The Aquent London Publishing team recently hosted the next event in our Dine & Discuss roundtable series. Representatives from some of the biggest UK publishing companies came together for an evening of food and conversation, to discuss the trends they are predicting in the industry for the coming year.
In the transitional digital age, the publishing industry has been one of the most heavily affected. Necessary changes have had to be made to keep up with the times and the ever evolving way in which people consume their content. There are now more content platforms and formats than ever before and the generational split is becoming more apparent. Knowing how and where to place your content, and in which forms, is challenging and this year is set to make publishers question that strategy once again.
Video and VR
Video is quickly becoming an expected format for content across the board. Our roundtable attendees all agreed that if you don’t have a video strategy for the year then you don’t really have a strategy at all. Content marketing is key for any industry at the moment and most businesses are seeing their highest engagement through video. But with so many different platforms, it is challenging to know where to host for optimum views and highest ROI. With the majority of platforms it is incredibly difficult to measure your audience and be provided with exact analytics. For most companies, the measure of success is time on site. But with the market becoming saturated with short form content and audience attention span decreasing, it is increasingly challenging for publishers to get their content seen. Our attendees suggested that the best way to keep your engagement levels high is to build subscribers rather than one off viewers for single pieces of content. Providing free content through a YouTube channel, for example, is a good way of building a loyal audience. It is important to keep a theme or series style to your videos, so that viewers will keep coming back for more of the same. This is not an overnight win though, and takes dedication and a proper strategy.
Although still in it’s infancy, VR is slowly starting to integrate into our everyday lives and is becoming a format that younger consumers are expecting to see. Goldman Sachs have predicted that VR will be an $80 billion market by 2025. So, although it’s an expensive investment, to not invest now would be a mistake and could set your business back when competing for market share. However, without access to successful case studies it’s very difficult to know where to start, especially if you are not already in the tech space. Some of our attendees suggested partnering with a tech company who have the VR knowhow but lack the content experience that you can provide.
Bloggers, Vloggers and Social Influencers
Social media is quickly becoming the most common and most popular platform for content. Publishers now need to have a presence on social media, not only in a business capacity but also through their editors and writers. It is no longer enough to write a good article, you have to have the name and reputation to go with it so that you are seen as a trusted source. Editors either need to become social influencers on behalf of their companies or be able to challenge existing influencers enough to gain traction and presence. If this is not possible from within your own internal teams, then it is necessary to partner with a selection of existing social influencers in order to promote your content. On social, people now mean more than brands. If you publish under a brand name then it is viewed as advertising, whereas publishing as an influencer adds perceived value and credibility. Many of our attendees said they are looking towards ‘expert guides’ for content now, as having a respected name associated with your topic increases engagement and creates more subscribers. An alternative to partnering with an influencer, if that is not a possibility for your business, is to look at other well known brands within your field. Creating white label content for companies that are experts in your area but not necessarily experts in content can have an impact. The higher price point for this type of content, compared to standard advertising, can also drive substantial revenue.
However, it is becoming more and more common for brands to be mini publishers in their own right. Many now have their own platforms and blogs and are creating their own content. They already have the numbers in terms of followers, so their content is more widely seen and they no longer need traditional publishers to advertise their products. Our attendees discussed the need to constantly re-educate brands on why they need media partners. It is important to make sure they understand that third party authenticity is still key. As a publisher you still have the weight to endorse and validate what a brand is saying.
Audio, Podcasts and the Age of Alexa
As the handsfree generation become the consumer, audio content will continue to see a higher demand. Sales of audiobooks and subscriptions to podcasts are set to increase over the next year whereas the sales of ebooks have remained stable for some time. Audio content is growing in popularity as more people commute to and from work, where it’s not always possible to sit and hold a tablet. As a publisher, it’s important to have a solid audio strategy for your content. With the introduction of smart homes and Amazon’s Alexa, it’s now possible to find news stories and other content without even lifting a finger and it’s essential for publishers to integrate. Podcasts are a great way to provide content to your audience, especially if they are already subscribed to your print, digital or video offerings. However, it is a packed market place so you must ensure your content is valuable and well executed. That doesn’t necessarily mean having a polished, professionally produced piece but the content must be relevant.
With all international newspapers now being available online, customers are no longer loyal to one place for their news consumption. If they are looking for a specific news story, the easiest way to find the content is a Google search and most people will simply click the first link that comes up. Not only does this mean that more publishers are allocating spend to PPC and SEO strategies but it also means you need to condition your content for a global audience. This can be a big mind switch, from writing style to pricing structures. One of our roundtable attendees commented that simply adding a Euro price to their standard subscription offering increased conversion rates. This raises the question of whether or not adverts should also be tailored to an international audience. It might not be the easiest transition but all our guests agreed it would be a great opportunity for revenue if done well. So, it is worth considering a 2017 global strategy alongside your content for the year.
Let us know in the comments if you’re predicting similar trends for the year, and if you are interested in attending our next Publishing Dine & Discuss event, please contact Priya Nepoleon at firstname.lastname@example.org.