Publish 2015: Exploring the future of digital publishing

October 26, 2015Uncategorized
Jess Hodkinson, B2B Editor & Strategist

Jess Hodkinson, B2B Editor & Strategist

Native advertising, ad blockers and video were the hot topics at this year’s Publish conference in Sydney. Josh Luger, the man behind Upworthy, kicked things off by covering the matter of disruption and how media agencies and consultants need to leverage data and really understand an audience before putting a plan of action together.

“We have to keep up with the change and adapt our strategies accordingly. For example, video five years ago was all about long form and now people are spending one hour a day watching short-form videos on their mobile,” Luger said.

The idea behind the US startup the Skimm was shared as a great example. A duo of female entrepreneurs began by focusing on a millennial audience and really thinking about consumer needs before putting together bite-size information in the form of an e-letter and distributing it right before the start of the day. It was so well received and successful that, soon after, a website was born and a new community of followers on LinkedIn began to emerge.

Through keen interest, readers wanted to become more involved with different marketing initiatives and product testing for the Skimm, so they started to generate content for their cities and local communities as ‘Skim’bassadors’.

Jumping on something early, before anyone else has the chance to, is a way of cutting through the clutter and sustaining interest from an audience. It might seem like an obvious point, but thinking about your audience and tapping into emotions will encourage user generated content (UGC). 

A crystal ball into the future of news

Hal Crawford, editor-in-chief and publisher at ninemsn, Simon Crerar, Australia editor at BuzzFeed and Campbell Reid, editorial director News Corp, talked among themselves about the changes in consumer habits and the ways we absorb news. Social media and the growth of mobile are changing the way we search, curate and digest news and it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Great content is wasted if you don’t hit the correct people and also remain relevant when doing so.

The panel touched on ad blocking and how we shouldn’t see this as a threat but more as an opportunity to think smarter and wiser. Consumers have the right to select what they want to see and, when generating content, we should respect an audience and be insightful so we can deliver quality.

“You have to respect your audience rather than trying to monetise in a way that doesn’t mean someone wants to develop an ad blocker.” Luger said.

Youth publishing

During the session around youth publishing and connecting with millennials, Tim Duggan, publisher and co-founder Junkee media, shared some interesting examples of content created by the Junkee team, while revealing the results they had achieved in a short time.

The #backtothefuture video received:

– 20+ million views in 36 hours.
– 250k + shares.
– 84,000 likes.
– 10,000 + comments.

This is the perfect example of a clever but very simple piece of timely content that went out just at the right time and gained the attention of a mass audience. Tim mentioned that the same kind of concept could be created for brands under native advertising, however this form of advertising still needs to tell a story. A strong example of native advertising is over on the Junkee website – The disruptors: 30(ish) people who are changing the game for young Australia – for Lenovo. The article alone received more than 10,000 views in just a couple of days.

As expected, ‘thumb-stopping’ content was also a hot topic of conversation. With more people using mobile devices to scroll through articles, it’s crucial we aim to grab emotions and make users stop and pay attention. The way a user consumes content is also important when it comes to overall performance rates. When creating videos, articles or image-based listicles, it’s worth keeping in mind the sorts of devices people might be using, and when it comes to building websites/apps to think about simple navigation, how visible the content is and how sharing buttons appear.

Publish 2015 in summary

– We all like surprises! Content you don’t expect to work can actually turn out to be the most successful.

– Video – here testing what works and what doesn’t work well is the key. Video definitely needs to be considered when it comes to your overall content strategy, but the style and format can differ depending on what a brand is trying to do.

– Quantify what you are doing and think about data. How do we know what’s working and what isn’t working without pulling in the results?

– The growth of owned media means a brand can become a publisher rather than publishing on external websites.

– Content is not always about the production of what you do, it can also be the way people consume it. Think about the devices people use.

– When we look at metrics, it isn’t just about time spent and shares vs clicks, there is a lot more involved when it comes to proving ROI.

– We are all human and our basic needs and emotions won’t change. However, the technology that enables us to seek information and carry out tasks most certainly will.

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