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This is a joint piece put together by Vahe Arabian and David Meadows.

Digital Publishing in 2016 has seen some interesting revelations (from the mass adoption and surprising benefits from AMP to the impact of Fake News in monetizing audiences and more). It will also be interesting to see how the role of AI, and to what extent digital publishers can thrive in a mobile-first world.

So looking towards 2017, what are the next steps towards better connecting with our audiences? What is the one key thing that you can do to make a difference?

State of Digital Publishing is launching its first roundup trends piece, and have included opinions from leading professionals with the general consensus being focusing on branded content and more deeply connecting with their audience.

We’ve gathered insights from these pros:

  • Michael Lynch, Publisher & Editor of Campaign Brief
  • Candide Mcdonald, Publisher & Editor of The Stable
  • Janene Champion, Editor of Bike Biz and Australian Diesel Mechanic
  • Chris Dobie, Editor of Australian Motorcyclist
  • Lachlan Marks, Managing Editor Australian Guitar, Blunt Magazine
  • David Hovenden, Editor in Chief, B&T, CEO The Misfits Company
  • Joel Burgess, Staff Writer at Future Publishing
  • Travis Bernard, Director of Audience Development at TechCrunch
  • Daniel Cribb, Editor at themusic.com.au
  • Jeremy Cabral, Head of Publishing  & Editorial at Finder.com.au and Finder.com

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Michael Lynch, Publisher & Editor of Campaign Brief


Campaign Brief will continue to do what we’ve always done: getting creative news ahead of the competition and as many exclusives as we can. Luckily most of our competitors don’t seem to worry that their news is sometimes hours later. Unique content, articles, and interviews our market won’t read anywhere else is always the key to online success.





Candide Mcdonald, Publisher & Editor of The Stable


Quality. It’s not something new. It’s something I believe in. Get beneath the surface of every story. Present it in the best way possible. Keep finding new and fascinating ways to tell the stories you find. And never publish anything that’s second best. If we don’t give audiences the best we can, we don’t deserve to keep them.








Janene Champion, Editor of Bike Biz and Australian Diesel Mechanic

Trade Publications fall into a different category as they are delivered directly to the audience. With digital media becoming more prevalent and used, suppliers that utilise the trade mags for communications are gravitating more towards digital, as it takes away the ambiguity of advertising and facilitates a more measured the result. However, I think you need both entities in play (print & digital), for the reason that the digital medium is more disposable and print is more likely to hang around.

Above and beyond that, a trade hard copy magazine acts as a filtering point in terms of verifiability. To translate that hard copy into a digital copy, in the form of e-news, is great. But industry communications without industry verification is fraught with danger. In 2017 we will continue with our weekly e-newsletter and try to capture the readers who relate to this.



Chris Dobie, Editor of Australian Motorcyclist

We’ll be continuing to put the consumer first. Also, when we get a news story, there will be no more “we’ll save this for the mag”, it will go straight on the website. Our magazine audience and online audiences are quite separate, however, we’ve never had a complaint from our mag readers that they are getting the news second.



Lachlan Marks, Managing Editor Australian Guitar, Blunt Magazine


Put simply: quality. I know everyone in the industry has felt the pressure of maximising the amount of content going up but I believe our focus should be on only curating well-researched, satisfying and relevant material for our audience that elevates the likes of the avhub.com.au to be a permanently bookmarked resource for our users, rather than an occasional fun headline worthy of a few minutes of your time only.







David Hovenden, Editor in Chief, B&T, CEO The Misfits Company


To connect with our audiences in 2017 the Misfits Media Company will be zeroing in on causes our audience care deeply about. If you accept attention is fleeting, you need to be contextually relevant to get more than your fair share. So by linking into causes your audience is passionate about and actually doing something to advance them, you’re far more likely to retain and grow your audience. For us, that means gender equality and inclusion.





Joel Burgess, Staff Writer at Future Publishing 


As a whole, the world right now is more educated than it has ever been and the positive impact of the internet (in propagating knowledge to places it has never been able to reach before) will only be measurable with hundreds of years of hindsight. But knowledge has an interesting relationship with truth and the accuracy of the information you are absorbing. As we have seen with the highly influential fake news circulating Facebook and the world wide web generally, I believe thorough and genuine journalism is now more important than ever. For me, the best way to better engage with your audiences is simply to offer your most honest opinion on a topic you have explored as much as you possibly could, before touching the keyboard.



Travis Bernard, Director of Audience Development at TechCrunch


We want to focus more on our core audience for 2017. It seems like there’s been so much focus on scaling audiences lately, that many publications seem to have lost track of the users that matter the most. Our focus will be on building products for our loyal, daily readers, including a new app, revamped newsletters, and podcasts, and enhanced commenting features.






Daniel Cribb, Editor at themusic.com.au


It’s all about digging for content and not accepting everything at face value. Too many outlets will only report news as it’s given to them or only cover what other sites are doing, but quite frequently, there are great stories or scandals just sitting there, waiting to be uncovered – and sometimes the only way an issue can be fixed is if a conversation is started. As soon as a news source gets into a routine or becomes complacent, it’s game over. It’s about finding the right mix between what the audience wants to know and needs to know – that’s what I’ll be focusing more on throughout 2017.



Jeremy Cabral, Head of Publishing & Editorial at Finder.com.au & Finder.com


We are working to get better at establishing where our customers are in their buying journey and delivering more relevant and helpful tools and content to make decision making easier at each stage for them. Ensuring our content delivers on user intent is always an important focus for our team.







Anita Campbell, CEO & Publisher at Small Business Trends


We plan to organize our content better to make it easier to find on site. We deliver 50% news and 50% advice pieces. The advice is evergreen or lasts a few years. Yet most news sites are organized to deliver the latest “breaking” information. For traffic generation, many rely on readers finding the latest/greatest through social media. That means, when it comes to anything more than a couple of days or weeks old, it can be hard for the visitor to find on a site because it’s quickly buried by newer content.

The problem is made worse by tools like WordPress that publishers use. In a traditional WordPress layout, articles are presented in reverse chronological order, calling attention to the newest first. It requires extra work to make large numbers of older articles easy to find on a WordPress site. So we are going to focus even more on how to help the reader unlock that older-yet-still-relevant information in 2017 from our site.


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As a digital publisher and online media specialist, what are your thoughts and priorities?

Thank you to everyone for contributing! We will add more contributions as we receive them (so please send them through!) throughout 2017.

Alternatively please help us benchmark the current skill gaps and potential of  the Digital Publishing & Online Media Industry, by completing our training survey page.


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