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Digital Publishing in 2017 has seen the continuation of the trends predicted in 2016 and some interesting platform revelations such as the reinvigoration of online subscriptions to the experimentation of Snapchat/Instagram stories and more.

So looking towards 2018, 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 in 2018?

State of Digital Publishing second yearly roundup trends piece includes the opinions of leading professionals, with the general consensus being focusing on branded content and more deeply connecting with their audience.


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Alice Almedia, Head of Digital Strategy & Innovation at NewsCorp Australia

“News captures masses amounts of data from across our network and via our subscription base each day. Whilst this is incredibly valuable, it doesn’t cover everything. 2018 will be the year of data partnerships with brands who can fill in those data segmentation gaps. This will provide a deeper knowledge level of our audience, therefore delivering smarter and more effective advertising to a highly engaged consumer.”

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Emily Hughes, Audience Development Consultant at Loup Digital

“At Loup Digital, we’re focused on acquiring, engaging, retaining, and converting audiences for both media and e-commerce brands. There are a few trends in strategy across clients, and while they may not be new to 2018, they certainly remain consequential. The first is data. The sites that will be most successful are actively using data to prioritize their marketing efforts and spend in a smart and impactful way. They also are monitoring what content resonates with search, email, social, etc. and are doubling down on those production efforts. In contrast, brands making decisions based on anecdotal evidence are operating blind. The second commonality is a thorough focus on evolving user experience and content consumption habits. Mobile and video are only going to grow more prevalent, and brands that respond and adapt quickly will come out on top.”

Doc Sheldon, Co-owner / Publisher of Search News Central

doc“Just as when constructing a building, the footing of a website is critical. Technical SEO, with all that, entails – architecture/navigation, crawlability /indexability, responsiveness, proper SSL/TLS implementation, caching, deferred loading, image optimization… and a good deal more that deals with site speed – all play into the foundation of a website. Without a solid foundation, none of your other efforts will have much chance of success. Make sure you look into Technical SEO as the first thing in 2018.”

Melissa Chowning, Audience Development Strategist at Melissa Chowning Media

melissa-chowning“In 2018, publishers need to be focusing on the audience more than ever. And it’s not about page views and scale. The metrics of focus should be driven by audience monetization and loyalty. Dig into your data and understand who your users are, where they are from and what types of content they are most interested in and build the relationship from there. Test and develop tactics for on-site conversions and effective welcome programs. Publishers would also be wise to get their data in order as well this year as we watch and wait to see if issues like brand safety and consumer behavior shifts begin to dull the shine on Facebook and Google as advertising mediums. The expectation of the marketer is forever changed so publishers should get ready to serve up their own audiences in a data-driven and brand safe format.”

Liam Carnahan, Founder of Invisible Ink Editing

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“In 2018, I’ll be focusing on creating personalized content for my clients. This will mean creating unique, niche types of content that will be of particular use to specific groups of customers – not just catch-all content to appeal to the masses. We’ll continue to focus on localized content, interactive content, and in-depth content that answers specific questions with practical and interesting information. Nothing bland or base.”

Ginger Conlon, Chief Editor & Marketing Alchemist of MKTGInsight.com

“The single most important aspect of my 2018 digital publishing efforts will be ensuring that I present unique, actionable content that will help MKTGinsight’s readers take charge of the staggering changes they’re facing in customer experience, data analytics, and marketing technology. For example, we’ll go beyond the basic product announcement coverage and provide detail on what’s actually required for implementation and maintenance. And case studies will delve deep into the why and how of changes made, not just the what.”

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Steve Morgan, Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Cybersecurity Ventures

steven-morgan“Cybercrime is one of the greatest challenges that humanity will face in the next two decades. In 2017, we moved our audience discussion from IT and cybersecurity workers to the C-Suite. This sparked tremendous discussion around data breaches and cyber defense at the Chairman and CEO level, and in the boardroom, at F500, G2000 and mid-sized corporations, governments, and academia globally. For 2018, we’ll be taking the discussion to small businesses and consumers who are increasingly under cyber attack. Our audience development model – which has more than doubled our readership over the past year, is to publish informative reports — free to the public — which are featured and cited by hundreds of media outlets globally. In 2017, our report data showed up in the media every day. In 2018, we expect to show up in the media several times every day. We don’t think you can rely on buying SEO… rather you have to back your way into it by consistency publishing valuable content. For us, that’s the sustainable model and how we’ve grown our digital footprint from zero in 2014 to one of the largest in cybersecurity this year. ”

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Mike Dano, Editor-In-Chief at FierceMarkets

“The Telecom Group at FierceMarkets, which is a division of Questex, plans to expand significantly in 2018 by hosting more live events, creating more special reports and long-form content, and covering new, growing areas of the telecom industry. But in doing so we’re not going to stray from our core mission, which is to tell our readers what is going on in this industry through straight, timely news, thoughtful opinion and informed analysis.”

Kaya Ismail, Founder of Wordify

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“Brands need to focus their energies on repurposing and diversifying their content in 2018. The best way to do that is to optimize content production lines. Everybody should already be producing quality articles, eBooks or whitepapers, but now it’s time to repurpose excerpts and turn them into long-form LinkedIn and Facebook posts. It’s time to narrate and discuss a quoted expert’s opinion on a podcast. It’s time to make graphics out of the statistics therein and share them on Instagram. In essence, it’s time to make your content go further.”

Michelle Robins, SVP Content & Marketing Technology at Third Door Media; Editor In Chief at MarTech Today, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land

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“We exist to serve our audience – search/digital marketers and marketing technologists – from the in-the-trenches practitioners to the in-the-boardroom decision makers. Continuing to be the go-to resource for news, tips, tactics, and trends to enable our community to be successful in their companies and for their clients remains job #1 for the coming year. To execute this mission in 2018, we’ll be focusing on creating more in-depth, high-quality resources and less bite-sized “Top N ways to X” content. As information has become commoditized, being a valuable destination requires taking fresh perspectives and staking unique positions, along with intentional sourcing of diverse and authoritative contributions on topics, and sharing high-quality data.”

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Brian Morrissey, Editor-In-Chief at Digiday

“The focus in 2018 will return to the importance of differentiated brands and direct connections to audiences. The Facebook era got publishers high on cheap and easy traffic. That’s going away, and publishing is returning to a simple business. Zero in on something people care deeply about, give them what they want on that subject in a unique way, and build a diverse business model predicated on directly knowing the audience versus allowing a third party like Facebook mediate that relationship. None of this is particularly new or sexy. But maybe it’s time for publishers to return to the basics of building brands and sustainable business models.”

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Kendall Becker, Editor-In-Chief at A Magazine (Kent State)

“Developing captivating and unique content is key. The reader is looking for something online that they just can’t get with print. I think one trend that will only continue to grow is the use of video and multimedia content. It’s fun, quick and something new.”

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Adam Lynton, Editor-In-Chief at CarBuzz

“In 2018, we’ll be focused on keeping our dedicated, daily readers happy with comprehensively overhauled apps on iOS and Android, while scaling audience with a refreshed website including buying guides and the latest in-market content. We will continue digging for the best stories, creating original features on the latest trends and providing our unbiased opinion on the latest rides.”

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Joe Lazauskas, Editor-In-Chief, Director of Content Strategy at Contently

joe-lazauskas“The BuzzFeed/NowThis social video copycats will see their “pivot to video” fail; meanwhile, in 2018 we’ll see a whole new slew of publishers dominate the engagement leaderboards with hyper-short-form (20 seconds or less) interactive content. Everyone will, in turn, follow suit, but the only people who make money will be the few media organizations that focus on building a loyal audience that’s willing to pay over chasing fads. ”

Liz Campese, Editor-In-Chief at ARTpublika Magazine

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“At ARTpublika Magazine, we are working toward finding a more personal way of connecting with our fans. As a publication with an educational angle, we strive to relay facts without personal opinions, so that readers can make up their minds for themselves. Events give us an opportunity to share our thoughts and engage in dialogue with people from all walks of life while allowing the publication to keep true to its mission, which is to provide art culture for the people.”

William Quinn, Editor-in-Chief, VP Digital Marketing, Nielsen

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“In order to engage with multiple audiences at once, we’ll continue to leverage what we call “pillar” content to develop content offerings that are tailored/crafted/positioned for specific audiences. That may mean we create less content in aggregate. The hope, however, is that overall engagement will rise.”

Jared Oban, Co-Founder of Life Noggin Studios

jared-oban

“Spend less time complaining, and spend more time adapting. Platforms are not going to bend over backwards for YOU. If you want to succeed, you need to compete. There is a reason why some people make millions and you do not. (I also do not). There is no such thing as competition in digital. Everyone is a potential collaborator. If I could succeed by age 22 (Now aged 26), anyone can. Life Noggin is now launching 2 more shows this year. Life Noggin has nearly 2M subscribers, and we love it, but we know success could result in failure. We will never be complacent.”

Akasha Konkoly, Chief Editor at MissBlockchain

akasha-konoky

“2018 and beyond will see an exodus from stalwarts of social media publishing (Facebook, Youtube etc) to blockchain based social media platforms that offer retention of ownership, remuneration for content, and greater freedom of expression, such as Steemit.com, and possibly Akasha.world, with influencer and networking platforms like Indahash.com and Experty.io, also being influential in their respective fields. The success of digital publishing platforms will live or die with the implementation of SMTs (Smart Media Tokens) that reward ongoing contribution, readership, and curation.”

Jacqueline Zenn, Editor In Chief at WomensForum.com

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“My biggest prediction for 2018 is the continued blending of martech and adtech and the corresponding increase in the ability for marketers to connect the dots between an ad, social post, email, and other marketing activities. Actual attribution and the related insights into performance and the consumer are only going to improve – and so will the abilities of marketers to create effective campaigns!”

Chere Di Boscio, Editor-In-Chief at Eluxe Magazine

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“I would say the next publishing trend will be focused on beautiful visuals. So many stock photos are being overused by multiple publications, I believe there will be a revival of appreciation for gorgeous, original photography.”

Michelle Lowery, Editor-In-Chief at Ace Media

michelle-lowery

“One thing we’re focusing on at Ace Media is creating more long-form content not only for performance purposes but to provide better, more thorough information to our readers. All of Ace Media’s websites are instructional and educational and built around topics that require a lot of in-depth exploration to provide real value to our readers, so we’re making sure we do that effectively and consistently.

The key component to all that content, and to growing and connecting with our audiences, is quality. Ace Media doesn’t skimp on the content we create. We’ve built a solid team of skilled, professional and talented writers, graphic artists and photographers. We pay them commensurately and offer them growth opportunities as the company grows. Businesses that are serious about their success, both online and off, can no longer afford to make editorial hiring decisions based on who’s offering the lowest rate. Investing in high-quality digital content is investing in that success. Do it right the first time, and you’ll be better able to ride out future fluctuations in both search, and enterprise as a whole.”

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Ainul Huda, Vice President, Audience Development & Analytics at Condé Nast

ainul-huda“Conde Nast brands are authorities in their spaces, and in 2018 we will continue to deepen the relationship with our users by hyper-serving our loyal audiences with meaningful experiences. Additionally, we will continue to provide meaningful content on platforms based on audience behavior and white-space opportunities. Given we have 20+ brands, it will be customized per brand.”

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Katie-Leigh Corder, SEO & Audience Development Specialist at F+W Media

“As an SEO specialist, I want to focus on improving user-experience in terms of high-quality content relevant to search queries, satisfied conversions for free content and store products, and a smooth site experience on all devices with quick load time. By being adaptable and taking risks in terms of testing new experiences, my company and I plan on focusing and implementing SEO strategy based on upcoming algorithm updates, logical site structures for all devices, and other important factors that go into developing a loyal audience.”

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Kaylee Pope, Audience Development Team Manager at Prime Publishing

 

“2017 was truly the year where quality content reigned supreme. Here at Prime Publishing, we focused on expanding our digital assets to create quality, long-form content that we knew would add value to our users’ crafting and cooking experience. We focused less on producing as many pieces as possible and instead worked to create better articles as well as finding ways to improve our existing assets. Looking to 2018, we have our eye on not only creating quality content but also creating a higher-quality experience by improving user experiences by redesigning both our mobile and desktop sites as well as improving our brand’s reach through the launch of new email marketing and social media initiatives that will diversify our reach. We’re particularly excited about improving our digital test kitchen content for RecipeLion.com and launching a contributor and influencer projects for FaveCrafts.com.”

katia-iervasi

Katia Iervasi, Managing Editor at InspireInk

On that note, I think publishers will reassess their audiences and aim to target their core audience more – the group of users who will bookmark the website, and keep coming back to it. At Inspireink, our content creators specialize in their field – for instance, travel, lifestyle or beauty – and audiences appreciate that kind of authenticity. Lastly, more people will be using their phones to consume content on the go in 2018, so it’s important to make sure yours suits all screens.

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Joshua Crouthamel, Features Editor, Metro US

“Digital first is the motto even here at the 4th largest paper in the United States (despite printing in only 3 cities). That said, I think 2018 is all about editing for multiple channels; there’s a way to make the same story work online, in print and on social channels. The next big success stories will come from those who can (or hire) dynamos who’re project managers/copy editors/social media managers/design liaisons all in one — it’s more important than ever to be a renaissance storyteller (with a Rolodex of experts). And to embrace quality content marketing; a smart editor can walk the line of church-and-state by turning down advertorial and still capitalizing on excellent stories even if they come with ad spend attached.”

Grace Bennett, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at The Inside Press

“Mainstream media continues to pay close attention to the staying power of ‘hyper-local press.’ By continuously tapping into the issues that impact a community, hyper-local titles have managed to avoid the downturn that has devastated larger media companies. Establishing and keeping a strong online presence, both on the web and in social media, are secret, key ingredients toward success in hyperlocal publishing, too. Increasing website traffic is The Inside Press’ priority for 2018.”

So, what is your digital publishing trend for 2018? Please feel free to comment below and we will gladly add you as a contributor to this piece throughout the year.