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Focus on audiences, revenue and AI – WAN-IFRA and Google News Initiative launch Tables Stakes Europe

Tuesday 07. November 2023 - What is the minimum amount needed to stay in the game? In poker Table Stakes refers to the amount you need to put on the table in order to play. The term is also symbolic for what media need to put on the table to be successful in the digital game.

WAN-IFRA is launching the fifth edition of Table Stakes Europe in partnership with the Google News Initiative. This performance-driven programme, focused on change management, is a collaboration with Table Stakes architect Doug Smith. The programme will welcome 16 European news enterprises participating in 2024.
What is the minimum amount needed to stay in the game? In poker “Table Stakes” refers to the amount you need to put on the table in order to play. The term is also symbolic for what media need to put on the table to be successful in the digital game. What are the challenges of the digital market, and what do they need to do to stay in the game?
The main focus of this 10-month-long programme is on the audiences that publishers can address and how this can be done most effectively. In its fifth edition, WAN-IFRA and TSE architect Doug Smith have decided to develop the program further, including additional focus areas on AI and Average Revenue per User (ARPU).
“We see a great potential in AI in the way of serving specific audiences but at the same time newsrooms have to figure out exactly how to do that,” says Martin Fröhlich, director of the Digital Revenue Network at WAN-IFRA. “The second focus on ARPU takes into account that a subscription-only based strategy might not lead to a sufficient revenue for media companies and the revenue streams have to be diversified”.
With the Table Stakes Europe programme, participants benefit from:
A working methodology curated specifically for news publishers to accelerate digital growth, tackle key challenges within their organisation and create a foundation for lasting change;
In-person and virtual group workshops and webinars;
Expert guest speakers on a variety of important topics;
Regular coaching by industry experts;
Regular interaction and sharing of ideas and best practices with your peers in the programme.
Teams receive one-on-one support throughout the programme from their coach, who meets bi-weekly with them and provides guidance, advice, liaisons with the other international teams and any external resources that would help address their challenge. Lead coach Doug Smith will guide the international team of coaches.
“AI is the most profound technology we’re working on today and, as such, it enables incredible opportunities while also posing complex challenges across all industries. As content creators, journalists, newsrooms and publishers are at the forefront of this transformation and we at Google believe the potential is immense when journalism and technology come together. Through Table Stakes’ methodology of bringing people together and fostering learning through cross-functional, multinational collaboration, we believe the path becomes clearer and ever more exciting. We can’t wait for another year of growth and we’re thrilled to support another cohort of Table Stakes Europe,” said Ana Rocha de Paiva, Program Manager, News Ecosystem and Innovation, Google News Initiative.
81 publishers from 17 countries have already taken part
Since its launch in 2019, Table Stakes Europe has helped 81 publishers from across 17 countries accelerate their digital transition and engage their audiences in a deeper way.
Teams have worked on challenges ranging from growing subscriptions to reorganising newsrooms around cross-functional mini-publisher teams, as well as building specific membership communities and engaging diverse audience groups.
Read some of what those teams have said about the Table Stakes Europe programme here. In-depth case studies and best practices from participating Table Stakes Europe publishers are available in our Knowledge Base. Additional resources, such as reports and articles, are available on our website.
You can find more details about the programme curriculum, eligibility to enter, and the application process at
Applications to participate in the next edition are now open and will operate on a rolling basis – so early application is an advantage. The deadline for applications is 10 November 2023.
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