Next generation publishing: the CMS of the future


Now that media brands have to encompass multiple content types and be available on all digital devices, they need far more sophisticated systems for managing content and consumers.

Larger publishers can invest in their own in-house platforms, but keeping pace is more challenging for independent publishers with limited resources.

As part of a research project for Abacus e-media I interviewed a range of smaller and mid-sized publishers about their current pain points and future requirements for a content management system: this is how they currently see the world and their aspirations for managing digital content. This might give you some ideas on what to look for when choosing or developing your own content management system.

Big trends in the publishing environment

  • The world is becoming mobile: already some news sites see 70% of their traffic from mobile. If your site is slow or fiddly to use on mobile, impatient readers will go elsewhere.
  • Millennials think differently – they discover content on social media, like to comment, share and contribute, and prefer visual content
  • Advertisers are moving into content, grabbing audience attention and avoiding ad blockers

Key publishing strategies that independent publishers are adopting

  1. Maximising the value of content

B2B publishers are moving paid subscriber content online, and exploring the potential of enterprise subscription, while consumer publishers are keen to experiment with different business models – from data-walls to metered, freemium or micropayments – and testing alternative price points. Some are creating bundles that include e-learning or membership packages that comprise events and networking. Many see the potential of using free content as marketing, and social media is a growing source of traffic. And want their journalists and contributors to be able to write and publish a story from anywhere.

  1. Understanding the audience

Digital behaviour can provide great insights into how information is consumed and what new content to develop. And this might highlight new ways to repackage content for different subgroups, or offer new types of content such as online events or e-learning.

  1. Diversifying revenue

All publishers are keen to develop bespoke content-driven packages for advertisers, to build longer term relationships and justify premium rates. And building a customer database plus insight into areas of interest makes it possible to sell merchandise, learning packages, or events and conferences to subscribers or registered users.

Current pain points in publishing systems

Content: the two most painful processes are repurposing content designed for print into digital format, and efficiently tagging new and archive content to maximise its search visibility.

Customers: publishers customer databases are often held in multiple systems and are hard to de-dupe, making it difficult to cross sell subscriptions, events and other products. And it’s often hard to track an individual’s behaviour across different devices and products at different times, or properly understand how marketing activity drives traffic or purchases.

Culture: established print teams can find it hard to adapt to new workflows, and in a small business making a significant change to a key title can be seriously disruptive. And trying to integrate multiple existing systems can become a major headache.

What’s on publishers’ wish list for the future?

  • Better search – driven by structured taxonomy and automated tagging
  • Personalised content – to drive related articles and more tailored email newsletters
  • Simple social promotion of articles on a range of platforms
  • Options for native advertising or content based marketing solutions to save building bespoke campaigns
  • International or regional editions
  • Tracking behaviour of logged in users
  • Single customer database
  • Personalised email campaigns
  • Modular software – can connect to existing specialist suppliers
  • Thorough support and training

To download the full report for free with plenty of quotes from the interviews, follow this link.

If you have experiences to share about the challenges of creating a future-proof content management system or would just like to discuss the conclusions of the research in more detail, feel free to get in touch.

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.