Digiday Publishing Summit Addresses the Current State of Digital Publishing

Earlier last week, over 400 leading publishing executives and tech providers gathered in Key Biscayne, Florida, for the Digiday Publishing Summit. The conference featured 38 speaking sessions by a diversity of industry leaders, with over 170 publisher VIPs in attendance.

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Throughout the three days of networking, sessions, meetings, and social events there was a genuine community feel unified by everyone’s sincere drive to improve the digital publishing experience. Conversations centered on four main hurdles: solving revenue challenges, finding effective distribution strategies, keeping up with technology, and getting the content right to fit each distribution channel.

1. Publishers can best monetize their revenue generation by combining strategies

Meeting revenue goals has never been so challenging in an industry that takes place in real time. There is no clear formula, and the factors are so dynamic that it’s a risky business often requiring trial and error, and a whole lot of adaptability. Speakers at the conference talked about the success of their revenue strategies:

Paid Subscription Models

  • Paul Rossi, President, The Economist, led a speaker session at the DPS about how the economist has long embraced the paid subscription model
  • Their success is a result of targeting niche audiences

Branded Sponsored Content

  • Joe Speiser, co-founder & CEO, Little Things, advocated for branded content
  • Little Things is a lifestyle publisher that engages 50 million visitors each month
  • They specialize in both original and branded content and employs social, especially Facebook to get reach
  • The result? High engagement and 75% traffic coming through Facebook with no subscription

Ad Monetization

  • In a panel at DPS, a partnership approach was highlighted as being critical bringing the buy and sell side together
  • Advertisers/agencies and publishers are coming together to maximise opportunities, often through custom executions
  • To facilitate these deals and boost revenue, publishers without the technical know-how are opting to work with technology providers and PMPs that will work with them exclusively to get the demand they need

2. Stay adaptable and keep your approach diversified to reach key audiences.

At the conference, conversations about reaching audiences focused on knowing how the audience consumes content. This information guides the development of effective distribution strategies, increasing reach, and finding quality opportunities to target audiences.

  • John Harris, publisher & editor-and-chief at Politico led a talk about “Building a balanced audience portfolio”
  • His message: relying too heavily on any one platform is dangerous because if the trend fades then the resources invested are lost
  • Diversification in terms of reach and building content to be experienced across platforms is another major key tip
  • For example, the use of video is rapidly growing and there’s pressure to understand and deliver effectively

3. Maintain your audience base by building trust through quality content

Quality content was reiterated by numerous speakers at Digital Publishing Summit.

“Timely, relatable and relevant,” these are the keys for engagement in social according to Rajiv Mody, VP of Social Media at National Geographic. Moday’s claim is backed by the fact that National Geographic consistently ranks No. 1 for total fans and engagement in the magazine industry across major social media platforms. It is also the most followed non-celebrity brand in the world on Instagram.

But in addition to quality content, Keith Hernandez, president of Slate, also advised audiences to explore new mediums. Slate specifically invests in podcasts rather than video and it has paid off – podcast audiences for the popular publisher tripled in 2015. Podcasts allow a different type of engagement and user experience – more of an in depth conversational delivery can be achieved through audio and has proven to provide the ideal user experience for a current events, politics, and culture content that Slate is known for.

But when it comes to video – a rising format in 2016 – Laura Buchman, VP of Publisher Platforms, tells us video is powerful across screens. She believes it’s crucial to develop, distribute, and monetize content through an all-screen lens. Buchman challenges publishers to consistently produce high quality video especially as audiences grow and expect fresh content on a daily basis. But there are set backs: the cost of video production are huge as is the pressure to build long term consistency rather than viral hits.

As we look forward to 2017, video has been reiterated as the format that poses some of the biggest challenges for publishers. Until the next Digiday Publishing Summit, we’ll have to watch the landscape and see how publishers and advertisers alike are keeping pace.

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Want to learn more? Connect with our team at sales@clearpier.com