If your publishing goal is to eventually leave behind print media altogether, you should start your switch to digital with that goal in mind. Another major goal is to produce high-value content that is shareable and that can be transformed in as few steps as possible into a product consumable across multiple platforms.
The media industry is undergoing rapid transformation with widespread adoption of mobile platforms. A 2012 article in AdAge estimates that by the end of the year 2015, half of all magazine and newspaper circulation will be digital rather than print. Today’s readers expect to see videos, sponsored content, and custom job boards as part of their digital reading experience. Here are some considerations for publishers that want digital to pick up where print leaves off with minimal pain.
Be Aware of Assumptions that Feed ROI Projections
Naturally, you want your publication’s shift to digital media to bring an early and healthy return on investment. But be aware up front that ROI projections rest on a stack of assumptions that include things like:
- Actions of competitors
- Overall business volume
- Market share
- Software development time and costs
- Digital roll-out
- Labor requirements
Some assumptions bring more certainty with them than others, so it’s critical that you weigh your business’s particular factors to determine which carry the most weight in driving your ROI.
Explore Publishing Apps
You will also need to evaluate your options for publishing software. Flexibility is critical. When you have one suite of apps that can take your content from iPad to laptop to Android, you save time and money, and avoid duplication of effort. You must also consider the advantages and disadvantages of on-site versus cloud-hosted software. Perhaps the most widely used software in digital publishing is Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). This may be right for your business. However, even if you think you’ll go with Adobe DPS, it’s worth your while to take a little time and consider your other options, like Zmags, Perfect Market DPS, and Inkling Habitat so you can be fully confident in your choice.
Establish Digital Readiness
By making sure your organization is ready to make the transformation to digital publishing, you’ll reduce chaos and help the transition go smoothly. Here are some tips for improving digital readiness:
- Keep marketing in the loop throughout the transition. They may have terrific ideas on ways to use content. A unified approach helps save money and keep everyone on the same (digital) page.
- Understand the market, your competition, and market trends. Having marketing on board can help with general market understanding.
- Document what competitors are doing, and then look at selected non-competitors that are making innovations. Think both short term and long term. You may discover some very profitable directions you can go in if you look beyond your immediate competitors.
- Create a content model. This is a consistent structure applied to raw content. It makes your content easily transformable into a variety of digital formats. The more you can automate content transformation among platforms, the better your competitive advantage.
- Make a plan for content management. You need to be able to store, search, edit, and annotate content, both for future reference and for efficient and useful archival.
Measure Success and Make Adjustments
During your digital transformation, you should measure just about everything that can be measured, including time spent learning software, overhead, time from content creation to transformation, cost of software and hardware, labor costs, and time spent on various processes involved in digital publication. Don’t be afraid of these numbers. They can tell you whether you have processes that are being underdone or overdone, or areas where effort is duplicated. You may gain insight into new ways to automate (or semi-automate) processes in the digital publishing pathway.
Even in an era of rapid digital transformation, few publishers know with certainty what uses their content will be put to, and where future opportunities may lie. But cross-platform availability is proving its mettle as a brand strengthener. When content can be delivered across digital channels, a cumulative effect develops with brand awareness and your content’s ability to reach more people. Your content can be placed on a range of platforms without significantly increasing costs or resource requirements, and print elements can often be used in digital publishing before print is left behind for good. Ideally, the result will be streamlined costs and higher digital ROI.