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Top Digital Publishing Trends from FIPP Insider Paris

FIPP (International Federation of Periodical Publishers) held its highly anticipated conference in Paris on October 1st. Notable members of FIPP include National Geographic, Business Insider, Marie Claire, and Buzzfeed. Networking and digital publishing experts from around the globe attended the event to discuss the top trends in data journalism and the future of digital media: 

This exciting initiative from FIPP combines a select group of world-class speakers from the local region and across the globe, sharing their knowledge and insight. Delegates will have plenty of opportunities to network with their peers across the media industry.

FIPP puts on more than ten international events each year called FIPP Insider. During these conferences, media leaders are encouraged to come together to build marketing techniques and pursue partnerships that will better improve the publishing industry. At this year’s Paris’ conference, James Hewes, President and CEO of FIPP outlined some of the top industry trends impacting the publishing industry in 2019.

Platform-Focused Content & Why Print Matters

Hewes reminded publishers that the rise of digital platforms is highly notable. To keep up with GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), publishers are cautioned not to rely solely on the success of these leading platforms. They need to focus on the needs of consumers and the relevant content created within the most reliable frameworks.

With expanding video content, podcasts, and the preponderance of online media, some media users have turned back to print. Rebekah Billingsley of John Brown Media says , “In a world of fake news and uncertainty, print brands feels like a tangible trustworthiness.” Tapping into the tactile nature of print creates a nostalgic feel with consumers that proves to be a useful marketing tool.  Reverse publishing is a tool that publishers use to adapt to specific online content for a print resource. 

John Watkins , a content marketer and media consultant for FIPP, focused on the digital age and benefits of reverse publishing. In his FIPP Insider presentation , “The Future of Media: How digital-to-print revenue models continue to shape the industry” Watkins noted:

Some traditional digital-first brands have gone as far as to launch a new print offering for a specific audience, filling that print product with repurposed content originally created for digital channels.

In 2013,  Allrecipes made one of the first major web-to-print moves by announcing the launch of a print edition of their online magazine. Later, the company integrated SmartCode technology  within its printed versions. Readers can use their smartphones and print copies interchangeably to access information from Allrecipes. Jennifer Darling , editor-in-chief of Allrecipes, explains the introduction of QR-code SmartCode technology:

Whether it’s launching the first Skills on Amazon Alexa devices or blurring the lines between print and digital and audio with this latest SmartCode issue takeover, we’re reaching home cooks everywhere and are helping them connect with us across channels in fun, informative ways.

The State of Advertising

Hewes proposed that companies pay particular attention to content and trust in their advertising strategy to provide a better consumer experience on a website. Bernard Glock, senior VP of MediaLink, encourages companies  to “focus on the areas which have been proven in the last one or two years to help publishers and advertisers to grow their business, namely data proficiency, partnerships, and trust.”

Just last week, the two largest chumbox providers, Taboola and Outbrain, merged under the Taboola name. Together, their expected annual gross revenue will be more than $2 billion. Outbrain’s former marketing chief, Eric Hadley, told The New York Times , “This is clearly working, somehow. You may laugh at these ads, but people click on them.”

This method may be effective in the short term results, but it lacks a personal connection between the publisher and consumer. Other companies have even included ad-blocking technologies to protect the integrity of their content and relationship. This relationship expands its audience’s desire to be loyal to relevant and specific advertisers within the publisher’s content.

The Importance of Artificial Intelligence

Hewes explained that publishers should research the potential benefits of utilizing an AI strategy on their websites. Organizations that adopt the approach are expected to see exponential revenue growth within the next five years. Margaret Ann Dowling explains,

The heavy lifting of duplication and generic content creation can be automated, leaving more time for creative writing and effective storytelling. 

The use of integrated AI reflects the continual progression of the digital publishing industry.

While Hewes encourages publishers to assimilate AI into their work, he cautions the reliance on these powerful data strategies before understanding the impacts, both positive and negative, of implementing these technologies. In her article, “I, Robot Author, ” Myia FitzGerald writes, “AI can be incorporated more into the writing and publishing world, but only at the writer and publisher’s discretion.”

Many companies embrace new ideas and creative partnerships to position themselves ahead of their competition. Hewes’s biggest takeaway from the Paris conference was for publishers to embrace a commitment to continuous learning 

FIPP’s dedication to keep pace with a rising media industry and help companies pursue the smartest solutions for their businesses will continue to lead and shape the future of digital publishing.