A delicate balancing act

Varit Limthongkul December 2018 APAC Region

The Google News Initiative is designed to help news organizations adapt to our changing digital landscape. We sat down with Varit Limthongkul, web director of Thailand’s Manager Online, to hear his perspective on the challenges of the modern news era and his strategies for growth.

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The internet changed user behavior across the board, from how it works in the newsroom to our entire business model. It hugely disrupted the media world and we as news publishers are still trying to figure out how to monetize in the new environment while staying true to our core mission: delivering quality news. It’s not hard to produce interesting content, but the problem lies with how news publishers can sustain themselves so they can continue producing content that people want to read, all while maintaining true to our core mission. We need to always maintain balance between news quality, trends and sensation-driven news.

At PPN, we know that the old publisher model doesn’t work anymore — we can’t stay like this. [Players in the ecosystem] have to join hands and work together to find a new way of being — one that’s more balanced.

In the beginning, online income drove less than 5% of revenue. Later, programmatic stepped into the picture, and we were suddenly able to choose among the many aspects of the audience. That’s when the online/offline income split became 50/50. The shift wasn’t just about going from offline to online anymore, but from going offline to online to programmatic.

We’re in an age of tidal change, and we need to figure out this balancing act, and fast.

The news industry is in need of higher-quality publishers these days, not just publishers who can attract more eyeballs or page views through clickbait, fake news, or similar techniques. I also believe that during the transformation of the news industry, technological advances will be more important than ever before, so we have to embrace changes and be open-minded.

We will focus on how to provide more quality content and new revenue streams in the face of changing technological and business landscapes. To achieve that, we need more connections and closer partnerships with media friends, businesses, governments, and local/global platforms.

What words of wisdom do you have for your younger self who’s just starting out in this career?

It’s OK to fail. But you have to get back up and accept that you failed. Don’t be stubborn, and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Stepping into tomorrow with strong partnerships