People consume content on their smartphones. That is a new reality that every publisher needs to understand and adapt to. Luckily, mobile screens are getting bigger, not smaller, so the mobile industry is actually helping publishers with that. Wearables will also become a serious channel for publishers as well, and now is the time to start preparing for that. Mobile has been influential, however wearables will change the industry even more.
For wearables to become a viable channel, the technologists need to take it more seriously - and there are signs that is beginning to happen. Google may well grow its market with Glass, but there will be other alternative products on the market driving the price down. The more people have access to wearable technology, the more usage and engagement will grow. Think of the smartphone when that first launched and how small the number of users were. Now that number is huge.
Even if your audience isn’t using wearable technology yet, they will be as they get older, and so it is essential to adapt and prepare. Schools now use tablets in the classroom to support learning, so when that generation gets into the 20s and 30s they will be the drivers behind wearable usage. Although you shouldn’t invest all of your R&D or budget into wearable just yet, you should be doing something in this area. Test the water and learn for yourself how to create the best product representative of your brand, so when - not if - it takes off, you’re ready and prepared.
In the meantime, people will continue to consume content on their smartphones in greater quantities. People may not read all your content on their mobile, but that may be the main platform they’re exposed to. For instance, I follow my favourite publications on Twitter. The publications catch me with an interesting article, I favourite the tweet and engage with them. I then come back to it on my iPad to read it later. If I’m on a train, I am always scouring Twitter for a good read.
The publishing industry is evolving and changing so quickly that it needs to become one of the more innovative industries to better adapt to the continual technological advancements. It’s not just about how people are consuming, but what they are consuming needs to be much more innovative too. Based on the reader’s location, age, interests, recent activity or platform, content needs to be able to adapt and change. Native is a great example of this. You can sell multiple native ads to the same piece of content based on all of those things. This improves click throughs, engagement and hopefully a better lead for that company.
Publishers are making some mistakes though. A common one is not creating content specifically for mobile or app, but just recycling content from other formats. Apps and mobile should be treated as separate entities and developed individually to provide the best results. Also, I think that some publishers are not making mobile enough of a priority. If you search any stats for mobile usage the evidence is clear and growing - people are using their phones all the time during multiple activities and for all purposes. A mobile first strategy with a good social team can grow your traffic massively.
There are multiple revenue streams out there who do embrace mobile first. Ads will always be a strong revenue source and there a multiple formats to utilise this. I also think that video has a big part to play in the future. Most importantly, revenue will be generated by publishers whose first priority is growing their audience and delivering quality. All things digital are monitored, analysed and evaluated. If your audience trusts you, they will trust your ads because you put them first, so why would you show an ad that won’t be of interest to them?
It’s also important to create more products. If you are doing something very well in one area, then take the risk to expand and engage with a wider base. Paid subscriptions are working for some companies, but this is a much more niche revenue stream. Revenue generation has to be focused towards a targeted audience with a high-level content focus. Utilising your data will become much more important also. Data analytics has a big part to play in the future of digital publications and there are some publications already using this.
One thing publishers can underestimate is that organisational change that has to happen in moving to digital. If you’re moving into digital you need talent. You need millennials and you need people that understand that business. There is a difference in the two and you need to create a new digital arm and not rely on your current staff to just be the experts. I always think an injection of new faces can help support a team anyway. You need the old faces to keep the brands image intact and make sure what you are doing digitally is being done to the company ethos and ethics, but you also need the right cogs to ensure your digital strategy has a chance of breaking into a competitive landscape.
I think any organisation needs to play to the strengths of what they have currently, but also address every weakness. Weaknesses are exposed quicker and more aggressively within digital, you need to move faster and be able to respond instantly. Print and digital work well together, so build two close-knit teams to ensure this succeeds. Expect to get it wrong and when you do, do not quit. The key is to be adaptable and flexible. Don’t be scared to lead the way, failure isn’t as detrimental as it seems. If you fail then succeed, but come away being seen as a first mover, then have you really failed?
The most exciting thing about the publishing world is that everyone is doing something well, but also looking to improve certain areas. The perfect formula does not exist and will continue to evolve, helping to make the future somewhat unpredictable, but yet intriguing. Ultimately, content is and will remain king. This should be your number one focus. It’s what will give you the revenue down the line. It’s also important to know your audience. Knowing what they like and don’t like will help you in creating good content. Be prepared to take risks. This is an innovative area and you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid to try something slightly different, you never know, your audience might love it.