Monetizing online is a big challenge for publishers and media industry: Pierre Petillaut

At the e4m-DNPA Future of Digital Media Conference, Petillaut, Managing Director, APIG tells the audience about new European copyright laws and their impact

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jan 23, 2023 11:15 AM  | 4 min read
pierre petillaut

At the e4m-DNPA Future of Digital Media Conference, Pierre Petillaut, Managing Director, APIG spoke to Hemant Jain, the President and Business Head (digital) Lokmat, about the European Union’s new Copyright Directive 2019 and the Digital Services Act.

Through a detailed presentation, he explained the many challenges of newspaper circulation in a digital world.

Petillaut highlighted the challenges that newspapers are facing in France and across Europe. “The problem is clearly the business model. We have to manage this long transition between paper and digital while still being able to amortize the huge fixed costs of print newspapers. That's beginning to be a problem with a huge decrease in paper circulation, especially for the last 18 months with the price of the product skyrocketing in France and Europe.

"The price doubled for publishers, which is becoming unbearable. We have very strong constraints on the year 2023. We don't know how publishers will be able to cope with that double price. The other problem, of course, is the difficulty to monetize online. I spoke about digital subscriptions but the other big issue is the loss of advertising revenues," he explained.

Petillaut also went on to tell the audience how the new laws in Europe have impacted digital and news media: “COVID crisis accelerated things. We lost many copies, more during the crisis and people massively switched to online consumption of news. The point again is monetization. How do we fend for ourselves through digital? Probably, we collectively French publishers, bear responsibility for the fact that in the first place 10 or 20 years ago, we put a lot of free content online. We were synthesized by platforms to do so. But the problem is that the public now thinks that news is more or less free and that everybody can be a journalist with a smartphone. Take photos, write an article published on a blog on a social network or whatever."

For that notion to change, he said, readers should be convinced that journalism needs investment. "So, the very core of the journalism profession, a lot of people are not really aware of what it takes. So we have this work to convince the public that you should fund journalism, you should fund publishers. That's really a democracy," he emphasised.

He also explained how Digital Acts Services has affected the press in Europe. “We focus here mainly in this presentation on advertising revenues because that's what neighbouring rights are mainly about, but we could also mention a huge problem with terms of access to application stores, huge fees that you have to pay on the price of the subscription to the app store or to the Android store. Of course, it's not the topic of the day but an issue with freedom of the press, with the ability to write what you want on the platform. In France, we have very important concerns about the ability of journalists and publishers to write what they want on Facebook. So that's becoming a big issue, especially with Digital Services Act that has been adopted in Europe not long ago.

"To focus a little bit on advertising revenues, as you can see in 10 years, news publishers were almost cut in half while, of course, social networks expanded a lot. So, the reaction of the European Union in 2019 was to create these new neighbouring rights for the publishers. So, what was the point of this directive? Article 15 was creating the neighbouring rights and you also have this article 17, creating an obligation for platforms that use user’s content such as Facebook and social networks, for example, to ask for consent to write orders. This is also an important part because they could not escape the negotiation thanks to this article 17.”

Lastly, Petillaut discussed the laws and neighbouring rights and why it was a big victory for the industry. “Neighbouring right is the right that is going to someone who is not a direct author of an intellectual production, not a journalist, not a composer but who had this massive influence on the creation of the contents. So, in Europe and especially in France, it is granted to broadcasters, to music producers and now to press publishers. It was not an easy thing to do. We met a lot of opposition before the directive was adopted. The main opposition was from platforms. There was a huge lobbying effort from platforms to sell at a time, with vessels full of young people coming from all over Europe to save the internet, massive email campaigns to members of the European Parliament and so on. So, we had really war machine against the directive. So, it was really a true victory when it was lifted.”

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ChatGPT: Writing on the wall for copywriters?

Today we begin a new series decoding the trends that are shaping the adtech space. In the first edition of TechTalks, we explore if A&M copywriters need to worry about the much talked-about ChatGPT

By Kanchan Srivastava | Feb 6, 2023 9:02 AM   |   7 min read

tech talk

A professor of Wharton School of Business recently sought to test what OpenAI's chatbot ChatGPT means for the prestigious school's business courses. He found out the chatbot successfully cleared the examination for Operations Management course with a B to B+ grade. 

Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, which is a natural language processing (NLP) tool trained on a massive amount of data and algorithms, has taken the world by surprise by generating human-like responses to a wide variety of inputs. 

The tool, which is barely three-months-old, has quickly become a valuable tool for many marketers, with some looking to replace human content producers with ChatGPT.

“ChatGPT is the first new tool in more than a decade that may really transform search and that could dent Google's market dominance,” AI researchers say. 

Seeing the boundless potential of the technology, Microsoft is not only investing heavily in OpenAI but also plans to integrate ChatGPT into its products like Bing. 

OpenAI has also announced a paid subscription service priced at $20 per month, which will give users faster response and priority access to upcoming features and improvements.

Alarmed with Microsoft's and OpenAI plans, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also hinted that the company would roll out its own chatbot-LamDa-to upgrade its Search engine. 


Alarm bells for content creators?

Advertisers, who are already relying on various automation tools to create hundreds of digital advertisements in one go, have started off loading certain works like making first drafts of scripts, creative pitches and LinkedIn posts to ChatGPT.

Naturally, wordsmiths of the industry are concerned about the possible job losses in the future.

Josy Paul, Chairman at BBDO India, opines, “ChatGPT is knocking. One can open that door and embrace the possibilities, or view it as a threat. ChatGPT is here to generate ideas, offer solutions, and open up a world of access for everyone. It’s early days, and time will tell. But we can decide how we want to play with it. We are the DJs. It can make for a better experience.”

Human versus machine debate is eternal. Paul points out, “When computers were first introduced, people saw it as an enemy, but computers enhanced human capabilities. AI language models are good at creative work… may be more than factual analysis. When human intelligence (HI) and artificial intelligence (AI) combine, who knows, you could get infinite human intelligence (IHI).”

Vikash Chemjong, CCO, Cheil India finds chatGPT impressive, especially its “no-fuss personality”. 

“It’s amazing what ChatGPT can do. Some of the stories, poems, and articles are really, really good. And the scary bit is that it’s getting better every day. Plus, it doesn’t have an off day or a bad hair day, or food poisoning or post-breakup creative downward spiral or a midlife crisis or a sudden call of wanderlust or the weekend hangover,” he quipped in a wield remark over tantrum-throwing employees. 

He goes on, “It’ll surely come in handy to do the everyday work, at least groundwork. The grunt work. The classwork and homework [for my kids!]. Write emails. And also answer media queries. It’ll surely impact our industry.”

ChatGPT’s limitations have kept hopes alive in the industry. “The idea is to do something that the ChatGPT cannot – delve into the future. The new. Not done yet. Here’s to doing that!”


Can bots create catchy ads? 

Creativity is an innate ability that requires imagination, intuition, and emotional intelligence and cannot be replicated or duplicated by a machine. 

While chatbots are impressive, they still lack the ability to generate truly original ideas, concepts, and experiences. AI uses algorithms based on tonnes of old data created by humans. 

For instance, Google’s PoemPortraits generates poems from a single word using algorithms that drive its strength from scores of poems available on the net. Similarly, an artist robot "Ai-Da" draws and paints and ChatSonic can create images using algorithms fed by humans.

“Copywriting in the ad industry is much more than an algorithm,” quips Rohan Chincholi – Head, Digital Services - Havas Media Group India. 

Chincholi explains, “Copywriting is an understanding of the consumer, the context of communication, creativity and much more. This may not be necessarily a non-linear thought process for humans. But, for AI Chatbots, there is a sequence of learning that is coming into play there by impacting the quality of output.”

We need to do engagement testing: I am sure humans will outperform machines, he laughs. 


Can bots understand Brand Persona? 

The existing AI tools are still far away from understanding a brand persona and brand visual identity, say experts. 

Bharatesh Salian, Sr. VP - Marketing Science & CX, Kinnect, feels that the existing AI engines are intelligent but will still have to be trained to understand a brand persona, brand’s visual identity and the nuances of brand building and creativity.

“It can definitely learn from all the data points that have been fed in which powers the machine learning capabilities but it is still far away from understanding human behavior and emotions which a creative copywriter can bring to the table. For now, they can act as good assistants for content creators to take inspiration and make informed choices,” Salian quips. 

He noted that AI Chatbots can be effectively used to drive Conversational, Assisted and Personalized (CAP) Commerce Solutions. It will help in enhancing the customer buying journey by pre-empting and personalizing content basis relevance and user behaviour.


What about humor, nuances and empathy?

The content output usually generated by a typical chatbot isn’t anywhere close to the relatable, creative copies drafted by skilled copywriters, industry experts say. 

“ChatGPT is definitely a revolutionary introduction but even that lacks the human understanding of the cultural and social landscapes, which leads the writers to add a humorous word-play to the content, or to deliver it in ‘Hinglish’ rather than Hindi or English, among several other such nuances,” Shradha Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Grapes: 

Agarwal noted further, “This is what elevates a string of words into an impactful piece of content. So, the rapid technological advancements might allow these chatbots to become a valuable resource for the copywriters in the near future, might even make some roles redundant, but in no way would they replace them completely.”

ChatGPT is proving to be an excellent thinking assistant, giving professionals the ability to effectively expand on their thoughts, innovation, and outlook, but it cannot be a replacement for the human mind, says Siddharth Bhansali Founder, Noesis.Tech, CTO Zoo Media. 

“The extent of imagination, curiosity, empathy, experience, and problem-solving acumen human beings hold is unmatchable by any technology,” Bhansali stated. 

According to Revathi Batola, Associate Director, Key Accounts, TheSmallBigIdea, AI chatbots’ biggest challenge is originality. “ChatGPT is programmed on a massive amount of data, which means it is churning out common, unremarkable content. This is where we can embrace the challenge of pushing beyond the predictable and offering remarkable content,” she remarks. 

AI programs do not eliminate jobs. They grow businesses and make jobs easier. It can find holes where things need to be fixed and suggest solutions. The idea therefore is to do something that the ChatGPT cannot – delve into the future. The new. Not done yet. Here’s to doing that!, suggests Chemjong. 




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Disney Star to launch metaverse platform in India: Report

The launch of 'Starverse' will reportedly coincide with IPL 2023

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 8:30 AM   |   1 min read


Media giant Disney is reportedly gearing up to launch its metaverse platform Starverse in India. The application has been readied for rollout after months of testing, according to a top Disney exec who confirmed the development to a news portal.

The launch of Starverse will reportedly take place around the time of IPL 2023. Disney conceptualised the platform with an aim to enhance its sports-viewing experience for fans. Starverse will enable an immersive 3D experience for fans of sports.

Sanjog Gupta, the Head of Sports, Star & Disney India, told the news portal that for the first time users will be allowed to enter the Starverse at scale.
Gupta also added that Starverse can be accessed on the phone web instead of a mobile application since the latter will restrict the experience to only those who have downloaded the app.

The Disney exec also said that the platform will be an "always-on" experience for users, with new features that will be added to Starverse throughout the year.
Reportedly, Disney has collaborated with multiple agencies to design the tech backend, 3D models and environment and gamification part of Starverse.

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Can Twitter turn the tide this year?

Industry heads opine that to get advertisers back on board, Twitter needs to work on its advertising services, bring stability in decision-making and perhaps a new leader

By Shantanu David | Feb 6, 2023 8:15 AM   |   6 min read


When Elon Musk first (and finally) completed his purchase of Twitter at the end of October 2022, every subsequent and frequent policy change he made at the “global public square” made top headlines, with newsrooms, advertisers, industry watchers and all other stakeholders striving to keep pace with his mercurial decision-making.

Now, as changes continue to take place into 2023, the headlines have become smaller and tucked away, the industry’s attention less transfixed, and advertisers have continued their exodus, a reflection of the receding relevance of Twitter as an ad platform.

Late last week, Musk announced that Twitter would be sharing revenue for ads appearing in reply threads. The benefit, however, will be for creators who are Twitter Blue subscribers.

As previously reported by exchange4media, while Twitter is relatively low on user numbers (coming in 16th place in terms of MAU in a list dominated by Meta and Alphabet, who have billions of monthly users and potential customers), it did have a high impact, given the large presence of politicians, technocrats, journalists, and other newsmakers on the platform, making it a small, but a valuable, part of advertisers’ media buys.

However, according to Reuters, “Advertising spend on Twitter Inc dropped by 71% in December, data from an advertising research firm showed, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social media platform after Elon Musk's takeover.”

The timing of that report by Standard Media Index (SMI) probably isn't the best for Twitter, which is reeling from an exodus of advertisers, the main source of its income at over 90%. Apart from pivoting heavily towards paid user accounts, to be available at a level of tiers, ranging from getting to the previously coveted blue tick to having an ad-free experience, Musk and Twitter have introduced a host of measures to win back advertisers, from offering limited free ads, to allowing political advertising and giving companies greater control over the positioning of their ads.

Megha Ahuja, VP- Digital Media Planning, Carat India, says that advertisers pulled back owing to the internal chaos and instability that soon followed Musk's takeover. “Keeping in mind the actions taken by the platform, brands decided to not put their reputation at stake by getting their ads showcased alongside harmful content.”

“After the Twitter Blue tick backfired, it got relaunched with modifications to claw back revenues that were going down by the day with the advertisers leaving. All the new changes are being seen in the same light as the rules and policies are being made on the go. These are based on reactions rather than the development of a robust platform,” she says.

As per the SMI report, ad spending on Twitter in November fell by 55 per cent as compared to last year. This is despite autumn and winter being traditionally a time of higher ad spends since advertisers put their brands front and centre during the holiday season.

Indeed, according to research firm Pathmatic, most of these advertisers had stopped their spending in November, the same month that Musk restored suspended accounts and released a paid account verification, which naturally resulted in parody accounts and more dubious entities impersonating major brands and corporations.

Alin Choubey, Business Head- North, FoxyMoron (Zoo Media), believes that due to a lack of clarity in vision and disruptive actions, advertisers are losing faith in the platform by the day. “Twitter lost more than two-thirds of its ad revenue in December as major advertisers shied away from it. There is still a small chance for Twitter if systematic changes come to the platform rather than it being used as a personal marketing tool for one individual.”

Earlier in January of this year, The Information reported that a senior manager at Twitter said that its daily revenue earnings were down 40 per cent as compared to the same day in 2022, even as 500 of the top advertisers on Twitter had paused spending since Musk's ascension.

Choubey believes that a new leader, better-thought-out advertising services, and stability in decision-making could take Twitter a long way from where it is right now.

And Twitter is making more moves aiming in that direction. The platform is now introducing a new ad tool called Search Keywords Ads, which empowers advertisers to have their tweets appear in the search results for certain keywords (at a price of course). This is just one of the moves aimed at resuscitating the funds flow the company needs as well as restoring some of its trust deficit.

While it is undeniable that in the last few months Twitter has been witnessing a downfall in terms of ad spends instead of stabilizing after the initial turmoil during the takeover, Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder & Director, SoCheers, thinks the platform’s endeavour to monetise users over advertisers could work in their favour and might give them some cushion in the short term if it works out.

“From an advertiser’s point of view; advertisers who haven’t spent on Twitter ads till now will not be seen considering it anytime soon, especially amidst all the turmoil. The ones who have been seen spending so should be a point of focus for Musk and team,” says Devnani, while noting that given the pessimism in the business environment, especially in the tech communities, a quick revival story (through ad spends) for the platform seems a bit tough.

Ahuja further says that it is important to understand that public sentiment is currently against the platform. “This might not help the advertisers who are still on the platform as they may not be seen in a good light. 2023 is a year for Twitter to get its act together and stabilise mainly for the users as the brands will then follow,” elaborates Ahuja, while observing, “Additionally, we can also see that not just advertisers but brands publishing content on the platform too have considerably reduced. And in India where TikTok is not available, Meta stands to gain more from these developments.”

What 2023 and the future hold for Twitter hang in the air, in this case, the web. 

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Twitter to share ad revenue with Blue-tick subscribers

Elon Musk has said that revenue will be shared with creators for ads appearing in reply threads

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 4, 2023 8:20 AM   |   1 min read


Elon Musk has said that Twitter will start sharing revenue for ads appearing in reply threads but to be eligible the creator needs to be a Twitter Blue subscriber.

Musk hasn't specified the quantum of the revenue being shared but the move is being seen as an attempt to woo back advertisers.

Meanwhile, Musk and Tesla have been cleared of charges of misleading investors with tweets about a Tesla buyout in 2028.

Expressing relief over the judgment, Musk tweeted:

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‘UPI is an absolute game changer’

At the launch of Dentsu-e4m Digital Advertising Report 2023, industry experts sat down for a panel discussion on India digital stack for technology and creativity in the new digital economy’

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 6:10 PM   |   3 min read

dentsu-e4m panel

At the launch of the Dentsu-e4m Digital Advertising Report 2023, industry leaders came together for a very insightful panel discussion on the topic, India digital stack for technology and creativity in the new digital economy

The panel had Gagan Singla, MD, blinkX by JM Financial; Prasad Pimple, Executive Vice President & Head of Digital Business Unit, Kotak Life; Medhavi Singh, Head of Enterprise - India, Criteo; and Abhijit Shah, Senior Vice President, ICICI Prudential. Rashmi Sethi, Chief Strategy Officer, Fractal Ink, a Merkle company, moderated the session.

Sethi started the session asking about the success of stack adoption and its penetration in India and globally.

Shah said, "The largest game changer for us in the industry, especially mutual funds, has been the whole digital onboarding that India stack provides. Opening a mutual funds account used to be a tedious process. But aadhar-based e-KYC works really well. Within a few seconds you can get onboard."

Prasad added, "From the perspective of any BFSI company, not just the e-KYC solution but the UPI payment and the entire ecosystem of payment gateways have changed. We all have been doing digital business for almost 15 years now, but the ease with which the customer can complete the journey online today has tremendously changed with the advent of e-KYC, c-KYC plus UPI as a payment gateway. I would say everything what we are experiencing today is helping us build that ecosystem stronger from the customer perspective."

Singla mentioned, "When digilocker came, it was something beyond imagination. I thought it is not going to work, but the way it has helped us in the e-KYC version-2 is great. The way we have used UPI has a huge value to us. For us, it is direct revenue value because in investments, with the UPI coming in the way, the customer is able to transfer the funds at the moment they buy a stock. We are able to engage with customers with UPI much better. We have leveraged UPI a lot and it has given us the ROI.”

Singh shared that Aadhar has really paved the way, but UPI was an absolute game changer. “UPI really changed the way the digital payments were happening. On one end, there is the government that is ensuring people become more and more account holders, and the other hand, there are fintech firms who are ensuring that people who do not have a bank account are able to seamlessly do digital payments. COVID accelerated the scenario,” he added.

Panelists also discussed about the unique value propositions of web-3 which enable India to lead on this front.

Singh said, "e-commerce is a huge opportunity. Also, with 5G penetration, media will also grow. There are already so many OTT platforms and they are constantly growing. Now we are hearing about the regional ones that are catering to local dialects that will actually involve the masses. So, each of those industry are seeing those opportunities that is going to change and that is primarily based on Indian Stack, because a large part of them is driven by or a tleast increasing by UPI, ONDC and 5G technologies".

Pimple added to that, "A lot of tools are available today and are fragmented but what web 3.0 can do is seamlessly build them into the discovery purchase and ongoing engagement journeys of customers with their investments".

Sethi concluded the panel discussion by saying, "To summarise the trends that we are seeing in emerging future are customer convenience, digital transactions, evolution of e-commerce,D2C, experiential marketing form, basically web 3 and extended reality and these centralise local commerce which are more hyper local".


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‘Search Companion’ to be unveiled soon: Sundar Pichai

During the earnings call, the Alphabet CEO also said that the company was just beginning its AI journey

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 11:05 AM   |   1 min read


Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has said that the tech giant will be coming up with an artificial intelligence-based model in the "coming weeks and months", according to media reports.

The models, as per Pichai, will work as "a companion to search". He was speaking at the company's earnings call.

The Alphabet CEO also said that the company was just beginning its AI journey.

The announcement is being seen as Google's response to the rising popularity of ChatGPT.

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Google reports just 1% revenue growth in Q4, YouTube ad revenue drops 8%

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, says the tech giant will unveil AI-based language models soon

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 3, 2023 8:33 AM   |   2 min read


Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube, missed analyst estimates for Q4 results, as YouTube’s ad revenue again suffered a year-over-year decline.
Overall, Alphabet posted revenue of $76.05 billion, up just 1%, and net income of $13.62 billion (down 34% versus $20.6 billion in Q4 2021), or earnings of $1.05 per share. Google's ad revenue fell from $61.2 billion in Q4 2021 to $59 billion in Q4 2022. YouTube ad revenue was $7.96 billion in Q4, down 7.8% from $8.63 billion a year earlier. This is YouTube’s second consecutive quarter of year-on-year ad revenue declines.

Google Cloud, meanwhile, lost $830 million in Q4, better than the $1.7 billion it lost in the same quarter last year. Google Cloud revenue rose 32%, to $7.32 billion in Q4, while the segment narrowed its operating loss to $480 million, versus an operating loss of $890 million in the year-ago quarter.

Commenting on the results, “We’re on an important journey to reengineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, said in prepared remarks. He touted “great momentum” in Google’s Cloud segment, YouTube subscriptions (which the company does not break out in its earnings) and Google Pixel devices. In November, the company said YouTube Music and YouTube Premium subscriptions topped 80 million paying subscribers combined.

Pitchai shared that he expects “great momentum” in Google’s Cloud segment, YouTube subscriptions (which the company does not break out in its earnings) and Google Pixel devices. Pichai said YouTube Shorts, the platform’s TikTok-style video format, now averages more than 50 billion daily views, up from the 30 billion announced in early 2022.

'"We have significant work underway to improve all aspects of our cost structure, in support of our investments in our highest growth priorities to deliver long-term, profitable growth," Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said in a statement.

During the earnings call, Pichai also shared that Google will make AI-based language models available soon. These models will serve as "companion to search", he said. 

Alphabet’s results are its first since it laid off some 12,000 employees in January. CEO Sundar Pichai had blamed the layoffs on Alphabet’s decision to staff up to meet the company’s demand during the pandemic.

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