The future of publishing
3 May 2017
Remember the advice the Queen gave to Alice in Lewis Carrol’s novella Through the Looking Glass? “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that”. In our digitalised world, when news come from all sorts of sources, in abundance and can be received online, through apps, mobile phones, watches and all sorts of devices, newspapers have to adapt and adapt fast to stay afloat.
We’ve caught up with Bedir Aydemir, Product Marketing and Insight Director, Mail Advertising to discuss the challenges newspapers and publishing houses are facing and how to keep up with the fast changing face of our news.
“Actually if you would have asked me a year ago, I would have been very nervous about the future of newspapers, as people get the news from absolutely anywhere, but in fact the last six months have been incredibly interesting as a real reflection of what happens when you get the news from anywhere - fake news appears, ” says Bedir Aydemir. “Actually I think that people have started now to shy away from that much choice and are going back to a handful of brands and publishers that they believe in, trust and like.”
However, Aydemir adds, that it doesn’t mean that publishers can afford to sit back and relax. To keep up with the fast-paced digital world, publishers need to change their business models.
“Fewer people are buying newspapers, and that’s an undeniable fact, but I think what people thought three or four years ago, when that trend started to emerge, is that audiences had lost interest in what the newspapers had to say. I think what’s now clear is that’s not the case, it’s just that people want to consume news in different ways and in different places,” says Aydemir.
Aydemir says that they see themselves in a very unique position as a publisher, because they are able to provide their content to people on many different platforms: desktop, mobile, tablet, print and let the consumers decide where and how they want to read the news. “In recent years we’ve taken a decision to push our content out to other platforms, rightly or wrongly, but to places like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat and even as the market evolves, we were the launch partner for Amazon Eco and people were able to listen to our news through that product”.
However, the question of whether or not it was the right decision to push their content to social media platforms is still up to a debate. “I am not saying that it’s been the best decision from a monetization point of view, but it’s been the right decision in terms of building out a loyal following and we thought that monetization would follow,” says Aydemir. “I think that one of the biggest problems we’ve found is that monetization doesn’t necessarily follow.”
He admits, that it’s always been a ‘love-hate relationship” between social media and publishers: “We are happy for people to read our content on Facebook, but the question is, is Facebook giving us a fair share of the revenue, are we being recognized for it being our content both in the consumer’s eyes and also in terms of monetization?”
He adds, that when they started collaborating with Facebook, for instance, people used to read their articles and then land on their website and stay on it for a while, whereas now, Facebook is trying to keep the readers within its own eco system. “For us, it’s still good that people are reading our content, but the downside can be quite significant, because we are not getting the additional benefit of people coming to our site,” says Aydemir.
And landing on their website is not only a matter or traffic and views for publishers, says Aydemir, it’s a matter of collecting valuable data, as publishers have a much wider role to play these days. “We won’t just be a place to put adverts anymore, we will become a provider of very rich in-depth insight into our audiences and into their motivations, someone who can explain in real time what’s going on with those individuals, what are they reading, what are they searching for and what is it that’s shifting their behavior and I think we’ll start to be seen as planning and strategy partners as well as just a place to put adverts”.
He also sees another niche that publishers will naturally fill – native advertising. Even though, he says, there are a lot of companies who claim to do that, “who better than journalists to tell the story” and telling a brand’s story is often more difficult he says than writing a news article. “Anyone can write an editorial and they tend to be garbage quite often, whereas what we do is we produce content that someone wants to read and we are getting those views”, says Aydemir. “Just to be clear, we don’t go and buy views on Facebook or anywhere else, which a lot of other people do. We live and die by the quality of our editorial and that’s a real skill to be able to write something that includes a commercial message but it’s still of interest to the consumer, and that’s why people who do native with us, come back to us.”
He says that many publishers are now thinking about moving more to a creative side and taking advantage of the skillset that publishing houses have: “A lot of our clients now do rely on us to create their advertising format, native content, their social strategy, their video content. We are almost doing the job now of a creative agency for quite a few of our clients, because we already have the personnel and expertise for this,” says Aydemir. “We are an old organization with deep routes and that hindered us in the past, but we are changing incredibly quickly now and really playing catch up, but we are getting much much better.”
To discuss the future of publishing, join Bedir Aydemir at the Digital Content Summit in London on the 23d of May.