Peter Kropsch, President & CEO, dpa
Dear dpa shareholders, partners and friends
2017 was, as expected, an exciting year for us at dpa. To address the many challenges facing our editorial teams, we have launched initiatives in all parts of the group to put dpa on a firm footing for the future. The teams at dpa have consistently done outstanding work. As a result, we can once again present you with a solid financial statement for the past year, during which we were able to exceed our plans. However, it’s still worth going into some detail about the way the year progressed. The year started off with a variety of new sources for the international part of dpa’s picture network. They replaced epa, which had previously been the long-standing supplier of images. We can say definitively that the current picture supply is far more comprehensive and speedier than in previous years. With our approximately 35 new partners we now have a network that also offers us brand new opportunities. Not only the picture desk but also our international services have profited from the far more comprehensive supply of images. In addition, we have been able to start a dedicated photo service for our Spanish and Arabic-language services.
As well as a significant increase in the number of major news events as result of terrorism and natural disasters, the past year has been marked by the increased distribution of deliberately false information. dpa has reacted in a particularly proactive and professional manner in response to this “fake news.” This is evident not only in the creation of new positions such as radar and verification officers but also in the launch of the first products to help our customers deal with the increased uncertainty caused by the spreading of often deliberately false information.
In 2017, the fundamental nature of the challenge facing dpa also became clearer. The company is one of the biggest independent news agencies in the world. The independence of our reporting requires a long-term solid financial basis, one that can be generated exclusively from free competition. To that end, the strategy of dpa involves two aims: Firstly, dpa must effectively support its media customers in their own businesses. That requires a rapid further development of their services, since many media business models are also being reoriented. According to a study by the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and media consultants Schickler, 78% of publishers rank building new business models with a strong focus on paid content as “high to existentially relevant.” From my point of view, this is good news – because it emphasizes, after years of focusing on increased reach, once again a journalism that is focused on providing value to the recipients. During the year, dpa launched a “Performing Content” program. Evaluations of user data and machine learning are used to help tailor dpa content to these new business models. This places dpa in an ideal position because we can then make available the insights gained to the entire market.
Secondly, dpa not only serves very different markets – media, companies and public bodies – it has also developed into a group that encompasses a double-digit number of companies with very different orientations. In order to remain competitive and productive into the future, we have to better bundle our strengths and competencies, in order to be able to adapt quickly and flexibly to market requirements.
Networking is a central theme for dpa. In this annual report, we will show you how we work in interdisciplinary teams and closely networked units at dpa. The central focus is always the people who live and shape these ideas. Networking begins in our minds. In 2017, dpa already took a whole series of steps to ensure that colleagues from different corporate divisions now increasingly work together on the day-to-day business.
This ranges from an executive talent program, "dpa Steps," to the newly deployed product managers, who follow a common curriculum. The strength of dpa will in future be derived from this combination of our entire know-how and company-wide cooperation. Our central infrastructure project, “dpa-Connect,” was launched in 2017. The name reveals all. Our new business infrastructure will in future easily and flexibly network dpa content and partner content and offer it on platforms that we are developing into business-to-business marketplaces. The users of our marketplaces will benefit from a wealth of services, while the content providers will benefit from a broader marketing capability. The authorization service “dpa-Identity” will enable access to the dpa marketplaces via a unique user identifier. Speaking of networking: through its ownership structure, dpa combines private and public companies and practically all types of media for the purpose of mutual benefit. I believe the positive impact of this on the industry and society now and in the future should not be underestimated.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have undertaken much for 2018 and set ourselves ambitious goals. By the end of the year, dpa will have developed even further to meet your requirements. We look forward to working together with you towards a successful year in 2018.
Yours sincerely, Peter Kropsch
Hamburg, May 2018