How independent publishers can compete better on digital

Digital media is rapidly changing consumer behaviour – so how can independent publishers keep up with the “big boys” when resources are limited?

As part of a research project with Abacus e-Media I have spoken in depth with several specialist publishers on how their digital needs are changing, their current frustrations with their publishing systems, and their future wish list.

Here is a preview of some of the key findings.

The final report will be published at the end of June, and I am speaking at a breakfast briefing hosted by Abacus e-Media at the PPA in London on 28 June. Follow this link to request a place.

Changes in the environment

  • The next generation of consumers will be mobile first so publishers websites have to be responsive
  • Visual content is becoming dominant, from graphics and data visualisation to video – and audio.

Publishing priorities and CMS pain points

  • Even digital free-to-air publishers are now expecting to have registered content and paid subscriptions, with a wide range of payment models being considered
  • Many publishers are still reliant on anonymous data on visitor behaviour via Google Analytics and lack sophisticated analytics
  • Strong shift among publishers to repackage archive and previously published content to appeal to new audience segments – but magazine articles are hard to convert from InDesign to web pages
  • Advertisers are requesting more content-driven packages
  • Customer data is the key to growing subscriptions and selling other merchandise or event tickets to readers, but managing data is often still manual and a big headache
  • Tagging may sound trivial, but it is the key to extending the time readers spend on site and systems are still a bit haphazard
  • Changing editorial workflow poses vast cultural challenges, and can be even more disruptive in a small team

Future CMS wish list

  • More flexible content options: automated tagging, personalised content, social promotion and content based advertising
  • Tracking customer behaviour with analytics and compiling a full history of transactions for each individual
  • Modular software, good support and training plus flexible contracts

What is interesting is that even indie publishers have big ambitions on digital, and this list of features is sure to keep developers busy.

About the author

Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on the topic of digital publishing strategy for media sector publishers and events.