Ten insights for publishers from SIIA Digital Content & Media Summit

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How can publishers make sense of the digital environment?  And what new skills do they need to acquire?  At the SIIA Digital Content & Media Summit in London we heard from innovative media businesses on how they are tackling mobile, data, communities, video, freemium, globalisation and more … and what they have learnt along the way.  Here’s my top ten insights from the event:

1.     Design mobile services around user needs

Tony Macklin showed how Immediate Media have identified user needs in weddings and TV listings market, and then applied established brands and content to develop mobile services that are designed for tablet or phone.

2.     Think about the lifetime of a digital mag

Martin Belson, MD Enterpise at Dennis focuses on boosting engagement in an issue over several weeks, using notifications, and designing as a long term reference and souvenir.

3.     Create multiple versions of data sets for different audiences

Toby Green, Head of Publishing of OECD, sells raw data to some customers, customizable data to others and also ready-to-use charts and graphs for the time-pressed.  So more in the business of selling services that wrap around content than just content alone.

4.     Weekly digital mags are better read than monthlies

Rob Grainger, CEO of Stonewash, unveiled new research showing that mobile readers consume half of weekly mags and only a quarter of monthly mags.

5.     Publishers need to adopt freemium thinking

Audra Martin, VP Economist, uses blogs, search, content recommendation, print samples, tablet highlights to generate leads for subscriptions – and this free content also builds the Economist brand with a wider audience.

6.     Localise and customize brands for international markets

Both Tim Brooks, CEO of BMJ and Andy Rice of Future advocated adapting content & delivery for new countries and investing in local teams.  Doing your research before entering a new market is crucial.

7.     Content businesses must embrace data products

Julie Harris, CEO of WGSN explained how they have developed INsight as a data product, with a separate team, designed to assist a new audience – buyers & merchandisers – within their existing corporate clients.  It has also helped their content teams understand how their forecasts translate into sales months later.

8.     Premium online subscriptions need face to face sales

Richard Londesborough, CEO Business Monitor, has grown revenues tenfold since focusing on premium subscriptions, but corporate clients are more demanding and require tailored content and a bespoke service from the sales team.

9.     Even in b2b communities, it pays to “dare to be trivial.”

Adrian Barrick, Chief Content Officer at UBM, has learnt that stories that appeal to emotions attract the attention of users, and drive engagement in b2b communities.

10.  Customer analytics can uncover surprising interests

Tim Ewington, Strategy Director at Shortlist Media, analyses email click patterns and hot topics to learn what content appeals to audiences.  This uncovered a strong interest in books among urban women, which led to new content and new advertisers.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs the Specialist Media Insights research programme and the annual Specialist Media Conference, building on twenty years of publishing & media experience.  Earlier this year SIIA acquired the Specialist Media Conference and Carolyn was engaged as Conference Chair for the SIIA Digital Content & Media Summit in London in September.  Apologies for the radio silence on this blog!  You can keep up with my latest thoughts on twitter @carolynrmorgan

Carolyn works with niche publishers to develop a practical digital strategy through her consultancy business Penmaen Media.

If you’re grappling with your digital strategy, do get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.

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