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Newspapers need to stop being disrupted and start disrupting warns Polish media exec

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Grzegorz Piechota speaking at INMA World Congress in New York

Newspapers have spent years being disrupted and must “be disrupters ourselves” and claw back advertising dollars from other media if they are to survive, a Polish newspaper boss has warned.

The head of editorial development for Poland’s biggest paper Gazeta Wyborczaone told an audience of leading newspaper bosses they needed to harness channels like YouTube and target ad dollars which go to mediums like TV

Grzegorz Piechota told International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress in New York they had used the success of Polish Youtuber Sylwester Wardega, whose video Spider Dog drew more than 140m views and whose channel has 3m subscribers, as a model for its own lifestyle channel.

“His 3m subscribers – it compares with the 3m viewers Polish Dancing with the Stars show, or the 3.1m Polish show of Polish Farmer is looking for a wife… the biggest difference between his audience and the TV show is just the demographic,” said Piechota.

The Polish newspaper executive told the audience that 65 per cent of those on YouTube were under 35-years-old, while at the same time globally declining newspaper print audiences were only getting older.

“What if 180 people like him (Wadeger) worked together in one online video channel – they could probably create the biggest Polish TV show that is no longer a broadcaster – it is on the internet,” he said.

“We at our newspaper created an online channel where we focus on lifestyle broadcasters because it is much easier to monetise.

“We invite people like fitness, food bloggers etc. and what we created it a multichannel network where we use our salespeople to sell advertising and sponsorship. We use our marketing and technical and give some training support to these vloggers.”

Piechota noted that there was also an events strategy with the newspaper selling tickets to fans to meet, learn and engage with the content creators.

“We organise events where we make money,” he said. “What do we really get? We get a scale, we get talent, we get better use of our studios and we get video advertising inventory.”

He said the video advertising market in Poland was already worth US$50m but he noted that they were targeting TV ad dollars: “Obviously television is the biggest advertising market – its like 50 per cent of all advertising dollars spent.

“The biggest lesson here is that for years it was them (social media and YouTube) that disrupted us, and for the first time maybe we can be disrupters ourselves.”

Nic Christensen in New York 

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