The State of Digital Publishing in 2015 [New Industry Data]

Gone are the days of sitting down at the breakfast table to sip your coffee while flipping through a print magazine you just received in the mail. Today, it is much more common to see people getting their news from a tablet or mobile device while waiting in line at the nearby Starbucks.

With the rise of the mobile revolution and growing use of technology in general, media companies have begun to shift their focus from print to digital. This change has publishers re-adjusting their strategies to better align with the digital landscape, including their revenue models and relationships with advertisers.

Until now, very little data existed to provide insights for publishers or their customers. Hubspot recently completed a survey of hundreds of industry professionals to help define and benchmark the state of digital publishing. Below are a few highlights from their Digital Publishing Benchmarks Report and what these publishing trends mean for brands.

The State of Paid Subscriptions

As data becomes more easily and widely accessible online, publishers have found it difficult to maintain revenue from paid subscriptions. Both B2C and B2B publications can no longer sustain a business model built on circulation profits alone. Only 10.9 percent of respondents cited paid subscriptions as their top revenue source.

So how can publications continue to spread their information to millions of readers without going out of business? Publishers have started diversifying their monetization methods by implementing a variety of digital products (listed below). Both B2C and B2B companies prefer website and email banner ads, as well as sponsored content or native advertising, as alternative monetizing solutions.

How Are Publishers Driving Revenue?This move from paid subscriptions to digital products offers brands an opportunity to reach their target audience through banner ads and native advertising. Reaching the right audience is half the battle of successful content promotion. Taking advantage of this changing landscape can allow brands to increase awareness in their target market and grow the engagement and ROI of paid media.

The State of Sponsored Content

Moving forward, the landscape of digital publishing will continue to shift as more and more publishers adopt these digital products. The use of sponsored content and native advertising is expected to grow the fastest with respondents predicting the value to increase by 54.8 percent in the next six months – outperforming banner ads.

The Changing Digital Publishing LandscapeThis shift again sheds light on the fact that audience is key. Unlike banner ads that have a limited inventory and can be interruptive for readers, native advertising has unlimited inventory and can enter your brand seamlessly into the audience’s experience. While earned media can still be the most effective media channel, paid media through sponsored content and native advertising can provide much higher engagement than the other digital products shown above.

Brands should take note and start allocating budget for paid media with sponsored content and native advertising. Choosing the right publications to sponsor is crucial. Ask for their subscription demographics and psychographics to ensure the correct targeting and highest ROI possibilities.

The State of Lead Generation

While many of the new revenue models appear consistent across B2B and B2C publications, it is important to understand the main goals behind the two types differ. B2B publications focus more on lead generation tactics than B2C. That means B2B brands tend to rely more on webinars, events, and email promotions to drive leads that can then be nurtured down the funnel with the company’s content.

In the B2C industry, specifically with individual company blogs (yes, company blogs are publishers, too), the message tends to focus more on crafting the company’s image and controlling the media’s perception. It can also help increase brand equity among the audience by sharing content that provides value for customers and educates them on the unique advantages the brand holds.

The information gleaned from this report further supports the idea that audience, not content, is king. Great content in front of the wrong audience leads to ineffective content promotion and unmet goals. Digital publishers have access to the segmented audiences brands are looking for and—due to the shift in focus from paid subscriptions to native advertising—are now offering highly segmented audiences to brands on a silver platter.

Understanding and adjusting strategies to include paid media budget for sponsored content or native advertising can allow both B2B and B2C brands to achieve their goals, whether it be lead gen or controlling their public image.

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