Digital survival skills for publishers

Publishing has changed forever, writes Carolyn Morgan, and media owners will have to learn a whole new set of digital survival skills to thrive in a world of digital content – before brands, retailers, government and start-ups eat their lunch…

By Carolyn Morgan

What are these skills, and which media businesses are already putting them into practice? And what can publishers learn from organisations outside the media industry?

Showcasing excellence in these new digital skills from within and outside media and providing publishers with practical advice on how to apply them to their business is the focus of a new event from SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) – the Digital Content & Media Summit, taking place 23-25 September at One Wimpole Street, London.

Here are six key digital survival skills and some of the stories that will be told at the Summit:

1. Thinking like a tech firm

Publishers have to shift their focus from content-driven products towards designing solutions for customers that are more like software, so this means an entirely different approach to product development. And editorial and marketing teams will have to work much more closely with developers.

Pioneering media businesses like Dennis have had to reinvent how they work and create new products and Paul Lomax, CTO and Martin Belson, MD Enterprise, will share their tips for managing the operational and cultural issues. Tony Macklin, now Director of Product Development at Immediate Media, joined from digital native ancestry.com and will explain how he believes publishers need to change how products are developed.

2. Converting free content to paid services

Publishers have more opportunities than ever before to use search and social media to disseminate their content worldwide. But how can all this free content be converted to paid subscriptions or other revenue-generating activity?

Faisal Galaria, formerly at freemium digital businesses Skype and Spotify, will chair this session. Audra Martin of the Economist will share how they use blogs, Google+, infographics and hangouts to reach a new audience and ultimately sell more paid subscriptions. And Toby Green, Head of Publishing at OECD, will share how their freemium model adds value to paying customers by allowing them to customise and download data.

3. Building a global media ecosystem

Print, web, mobile, social and live events no longer operate in silos. For publishers, it’s now all about the audience, and these days they expect to be able to consume content and services on the most convenient channel. An excellent web presence can help even niche publishers access a new, worldwide audience and feed prospective customers to premium mobile, live and, yes, even print products. This media ecosystem will be the future life support for your brand and content.

Peter Phippen, Deputy Chairman of Immediate and Chairman of Sift, and founder of East West Relations, will bring a global perspective when chairing this session. Andy Rice, MD of Music and Sport at Future will share how they are using their web reach in music and sport to access new audiences and commercial revenues, and market premium priced mobile editions worldwide. Tim Brooks, CEO of BMJ Group, will detail how they have grown digital to 60% of revenues through launching open access journals and developing mobile decision support tools for doctors and health professionals in India, Brazil and the US.

4. Developing new ways to charge

Annual and monthly subscriptions are a lifeline for many publishers, but they are only the start of the range of new charging options. From corporate site licenses with all-you-can-eat access to micropayments for pay-per-view articles and everything in between, users and readers can now choose exactly what they want and when and how they pay – via credit card, mobile phone, PayPal or even prepaid credits. And marketing these new paid services is becoming more complex, ranging from dedicated account management teams to automated upgrade offers.

Colin Morrison, Director of Centaur Media, Travel Weekly and with a track record in many other media businesses, will chair this session. Richard Londesborough, CEO of Business Monitor, will share how they have grown their revenues tenfold. Olivier Delteil, Digital Innovation Manager at Les Echos will explain how they are adding value to their premium news and data for corporate subscribers. Plus Brian Bishop, VP Platform Development at Springer will share how they are creating individually customised subscription packages.

5. Nurturing communities and personalising content

The audience is now talking back, and all media businesses have to converse with an increasingly expert and vociferous readership. The flood of reader data is providing new insights into what content is valued and allowing publishers to personalise content and marketing.

Adrian Barrick, Chief Content Officer at UBM, will explain why they are investing in creating b2b online communities and the value this is creating. Phil Abrahams will explore how CABI have used their agricultural database to create a range of tailored products for farmers and plant clinics worldwide with very specific needs. And Ben Heald of Sift will share how they generate significant revenues from online communities.

6. Collaborating with advertisers

Straight display advertising is of diminishing value to media owners. Clients are looking for new ways to engage specific audiences with quality, relevant content and tailored multi-media campaigns. Publishers have an opportunity to help advertisers achieve this by adapting their customer insight plus editorial and design expertise.

We’ll hear from agencies and media owners like Paul Hood, Head of Digital at Archant London, who believes that traditional publishers are still the best at storytelling: “Local media and specialist media in particular have always done a great job of bringing together motivated buyers and sellers through the creation of unique and compelling content. ‘Native advertising’ or ‘native content’ are really just new buzzwords for making sure commercial messages get stitched more seamlessly into relevant premium content. We’re delivering more and more such solutions for brands like Bentley and Intel.”

Audra Martin of the Economist will explore how innovative media owners can create high value commercial packages for clients, and James Bailey of Maxus Global will explain the agency viewpoint.

What’s happening in digital media?

It’s crucial for publishers to keep up to date with the latest research and trends in digital media and content. Benedict Evans of Enders Analysis will share his take on how media and mobile is changing. Rob Grainger of Stonewash will preview brand new research into how, when and where digital publications are consumed. And Parry Malm from Adestra will reveal new insights from research into creating email campaigns that convert to hard sales.

Showcasing new innovative media businesses

How do start-up media businesses view the industry and what can other publishers learn from these innovators? The Previews programme will select six up and coming media businesses to present at the Summit, showcasing how digital natives approach new opportunities.

Learning from publishers’ experiences

These days, there’s rarely a roadmap to success in digital publishing, so there’s huge value in listening to the experiences of other media businesses from around the world. One fascinating story is that of Ascend, a data-driven business in the aviation world. Founder Gehan Talwatte will discuss how he grew Ascend and eventually sold it to Reed, and what he believes is important for other B2B publishers.

Find out what’s working for people like Julian Turner, CEO of Electric Word, Helmut Graf, CEO of VNR Business Media in Germany, Amanda Barnes, CEO of Faversham House, Robin Crumby, Founder of Melcrum and other internationally minded publishers in interactive workshops and small group round table discussions, or over coffee, lunch or drinks.

Acquiring the new digital survival skills of tech-style product development, converting free content to paid revenues, building media ecosystems, charging in new ways, unlocking the power of data and communities and establishing collaborative relationships with advertisers isn’t going to be easy for publishers, but this group of pioneers are beginning to show the way. I hope you’ll be able to join us in September to start the journey.

More about the Summit

Learn the digital survival skills all publishers must acquire

* Think like a tech firm

* Free to paid

* Media ecosystems

* New charging models

* Data & communities

* Collaborative advertising

Hear from innovative media businesses

30+ speakers confirmed from: Future, Dennis, Economist, Sift, CABI, BMJ, Les Echos, OECD, Immediate, Springer, UBM, Archant, Business Monitor, Electric Word, Google and more.

Find practical answers

Interactive workshops * Roundtables * Networking

Preview new media businesses meet the finalists

Book Now to save £297

SIIA members: £448* (full rate £745*)

Non members: £598* (full rate £895*)

Promo code: DCMIP

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* plus VAT where applicable. Offer expires 30 August.

Sponsors and partners: Adestra, BRAD Insight, InPublishing, Newstex, ReportLinker, Stonewash

SIIA Digital Content & Media Summit

23-25 September. One Wimpole Street, London