Really enjoyed my time at the IPG Spring Conference and The Publishing Show (Timehouse write-up here). The best bit? Soaking up knowledge and talking to people and vendors about their current digital publishing (and publishing in general) concerns and pre-occupations.
From all the chats, talks, and information shared, here are some themes and topics I found interesting..
AI is the future: it won’t replace journalism but will enhance it
Even though everyone is talking about ChatGPT and how it is going to “take our jobs”, there are also lots of people who are seeing this as an opportunity to work smarter, not harder. Using AI and automation can be a way to free up more time for creative and strategic work.
And while this latest generative AI wave is hitting the headlines, it is probably also true to say that this kind of tech has already been quietly in use in many contexts. Plus, less media-sexy forms of AI have been silently adopted and gone under the radar: maybe those are the ones we should be paying attention to?
But whichever way you look at it, discussions about AI disclosure and ethics are going to be high on the agenda next.
Data monopoly is something to be cautious of
Recent Google and EU rumblings have helped us become more aware of the dangers of data monopolies. And though legislation is slow on the uptake, I think there is a shifting attitude towards data retention that is more cautious than before. Are we going to see people leave the likes of Google Analytics? Will data retention become a hot topic outside of the EU as well? There are some analytics startups starting to pop up, it will be interesting to see if Google Analytics will start to be replaced by niche, industry-specific tracking tools.
Being where your readers are
This is a perennial point, but one that I think is so important to hammer home. There is no point investing in vanity apps and fancy e-reading platforms if they don’t reach your readers! This could be an expensive misstep.
It goes without saying that a user-centric approach and a proper content distribution strategy will help publishers avoid this faux-pas.
Native advertising has an important role to play
Advertising was a very popular theme at the Show, and the reasons behind that are obvious. Publishers have to work hard to monetise their content, and these days there are many creative ways to do just that (including serving ads inside email newsletters). Reviewing your adtech with a critical eye is definitely a worthwhile exercise.
But, I think native advertising is still an untapped resource in many publishing niches that allows for more engaging and flexible content. As well as bring in revenue, native advertising done right can also help bolster publisher reputation and foster a sense of community.
Building communities looks different for us all
Whether it’s a podcast, a gamification strategy, a newsletter, or an in-person event: publishers need to put community at the heart of their growth strategies.
Yet, that will look totally different for each publisher and publication. It is never a good idea to try to do everything at once or run after fads: stay true to your audience in order to build a valuable community.
Skills are key
As always, talking about talent is also an essential part of how we can keep moving forwards as an industry.
From being able to interrogate data and add in that crucial storytelling layer, to being able to confidently pitch ideas to the C-suite, these are just some of the ways that people coming up through the digital ranks can level up.
Multichannel is key
While many publishers have adopted the multichannel approach a long time ago, there is still a valid reason to highlight its merits. The ability to seamlessly operate in different content environments and contexts is an essential publisher skill for 2023.
Multichannel publishing is key, but it is also about so much more than just a tech stack. It is actually also about having a multichannel attitude and mindset.
SEO that centres users still has an important role to play
There is nothing wrong with having a strong creative vision and wanting to lead from the front, but without interrogating user data and delving into their needs, your content will probably miss the mark (and you’re essentially leaving money on the table – this is something I try to emphasise in my SEO work).