Publishing Executive – December 2013
Publishers have been tapping into e-commerce technologies for more than a decade now, embracing them to sell subscriptions, complementary publications and promotional items directly related to the brand. Today, publishers are pursuing more complex e-commerce models that present much higher revenue potential-when done well. But this isn't a tale of publishers merely appealing to audiences for a bigger percentage of their disposable income. The new e-commerce models benefit the audience, too, by providing readers with an opportunity to dive deeper into the rich brand environment already ingrained in most magazines and extend their relationship in pace with their content consumption.
It was a powerhouse session at our magazine keynote presentation this year at the Publishing Business Conference. We asked four top execs to speak to the topic of Facing the Future, and to share some thoughts about profit, innovation, risk and what they fear most. Each one of these publishing leaders had a lot to add to the dialogue.
We spend a lot of time finding the most appealing image and compelling copy lines for our covers, and I'm sure you do the same at your publication. I learned from my years in the book business that the old adage about not judging a book by its cover is completely untrue. You can tell quite a bit from a cover, and most readers do-they make snap judgments about whether something is worth reading, about whether they will actually turn the page and see what's inside.
Many publishers, concerned with maintaining a strong church-and-state divide between editorial and sales, have started erecting native content divisions internally (Gawker, The Onion) or working with outside content providers. Contently is one such provider, offering an online platform that connects publishers and content creators, such as journalists and designers. Sam Slaughter, VP of content at Contently, thinks keeping native advertising production separate should be a priority for publishers because it will help maintain editorial brands, lead to better content and generate more revenue for publishers. Here are Slaughter's thoughts on producing effective native advertising.
It's not uncommon for sister publications within a publishing company to partner on issues or share content. For its October issue, Wired collaborated with fellow Condé Nast title bon appétit on a food issue, hoping to cross-pollinate its audience. But it's also encouraging to see publishers seek partners from beyond the confines of their own properties. Earlier this year, online wedding resource and publisher The Knot partnered with leading gay media company Here Media Inc. to conduct a co-branded survey that examined how same-sex couples approach wedding planning.
Publishing Executive and Book Business magazines congratulate the winners of the 2013 Publishing Innovator of the Year Award, which recognizes companies that have demonstrated significant innovation in the past year. Winners are chosen from three categories: magazine, book and STM (scientific, technical & medical) publishing. This year Active Interest Media won for Magazine Publishing, American Physical Society won for STM Publishing and Sourcebooks won for Book Publishing.
Wired has been on a bit of a run. Depending on how you look at it, that run may have started back at its launch in 1993, when its founders, Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, decided to chronicle the ideas and innovations shaping the digital age and changing the world. Or you could argue that that run started with Howard Mittman, who came on board in 2006 as associate publisher and who has served as vice president and publisher of Wired since 2009.
Native advertising is a lot of things, but one thing it's not is new. As early as the 1930s, Procter & Gamble began producing and sponsoring radio soaps, and then television. In fact, the company created a special division called Procter & Gamble Entertainment in 1946 for the purpose of "creating original content that enables the company to connect with consumers and advertise its brands." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
With the prevalence of free online content, many readers have become reluctant customers, leaving publishers puzzling over how to monetize their greatest asset. Yet the same technologies (the web, tablet and mobile apps) that have dissolved previous revenue models are opening up new possibilities for publishers to experiment with monetization strategies from soft paywalls to freemium apps. We spoke with a number of such forward-thinking industry players to learn what strategies have worked and what they see as the future of paid digital content.
Marketers are always eager for better tools for reaching and influencing potential customers. Native advertising promises that. However, there is sometimes a misconception that native advertising necessarily means paid-for content that is indistinguishable from editorial content. Some advertisers and publishers may go this route, but most agree this would be a mistake-and not only because it would damage a publisher's brand.
At the 2013 Publishing Business Conference & Expo, Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni and Bo Sacks faced off on the future of the magazine industry. Read the comic strip below to see how it played out and cast your vote for the winner.
A lot has been said lately about gamification and how it can transform the content that publishers produce into something other. For the unacquainted, gamification is generally accepted as the application of game mechanics to non-game scenarios with the end goal of engaging users and spurring them to greater action. A common example is how LinkedIn uses an animated graphic to encourage users to complete their profiles.
Andrew Davis, marketing expert and author of Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships, is determined that content providers can have a bright future and don't necessarily need native advertising. "I think it's worth asking yourself why your advertising clients are interested in creating content on your platform. The answer? You're not covering the editorial content they think will actually increase demand for the products and services they sell. Which means, there might be a better way to capture this revenue than 'sponsored' content."