In last weeks post we highlighted a number of challenges facing the publishing industry in 2017 including Adblockers, Sponsored Content, Native Advertising and Mobile. This week we will focus on other headlines currently in the news including Fake News, Video and Social Media.
With many elections in mainland Europe (including in Germany, France and Norway) due to take place over the year, the relatively new but huge issue of fake news sites (websites that publish stories purporting to be truthful but actually have no factual basis) is set to reach a new level in 2017, after coming to the fore in the run-up to the U.S. election in November. It doesn’t take a lot to work out how the publishing industry could be affected by this.
This is about more than a publisher’s reputation. Many architects of fake news have an agenda, like trying to undermine or gain support for a political figure. If publishers don’t put any political differences aside and start tackling the problems of hoax news websites, then not only will the public image of the news industry be under threat, democracy could start to be under attack soon as well, as opportunist propagandists seek the political outcomes they want by subverting opposition with false stories. Even governments are concerned, with the German and Czech governments considering opening a new branch to specifically deal with fake news. http://ow.ly/hsCW308749Q
In truth, this is a problem that is incredibly difficult for publishers to resolve, as it is unrealistic to believe that publishers will come together to agree on certain credibility levels, or that they will work together at all. On top of this, the false news that is coming through will only get more and more sophisticated. Only after defeating fake news will people start to really trust publishers again and start subscribing. But that’s far easier said than done.
You don’t need to be a social media expert to realise that video, particularly live streaming and video advertising, is a huge deal. In fact, there are predictions that Facebook could be all video within 5 years
Videos can undoubtedly add to our online experience, so long as it is relevant and publishers go for quality over quantity. Attitudes towards advertising on videos are changing, too, with generally less patience with pre-roll ads (before a video starts). If publishers do decide to ride the video wave in 2017, then viewers will expect new and frequent videos that are designed for them and their interests.
The potential future of video is a very exciting one. The notion of publishers entering the world of virtual reality is one that has been predicted as something that will happen ‘in the near future’ for several years now, but 2017 could be that breakthrough year. The craze that was Pokémon Go last year was, if nothing else, a clear sign that the appetite for virtual reality is there if you get it right. If any publisher was to start experimenting with virtual reality this year, they would have to hope that it would their readers would take to it (as there is no previous record for anyone to go on), and they would have to be confident that they would recoup the huge costs that would be encountered by such a large project.
We can also guarantee that social media will come to be such an important part of our lives in 2017 that we’ll wonder how we managed without it. Publishers will soon start to think the same. The seemingly unstoppable rise of social video is something that publishers are rightly starting to react to, but, as mentioned earlier, success in this field is far from guaranteed. We could also see the revolutionising of social media advertising as adverts ‘mid-roll’ (or during a video) on Facebook start to be experimented with according to Digiday. http://ow.ly/TmzG30875c9
But it isn’t going to be all that simple for publishers on social media. It is where fake news is at its most prominent, and it isn’t easy to really monetise social media campaigns, especially as ad revenues are declining so starkly and the publishing market on social media becomes ever more saturated. However, constantly improving data analytics will aid publishers no end in finding out the main characteristics of who looks at their content, and thus what they post on social media sites, and indeed which social media sites they post it on. 2016 started to show us that publishers need to start making money on social media, and having a solid social media campaign is just as, if not more, important than having a good website. There are numerous ways in which to generate money on social media. If publishers want a successful 2017, social media must be made a priority, as how we read our news is changing and publishers must change with it.
2016 bought far more problems for the publishing industry than solutions and opportunities. And these problems won’t be going anywhere this year, with fake news and ad blockers still posing genuine threats to publisher’s revenue and stature. But to see 2017 as merely a continuation of the doom and gloom of the year before is a very limited view. Social media still presents a gold mine of potential, and there are clear paths for publishers to take in weening themselves off depending on advertising for revenue.
But if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that you can never rule anything out.