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Publishers prepare for 2020 with technology investments

February 21, 2020 | By Rande Price, Research Director – DCN @Randeloo

Digital publishers see rays of hope as they continue to monetize premium content, transform business strategies, maximize technology investments, and increase revenue diversification. Just over two-thirds (69%) of digital publishers expect to see an overall revenue growth in 2020 according to a new report, Publishers Bullish on Talent, Tech and Growth in 2020, from Folio. Of those publishers expecting revenue growth, a quarter anticipate double digits. Only 4% of participants expect revenues to decline. This research is based on 182 surveyed industry professionals accompanied by eight in-depth executive interviews.

Growth expectations

Respondents report the top three categories for revenue growth are digital advertising including branded content (58%), live events (43%), and marketing services (38%). In addition to revenue growth, audience growth is also expected in 2020. Twenty-eight percent of publishers expect a 10% growth in audience while more than one-third (36%) expect single-digit growth. 

Audience development is more than just chasing clicks on digital platforms. It’s about learning your business ecosystem and how the pieces work together. Executives cite email (54%), social media (53%), and events (44%) as the strongest performers for audience development. 

2020 priorities

Publishers recognize the need to invest in the video side (35%) of their business as well as back end technology and operation systems (34%) for content management and advertising businesses. Publishers, especially traditional magazine businesses, see video as a very lucrative way to reinvent their content strategy and distribution model with attractive advertising packages at high CPMs.

Executive interviews

Catherine Levene, President, Chief Digital Officer of Meredith Corporation, participated in Folio’s executive interviews. Meredith charted its course in preparation for 2020. Levene said Meredith is keenly focused is on innovation. This includes technology investments, including a new content management system and a first-party data and insights platform.

She also mentioned Meredith’s investments in video production and distribution and new content-to-commerce capabilities. Levene sees a win-win for their audience and advertisers, “We are creating content and experiences that drive engagement and are offering predictive advertising that achieves results for our marketing partners.”

Erin O’Mara, President of The Nation, also participated in the executive interviews. O’Mara described the digital business as more than just a website, it’s about super-serving the audience. A new initiative, “The Nation Classroom,” uses their archives to create robust teaching modules for high school student. The goal for this project is to be profitable as well as to make available to schools that cannot afford it. O’Mara see this initiative as an important step to extend a brand experience through community outreach.

As Folio’s research suggests, there is no time digital media brands to standstill. It’s essential for media companies to take the steps to identify the key business and audience strategies and investment in them.

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