Digital revolution in publishing and media: what’s changed and predictions for next decade

How publishing has changed in the last decade! Back in 2008 digital basically meant websites, unwieldy content driven projects with a vaguely planned advertising revenue model.  They were considered a distraction from the main business which was print publications, sold on the newsstand or delivered by Royal Mail.

Prompted by a somewhat unexpected 10 year anniversary for my digital media consultancy business, Penmaen Media, I thought I’d have a stab at summing up the main changes in the last decade. And, more dangerously, venture to predict what media might look like in 2028.

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How nurturing community and authentic content build value

Digital publishing event

Why do publishers see print and digital content as being in competition? Maybe you need to think of them as simply complementary ways of engaging your audience and building your brand.

A digital publishing mini conference at WeWork Shoreditch run by WordPress agency 93digital and content recommendation engine Bibblio prompted me to think about how to build a valuable media brand. Speakers included membership association website Physics World, start up travel publisher Suitcase Media and offline subscription book club Reading in Heels. All agreed on these principles for publishing success…

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What digital news trends mean for specialist media businesses

The annual Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the study of journalism (RISJ) is a comprehensive look at trends in online news across the world. Whilst news itself is a specific discipline, I have found that people’s behaviour in consuming digital news content provides clues for future trends that will affect all media businesses. To save you reading the full 144 page report, these are my main insights for specialist publishers planning their digital strategy.

 

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Seven insights for digital publishers

Future grows ecommerce revenue

New ideas for digital publishers were shared at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in June, with speakers from traditional and digital startup publishers, agencies, brands and broadcasters sharing their latest experiences. I moderated the first day of the summit, and these were my seven top insights for ambitious digital publishers.

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Free to paid: 7 questions before you set up paid digital subscriptions

Subscription packages

Niche B2B publishers are now considering paid digital subscriptions after years of a free online, wholly ad funded model. In the last two years I have had many conversations with independent publishers, some with print publications, others now digital only, about setting up paid subscriptions for their online content.

Of course each market and title has its own idiosyncrasies, but here are the broad questions to consider If you are planning such a move for your media brand.

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What today’s media can learn from EMAPs launch success

What made EMAP so great at launching magazines? And what can today’s media learn?

 

In the 80s and 90s, EMAP was a force of nature in the magazine world, launching an endless stream of lifestyle, sports and hobby magazines, from Q and Empire to Today’s Golfer, More and heat. One of the architects of this stream of creativity was Dave Hepworth, who was interviewed in a rather dark and stuffy room by Colin Morrison recently in an event organised by The Media Society.

As a former EMAP staffer (16 years all told) I have to declare a slight interest, and bias, but this nostalgia trip did set me thinking about exactly why EMAP was so successful then, what has changed and what lessons if any, are still relevant to media organisations in 2018?

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Will publishers still provide value to advertisers in future?

How will publishers provide value to advertisers in future?

As B2B marketing becomes more targeted, and marketers focus on creating their own content and generating and nurturing leads, do they really need traditional media brands? What exactly is the role that a publication plays for marketers and advertisers, whether in print, digital or live formats?

At the Marketing in Maritime conference last month I chaired a panel of established print and start-up digital media owners, plus a major advertiser to explore this issue. The conversation raised some interesting questions for both B2B media owners and B2B marketers about how they can work together which I believe are applicable to all markets. These were the main themes:

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Five future tech trends that media businesses need to watch

Alexa News skills

Technology developments that only recently felt in the realms of science fiction: such as voice and visual search, AI and blockchain are now being explored by innovative digital media businesses.

At the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin in March, some mind blowing concepts were shared, and the audience of publishers realised that they needed to do some more research.

These are five technologies that you need to watch…

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Seven new digital business models for media owners

Future plc revenue sources

Publishers are exploring a range of new business models to reduce their reliance on advertising, grow digital revenues and develop multiple revenue sources. Some are focussing on subscriptions and other premium paid services, others exploring e-commerce and affiliates, or reinventing their approach to advertising.

Below are seven approaches to new digital business models with examples from the speakers at the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin:

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The new digital storytelling rules: how journalism is changing

Atomised content for multiple platforms

Digital storytelling is different to traditional print journalism. As mobile becomes the default device and visuals beat text, journalism is changing. Navigation is based on tap and swipe, video commands attention, graphics and quotes communicate better than copy. Distribution on third party platforms is essential to reach an audience. We are drowning in data on user behaviour, and only just grasping how to understand what it is telling us. Most publishers are aspiring to build paid subscriptions to reduce dependence on advertising revenues.

So how are publishers and journalists adapting their editorial craft for digital media? There were plenty of smart ideas available at the FIPP/VDZ Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin – here’s my top four themes.

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How should publishers engage with social platforms?

Economist on Snapchat

Facebook and their ilk have become an important part of digital content distribution and promotion. But how should publishers navigate the minefield of tech giants and social platforms to reach a global audience without losing direct contact with their readers, or losing control of their data? There was plenty of debate at the FIPP/VDZ Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin about social strategies; in this article I have summarised what seems to be working on both sides of the Atlantic.

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New thinking on Digital Subscriptions: 8 successful strategies

Digital subs mobile options

Digital subscriptions for online content have maybe just reached the tipping point.  Free content, ad-funded business models are struggling, and traditional print publishers are now focussing on building a compelling digital subs proposition.

A growing number of publishers are refocussing their business model towards subscriptions.  The New Yorker now has 65% of its revenues coming from readers, and paid circulation is growing at a rate of 12.3%.  The Economist is now financially sustainable on subscriptions alone. BILD has grown from zero to over 300k digital subs in 8 years.

Digital subscriptions were a hot topic of conversation at the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin, organised by FIPP and VDZ.  I chaired a panel discussion on reader revenues and there were multiple presentations from European and North American publishers on their subscription strategy.

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How tech will affect your readers and your media business and what you should do

Revenue sources for media businesses RISJ

Digital technology is changing how people want to consume news and content, and how media businesses must evolve. Publishers will need to change how they package and present stories, how they attract attention, and how they generate new revenues.

The RISJ have made a number of predictions of trends for journalism and media, based on their research primarily among news organisations worldwide. You can download the full RISJ report here.

This is my interpretation of how these trends will affect more specialist media businesses and what you might need to do…

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Why B2B media brands need an events strategy

fleet news awards

While digital tech grabs the headlines, what with AI and VR and AR et al, one of the strongest growing revenue sources for media brands is low tech, face to face, in person events.

Over the last year I have had in depth conversations with several B2B leaders convinced that live events are a strategic part of their future, as part of a joint research project with Helen Coetzee of MPG.  This article explores why events work so well and how they can add value to your media business.

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Webinar: 10 Practical Strategies for the Future of B2B Media

 

This is the recording of a webinar I presented on Navigating the Future of B2B Media: 10 Practical Strategies, for InPublishing Magazine on 30 Jan 2018.  I consider the importance of events, data and intelligence products, customer insight, content marketing solutions, marketing automation and the digital talent gap.

Below is a summary of the Q&A session after the webinar, covering topics from paid subscriptions to the future of display advertising, artificial intelligence, social media, the future for print and the potential of virtual reality technologies for publishers.

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Navigating the future of B2B Media: 10 practical strategies

Business to business media is in a state of flux, with subscribers and advertisers’ own businesses changing fast thanks to technology and internationalisation. The organisations formerly known as B2B publishers are having to reinvent themselves as information services, networking facilitators, lead generators and marketing solutions consultants.

Where are the nuggets of future value in this more complex environment for B2B media? How should publishing leaders be evolving their brands?

Over this year I’ve been working with several B2B publishers on aspects of their digital strategy, and also interviewed ten B2B leaders as part of a research project for Merit Group. This article summarises my observations on how to create long term value in B2B media.

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Building communities at B2B events: learning from Web Summit 2017

Events are a growing part of B2B media portfolios, building brands and increasing revenues. A successful event, however, is about more than the speakers, sponsors and content: delegates are keen to use live events to expand their network and make new connections. So building a community in advance of the event is increasingly important. I’ve looked in depth at one event, Web Summit, which has always focussed on networking, and drawn out some ideas which could be applied to other B2B events.

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Ethical issues in tech: what it means for media businesses

artificial intelligence robot sophia

This article on ethical issues in tech is part of a series exploring key tech themes raised at the web summit and how they might affect media brands.  Read about all the themes here.

Technology has been evolving faster than our ability to develop ethical codes and regulation.  Social platforms and algorithms can be gamed for political ends.  Technology will destroy some jobs (including truck drivers and call centre agents) and create new roles, causing social disruption.  Large global tech corporations have enormous power and governments struggle to collect taxes and control monopolistic practices.  And as AI starts to surpass human intelligence, how can we ensure its power is not exercised to the detriment of human values?  But tech can also be used for good, to counter inequality and fight climate change.

So how should media brands react to these ethical issues?

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How digital is changing learning and work

digital changing learning

This article on how digital is changing learning and work is part of a series on major tech trends and the impact on media brands based on ideas from Web Summit.

Read about the other tech themes here.

How is digital changing learning and work? Rapidly changing job roles mean that school and university students must acquire different skills, with some calling for more “code literacy.” Those already working will need to accept the need for lifelong learning, using a mix of online tools and face to face. The proportion of freelance workers will grow, gaining flexibility in hours and location, and providing on-tap expert skills for larger organisations.

So what are the challenges and opportunities for media brands created by this new landscape of work and learning?

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How artificial intelligence could affect media brands

AI landscape

This article on how artificial intelligence could affect media brands is part of a series on key themes in new technology and their likely impact on media brands – from the Web Summit 2017.  Read about the other trends here.

Artificial intelligence was everywhere at Web Summit – from the high profile Chief Humanoid Sophia to the use of chatbots for customer service and machine learning to analyse mountains of data.  AI is also behind the real time natural language processing of Amazon’s Alexa, which could revolutionise how people search for answers to their problems.

So what are the main developments in AI and what are the implications for media brands?

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