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Samhub for Media: The “Table Stakes Europe” Initiative for Publishers

The Table Stakes Europe project helps news publishers enhance digital growth, audience engagement, and revenue diversification, ensuring sustainable success in the evolving

Becoming “Audience First” is a focal point for publishers and media. 

Because focusing on your audience will not only let you serve them better, it will create synergies that will serve your business and your internal communication and processes. Table Stakes Europe is such an initiative.  

As a company founded by the majority of the Swedish morning press we have always been dedicated to serving the democratic institute that is the Free Press. We are glad to see both our customers and others join this program to develop their business and their societal responsibility. 
 
As we operate directly in this space, servicing publishers and media with data solutions, we want to summarize it for those that are not familiar with it and also communicate how we help service initiatives such as this with our Samhub for Media services. 

Summary

The Table Stakes Europe program, led by WAN-IFRA and the Google News Initiative, helps local and regional news publishers drive digital revenue growth by focusing on audience engagement and digital transformation. It exists to support news organizations in transitioning from print to digital, improving audience understanding, and creating sustainable business models through performance-driven change management.
 
At Samhub for Media, we believe the Table Stakes Europe program is crucial because it empowers news publishers to transition effectively to digital platforms, enhancing audience engagement and creating sustainable revenue models. This aligns with our mission to support data-driven decision-making and robust digital growth for media organizations.

What is the “Table Stakes Europe” program?

The “Table Stakes Europe” project is an initiative aimed at assisting local and regional news organizations in Europe to drive digital revenue growth by focusing on their audiences. This program is a collaboration between the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), Doug Smith (the architect of Table Stakes), and the Google News Initiative Digital Growth Programme.
 
The origins of the Table Stakes program trace back to 2015 in the United States, where it was launched with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The primary goal was to help legacy newspaper organizations transition from print to digital, improve journalistic practices, engage new audiences, and achieve financial sustainability.
 
The Table Stakes methodology is based on a poker analogy, referring to the minimum skills and capabilities needed for news organizations to compete in the modern digital landscape. The program emphasizes several core areas:
  1. Audience-First Approach: Encouraging newsrooms to align their content and practices to better serve and engage their audiences.
  2. Digital Transformation: Supporting the shift from print to digital through better use of data, technology, and innovative workflows.
  3. Collaboration and Integration: Breaking down silos within organizations to foster cooperation between editorial, data, marketing, and product teams.
Participants in the program engage in a series of structured sessions, including in-person gatherings, where they identify and tackle specific performance challenges. They receive coaching and collaborate with peers to develop and implement strategies for improving their digital operations and financial health.
 
The Table Stakes Europe project aims to build sustainable, audience-focused news enterprises that can thrive in the digital era by meeting essential standards and continually innovating their practices.

The Seven Table Stakes

The “Table Stakes Europe” project focuses on seven essential skills and strategies that news organizations need to thrive in the digital age. These seven core “table stakes” are:
  1. Serve Targeted Audiences with Targeted Content: Focus on specific audiences with tailored content to address their needs, interests, and problems. This involves leveraging local market knowledge to better serve these audiences than competitors can.
  2. Publish on the Platforms Used by Your Targeted Audiences: Deliver content on the platforms where the target audiences are active, optimizing content for each platform’s unique features.
  3. Produce and Publish Continuously to Meet Audience Needs: Maintain a continuous flow of digital-first content that aligns with the life rhythms and habits of target audiences, ensuring content is available when and where it is needed.
  4. Funnel Occasional Users to Habitual and Paying/Valuable Loyalists: Guide users from casual engagement to regular, habitual use, and ultimately to paying for content or services, using data and analytics to optimize this conversion process.
  5. Diversify and Grow Revenue Streams: Innovate and test multiple revenue streams from the audiences built, avoiding reliance on a single business model. This includes developing new products, services, and partnerships.
  6. Partner to Expand Capacity and Capabilities: Use partnerships and flexible staffing to enhance capabilities and capacity across content creation, distribution, and other functions, while sharing risks and costs.
  7. Drive Audience Growth and Profitability from a “Mini-Publisher” Perspective: Form cross-functional teams that operate with a general management perspective, focusing on content creation, audience development, revenue generation, and overall brand development.
These core strategies are designed to help news organizations transition successfully from print to digital, engage their communities more effectively, and achieve financial sustainability in the modern media landscape.

Samhub for Media - Data Service

Read more on how to create a complete first party data stack for publishers & media: The Samhub Guide to a Complete First Party Data Stack

What participants in "Table Stakes Europe" can expect

Participants in the Table Stakes Europe program can expect several significant outcomes aimed at enhancing their digital transformation and sustainability. The primary benefits and outcomes include:
  1. Enhanced Digital Revenue Growth:
    • Increase in Digital Subscriptions: Many participants have successfully doubled their digital subscriptions by implementing strategies learned during the program. This is achieved by focusing on targeted content and audience engagement.

  2. Improved Audience Engagement:
    • Targeted Content for Specific Audiences: By understanding and catering to the specific needs and interests of their audiences, participants can see substantial increases in engagement. For example, the creation of content verticals and newsletters tailored to particular audience segments has led to significant growth in audience interactions and subscriptions.

  3. Diversification of Revenue Streams:
    • Innovative Revenue Models: Participants learn to develop and test new revenue models beyond traditional advertising and subscription methods. This includes creating new digital products and services tailored to their audiences, thereby opening multiple streams of revenue.

  4. Advanced Use of Data and Analytics:
    • Data-Driven Decision Making: The program emphasizes the use of data and analytics to inform content creation and distribution strategies. This helps in optimizing audience engagement and improving the overall effectiveness of digital content.

  5. Improved Organizational Practices:
    • Performance-Driven Change Management: Participants undergo a structured change management process that includes identifying key performance challenges and implementing strategies to address them. This leads to a more agile and responsive organization capable of adapting to the digital landscape.

  6. Collaboration and Networking:
    • Peer Learning and Support: The program provides opportunities for participants to collaborate and share best practices with peers from other organizations. This peer support network can be invaluable for continuous learning and innovation.

  7. Sustained Transformation:
    • Long-Term Impact: The methodologies and practices learned during the program are designed to have a lasting impact, ensuring that participating organizations continue to thrive in the digital age even after the program ends. This includes building a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within the organization.
The Table Stakes Europe program equips participants with the tools, strategies, and support needed to drive significant improvements in their digital operations, audience engagement, and revenue models, leading to a more sustainable and resilient media business.

Samhub for Media and the Table Stakes Project

Samhub for Media provides a comprehensive suite of services tailored to support publishers in the digital age. These services align closely with the core principles and objectives of the Table Stakes project, which aims to help news organizations thrive by focusing on digital transformation and audience engagement. Here’s how Samhub for Media’s offerings match the Table Stakes essentials:

How Samhub for Media matches the goals of Table Stakes Europe

  1. Serve Targeted Audiences with Targeted Content
    • Contextual Analysis and Data Enrichment: Samhub for Media’s tools for contextual analysis and socio-economic and demographic data enrichment enable publishers to create highly targeted content. By understanding audience preferences and behaviors, publishers can serve specific needs and interests, thus enhancing audience engagement.

       

  2. Publish on the Platforms Used by Your Targeted Audiences
    • Data Distribution to Ad Networks and Editorial Systems: Samhub for Media ensures that data is effectively distributed to various ad networks and editorial systems. This capability allows publishers to optimize content for multiple platforms, ensuring that it reaches the audience where they are most active.

       

  3. Produce and Publish Continuously to Meet Audience Needs
    • Data Management Platform (DMP) and Customer Data Platform (CDP): These platforms help publishers maintain a continuous and real-time understanding of audience behaviors and preferences. This enables the production and publishing of content that meets audience needs promptly, aligning with their consumption habits.

       

  4. Funnel Occasional Users to Habitual and Paying/Valuable Loyalists
    • Advanced Data Analysis and Integration: By integrating data across various systems and providing insights through advanced analysis, Samhub for Media helps publishers understand user journeys. This insight is crucial for converting occasional users into loyal, paying subscribers by offering personalized and engaging content.

       

  5. Diversify and Grow Revenue Streams
    • Ad Network Integration and Data Distribution: By facilitating seamless data distribution to ad networks, Samhub for Media helps publishers diversify their revenue streams. The ability to deliver targeted ads and content opens up multiple monetization opportunities, enhancing financial sustainability.

       

  6. Partner to Expand Capacity and Capabilities
    • Collaborative Data Solutions: Samhub for Media’s services, such as DMP and CDP, enable publishers to collaborate and share resources effectively. This partnership approach helps expand capabilities without significant additional investment, aligning with the Table Stakes strategy of leveraging partnerships for growth.

       

  7. Drive Audience Growth and Profitability from a “Mini-Publisher” Perspective
    • Comprehensive Data Solutions: Samhub for Media equips publishers with tools that allow them to operate with a mini-publisher mindset. By integrating editorial systems with commercial platforms and providing comprehensive data compliance and privacy solutions, publishers can drive growth and profitability through informed decision-making and strategic audience engagement.

Samhub for Media - Data Service

Read more on how to create a complete first party data stack for publishers & media: The Samhub Guide to a Complete First Party Data Stack

Samhub for Media’s suite of services is well-aligned with the Table Stakes project’s objectives of digital transformation, audience-focused content, and financial sustainability. By leveraging Samhub for Media’s advanced data management, contextual analysis, and compliance tools, publishers can enhance their ability to engage audiences, diversify revenue streams, and operate efficiently in the digital era. This alignment not only supports the core principles of the Table Stakes project but also positions publishers to thrive in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Previous participants of the Table Stakes Europe Program

The Table Stakes Europe program has seen participation from numerous European publishers who have embarked on digital transformation journeys. Here is a list of some of the notable publishers that have participated in the various editions of the program:

Fifth Edition (2024)

  • Austria: KURIER
  • Denmark: Det Nordjyske Mediehus
  • Finland: Karjalainen
  • France: La Provence, Mediapart
  • Germany: Aschendorff Medien GmbH & Co. KG, Freie Presse Mediengruppe, Hamburger Abendblatt / Funke Medien, Rheinische Post Mediengruppe, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Zeitungsverlag Neue Westfälische
  • Iceland: Árvakur hf.
  • Ireland: The Irish Times
  • Malta: Times of Malta
  • Poland: Gremi Media (Rzeczpospolita)
  • Spain: Diari ARA, El Nacional
  • Sweden: NWT Media

Fourth Edition (2023)

  • Austria: Wiener Zeitung GmbH
  • Czech Republic: Hospodářské noviny
  • Finland: Karjalainen
  • France: L’AGEFI, Challenges, Investir, Jeune Afrique, l’Opinion, Rossel Est Médias (L’Union, L’Ardennais, L’Est Eclair), The Conversation France
  • Germany: DDV Sachsen GmbH / Sächsische Zeitung, Gebrüder Gerstenberg GmbH & Co. KG / Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung, General-Anzeiger Bonn GmbH, Hamburger Abendblatt / Funke Medien, ivz.medien GmbH, sh:z Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag GmbH & Co. KG, Süddeutsche Zeitung
  • Hungary: Ringier Hungary Kft.
  • Poland: Grupa Interia.pl
  • Slovakia: OUR MEDIA SR a.s.
  • Spain: Federico Joly y Cía, S.L., La Nueva España, La Voz de Almería
  • Switzerland: Somedia Press AG

Third Edition (2021/2022)

  • Austria: Russmedia Verlag GmbH
  • Czech Republic: Czech News Center, Economia – Aktuálně.cz
  • France: La Voix du Nord
  • Germany: Braunschweiger Zeitung, Digitalhaus Franken, Fuldaer Zeitung, Funke Thüringen, Rheinische Post, Schwäbisches Tagblatt, Zeitungsverlag Neue Westfälische, Zeitungsverlag Waiblingen
  • Italy: L’Arena – Il Giornale di Vicenza > Gruppo Editoriale Athesis
  • Netherlands: Nederlands Dagblad
  • Poland: Biuro Reklamy Mediów Lokalnych
  • Portugal: Público
  • Spain: Diari de Tarragona, El Periódico, La Voz de Almería
  • Sweden: NWT Media
  • Switzerland: Blick, La Tribune de Genève
  • United Kingdom: The Conversation, Reach plc.

Second Edition (2020/2021)

The second edition of Table Stakes Europe in 2020/2021 saw an expansion to 24 participants:
    • Austria: Tiroler Tageszeitung
    • Belgium: Editions de l’Avenir
    • France: La Voix du Nord, Le Point, Les Echos, Sud Ouest
    • Ireland: Irish Examiner Limited
    • Germany: DuMont Rheinland, General-Anzeiger Bonn, Neue Pressegesellschaft, Nordkurier Mediengruppe, Nordwest-Zeitung Verlagsgesellschaft (NWZ), NOZ, Saarbrücker Zeitung/Trierischer Volksfreund, Schwäbisch Media, Zeitungsverlag Waiblingen
    • Portugal: Mediotejo
    • Slovakia: SME.sk (Petit Press, a.s.)
    • Spain: Diario de Navarra, Grupo Godó de Comunicación, Grupo SERRA, Vocento
    • Switzerland: 24 heures
    • United Kingdom: Baylis Media Ltd

First Edition (2019/2020)

The inaugural edition of Table Stakes Europe in 2019/2020 included 15 publishers:
  • France: Le Parisien, Le Télégramme
  • Germany: Heidenheimer Zeitung, Lensing Media, NOZ Digital, SÜDKURIER, Zeitungsverlag Aachen
  • Italy: Edinet srl
  • Portugal: Diário de Notícias (Lisbon), Empresa do Diário de Notícias (Funchal)
  • Spain: ARA, Henneo, La Voz de Galicia
  • Switzerland: Démocrate Media Holding
  • United Kingdom: DC Thomson Media.
These publishers have all benefited from the program’s focus on digital transformation, audience engagement, and revenue diversification. Each participant undertakes significant change management initiatives tailored to their specific challenges, ensuring a tailored approach to achieving digital growth and sustainability.

Samhub for Media - Data Service

Read more on how to create a complete first party data stack for publishers & media: The Samhub Guide to a Complete Publisher First Party Data Stack

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