By: Pete Sheinbaum
Much like last year, in 2014 the publishing world will continue to navigate change as the digital world absorbs print editions and dilutes subscription fees. In this ever-changing cyber landscape, one thing is for certain: publishers must identify new ways to acquire traffic, strengthen reader loyalty and, ultimately, generate new revenue streams. With that in mind, here are my predictions for what’s to come in the publishing world in 2014.
Publishers will crack the code on monetizing content accessed from the second and third screens.
In 2014, expect publishers to add experienced-based or session targeting to their advertising offering for an end-to-end user experience. Consistent content and advertising are carried forward from the primary screen to the second and third screens (smartphone and tablet). This holistic approach enables publishers and advertisers to better understand how readers access a site to determine how to more effectively engage their target audience and monetize content.
For example, you’re at lunch, trying to figure out what to make for dinner. You go to a recipe site, search “lasagna,” find a recipe and send it to your phone to reference ingredients needed when you get to the grocery store. Once home, you use your tablet to access the recipe while cooking. As a reader, you may have spent two hours with the recipe site in total throughout the day. Understanding how a reader accesses the site per platform is as meaningful as the overall website traffic numbers.
Publishers will put the readers’ interests first, offering a more customized experience.
Readers are sourcing content from their friends, other social channels or via article links, and they don’t care where the content comes from as long as it’s good. To capture and retain these readers, publishers will need to offer a more customized experience. In 2014, publishers will leverage new technology to tailor site visits per reader, leading readers deeper into content to discover articles of interest to them and providing syndicated feeds more deeply tailored to readers’ preferences.
For example, some publishing sites show you what friends in your social media circles are reading. More websites will begin to curate content based on the reader’s interest and trends in their social circles. Of course, editors will continue to have the primary say in what’s placed on front pages, but a strong secondary factor will be social influence and contextual relevance. More real estate will be given to a personalized experience via social information.
Publishers will find more effective ways to acquire traffic.
Publishers will focus on how they can acquire new traffic, keep visitors on their site longer and fuel greater visitor loyalty to maintain readership. As part of this equation, in 2014 publishers will look for new ways to buy and sell traffic to generate revenue.
For instance, if publishers can buy a reader for five cents and sell their readership for seven cents, publishers will experiment with non-traditional sources of traffic acquisition. Enough new sources of traffic exist to drive prices down which allow publishers to bid smaller amounts and still affect traffic increases. Better analytics and more attention to the pure function of a publication will make gaining new readers more accessible than ever.
Every business connected to the Internet will become a content producer.
In 2014, brands will push to redefine the term “publisher” as more begin hiring full editorial teams and embracing the publishing way of life. Why? Simply put, search is not dependable anymore due to the continual algorithmic changes to Google. Because Google is making it impossible to glean keyword insights (changes will likely impact upwards of 60 percent of organic searches), websites will have to think differently about their content strategies and focus on business results rather than keywords.
Prior to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the like, brands like John Deere and Budweiser weren’t considered content creators, rather, they were advertisers. Now brands want to spend meaningful time with their customers and sponsored content is on the rise. As a result, many brands will implement a content strategy in addition to an advertising strategy.
Insurgence of pub tech
In 2014, pub tech will see an influx of investments and new solutions as more publications go completely digital, and this new market matures, especially on the mobile side—advertising in particular. With advanced analytics, pub tech will help publishers identify ways to save and make money, and monetize mobile.
While we’re already seeing some of these trends surface, we believe these will be the primary areas of interest and growth in the publishing world next year. If we’re right, then by leveraging the right tools and technologies, publishers have a path to prosperity again and that’s an outlook we should all celebrate.
Pete Sheinbaum is founder and CEO of LinkSmart, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that helps web publishers develop, engage and manage their audiences through in-content text links. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @sheinbaum.