Last month, I made a long and multi-city multi-county multi-agenda trip which included a WordCamp, cousin’s wedding, a client meeting and a non-WordPress conference!
WordCamp Bangkok 2017
My journey started with Bangkok first. I reached there on Feb 15. The extreme workload made me spend most of the time working on Feb 15 and 16.
It was the first time I worked a whole day on a trip. So to say start was quite bad!
Feb 17 (A day before WordCamp Bangkok)
On Feb 17, I met WordCamp Bangkok organizers, speakers, and sponsors over WC lunch. Finally, WordCamp started for me!
(Thanks Isabella for the Picture)
From there, I went to WordCamp Bangkok venue along with the organizing team. We worked on few details for the next day (WordCamp Bangkok).
I also got my registration badge early.
As always, Joe ordered for me. I don’t remember the names of food/drink I had, but they were all good! Thanks Joe for always finding something right for me!
Feb 18 (WordCamp Bangkok Day)
I had a late night flight back home, so I checked out of my hotel and went to the WordCamp venue with my luggage. The organizers were kind enough to give me some space to put my luggage into staff-room allocated to them!
I attended few sessions. There were only 4-5 English sessions so not many options for me.
The opening session by Petya had mention of WordCamp Asia – a topic very close to my heart! ❤️https://twitter.com/rahul286/status/832801344494792706
During lunch, I coordinated between WC organizers and some attendees from India over “vegetarian food.” Having traveled so much, I understand now that “vegetarian” dishes in some countries can contain fish and egg. But in India vegetarian means strictly no fish or no egg or meat of any kind! This lead to some confusion!
After WordCamp, and before after-party, we visited a place for burgers and beer cocktails. It was almost an hour long drive, and I spent all time working on a client project.
Mayo and Dreb had a fun time seeing 30pt font size on my terminal! That’s what happens when you have poor eye sights!
From there, we went to WordCamp Bangkok afterparty! I was exhausted by now so did not drink or eat. I had a great time interacting with folks there.
Noel Tock from HumanMade has captured few moments.
As it was a long day followed by previous night’s parties, most of my friends started leaving earlier. So I also left a bit earlier to catch my flight back to India.
Overall, it was a very well organized and sold-out in real sense event!
— Rahul Bansal (@rahul286) February 18, 2017
Cousin’s Wedding @ Haryana
On way back, I reached Delhi via Kolkata flight with a 3-hours layover in Kolkata. I took this flight instead of direct one so that I can reach 2-3 hours earlier for my cousin’s wedding.
My wife and brother would be arriving at the same airport after 1 hour. I started working on airport waiting for them! ?
Once they arrived, we went together to Gharaunda (Near Panipat in Haryana) for my cousin Sumeet’s wedding.
I was tired by now, but it’s hard to catch some sleep, in a wedding house, especially when you are reaching few hours before the main wedding event!
I spend next two days with my family and relatives and from their came back to the Delhi. I stayed in Delhi for a client meeting and WAN-INFRA digital media conference.
I reached Delhi on Feb 21. I dropped my wife at the airport first and then brother & his family at the railway station.
From there I went to my Buwaji’s (father’s sister) home. I spent the remaining day working again! ?
Next day, Feb 22, I spent the entire day at a client’s office interacting with their team.
WAN-IFRA Digital Media India 2017 Conference
After attending so many WordCamps, I decided to explore a different kind of conference. So on Feb 23 and Feb 24, I attended a Digital Media conference.
WAN-IFRA Digital Media India 2017 Conference‘s primary attendee were editorial teams from top newspapers and magazines.
There did not know much about WordPress. In fact, on two occasions I met people using WordPress but referring it as just CMS/news-portal. They were not aware that they were already using WordPress.
But their session, discussions, and interactions gave so much valuable information as it was more of enterprise user perspective.
If I have to summarize my learnings, below it is, grouped by topic:
- I saw less inclination for display advertisements. But the other way of monetizing, which is a paid subscription model, is not realistic for most! I am personally unlikely to pay a subscription fee for mainstream news.
- Display advertising revenue is shrinking. I don’t remember numbers everyone was eager to explore alternatives. I did not see “how to grow display advertising revenue” kind of topic.
- Apart from display advertisements and paid subscriptions, some of them are exploring branded content. Those who are familiar with product placement in movies or videos, branded content is more direct in a sense that the brand sponsors whole content creation with direct marketing goals.
- Some newspapers are only selling premium ads. It’s like curated ads from the top, well-known brands. No Google Adsense or Ad Exchange.
- Another revenue stream is those ugly “related news” boxes by sites like Taboola and Outbrain you see on single news pages. One leading newspaper struck a 100cr deal for 5-years, for putting Taboola widget on their sites. I must say, I underestimated Taboola big time!
- For some publishers, affiliate revenue is working nicely. They have gadgets section where all links to shopping sites such as Amazon are affiliate links. Now, this is common for tech-blogger but what extra some big guys are doing here is, adding additional information from shopping sites and integrating it with their content seamlessly, in an automated way. It is giving them a lot more conversions compared to natural sites. Some are even started their white-labelled online stores to increase their margins from e-commerce sale.
Registered Users/Paid Subscribers
- May not work for big mainstream newspapers are content that is not exclusive. But already working for some niche portals. In any case, everybody wants more loyal user base, hence registered users is an increasing trend.
- Most big brands are facing loyalty crunch in online space. I, as a user, haven’t subscribed to any particular newspaper feed or email newsletter. I use news.google.com to get online news. Sometimes I use Google News mobile app. Sometimes I get them via Facebook trending box. The point is, most online users don’t open a news site when they want to consume news.
- Some newspapers are trying to get users registered to they can “stay in touch” with them. Some want to customize the experience based on usage history and preferences.
- India’s small credit-card holder is limiting paid subscribers growth. But payment wallet growth is helping overcome this issue. In fact PayTm was mentioned so many times in different talks and Q&A that I wondered whether they had sponsored the event!
From WordPress perspective – this poses a scaling challenge. The traditional way of caching full-page in WordPress doesn’t work for logged in users. A user – free or paid – once logs in, bypasses the traditional full-page cache.
Of course, there were workarounds for this in the past, and new REST API and JS-based themes offers many new possibilities.
I feel that an entirely JS-base theme using REST API will make an excellent product! Especially if it gets SEO, social media, membership and caching right.
A side-effect of Jio is that India has more Internet users and faster Internet before. This trend is increasing video consumptions.
Some big players are focusing on video content to stand out, and generate advertising revenue. Video revenue mostly includes those pre-roll/post-roll video ads as well as branded content.
India has a lot more users than desktop users connected to the Internet. The Facebook presentation had nice points. Almost 90% of Facebook users/usage in happens via Mobile Internet.
The growth of mobile is making Facebook Instant Article and Google AMP a lot more valuable. Luckily WordPress users have free plugins for both. I come across few newspapers who are struggling because of their proprietary CMSes not able to keep up with the speed at which technology is changing.
Based my interactions with all these stakeholders, I sense a need for a complete CMS solutions.
By complete, I mean a CMS which not only take care of content but also Analytics, Advertising, Social Media Integration, User log-in and their behavior tracking, Video, Paid Subscribers, Mobile apps and everything else you can imagine a news agency may need!
Of course, WordPress has solutions in every area. Maybe we need to integrate them better and sell them as a bundle.