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Magazine Challenges – and Chances to Shine: Social, Ad Blocking, Apps

Today’s magazine challenges are many, but they also represent opportunities for digital publishers

It would take a much longer post to outline all of the magazine challenges facing online publishers, but a few of the big ones these days include whether to go all in with social media like Facebook Instant Articles (and how to survive if you don’t, when it feels like everyone else is taking the bait); what do about ad blocking; and why to continue investing resources in apps.

At Mequoda, we believe if there’s a tool in the box, we’ll give it a whirl. In other words, we don’t rely on one digital publishing component or platform – we deploy and implement everything from the old-school standbys to the latest and greatest innovations in technology and best practices.

With every crisis comes the opportunity for growth. And that’s exactly what media companies are looking for. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, contact us to learn more. In the meantime, check out this recent coverage from Digiday, which touches on what we’re talking about.

Social Media for Publishers: Is There Any Balance of Power?

Guardian News & Media Editor in Chief Katharine Viner spoke at a recent IBSA lunch in London, addressing newspaper and magazine challenges in the age of social media dominance, Digiday reports.

“Social media companies have become overwhelmingly powerful in determining what we read and whether publishers make any money. The idea of challenging the wide-open worldwide web has been replaced by platforms and publishers who maximize the amount of time you spend with them and find clever ways to stop you leaving. That may be great news for advertisers and the platforms themselves, but it’s a real concern for the news industry,” Vine said.

“For journalism, it is a fight dictated by an ever-changing, unknown, mysterious news feed algorithm. We’re at a loss, in part because we have wholly adopted the language and vision of Silicon Valley. … Because Facebook does not think of itself primarily as a news company, it seems to want us to stop expecting it to act like one. Whether we should is a more complicated matter. Innovative journalism needs a new business model.”

Vox Chair and CEO Offers Opinions on Magazine Challenges

It’s up to digital publishers to come up with the solutions to magazine challenges in an ever-more sophisticated industry, says Vox Media Chair and CEO Jim Bankoff in a recent Digiday Pulse interview.

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers.

“It’s time for all of us premium quality publishers to separate ourselves to create a better value proposition. If anything’s holding us back, it’s a lack of separation between premium quality brand experiences and every-thing else. You see symptoms of that with audiences adopting ad blockers,” Bankoff tells Lucia Moses.

“We’ve developed our own ad platform to solve for a lot of the problems associated with ad blocking. We built our own creative services unit. For advertisers that bring their own assets to the table, we make sure they load quickly, look great and are data-informed. We think ultimately it’s in best interest of this whole ecosystem to embrace premium quality advertising. … We don’t have to do unnatural things like, say, get more people to our newspaper. We have to monetize, and we are. What we look for is: Is there a big and relevant audience? Second, is this a platform we can tell stories in line with our brand? And third, is there a business model or hope for one? But you have to find the right balance. You don’t want to overinvest in anything.”

Apps: People Want Them, UK Publisher Wagers

While many publishers are moving away or barely maintaining digital magazine apps, some publishers see them not as magazine challenges, but rather opportunities to combat ad blockers and enhance audience development. Digiday reports on one such publisher, the U.K.’s Metro.

“While many publishers want to create attractive owned properties for readers to habitually return to, Metro’s focus on apps is also a response to dwindling desktop display dominance,” Lucinda Southern writes.

“Ad blocking on mobile is a growing concern. The IAB’s most recent study found that 10 percent of U.K.’s smartphone users block ads. Metro is selling ad packages across print and digital editions, previously different creative was designed for each, which led to higher quantities of print and tablet advertisers, and fewer on smartphone. Now, Metro will convert print ad creative to an interactive in-app ad, free of charge. It sells ads at a set price per edition. Sponsored content, created by Story, which is part of Metro’s commercial arm, is now sold across devices too.”

What are the magazine challenges you’re facing? Tell us about them in the comments!

To read more about magazine challenges and other industry trends, visit Digiday.

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