at a very high price.

Journexx is now the fifth step in this value chain, because now these articles can be easily presented and licensed centrally to a broad mass of publishers.

 

Market Realities

1. The market for journalistic content publishers is difficult

High content production costs, strong competition:

  • Declining advertising revenue (previously the most important source of revenue)
  • Diversification and finding new revenue streams are key for publishers to survive in the future

2. Content trading is anticipated by everyone

However, the good news is that great journalistic content exists on the market and the world needs it. 5-10% of all articles produced worldwide are relevant to other markets!

The topics are not just limited in time and region, that's 50 to 100 million new relevant content per year that can be traded again.

Also, the demand for journalistic content is growing with the use of mobile applications that create a higher frequency of news consumption.

3. Publishers are not realizing the full market potential

Content syndication is labor intensive and does not yet have a market-driven pricing model:

  • There are no standard licensing agreements for global commerce
  • Existing content is not automatically accessible in other languages
  • There is no central platform where I can find the best content that interests me
 

Solution Challenge: How can publishers leverage technology to profit in the future?

The Journexx platform shall function like a common marketplace, offering new technologies and intelligence to create additional value and revenue for publishers, while enabling a completely new market for international licensing of journalistic content.

  • Offering the first dynamic content pricing model
  • Defining a standard licensing agreement model for global commerce
  • Using automatic translations for each individual content
  • Enabling global trade through an automated platform
  • Incorporating the local market's GDP and its content trend factors into content pricing and ranking

Tasks

Smart Database

The Journexx database provides buyers and sellers with the best possible match by recognizing customers' criteria and ranking all search results by topic relevance.

Automatic Translations

All content is automatically translated into English by AI-driven software to generate previews. More extensions for Spanish, French and Chinese will be offered from the second year.

Pricing

The pricing algorithm sets the value of the content on current topic trends. It even includes the GDP of the buyer's country. For the first time, content gets an independent and fair pricing.

Licensing

Journexx simplifies global licensing processes between buyers and sellers. The buyer receives the unique right to publish the content in his publication region for a limited time.

 

Using Journexx, journalists and publishers around the world shall:

  • Earn a new revenue opportunity to sell their content into other markets
  • Add quality content to their publications saving them time, money and resources
  • Receive valuable intelligence about current content trends
 

All concepts must offer value, so it was a good idea to share our concept with the world's largest press and publishing association, WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Publishers.

And they had this to say:

Competitor Analysis

In order to get a qualified overview of the industry in terms of solutions to such problems, Journexx with its idea would actually be the first platform that would cover all the needs of the market from the very beginning.

In this respect, the idea is obvious that the planned functional scope of the platform would be a challenge to implement, but could certainly hold its own on the market.

Feature scope comparison
 
Content services for Publishers            
Article content            
Pricing with content trends            
Autom. translations            

Payment

Payment Challenges

"It has all been done before, it can't be that hard".

But for Journexx, the selection of a payment service provider must be based exclusively on criteria of international trade and its customs, i.e. offer the highest possible coverage of internationally recognized payment methods and the most seamless integration possible into the billing system.

So to all of you who are also in the same shoes and have to figure out what should be criteria for choosing a payment provider:

Split Payments

Journexx' commission based business model requires that whenever a payer is completing the payment, the total price value must not be transferred to Journexx account.

A Journexx account must only receive the total commission value of the completed transaction and only the remaining paid value must be transferred directly to the seller accounts.

Seller Accounts

In conjunction with Split Payouts, selling customers must be provided an (virtual) account for which they can receive payments.

Single Payouts

Payouts to sellers must be possible for a single transaction.

Multi Currency

As a global business but with a starting point in Europe, Journexx needs to support receiving and outgoing payments in all major market currencies. To support as many buyers as possible, reliable payment sources must be provided, like:

  • Credit Card
  • Debit
  • PayPal

Fraud Check / Know Your Customer Checks

Internal fraud checks need to be in place to protect against malicious use of payers. In addition, regulations require that so-called “Know Your Customer” checks be carried out initially and then on a regular basis.

A payment service provider that offers something like this would of course be very welcome, as it would reduce the platform's own expenses in this regard.

... and of course GDPR/DSGVO Compliance

Internal fraud checks need to be in place to protect against malicious use of payers. In addition, regulations require that so-called “Know Your Customer” checks be carried out initially and then on a regular basis.

A payment service provider that offers something like this would of course be very welcome, as it would reduce the platform's own expenses in this regard.

And the winner is: Stripe

To cut a real hair-raising story short, in which PayPal and Stripe were compared and their functional coverage tested: Stripe is considered the best PSP of choice for this use case.

UX Challenges

Finding a good UX for probably the most articulate groups of people in the world

Monitoring journalists, editors, chief editors, syndicators, etc. in their work and drawing conclusions for the Journexx UX was one of the most exciting tasks I've ever had.

Just seeing their end-to-end workflows and the use of the associated software in the respective everyday scenarios was a revelation of what these people would now need in order to optimally use Journexx to achieve their respective goals.

There were days when we thought we could virtually "re-dress" the entire industry with these insights.

How wrong we were...

Admittedly, most of us on the team were not familiar with the technical requirements of the journalist/publisher back office.

As a result, while our overall findings were mostly all correct, our approach was wrong, namely to provide a single UI/UX for all roles instead of addressing the specifics of each role.

The different roles

Of course, all these roles differed fundamentally from one another. A Journalist looks directly for topics and content, an Editor for content quality, an Editor in Chief looks more for "the best possible overall result" and a person from Syndication would like to generate sales and looks primarily at numbers.

To make a long story short: We ended up even challenging form fields, like when to use checkboxes and when radio buttons for which role etc.

Although quite a standard issue for UX people since all the math has been done (so we thought), it raised concerns from users since apparently “[...] the whole industry relies on some standards normal users can’t understand”.

A short trip to some roles and persona profiles at Journexx

Editor


Role: Seller
Needs:

Content from places without own correspondence or from topics without own expertise

Content trends (local and abroad)

Extensive search functionality

Expects:

Great variety of topics and quality content sources

Omniversal platform

Attitude:

knowledgeable, meticulous

Design:

important

Editor in Chief


Role: Buyer & Seller
Needs:

Operable dashboard

Daily topic trend overview

Fast purchase option

Highly reliable sources and content

Expects:

Fair price/performance ratio

Predictable pricing structure

Reporting tools

Attitude:

solution oriented

Design:

not so important

Syndication


Role: Seller
Needs:

Advanced dashboard with dedicated tools to boost sales in different markets

Reliable reporting tools

Advanced analysis and elaboration of market and content trends

Expects:

One-stop syndication tool

Highly integrated reporting and accounting

Attitude:

finance-oriented, directive

Design:

not important

Conclusion

After a lot of market analysis, analysis within the industry as well as dozens of pre-tests and UX research iterations with industry representatives, we have continuously developed the product itself as well as its many individual components and now we have finally poured all results into user stories which are currently being worked on by all the teams.

What a great collaboration, thank you all for your great contributions.

Journexx becomes more successful day by day. Yay!!!!


Love you guys, cheers.