The death of the publishing industry has long been predicted. Ad-blocking apps topping the Apple store charts is just the latest phenomenon held up as evidence of the industry’s impending demise. But just as the industry has weathered crises over the previous decades, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the industry survives and thrives.
We have to acknowledge that the shift from print to digital has been somewhat rocky. Paywalls in varying degrees, ad-funded content and native advertising have all been explored as options upon which to build business models. But it’s questionable whether these have truly delivered the ultimate goal: consistent and sizeable revenues that can fund high-quality independent journalism.
However, one thing became immediately clear after the advent of the digital era: to survive in the open internet, publishers must attract and retain a massive audience to generate viable advertising revenues.
Fast-forward to today and some of the most successful legacy publishers have succeeded at this task: The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The New York Times, to name a few, are great examples.
Social media networks, having acted as distribution platforms successfully driving readers to publishers’ sites, have lent a “generous” hand and accelerated this process. And while this has been extremely beneficial for media brands, their future still remains quite unclear.
After years of heavy investment in building online audiences, publishers are now in grave danger of letting someone else reap the rewards.
Although the introduction of Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News may help people discover content more easily and offer them a more agile experience across mobile devices, publishers are risking diluting their brand, letting go of control of vital data about their audiences and losing their independence.
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