Combatting The Top Assumption about Digital

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Digital is one of the biggest topics for publishers and has been for the better part of two decades. It makes sense, with the advent of the internet, the smartphone, and mobile devices all moving a majority of content consumption away from print and towards digital platforms. That said, the idea that print will “die” anytime soon is out of place. Digital is valuable to publishers, absolutely, but a lot of assumptions have been made as to what that value is.

Assumptions: Digital will be the end of print

First and foremost, there is an impression that digital is a “silver bullet” that can slay the print publication industry, and that digital and online titles are the only ones that will survive. If this were the case, there would be fewer print titles today than there were 25 years ago. The opposite is actually the case. Niche publications are storming the market, providing more printed content than ever.

Now there is definitely a lot of digital influence with these new titles, like websites and social media, but the money and effort are still in the print. Digital did not break the print publication industry; it actually helped it evolve towards more topic-focused and localized titles.

Assumptions: Digital means giving away content for free

Second on the assumptions list is that digital for publishers means “giving away your content for free.” For some reason, publishers have come to the conclusion that digital is the enemy of print because it involves putting all of the print content onto websites and social media in a manner that provides no return. Digital platforms provide all sorts of return if they used well. Publishers that do nothing but repost their stories online miss all the actual opportunity digital provides.

There are ad spaces to sell, new formats of content available to leverage, and entirely new audiences to discover. Digital does involve distributing your content, but there is nothing about digital that says you have to give it away with no return or not making money from it. In fact, if a publisher is “giving it away for free,” they are missing out on almost all of what digital is capable of providing.

Assumptions: Younger generations prefer digital to print

Lastly, there are assumptions that newer generations, due to the influence of digital, are reading less editorial content. This is because micro-content (like a Facebook post or Tweet) are a huge part of the digital platform culture. However, this assumption is incorrect.

Research shows that millennials are actually print’s largest and fastest-growing market. This is due to the fact that they are highly exposed to digital, and print provides them with a tactile component that is greatly missing from their normal lives. Also, print ads are native and a natural part of a print publication. This greatly differs from digital ads, which are disruptive. This backs up the fact that print that targets this generation also sees higher engagement with print advertisement.

To top this all off, while millennials are using print, baby boomers are really pushing into digital. Facebook’s largest age demographic is the 55+ group. Also, with age, ease of access is key, and digital solutions are far more versatile for people with poor vision, lack of motor skills, and other factors that come into consideration with age. Essentially, the market is moving towards print for the young and digital for the mature, further defending that print is not going anywhere.

Further Information

To see Printing Impressions‘ 10 things we got wrong about publishing in the digital age, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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9 Types of “Digital” Publishers Can Monetize

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Print is not going anywhere! Publishers have had advertisements in their titles long enough to prove that ad profits mostly come from print. In today’s market, where ads are how publishers make their margins, print needs to be the focus. That said, making additional revenue by incorporating digital is key in today’s blended media market.

Digital content is versatile. First, digital allows publishers to create more editorial and imagery. Second, publishers can use digital to help drive subscriptions and distribution. Lastly, publishers can incorporate new types of content. However, most publishers are still skeptical about digital because their focus is print. Publishers feel they have to sacrifice time, energy, and money from print to make digital feasible.

So how can publishers feel more comfortable dedicating time, energy, and money into a digital strategy? The best way is to look at how other publishers are monetizing digital successfully. Each publisher may be unique, but trends and concepts cross over the entire market, and there are plenty of publishers marrying print and digital well. These 9 types of digital are tried and true examples of this.

A. Website Related “Digital”

1. Digital Editions

Digital editions provide instantaneous access to the printed content through mobile and electronic devices. For that ease of access, publishers can easily apply a premium or upsell existing subscriptions. Also, the final print file and the file for a digital edition can be identical. Publishers upload their file, add additional links, pages, or other added media, and a digital edition is ready in as fast as 5 minutes.

Great example: 805 Living

2. Paywalls and Web Gates

Not every publication uses a paid content or subscription model for their print titles. That does not mean the digital content has to follow that same model. Websites provide ease of access and the opportunity to include additional content. That ease and extra content extend beyond the traditional offerings of a print publication, so charging for that luxury is normal. A publisher could use digital subscriptions or micro-transactions to monetize accessing exactly what the reader wants.

Great example: Albuquerque the Magazine

3. Applications

Applications combine the best of a website and digital edition, and are customized for a mobile device. It offers the ideal delivery of all content by a publisher to their audience. Apps deliver all formats of content, ads, and notifications in a controlled and branded environment. Apps also deliver in a free, freemium (it is free for some features but paid for others), or paid (costs money to download or has a monthly subscription) capacity, based on the publisher’s choice.

Great example: National Geographic

B. Connection-Related “Digital”

4. Social Media

Originally designed for recreational connection online, social media platforms have become the largest hubs of online traffic. They are the place with the largest amount of content consumption in the world. That means publishers should be using social media. Distribution of content is the obvious use, linking to the website and original editorial. The other option is to actually sell ad space on social. Creating posts for advertisers is very similar to selling sponsored content. Another option is selling ads on social media ad networks. These ads are not limited to social media, but can extend across the internet to find the relevant audience. Also, since these ads do not show up as a post, a publisher’s editorial posting is not muddled by ads.

Great example: BUILD Magazine – Big Sky

5. Email

Emails are still highly effective, and email platforms are easy to monetize and make profitable. Emails also are versatile (birthdays, holidays, events, special sales, etc.). If a publisher is doing subscriptions with email part of their required information, it is easy to build an initial mailing list. For monetization, it is easy to sell sponsorships of newsletters, put ads in a sidebar of an email, and use email to distribute offers and calls-to-action.

Great example: 5280 Magazine

C. Content-Related “Digital”

6. Video Content

As an alternative content format, video is one of the more-easily monetized forms of digital. Videos can supplement a print or web story. They can provide exclusive, additional content (upsold if done well). They can be used for education in the form of “how-to” videos. Also, they can be used as ads or promotional content. Publishers can even curate 3rd-party video related to their audience or stories, skipping the cost of making video content altogether.

Great example: Thrasher Magazine

7. Podcasts

Like video, podcasts are another type of content to leverage. On a podcast, everything is pre-recorded, giving publishers full editorial control. Podcasts are also streamable online or downloadable for offline consumption. They are affordable to produce, averaging $200 an episode. They are also easy to upsell to advertisers for two reasons. First, audio ads, like radio, get a lot of attention. Second, publishers can sell to an advertiser the option of being the podcast story; the publisher interviews the advertiser and lets them promote themselves.

Great example: Discover Magazine

8. Sponsored Content

Thought leaders, influencers, and other content generators are everywhere and seeking opportunities to be published. Externally-produced content can be tailored to any audience upon request. Also, publishers can sell sponsored content spaces for “advertorial” purposes. The sponsor would pay to have their promotional copy included amongst the editorial content. Publishers publish it for a profit.

Great example: GPS World and North Coast Media

9. Augmented Reality

Whoever said print itself does not have the power to be digital is wrong. Augmented reality provides the ability to turn any print publication into a multimedia powerhouse by overlaying other content formats (video, podcasts, imagery, etc.) over the print. It is invisible to the eye, but with a mobile device, all that additional content comes to life. The easiest way to monetize it is to sell it to an advertiser. Now the print ad can link to a website, direct straight to online products, or have virtual tours and examples. Publishers can also use it to provide additional content that could not fit in the print.

Great example: USA Today

Further Information

For more information on how publishers can monetize digital, click here and here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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