The opportunities for publishers to engage and grow their audiences are many and complex. The days of simply selling subscriptions, selling advertising space and increasing sales and news-stand numbers is no longer enough.
Today, with publisher’s different audience groups accessing content in different ways and through different channels, it is difficult but more important than ever to develop digital and social strategies in a purposeful way.
The danger and power of social media is the fact that it creates engagement away from a particular brand. Digital publishers must remain aware of this and develop digital and social strategies that work for them, not against them.
Mobile engagement continues to grow. According to comScore, more than 80 per cent of social media time is spent on mobile devices, so publishers must continue to develop their mobile offerings.
Because of the polarizing state of current world affairs and the divisions within media providers, there is an incredible and imperative opportunity for media outlets to define what they stand for. Credibility – being seen as fair and authoritative in this time of “fake news” will go a long way to cement publisher’s reputations, one way or another.
The popularity of native ads and branded content might have peaked. The fine line distinguishing between “real news” and advertorials is distasteful for some, and some news and magazine publishers, both digital and traditional, are wary of appearing dishonest in any way.
Publishers must determine a happy medium between their traditional branded websites and their social media platforms. On one hand, social media channels allow publishers to place their content where their customers are without having to try too hard to attract them, but on the other hand there is a risk that their branded website becomes less important. It is easier to manage their message and persona in the controlled environment of a home website.
If people are getting their news via social media rather than through the publishers themselves, there is always the risk that traditional publishers will become irrelevant. The other side of that coin is that social media platforms are intentionally partial to whoever is using them, so the possibility of biased information is greater.
Publishing strategies that are too heavily weighted towards social platforms create other problems as well. Revenue models had to be reworked over the past number of years since digital publishing and online access became available. The model became website based, effectively driving audiences to websites. That was before mobile and social media platforms appeared on the scene. Now legacy publishers who made the painful switch from a decades-old business model to the new web-based reality are finding themselves rushing to catch up again.
Other financial concerns, in addition to the big ones like brand affiliation and building an audience on branded sites, include actually putting a price on the offering. What exactly is information and news worth today? How do publishers monetize their product and make it worthwhile in the new digital marketplace?