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The Magazine in the Machine: digital publishing fits all
The high adoption rates of mobile devices in the Middle East have created the unspoken expectation for publications to go online. Such a move can be daunting and the right tools must be employed to ensure success in overcoming the challenges of digital publishing.
November 20, 2011 4:11 by p.deleon
Take a moment to consider how many screens you use in your daily life. Most homes in the UAE have one television, and many have two. We each carry with us at least one mobile phone that seems to be biologically attached to our palms. When we are not watching television or staring at our phones, we are in front of a computer or a tablet device. These gadgets all have two things in common – they have become an essential part of our lives; and they all connect to the internet.
The great ease at which we can access information via the internet has come at the cost of print media and the industry has been scrambling to find a way to keep up with the times. For publishing houses, the issue is quite complex. Whereas before there was only one platform for creating magazines – paper – there are now multiple devices with different sizes and capabilities all with different software powering them. We call this the “multiplatform authoring” challenge. Another issue that magazines face is the gathering of data on their readers, which is further compounded by the fact that declining sales produces a cycle of money loss. Decreased magazine sales discourage advertisers from using magazines as channels to reach target consumers. This leads to advertisers seeking new platforms to reach the masses. In the Middle East specifically, many media executives forecast that it could be in the range of $150 million due to the Arab Spring.
The issues of multichannel monetisation and advertising is of obvious importance to publishing houses. There seems to be two facets of the same challenge – securing ads for print publications and tapping into the immense potential of online advertising. Digital spend currently accounts for only 3 percent of advertising revenues providing massive opportunity for growth. As an indication of digital potential, worldwide social media ad revenues are expected to reach $6 billion this year. With these figures, it is imperative that publications go online as soon as possible to avoid missing out on the great business opportunities the internet represents. The question at this point is how does one go about creating a rich experience for the end user while simultaneously enjoying the vast business potential of digital publishing?
The Magazine in the Machine
In the past few years, during the proliferation of mobile devices, a saying has emerged: “It’s the software, stupid”. We now live in a world where effective software is the defining feature of our devices and experiences. Case in point – two of the largest smartphone makers in the world are Apple and Google. The same philosophy rings true with digital publishing and a truly robust software can help address the above-mentioned challenges of multiplatform authoring, multichannel monetisation, attracting advertisers, and analytics processing.
Before a magazine can publish its content on the internet, it is imperative to determine that the digital experience carries out its intended purpose. For instance, it is no use publishing a video that does not play. The software that is used must provide the ability to test the interactivity of the upload before it goes live. This will include ensuring the content is packaged correctly and is viewed with a publisher-branded content viewer. Whole issues can be tested though this method. Once these details are finalised, distribution can be managed through the software itself in order to sell content via multiple channels, mobile marketplaces, and publisher websites. This represents a significant return on investment as everything would be streamlined by the software. It also allows the publisher to ensure that the magazine reaches as many people as possible, thus helping address the issue of monetising through multiple channels.
Once the magazine is published, collecting data become as easy as visiting a website. Good digital publishing software has an associated data analytics service that can be accessed via websites. These dashboards are intuitive and display a myriad of information about the readers, such as engagement with interactive content, reader profiles, among many other important insights. In this model, the equivalent to the print “readership” would be measurements that track not only how many people read the article, but how many share it via social network and email, providing figures that better represent the actual readership of a magazine. This information not only helps editors better tailor their content for their readers, but it also helps publications attract advertisers.
Publications can make compelling arguments about who their readers are, the material they interact with and what captures their attention. Furthermore, digital publishing widens the…(CONTINUED TO NEXT PAGE)
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