Key shifts are occurring in the global publishing industry. Some are obvious, but many underlying trends are more subtle and relate to the changing usage patterns of the next generation of users or 'audience 2.0'. The combination of factors is complex, but both B2C and B2B publishers need to closely consider them all in parallel as they react to the current industry crisis and position themselves as long-term survivors.
The article below is a summary of the key points from a full white paper. Click here to read the full, seven-page report:
PUBLISHING INDUSTRY SITUATION
Besides economic chaos, a number of fundamental factors are at work in the publishing industry today:
* Offline revenue continues to decline fast as next generation of audiences shift online.
* Google, aggregators and now Twitter increasingly ‘decide' which sources audiences are directed to and will take a share of available advertising.
* Online channels continue to explode. New blogs, aggregators, micro-sites and Twitter are crowding mainstream sources and in many cases breaking or virally spreading news.
* Future value of traditional brands to next generation of audiences is highly uncertain. Engagement with physical publications is diminishing and although traditional brands have an inherent trust factor, loyalty will lessen in coming years as news is accessed through emerging channels.
* Large editorial teams are expensive and out of tune with new world - a shift to a blend of ‘investigative' writers and ‘curator' writers is needed to save costs and satisfy modern users.
* Users are demanding personalisation and centralised access to relevant content - the 'MyPortal' approach. The Facebook generation are used to accessing all social news on their favourite people through a central networking site and receiving personalized alerts. This mindset will similarly apply in the future for accessing news and business information.
* The Apple Factor. By leveraging iTunes billing, Apple has proved it can convince consumers to buy mobile apps with the same trusted micropayment method through its tied iPhone apps store. It is not inconceivable that Apple's next generation of products could transform the way news is consumed with premium news articles and features also purchased for micropayments via iTunes.
The publishing industry needs to adapt fast. There will be a massive shake-out with lower profits, job cuts and consolidation as the revenue pie changes. Surviving brands need to reinvent editorial models and adapt technology to rapidly exploit new content opportunities. However, knee-jerk reactions are not the way forward. The current vogue for some publishers to say "let's shift to paid subscription walls" is potentially highly damaging, except in certain niche content areas. Imposing subscription walls may generate some revenue from a small percentage of presently loyal readers - but it could kill a brand in the long-run if the next generation of target audiences simply never engages with its content.
FIVE ACTION POINTS TO SERVE FUTURE AUDIENCES
There is no "silver bullet". With current trends, publishing is never going to return to old-style profits.
1. Intelligent Aggregation
Gone are the days when editors can rest on the notion that their content alone is good enough, particularly if they are not breaking news stories daily. Users want centralised access to all content, wherever it originated. Publishers should lead with their own articles, but integrate aggregated global intelligence (news, blogs, Twitter) in real-time to position their brand as a trusted ‘search engine' for content from other trusted sources. It will never replace Google, but will cater to a large proportion of their current audience and demonstrate they are innovating with new content tools.
Position their brand to become ‘iTunes' of their content domain.
2. Semantic Indexing - The 'Link Economy'
Publishers need to apply intelligent, structured indexing that ‘understands' the context and entities involved in any article in their databases, and makes it as easy as possible for users to quickly link between relevant content. So-called ‘semantic' indexing allows for creation of consistent meta-data for searching and linking between articles. Some automatic recommendations options based on Bayesian or support vector machine algorithms work, but these can't truly understand the context of an article or relationships between the entities identified. For example, who are Spotify's competitors or how does Steve Jobs relate to Apple? To make content indexing truly accurate and useful, it requires human IP in initially defining entities - whether these entities are companies, industry categories, executives, celebrities or sports teams. There are also side benefits from defining content areas in detail:
> Vertical search - adding definitions allows easy vertical search options by topic or area.
> Buzz ranking - definitions allow ranking by buzz mentions and can support sentiment analysis.
3. Personalised Alerting
During the current turmoil, it is vital for publishers to defend their present brand awareness. Personalized email (or app) alerts related to content are a powerful tool to maintain daily contact with audiences throughout the media shake-out period and to understand true user interests better than through subscription registration. Alerts should be defined by users, employ the 'semantic' entities approach and be as granular as required. They should deliver both proprietary publisher content, but also links to relevant third-party blog or news articles. Aside from meeting a key audience requirement as a single point for relevant content delivery, the side-benefits of this are twofold:
> Daily interaction keeps the brand at the forefront of users' minds.
> Publishers can ascertain exactly what the user is interested in - one of the supposed benefits of subscription - and can, therefore, offer tailored advertising or affiliate promotions alongside alerts
4. New Editorial Approach: 'Curation'
Publishers need a mix of talented, investigative journalists who research deep articles alongside ‘curators' who write succinct, informative commentary. The Facebook generation want quick updates to keep them ‘in the loop'. And the more succinct, the better. Editorial teams should shift to a mix of investigative journalists and ‘curator' writers. Output should be split into a smaller number of high-value, in-depth proprietary commentary pieces followed by a long-tail of curated articles with live links to global opinions if the reader wants to delve deeper. Aside from delivering news clinically, there are two further benefits:
> Curators can be based anywhere and leverage technology for routing breaking stories identified in global feeds.
> Curators can extract data points around events - giving a highly structured and properly searchable database.
5. Agile Technology
Publishers need to leverage their existing open sites, but also identify new content areas that could support standalone subscription products or micro-sites to generate ad or affiliate revenue models. They should use flexible or outsourced technology to allow rapid experimenting in those areas ahead of competitors, and minimise in-house expenditure. Publishers should use leverage their own areas of content expertise, but given the traditional infrastructure challenges that exist in older publishing companies, outsourcing is critical to enable swift delivery. In a software-as-a-service era, there is minimal need for costly, in-house tech resources.
The noise surrounding the crisis in publishing appears to have reached a crescendo in the last few months. In the same way that iTunes dominates the music content market and now the mobile apps ecosystem, industry power and control over content can change dramatically in a short period of time.
Once audiences find a great content delivery mechanism that meets their wider needs, they will be unlikely to switch, particularly as that mechanism becomes configured with their personalised interests. The Facebook generation appears happy to stick with one platform as long as it does the job efficiently. Those publishers not delivering comprehensive and personalised services quickly may well find themselves left out in the cold.
For today's brands to ensure they are among the profitable survivors, they need to invest quickly in amending their editorial approach, identifying new content opportunities and developing flexible technology to meet the needs of these new audiences.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ANALYSIS: http://digitalmedia.strategyeye.com/documents/publishing.pdf
Example companies referenced in PDF report: Evri, Moreover, Hearst, LMK.com, OpenCalais, Google, Twitter, OneRiot, Watershed Publishing
|16 May 13|
|16 May 13|
|16 May 13|
|16 May 13|
|16 May 13|