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Publishing is changing. Forever. For All.

Digital publishing.

Sure it’s been tough in content publishing for the last decade, but 2015 and 2016 will probably go down as watershed years.

Content is no longer controlled by news agencies as the printed world dies – and with it the super-massive advertising models that drove the news industry for half a century.

For 50, access to news through advertising has been the financial powerhouse driving the printed sector. It made billionaires out of tyrants, and huge conglomerates out of old magazines and newspapers. It seems as if the party is over.

The news world has been changing rather quickly. Just take a look at the last ten years and you’ll see the rise of Twitter, Vine, Flipboard, Facebook, Tumblr, Medium, QZ.com, Yahoo, HuffPo and Google to name just a few. All free, all pervasive, all mobile. And now …

The world’s largest news site, Facebook, has no journalists.

This new world, one that the old guard and old-thinkers are struggling with is well upon us. Many are fighting a desperate, rear-guard action. Recently, The Guardian reported that print advertising revenues are down a further 30%, just in the preceding six months.

With many old-school publications earning upwards of 50% from advertising, it’s critical to get the advertising model correct. But they didn’t – they cared so little about the consumers that they seem to have killed the golden advertising goose.

When the publishing industry gets greedy

When the IAB gingerly admitted it had “messed up” it was one of the greatest understatements of this century. It’s hubris and self-serving approach to digital advertising summed up everything that was wrong with the old industry. It’s a mistake that might kill them, much like the rash “private internet” they tried to create with paywalls.

It is therefore quite interesting to see the rise of AdBlockers and the beginning of the end of traditional paywalls. It marks the start of greater change; all content is everywhere now and always on – the race is now on to chase the value in how to deliver content.

We’re seeing new players in this space (think Apple News) and new delivery mechanisms that will uproot old models.

Adding dimensions to content

Content is still king, but the definition of relevance is changing – We need different information at different times, and that context is forcing news channels to rethink how to treat all content.

And this doesn’t just apply to news channels, we’re all content providers todays. Even individuals, most folks big into the digital space will have personal blogs, active social media followings and may even contribute on aggregators such as Medium or Quartz.

The challenge for non-news channels and organisations is standing out from the crowd. Breaking news is now (over?) covered by an enormous range of news initiators from around the globe. Anyone with a smartphone has become a content creator, and the big news channels are now using up to 50% of their news content from these so-called amateurs.

Organisations trying to butt into the torrent of information from the internet firehose have real challenges. And that doesn’t mean “How to articles” or stoopid “10 lists to make your lists more eye-catching”. Clickbait, or “craptent”, (as I’ve called) is most definitely not the way.

The future is engaging and thoughtful analysis, strong opinion and real expert advice – The digital landfill dump is getting full of repurposed and poor quality content that adds nothing to the Internet and clutters up user searches. There is an argument that “craptent” become tomorrows version of link-building, and I look forward to the day when all the rubbish content burns, ceremoniously, on the digital funeral pyre!