5 Digital Publishing Trends to Watch

ipad iphone appsThe ever-evolving world of digital publishing is moving faster than ever, and to help you stay ahead of the pack, Paul Canetti, CEO and Co-Founder of MAZ Digital, shared five digital publishing trends that are already shaping 2013 with EContent.

Paul explains that these five trends are already well underway in 2013 and mobile and tablet devices are the catalysts for most changes. Authoritative Content publishers should consider these trends while developing content strategies for 2013.

Here are the five digital publishing trends that Paul identified:

1. Print Commits Suicide

Paul notes that print has been dying for years and with the recent deaths of print versions of titles like Newsweek and Spin, we can expect to see more publishers killing print editions in the future. He posits that as long as print versions exist, budget dollars and resources that could be devoted to developing an amazing digital publication will not be redirected away from print and towards digital. After all, print is still generating most revenues for publishers, but for how long? Paul writes:

“If 95% of your revenue is coming from print, it’s hard to justify putting a lot of effort into the 5% for digital. However, if digital is the only product you have, well then by definition that is going to be 100% of your revenue, and so you are forced into a sink or swim scenario.”

His point is very valid and deserves consideration. Moving budget and resources away from the moneymaker is always a risky decision, but tipping the scales toward digital is a wise business decision for the long-term.

2. Brand New Mobile First Publications

Paul offers an exciting prediction for small, independent publishers (like Authoritative Content publishers) to gain significant traction in the publishing industry by launching well-designed, digital-only publications that are specifically created for tablet and mobile devices. He explains:

“A blog is to the web as X is to mobile/tablet. The question is, what will X look like? I believe it will be highly visual, interactive, and more beautiful than any web content. These beautiful “blog apps” will converge the strengths of print (beauty) and of the web (dynamic content) to create something truly new and original.”

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Now, we just have to wait and see who will make it happen.

3. More Content in Smaller Packages

Paul asks a very simple question that will really get you thinking when he writes, “In a virtual world where paper and postage are cheap (a.k.a., don’t exist), who’s to say what the appropriate way to package content is?” It’s a great question that fights against the, “this is the way we’ve always done it,” mentality which is keeping major publishers from turning digital content into irresistible content. Paul predicts:

“This year we will begin to see the sub-division of content. Books will ship by chapter and magazines by article. Quarterly magazines could start publishing weekly. This is where I think subscription models (particularly low cost auto-renewing monthly subscriptions) can really flourish. Subscribe to a brand you like and get a constant stream of content.”

We’re definitely seeing this trend happening already as a form of tease marketing, but what if it became the de facto standard for web publishing? Would it work? It’s worth having the conversation and testing some opportunities.

4. Social Media Will Grow Up

It’s hard to believe that social media has only been part of our vernacular for less than a decade, but it’s ingrained into our daily lives to the point where it’s difficult for many people to live without it. Paul explains that digital publishers need to find a way to produce revenue from social media, and that sentiment is something which is felt in the business world as well. In other words, this challenge isn’t isolated to the digital publishing industry.

5. In-App Purchases

Delivering content via mobile apps is becoming more popular every day, but Paul suggests that charging money for those apps isn’t the best way to monetize them. Instead, he believes in-app purchases are the best monetization method. The challenge digital publishers face in 2013 is identifying the best ways to use in-app purchases. He writes:

“What else can you sell besides your primary content and subscriptions? What about behind-the-scenes videos? What about interviews? What about the original sketches and notes for what eventually became your bestselling novel? What else can be used to enhance the reading experience? Your hardcore readers will pay you real money if you have something worth buying, and small bits as in-app purchases are the way to sell it.”

This practice of prioritizing in-app purchases as the main monetization method is already gaining popularity in mobile game apps, and most consumers are very accepting of it. We’re willing to pay for a booster or more lives to continue playing Candy Crush, why wouldn’t we be willing to pay for additional content that we truly want?

The challenge for digital publishers is having the patience and persistence to test in-app purchases and find the right formula for maximum returns. It’s not a new challenge from a business perspective, but the tools are still new. As Paul says, “It’s not about the trends in technology, it’s about how you use them.” How are you going to use them in 2013 and beyond?

Image: Sean MacEntee

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