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Waldman calls publishers to action

Simon Waldman, AOP chairman and group director of digital strategy, Guardian Media Group
Simon Waldman, AOP chairman and group director of digital strategy, Guardian Media Group, has called for the digital publishing industry to respond to three issues that will impact their businesses in the long term: rights, transparency of data, and Ofcom’s proposal for a new Public Sector Publisher.

Speaking at ‘Delivering on the digital promise’, the AOP/PPAi digital publishing seminar on 9 May, Waldman cited recent AOP Census figures showing that members had experienced 67 per cent growth in turnover of their digital businesses in 2006, with aggregate turnover for AOP organisations now standing at £575m - equivalent to the size of UK radio advertising.

However, he pointed to Google’s UK revenue of £872m (a 81 per cent increase year on year), warning: “We are not alone in this.”

“We’re doing fantastically well, but we’re not leading the market, we’re part of it."

With these colossus organisations to compete with, coupled with the wave of innovation from start-ups on the west coast of the US and in Europe, he said that “there is a lot for us to do as organisations.”

Waldman argued that publishers need to get past the rhetoric to find better data on the impact of search engines on the publishing model.

He called for the publishing industry to think about a new distributed rights model for the long term, pointing to the ACAP initiative as a starting point for assigning permissions for search engines to access web content.

He predicted more court cases between publishers and search engines as media owners struggle to protect their intellectual property.

Waldman spoke of the need for transparent, comparable data for web measurement: "The more people spitting out apples and oranges the sillier we look," he said, “clarity will help grow the market.”

He highlighted the importance of ABCE audits for giving a sense of comparative scale, and the work that the Joint Industry Committee for Internet Measurement Systems (JICIMS) is doing to develop an online planning currency.

Turning to the proposed Public Sector Publisher (PSP) Waldman asked “Does the market need help?” He pointed to the fact that Ofcom had received few responses to its review from mainstream publishing companies: “We’re talking about £50-100m of UK public money being ploughed into digital innovation. It’s imperative that everyone should be engaged in these discussions.”

'Delivering on the digital promise' was held as part of the PPA Magazines and Business Media event on 8 and 9 May.

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