Media partners of the Independent Journalism Center (CJI), Agora and Ziua de azi, have improved their knowledge on online audience building as part of the Understanding the Audience through Digital Media project. Representatives of the two media outlets took part in an online training session on February 21-22, during which they learned how to properly manage their YouTube channel to attract the audience and keep the readers interested, as well as which monetization models have proven efficient for the media.
On the first day of training, Kirill Evseev, a certified Ukrainian YouTube expert, told the participants about the platform’s prospects for the media, what their channel should look like, what videos should be published, and how the algorithms work.
“One of the main mistakes the media make is to use the same YouTube channel to publish media content intended for different audiences. A media outlet can have diverse content intended for various categories – children, youth or adults interested in certain topics and materials. When we publish all video products on the same YouTube channel, algorithms do not understand what type of audience to distribute this content to. It is a mistake that drastically reduces the audience”, the expert said, while also stating that “not all the videos of an outlet should be published on YouTube, but only those that are valuable and can generate emotions for the audience”.
Kirill Evseev believes that the most important step in developing a YouTube channel is to determine the audience and to create the video content specifically for it. The expert associated YouTube with a supermarket that contains the products that the consumer needs, not the ones that the supermarket wants to sell.
Organic audience growth is only possible when certain conditions are met. “A YouTube channel should have an interesting topic and a charismatic presenter; videos should be published regularly and comply with the platform’s requirements; there should be hot topics that can go viral; and the channel should look attractive. All together, these conditions can contribute to the organic growth of the audience”, the trainer is convinced.
On the second day of the training, Daryna Shevchenko, media expert, a partner at Jnomics media consultancy and CEO at The Kyiv Independent in Ukraine, talked about media business models, which sources of income are most viable, and what makes a media outlet sustainable.
“If you want to keep your audience and get it to fund your activities, you need to first understand the needs of your readers and to create your media products based on such needs. You should also talk to your audience all the time, share your editorial values with it, and find out what its preferences are. Last but not least, you need to invest in the technical aspects that would allow the reader to easily subscribe to your content, become a sponsor or pay for a membership subscription. If these things cannot be done easily, the reader simply leaves. Technical means of interacting with the readers should be as simplified as possible”, the expert considers.
At the end of the training, Serghei Pervozvanskii, commercial director of Молодий Буковинець (Molodyi Bucovynets) from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, spoke about this online media outlet’s success story in monetization and in increasing financial sustainability. “Our site has an audience of 3 to 5 million views per month, which is the most important indicator for us in terms of income. The outlet has a diverse structure of advertising revenues, the most important being those derived from Google AdSense (25%), commercial articles (20%), banners (15%), stock market news ads (18%) and partnership programs (14%). We also get revenues from Facebook and Instagram advertising, contextual advertising or advertising in special projects”, he added.
Participants realized that they need to be creative and experiment all the time, learned new ways to monetize and understood how important it is to keep in touch with the audience.
“It was a good opportunity to talk and find tools to grow one’s YouTube channel. Likewise, the cases of other media outlets in the region are very useful and help us be creative”, mentioned Irina Ghelbur from Agora portal.
“We never miss the opportunity to participate in trainings delivered by international experts where we can learn something new or take on new experiences. This allows us to grow professionally and to be inspired by other colleagues’ best practices in developing the media outlet we represent”, said Vitalie Hotnogu, Ziua de azi.
Agora and Ziua de azi were selected by the jury as IJC’s media partners in 2022 following a closed grant competition announced for all media partners of the project from 2018–2021.
The two media outlets will implement their audience growth initiatives between March and September 2022. During the project, they will get €10,000 grants each and receive online advice from international experts.
The Understanding the Audience through Digital Assistance project, implemented by IJC with the support of Internews, is funded by Sweden. The project aims to improve the quality of media content and the financial sustainability of media outlets through better understanding of the needs of the audience.