Publishing and Media Expo: expert opinion

After launching, acquiring, running, and selling media businesses across print, events and digital; Carolyn Morgan is a well-known commentator in the magazine publishing industry.

In the run up to Publishing and Media Expo, we spoke to Carolyn to find out what she’s expecting from the show; and how she sees the industry evolving.

1. Your focus is on the transition of magazine publishing to digital channels. What are you seeing that really works at the moment?

A number of publishers are doing well in a different ways. Over the past year, we’ve seen a number of magazines launching digital only titles, many on a weekly frequency rather than monthly. Some of these have been huge successes and others less so; however what interests me most is the way publishers are starting to experiment and break away from the simple digital replica.

2. How does this differ between B2B and B2C publishers?

Some business publishers are starting to abandon print completely as their readership read almost solely on digital devices in the workplace. The consumer market are some years behind, simply because some of their customers are still happy reading print versions of their magazines. What consumer publishers are finding though, is that their digital publications are helping to open up new international markets, which were hard to reach through print.

Research shows that weekly digital magazines are read more intensely than monthly magazines, and a number of monthly magazines are releasing their digital content in weekly editions, to increase engagement, rather than expecting readers to wait until the end of the month. Others are adding real-time updates from their website to their digital publication.

3. And the question everyone asks … how long until everything is digital?

I actually surveyed a group of publishers on this a couple of years ago and B2C publishers then thought they had around 10 years left, publishing in print; B2B publishers were guessing 2 – 5 years – this appears to have been an accurate estimate.

4. The UK’s only Multi-platform publishing event. How long do you think we’ll be referring to ‘multi-platform’ for; rather than assuming everything works on a number of devices?

The term multi-platform, meaning print plus digital, is still relevant today as publishers are at different stages of digital development. A gardening publisher may have a more conservative audience and will take longer to reach the same stage of digital development, as say a B2B publisher.

It’s also important to remember that multi-platform refers not just to the magazine, but to the media brand as a whole. There are magazine brands which have been totally driven by social media, and use feedback and responses on these platforms to develop the concept for the magazine. Media brands sit at the centre, as an authority and expert in a topic, and the brand can communicate with their audience on any platform. Magazines have moved away from simply pushing content out to their audiences on a number of platforms; they now have a two-way dialogue and the “platform” itself can refer to social media, live or online events and e-newsletters as well as print, web and mobile.

5. What do you think we’ll be hearing about at Publishing and Media Expo this year?

Stories about how people are doing things. There’ll be less speculation about the future and ‘mobile device usage’ charts, and more information about what is actually happening and how publishers are experimenting.

There will be talks explaining how to get advertisers to support digital content; as much as they do the printed page. Advertisers expect to spend less on digital, so publishers fear losing that extra revenue. I expect we’ll hear how publishers have successfully tackled this.

Follow @carolynrmorgan for updates from the show; and @yudu media for our commentaries.

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