3 Trends Publishers Must Embrace to Survive the “Every Channel” Paradigm
In 2005, YouTube broke the media monopoly on content creation by turning everyone into a content creator. In 2012, Facebook reached one billion users globally embedding social channels as the most important outlets for content distribution. In 2013, The Boston Globe, unable to monetize a digital world, was sold for a 93% loss.
It’s no secret that the underlying force causing media strife for nearly two decades is digital transformation. More than a distribution approach, digital is a lifestyle that shifts the balance of power to consumers by providing greater freedom and choice.
Savvy publishing companies realize they're finally in a position to benefit from the shifting tides of digital transformation. Over the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that quality content remains the foundation for success. The value of this content is evident as user-generated content powerhouse YouTube has developed its studio content. Now more than ever, shrewd publishers realize they are in a position to retrench themselves with compelling content that can cut through the noise.
So how can publishers take advantage of the change? Three significant trends are converging to drive publishers to further heights: personalization, multichannel optimization, and new revenue opportunities.
1. Content Must Be Personalized
The ability to understand, segment, and deliver relevant content has never been more critical. Because of the Netflix-Amazon effect, people expect deeply personalized experiences from media.
Content creators have approximately six seconds to capture reader/viewer attention—and keeping users engaged requires anticipation and delivery of relevant additional content. Personalizing content drives results across channels. For example, HubSpot reports that the open rate for emails with a personalized message was 17.6%, compared to 11.4% without personalization.
Understanding user preferences, patterns, and behaviors start with data collection. However, it's not enough to collect the data; you must analyze, derive insights, and then use those insights to create a solid content strategy with personalization.
Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and other advanced algorithms packaged via readily available APIs, in theory, make personalizing content easier. However, following consumers across channels, devices, and ecosystems—while not running afoul of increasingly stringent privacy laws—is creating a paradigm of heightened consumer expectations alongside growing technological and security-based complexities.
Developing a robust but realistic personalization strategy is essential. Get the basics right first—such as personalizing emails and calls to action (CTAs). Then, move on to customizing recommendations on site and later add additional channels into the mix. This approach allows for experimentation, optimization, and acceptance.
2. Optimize Your Approach for Every Channel
According to comScore, users spend 69% of their media time on smartphones. Amazon’s Alexa boasts more than 25,000 skills. More than 473 million people subscribe to over-the-top (OTT) video services. The proliferation of channels is favoring companies with the content to support them.
However, engagement with relevant, compelling content per channel is just the beginning. To take advantage of the six seconds of viewer attention, publishers must also deliver the right content on each new and emerging medium in an optimized way. There are over 60 different channels to contend with from social media and web, to voice, audio, smart speakers, TV, apps, and video. The plethora of channels that potential audiences inhabit makes multichannel publishing with an omnichannel experience the new imperative.
You should be able to fully control the experience for each channel, with the help of the right technologies. For example, mobile users spend two times more time on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) than desktop sites rendered on mobile. This is but one example of how optimized content outperforms non-optimized content.
3. Use the Data at Your Fingertips to Drive New Revenue Streams
Traditional publishing revenue models like advertising and subscriptions still have a home in the digital realm. However, the value of high-quality content, coupled with consumers becoming less receptive to traditional advertising techniques, has created a need for more creativity and disruption of legacy strategies.
Publishers now own the direct relationship with consumers. This relationship, powered by technology, is collecting reading/viewing habits and usage metrics, and marrying it with demographic information. Real-time data is becoming the new currency, and is increasingly valuable when combined with hyper-targeting strategies to open a world of new revenue opportunities.
Some examples include:
- Native advertising in the form of branded content, allowing marketing messages to deliver relevant value
- Premium content subscription tiers that offer opportunities to surpass the competition
- Affiliate revenue, which helps online entities to form "partnerships" to promote one another through their content and channels
- Selling user information or database access, like e-mail addresses collected from lead generation efforts
- Brand licensing that allows product and service companies to leverage well-known publishers for hefty licensing fees
- Events and conferences with growing attendance numbers and high-dollar sponsorship
- Content delivered in cutting-edge formats to drive subscription revenue or revenue from technology partners developing the format
It’s clear that users are now willing to pay for their content, especially if it’s highly personalized. There are many additional potential revenue streams worth exploring and carefully considering, including social, video, and memberships.
By personalizing communications, delivering the appropriate types of content in a channel-optimized way, and maximizing potential channel revenue opportunities, publishing companies will be well positioned to attract and retain customers and effectively compete in the digital era. Are you ready to embrace the change?
Sandeep Hulsandra joined Perfect Sense in February 2017 and heads the Media Practice. He is responsible for the Brightspot for Media product focusing on the digital experience needs of the media industry and the P&L of the Media Practice.