Hannah King

Google AMP for Digital Publishers

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Slow mobile pages are incredibly unappealing for users. The desire to produce a better mobile experience prompted digital publishers to use Google AMP. The use of this also encouraged user traffic to their sites. According to “What Publishers Need to Know about Google AMP” by Ellen Harvey, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is “an open source initiative with the goal of speeding up the mobile web”. Google AMP allows users to rapidly get the content they want. For digital publishers, keeping track of how Google AMP affects “their SEO, ad earnings, and user experiences” can determine their future success.

Since its launch in February of 2016, Google AMP has transformed how search engines and other publishing websites function on the mobile web. In recent years, smartphones and tablets are the go-to devices for viewing content. Rather than have a separate app for users to download, Google opted to create a more “quick user-friendly way“.

Functions of Google AMP

The sole purpose of Google AMP is to make accessing mobile web pages faster. A web page that has implemented AMP will have all the basic information a user would need. Carlos Alonso, writer of “Google AMP for Publishers: What You Need to Know”, explains the AMP process:

  • AMP HTML is a subset of HTML. It reduces the number of elements you can use while adding some new ones.
  • AMP JS is a Javascript framework focused on handling and loading resources. No other Javascript libraries are allowed in AMP.
  • AMP Content Delivery Network is an optional element that you can use to deliver your content even faster thanks to its cache.
  • CSS is also limited to certain elements.

Essentially, there is a trade-off “between flexibility and speed” when it comes to elaborate design on the mobile web page. Google AMP provides the bare-bone functions for users to view their content.

Revenue Gain

Digital publishers aim to increase revenue by using Google AMP. In “Google AMP and the Publishing Industry: What Happens Next?”, Lydia Gilbertson explains:

“Digital Publishing has been struggling to find a way to better monetize its industry since it became more common for its users to be found online than reading a magazine….Facebook and Google digital advertising account for 77 percent of the total growth in ad spend in 2015 and the gap is only growing. In response, many digital publishers have begun placing a heavy emphasis on their native advertising efforts.”

Digital publishers need platforms such as Google for their content to be seen, and in turn the platforms need users to continue regular interaction with them. Consequently, Google AMP has attempted to create a mutual partnership “to make it even more appealing for publishing sites to focus their energy on making content available on their platforms.”

Obtaining revenue is both a pro and con of Google AMP, due to several factors enabling or hindering it. The flexibility of Google AMP allows ads to be placed on mobile web pages to encourage users to click on them. Alonso states:

“AMP supports a wide range of ad formats and technologies, and more than 150 ad networks support integration with AMP pages. AMP also supports paywalls and provides an accessible framework to regulate access to content for subscribers, metered users and anonymous users.”

However, technical limitations on the number of ads on a page can cause a deficit. A few ways to combat this drawback is to place ads on both AMP and non-AMP pages, ads themselves can be AMP pages, and completely avoiding heavy ads can lead to a better experience.

Pros of Google AMP

First and foremost, the speed of a mobile web page encourages users to continue interacting with a publisher’s website. Faster loading pages show the necessary content that will keep users interested. Due to the key content loading first, users are less likely to “bounce.”

According to Alonso, “There is a direct correlation between implementing AMP and an increase in organic traffic.” By users clicking onto publishers’ sites, the overall user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) is enhanced. The increase in online traffic can be attributed to the fact that Google supports publishers who also support them.

Similarly, Google rankings push publishers to implement AMP to gain more visibility. Of course, Google will encourage its own designs; therefore, publishers who support Google AMP will be placed at the top of “rich results in Google and mobile search.”

Cons of Google AMP

Despite the innovative technicalities of Google AMP, drawbacks were likely to arise. The basic formatting of the AMP page removes the original version of the page. AMP is essentially a plugin that does not fall under the publisher’s website. The AMP plugin will affect the SEO based on the “different cache and different notation on the website“.

Likewise, there will be considerable variation between the display on the desktop and on the mobile version. Users may see the content as completely different. Having content suited for Google AMP is necessary and having bad content can cost publishers the users of their sites. Basically, Google directly affects the mobile sites. Incorrectly implementing Google AMP or experimenting with the Google algorithm may cause problems because AMP is still relatively new.

Google AMP will favor publishers’ sites that directly correspond with their platform or are more established. New digital publishers will be overlooked and will not have their content seen. Similarly, designs on custom sites are not being placed on the site. Gilberston states:

“Many publishers are finding that parts of their brand are being lost within the platform. Some of the functionality, such as the inability to add a “read full story” buttons, which are often used to keep mobile users on a page, is another common complaint among publishers.”

Google AMP is an innovative platform that still has a few kinks to sort out. As the program continues to evolve, publishers will be able to have more liberty to do as they please.

Google AMP provides a unique experience for both users and digital publishers. Converting content, in the correct manner, will guarantee positive results in the digital publishing market. Although pros and cons exist, the publisher must decide whether Google AMP is worth delving into.

Digital Publishing in the Developing World

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In developed countries, the Internet provides a sufficient medium for digital publishing. The transition from print to digital has changed the way consumers receive and circulate different forms of content.  In developing countries, however, the transition is considerably slower. Constraints (e.g., pricing, government opposition, and limited readership) on publishers based in developing countries leave them to play catch up with rest of the world.

The shift from print to digital serves as a reminder that the progression of the digital market drives change in society that helps to shape “the future of publishing.”

The Publishing Market

Digital publishing is a lucrative business, if done correctly.  According to Jens Bammel, author of From Paper to Platform:  Publishing, Intellectual Property and the Digital Revolution, “the global book market is worth approximately 145 billion US dollars, making publishing one of the largest creative industries in the world.” Two-thirds of the world’s “global publishing business” is attributed to the six world’s largest markets.

Bammel writes that the largest publishing market is found in the U.S., worth more than $37.25 billion. China comes in at second, worth more than $22.25 billion. Third is Germany at more than $10 billion then the UK at $6.5 billion, Japan at $6 billion, France at $4.25 billion, and India at $3.75 billion.

The facade of large nations being able to support the publishing industry is uncanny, as the markets have been declining.  However, the substantial growth in countries, such as Brazil, China, and India shows the dependence on “the economic middle class” and their values in “education, reading, self-actualization, intellectual discourse and culture.”

Government Opposition

Governments, worldwide, control different aspects of the lives of the people they are meant to serve. The education system, for example, is an important aspect of a functioning country. Likewise, having adequate textbooks should be a priority. According to Bammel:

High-quality textbooks are vital to education in developing and emerging economies. Education is one of the first areas of investment for any emerging economy, but where resources are limited, qualified teachers are in short supply and classes are large, a good education depends on textbooks.

For some countries, such as Norway, Greece, Poland, and Switzerland, textbooks are published only for their exclusive use. The exclusivity sparks debate about a lack of diversity and how it can lead to the enforcement of the government’s agenda on young and impressionable audiences. Similarly, some countries alter history textbooks to portrays their country in a positive light, as can be seen in American textbooks.

William Wresch, writer of “e-Commerce Innovations in the Book Publishing Industry: Opportunities for the Developing World” states:

Governments can be significant aids to publishers by sending school textbook contracts their way, but they can also become quick enemies of publishing houses if local despots begin to feel the books being published threaten their lifetime reigns. 

Brazil, Africa, China, and several other countries are under strict guidelines for publishing.  Wresch notes that “The most significant barrier to publishing recently has been the imprisonment, exile, or murder of authors.” As a method of combating strict and unforgiving governments, some authors have taken to micropublishing.

In “What Is Micro-Publishing? A Thorough Definition,” Christina Katz writes, “Micro-publishing means that every person is a publisher.” In short, it is self-publishing. Though content will most likely only spread locally, producing several volumes should be relatively safe if the government of the nation is left unaware.

Limited Readership

Readership can be affected by poverty, illiteracy, and a language barrier. Countries that share one or more languages can guarantee a wider spectrum of people reading their content. In countries where the first or second language is English, it is easy to publish in English and know there will be a readership present, within the country and around the world. Wresch states:

Publishers in developing countries can follow suit and publish in English, but then they may have very limited local readership. Or they can publish in the local language and forego any chance at international sales.

A possible solution is teaching young children their mother tongue and another language, to increase readership and give publishing companies more business, thus promoting literacy. Technology continues to advance, giving way to the promotion of different textbooks and leading to a broader international audience.  

Though digital publishing in the developing world is temporarily stunted, the transition from print to digital shines a light on the developing countries’ prospect of growth.  For accessibility’s sake, developed countries should aid in the publishing endeavors of the developing countries, to encourage growth of the country and educational opportunities for its people.

Multilingualism in the Digital Market

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Digital publishing offers authors access to far-off audiences, but fostering an effective international presence takes precedent once an author crosses that bridge. Many publishers implement multilingual translations to gain new clients and establish a global identity. Engaging people across the globe requires the publisher to speak their language.

Publishers diversify content with technology by “identifying and defining which aspects, desires and interests conform to your target customers,” State of Digital Publishing claims. Information drives the digital market. Promoting catered content guarantees the intended audience’s interest.

Why Multilingualism is Important

Providing e-books and other digital content in the native tongue, and on culturally relevant topics, ensures a natural, intimate relationship between audience and author. Multilingual editions not only promote access for communities often overlooked but also create authentic connections with a multicultural audience.

ThoughtCo defines multilingualism as “the ability of an individual speaker or a community of speakers to communicate effectively in three or more languages.” Experts debate this definition, though. Various factors, such as a person’s environment, can change what defines multilingualism in a society.

In an official capacity, programs such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) require multilingualism. According to the WHO website, “Multilingual communication bridges gaps and fosters understanding between people.”

Marianne Kay pushes for multilingualism in the publishing world saying:

At the end of the day, it’s companies that put the multilingual requirement at the heart of their strategy that reach the widest global audience. Google’s search page is available in more than 100 languages, Wikipedia has more than 300 language editions, and the most translated website in the world is Jehovah’s Witnesses (jw.org), with extraordinary linguistic diversity of more than 900 languages and dialects. If you want to engage with people around the world, you need to speak their language. There is no shortcut.

Both the UN and WHO sites publish in six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Fostering functional relationships with other nations, an essential resource, dictates the publishing language. As a result, the “decisions on what content to publish in which language(s) are made based on an analysis of the target audience needs,” WHO explains.

Organizations such as Multilingual Matters Publishers, Worldreader, and Mantra Lingua also tap into the multilingual demographic. Each brand tailors e-books and textbooks to the language needs in classrooms and communities around the world.

How Publishers Become Multilingual

According to Yousef Elbes, writer of “Why Multilingual Communication is Important,” “Language is still the main instrument used to convey ideas and to communicate messages.” Translators use the mother tongue of an audience to tailor the language of the content to consumers who, in turn, become devoted clients due to the accessibility and security of reading literature in their language.

Translators help authors and publishers access a multicultural environment. Effective translators ensure publishers portray an accurately represented message to their audience and maintain a professional image. Translators provide multiple translations to ensure as many languages as possible are accessible to the audience.

What Multilingualism Means for Translators

Multilingualism breaks down into three categories. According to Kay, author of “Changing the World Wide Web, One Language at a Time,” dividing Multilingualism into three broad categories “doesn’t reduce the amount of work involved, but it creates structure and emphasizes the need for a range of skills required for successful delivery.”

Global content refers to languages translated for different regions; regional content, specific, regional areas or items, such as currency; local content, a local setting. Digital publishers must pick the best translators to guarantee the message will be well-received.

Multilingualism in a Truly Digital Environment

ThoughtCo’s Richard Nordquist stretches the idea of multilingualism even further. “As computers communicate with humans—and with each other—the meaning of language may soon change.” He continues saying,

Language will still always be what makes us human, but it may also become the tool that allows machines to communicate, express needs and wants, issue directives, create, and produce through their own tongue. Language, would then, become something that was initially produced by humans but then evolves to a new system of communication—one that has little or no connection to human beings.

Though Nordquist describes a science fiction future, the relationship he portrays illustrates the transaction between users that occurs when the industry offers true accessibility. When full multilingualism enters the digital environment, the audience constraints placed on publishers disappear.

Multilingualism serves as an excellent tool for reaching multicultural audiences in the digital world. As the digital publishing market rapidly develops, more and more publishers are partnering with translators. International expansion determines the content relevancy for both audience and publisher. Refusing to engage in Multilingualism might mean failure for publishers.

Podcasting for Publishers

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Up and coming publishers are turning to podcasts to jump start their digital publishing careers. Podcasting provides the audience versatile and varied content through short audio-based episodes. They favor the medium because it requires very little in the ways of technology and production budget.

David Winer developed podcasts in 2004, but Adam Curry popularized the medium. Winer created  the RSS, or “Really Simple Syndicating” to launch his show Morning Coffee Notes but due to Curry’s notoriety from his time with MTV, his program grew more influential, much faster.

Wired claims Curry’s audience grew from 500, 000 to over a million in just one year, thanks in part  to iTunes’ support of podcasts in 2005. Now, it mainly appeals to people who look for content on the go. According to Shiva Bhaskar, “There are over 525,000 active podcasts, with over 18.5 million episodes produced,” as of 2018.

Thorpe claims in “Why Should Publishers Start A Podcast?” that a third of the world’s population listens to them:

Podcasts are taking off around the world due to better content and easier distribution. According to the Reuters Digital News Report 2019, more than a third (36%) of people around the world listen to a podcast at least monthly, and this rises to half for those under 35. In fact, listeners in the US now spend over six hours each week on podcasts, listening to seven episodes a week on average.

The Power of Podcasts

Podcasts provide the audience with personable content that plays into publishers’ strengths. The production cost pales in comparison to other personal media such as video streaming.  The audio episodes also promote flexibility in content such as storytelling, news reporting, education, or opinionated discussion.

In “5 Key Podcasting Trends from the Digital News Report 2019 ,” surveyors asked listeners why they chose this specific medium. Listeners responded that they either wanted to stay up to date on topics of personal interest (46%) or learn about something new (39%). Researchers also found that young people ages 18-24 were almost three times more likely to consume podcasts regularly compared to their 55+ aged counterparts.

The storytelling aspect of the platform plays a vital role for publishers. Stories allow humans to shape the way they see and understand the world. Podcasts stimulate  the imagination and portray the “richness of the human experience.” Shiva Bhaskar explains,

Storytelling appears to have evolutionary roots, as it can help foster cooperation amongst people in a society, and those who tell good stories, are often preferred social partners, and likely to have more children.

Publishers can take advantage of this aspect and insert themselves into the rapidly growing broadcasting platform. Shelley Seale states , “Podcasts are emerging as one of the most significant and exciting cultural innovations of the new century” because they afford an intimacy between audience and host that fosters a devoted fanbase.  Podcasts allow viewers to put voices to their favorite works.

Cost-Volume-Profit Analysis

The platform provides hosts a way to interact with their viewers for prolonged periods:  hour-long episodes fill the podcast world and let hosts thoroughly work through ideas in ways shorter media forms do not. They also don’t face the same criticism  that promotional print material or video streaming does; “Podcasts also offer a potentially more trustworthy alternative to the plethora of false information out there.”

Though, starting out from scratch in a new medium intimidates some people, consistency in streaming helps ensure profit. Also, most episodes pause regular programming to play ads or promote brands. That influence aspect of the episodes opens up possibilities for secondary revenue. Owens claims, “Between 2017 and 2018, brand advertising jumped from 25 percent of all podcast ads to 38 percent, and this year it’ll likely overtake direct response advertising.”

Owens also explains that podcasts offer companies other streams of revenue besides just ads: businesses can “mine the podcast interviews for additional article content,“ as well as host live tours and drive listeners to subscribe to memberships, receiving profit from ticket sales and membership costs.

About 75% of publishers host some podcast, and the medium’s influence grows stronger each year. Podcasting pushes producers to build an audience in the growing digital market. The viewers get unique, quality content, and publishers get a new environment to capitalize on.

Email Marketing

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Email Marketing 

Due to the transition from print to digital publishing, the need for quality content to reach audiences has increased.  According to Tyler Bishop’s “2019 Digital Publishing Trends ” ‘Audience Growth and Marketing’ held 34.2% of the overall highest priorities leading into 2019.  The direct correlation between publishers and their audiences portray the importance of audience development in a rapidly transforming industry.  

Overview of Audience Development 

Digital publishing requires an audience to ensure a secure and lucrative position within the publishing industry. Focusing on the needs of an audience guarantees continuous web traffic and revenue gain. Evaluating the data trends and producing distinct, quality content aids in building a solid reputation for a returning audience. Likewise, maintaining good relationships with an audience encourages a better response to online subscriptions through email marketing.     

What is Email Marketing? 

According to a Crossware  article, “Email Marketing – What is it? Why do it? And How?,” email marketing is “a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience.” Taking advantage of these digital resources allows merchants to market their products in an efficient manner that is easily accessible to their consumers.  

Effectiveness of Email Marketing 

A common method of email marketing are newsletters. These online subscriptions allow the option for daily or monthly intake from these websites. This accumulated information promotes better web traffic for businesses, allowing publishers a wider reach through modern channels. Audience development and email marketing work in tandem to provide emails specified to consumer’s individual requests. Email marketing guarantees that the audience will see the content “to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business” (Crossware ).  

Why use Email Marketing? 

Communication via email marketing is inexpensive and guarantees more ad revenue.  In “The Publisher’s Guide to Email Marketing ,” publishers know the extent of generating “brand awareness, increasing engagement, and promoting/selling products or subscriptions without breaking their marketing budgets.” This knowledge increases a company’s success while providing consistent content, such as newsletters, to their target audiences. Similarly, the data obtained from these newsletter clicks contributes to maintaining the interest of the readers.  

Social Media and Email Marketing 

Social media has also made a significant impact in the digital marketing sphere. Email marketing has been incorporated into different apps, such as Twitter, to gain a larger audience. The Publisher’s Guide to Email Marketing explains the value of mobile-friendly content for progressive consumers. By integrating social media and email marketing, publishers have the unique ability to use their promotion through a digital platform rather than seeming “salesy.” This marketing strategy improves accessibility while providing consumers with quality content. Email marketing connects publishers and their audience through data evaluations and continuous advances in the use of digital platforms.