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Last week, Lisbon welcomed nearly 200 publishers for the Digiday Publishing Summit Europe. The summit drew a wide scope of attendees from the publishing industry, showcasing the past, present, and future of how brands communicate with their audience. 

Some publishers, like UK’sThe Daily Telegraph, have been producing and sharing content long before the internet era, and are learning how to adjust their sails to navigate the waters of digital. Other, much younger publishers, like Highsnobiety, are products of the digital age and are pioneering the route of online publishing. 

These, and many other top publishers gathered together in the land of explorers to discuss their brands’ strategies for meeting the demands of the digital market (and some potential pitfalls they may encounter along the way). Here are the five main trends they identified.

1. Pushing Premium Content

With seemingly unlimited content floating around the web, majority has been made free in order to keep up with competitors. However, many publishers are working to retreat from this model by pushing premium content in order to boost engagement with their audience. For example, The Telegraph is shifting their online strategy in favor of paid subscriptions. The publisher is making 20% of content available to paid subscribers with the other 80% open to viewers. The Telegraph believes that this exclusive content allows them to form a direct connection with their readers. 

2. The Platform Problem

Many publishers feel as though they have fallen secondary to social platforms. While originally intended to be channels for driving more traffic and brand awareness to the publisher, platforms like Facebook have stolen the spotlight. But why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? When all the content is nicely packaged for consumption on a Facebook feed, there is no need to go any further. Publishers agree that it’s time they take back the helm.

Instead of letting platforms steer the way publishers post and promote content, publishers will use Facebook and Google as a conversion channel. They will start using these platforms to guide viewers down the marketing funnel, getting them to convert to subscribers, app downloaders, etc.

3. Programmatic

Automation is becoming more prevalent in all aspects of digital, and publishing is no exception. Publishers are becoming more interested in the advantages of programmatic advertising. Automating the media buying, marketing, and advertising processes allows marketers to maximize their resources and budget. The speakers at the Digiday Summit all agreed that the most important factor in programmatic success is data. Analytics are paramount in the move towards automation.

4. Ad Blockers

Though Ad Blockers are considerably the kraken of the advertising seas, many publishers have joined the consensus that the threat has become dormant. However, as more viewers turn to mobile devices, new concerns arise. Currently ad blockers do not pose a major threat to mobile, but it is only a matter of time until they do. Publishers are addressing this now by working on how to measure ad blocking rates. So, when mobile ad blockers inevitably strike, publishers know how to define and avoid the issue.

5. Video Content

Digital marketers and content creators across the board agree- 2017 is the year of video. Publishers are taking this opportunity to ramp up their video content. However, video poses a unique set of challenges for publishers. Could this be considered an opportunity for digital marketing agency landscape? 

Involving reasonably more creative and technical resources than written content, publishers are working on how to make this type of content worthwhile from a business standpoint. Views are typically how the success of a video is measured, but publishers are pursuing a different metric- subscriptions. How do publishers prove the value of their video content as enough to convert viewers to paid subscribers?

Moving Forward 

The general attitude was a mix of excitement and fear. The rise of digital has pushed publishers to venture into uncharted territory. Meanwhile, it has also lead to the creation of some pretty amazing content and communities. For example, Highsnobiety has an audience base on Facebook alone of over 2 million. It may not always be smooth sailing, but events like The Publishing Summit allow publishers and digital natives openly exchange ideas, and help each other to move forward.

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