The Times They Are A-Changin’
The Numbers Behind the New York Times’ digital transition
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
For the most part, legacy print media stalwarts are dying a death by a thousand cuts.
There are exceptions to this rule, and The New York Times is often touted as the best example of an old-school media company that is successfully navigating the challenging transition to digital. They’ve experimented with different types of content and tactics to get eyeballs, while also shifting their company-wide strategy and culture to take a digital-first approach.
While pundits give credit to the Times for their latest efforts, this doesn’t mean it’s been an easy transition for the iconic newspaper. The path forward has been littered with roadbumps, and the most recent one is hard to ignore for shareholders.
Earlier this week, The New York Times announced a 95.7% decrease in quarterly profit. We dug a little deeper in this week’s chart to provide some context behind the newspaper’s challenges in maintaining its relevance in the 21st century.
Goodbye, Ad Dollars
The primary challenge faced by the Times is pretty obvious.
In the early 2000s, the company easily made over $2 billion in advertising revenue per year. Today, they make about $600 million from ads.
Why has the transition to digital hurt ad revenues so much? There are a bunch of reasons, but here’s a few of them:
- Physical circulation of The New York Times and other newspapers is dropping rapidly.
- Traditional display ads aren’t particularly effective, and are part of the “old-school” of digital thought.
- Programmatic bidding drives down prices for these ads, bringing in even less revenue.
- Digital lends itself to long-term, results-driven campaigns. It takes time to set these up and measure them properly, especially at scale.
- Ads need to match the editorial stream to be effective. Quality over quantity.
- There’s more competition in the digital space, which is a stark contrast to the distribution oligopolies enjoyed by big newspapers in the legacy era.
- Madison Avenue is also slow at switching to digital, which only adds to the lag time.
These are just some of the reasons why advertising was able to make up 65% of the Times’ revenues in 2004, but only 39% in 2016.
Hello, Digital Subscriptions
While I don’t personally agree that a paywall is a long-term answer to any of their problems, it is true that the New York Times has used this as a temporary crutch to at least counter lost ad dollars.
In Q3 2016, revenue from digital-only subscriptions increased 16.4%, and money coming in from subscriptions has increased year-on-year since 2011.
Sometime between 2011 and 2012, subscription revenue (powered by digital-only subscriptions) passed ad revenues as the most important source of incoming cash for the company. The ramp-up has been impressive, and The New York Times now has 1.6 million digital subscribers.
My personal take? Digital subscriptions will plateau in the next five years or maybe sooner. Further, I think that content that isn’t industry or niche-specific will generally drift towards being free for users over time. The New York Times will have to solve their ad problem, but the paywall will buy them a bit of time to do so.
This Giant List of 100+ Marketing Stats Reveals What Actually Works
This massive infographic uses 100+ marketing stats to highlight the tactics that are working in modern-day digital universe.
In just the last decade, the marketing world has been dramatically transformed.
Spending on digital media surpassed television ads in 2017, and now global digital spend is anticipated to top $333 billion this year.
As a result, today’s entrepreneurs and small businesses are starting to think about marketing in almost exclusively digital terms – and to have a successful online strategy, it’s important to see the data on what tactics are actually working.
Visualizing 100+ Marketing Stats
Today’s infographic comes to us from Serpwatch and it highlights seven of the most important digital marketing trends to keep an eye on this year.
Along the way, it highlights over 100 useful marketing stats that help to reveal the strategies and tactics that maximize ROI in the online arena.
It’s well known that digital media tactics – such as using social media, SEO, search, email, and content marketing – all offer unprecedented levels of analytics, customization, and segmentation for the modern marketer.
However, with so much to think about when using these techniques online and at scale, they can also be quite overwhelming.
Luckily, the above list provides some marketing stats that stand out in potentially helping businesses make the most out of their digital campaigns.
Stats That Stand Out
Here are some of the marketing stats from the above list that we thought stood out the most, for each category:
The top five search results for a keyword on Google get 70% of the clicks.
- Social media:
80% of B2B leads come in through LinkedIn vs. 13% on Twitter and 7% on Facebook.
- Video marketing:
Video will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021.
- Cold email marketing:
Emails sent between 10-11am have the highest open rates. Tuesday is the best day to send cold emails.
- Paid advertising:
The mobile ad blocking rate has increased 90% year-over-year.
- Lead generation:
61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.
- Content marketing:
47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
Although the digital marketing space is vast, the useful statistics above may help create some clarity for marketers trying to get the most out of their efforts in 2019 and beyond.
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
Collectively, the Big Five tech giants combine for revenues of $802 billion, which is bigger than Saudi Arabia’s economy. Here’s how it breaks down.
How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions
At a glance, it may seem like the world’s biggest technology companies have a lot in common.
For starters, all five of the Big Tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet) have emerged as some of the most valuable publicly-traded companies in the world, with founders such as Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates sitting atop the global billionaire list.
These tech giants also have a consumer-facing aspect to their business that is front and center. With billions of people using their platforms globally, these companies leverage user data to tighten their grip even more on market share. At the same time, this data is a double-edged sword, as these same companies often find themselves in the crosshairs for mishandling personal information.
Finally, all of these companies have a similar origin story: they were founded or incubated on the fertile digital grounds of the West Coast. The company that has the weakest claim to such origins would be Facebook, but even it has been based in Silicon Valley since June 2004.
Sizing Up the Tech Giants
For all of their commonalities, it seems that there is less of a mold for how these tech giants end up generating cashflow.
But before we get to how Big Tech makes its money, let’s start by looking at the financials at a higher level. The following data comes from the 2018 10-K reports filed last year.
|Company||Revenue (2018)||Net Income (2018)||Margin|
|Combined||$801.5 billion||$139.0 billion||17.3%|
|Apple||$265.6 billion||$59.5 billion||22.4%|
|Amazon||$232.9 billion||$10.1 billion||4.3%|
|Alphabet||$136.8 billion||$30.7 billion||22.4%|
|Microsoft||$110.4 billion||$16.6 billion||15.0%|
|$55.8 billion||$22.1 billion||39.6%|
Together, the Big Five tech giants combined for just over $800 billion of revenue in 2018, which would be among the world’s 20 largest countries in terms of GDP. More precisely, they would just edge out Saudi Arabia ($684 billion GDP) in terms of size.
Meanwhile, they generated a total of $139 billion of net income for their shareholders, good for a 17.3% profit margin.
How Big Tech Makes Money
Let’s dig deeper, and see the differences in how these companies generate their revenue.
You are the Customer
In the broadest sense, three of the tech giants make money in the same way: you pay them money, and they give you a product or service.
Apple (Revenue in 2018: $265.6 billion)
- Apple generates a staggering 62.8% of its revenue from the iPhone
- The iPad and Mac are good for 7.1% and 9.6% of revenues, respectively
- All other products and services – including Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, Apple Pay, AppleCare, etc. – combine to just 20.6% of revenues
Amazon (Revenue in 2018: $232.9 billion)
- Amazon gets the most from its online stores (52.8%) as well as third-party seller services (18.4%)
- Amazon’s fastest-growing segment is offline sales in physical stores
- Offline sales generate $17.2 billion in current revenue, growing 197% year-over-year
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) is well-known for being Amazon’s most profitable segment, and it counts for 11.0% of revenue
- Amazon’s “Other” segment is also rising fast – it mainly includes ad sales
Microsoft (Revenue in 2018: $110.4 billion)
- Microsoft has the most diversified revenue of any of the tech giants
- This is part of the reason it currently has the largest market capitalization ($901 billion) of the Big Five
- Microsoft has eight different segments that generate ~5% or more of revenue
- The biggest three are “Office products and cloud services” (25.7%), “Server products and cloud services” (23.7%), and Windows (17.7%)
The remaining tech giants charge you nothing as a consumer, so how are they worth so much?
You are the Product
Both Alphabet and Facebook also generate billions of dollars of revenue, but they make this money from advertising. Their platforms allow advertisers to target you at scale with incredible precision, which is why they dominate the online ad industry.
Here’s how their revenues break down:
Alphabet (Revenue in 2018: $136.8 billion)
- Despite having a wider umbrella name, ad revenue (via Google, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Ads, etc.) still drives 85% of revenue for the company
- Other Google products and services, like Google Play or the Google Pixel phone, help to generate 14.5% of total revenue
- Other Bets count to 0.4% of revenue – these are Alphabet’s moonshot attempts to find the “next Google” for its shareholders
Facebook (Revenue in 2018: $55.8 billion)
- Facebook generates almost all revenue (98.5%) from ads
- Meanwhile, 1.5% comes from payments and other fees
- Despite Facebook being a free service for users, the company generated more revenue per user than Netflix, which charges for its service
- In 2018 Q4, for example, Facebook made $35 per user. Netflix made $30.
So while the tech giants may have many similarities, how they generate their billions can vary considerably.
Some are marketing products to you, while others are marketing you as the product.
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