How Modern Publishers Are Making Money — and How They’ll Make More in 2016

Data monetization, digital advertising trends, and more: What modern publishers have behind and ahead of them, according to a leading industry source

We’ve rolled out our year-end retrospectives and looks ahead, which we believe provide a blueprint for modern publishers looking to improve on audience development and conversion via sound but also experimental multiplatform strategy.

But we also like taking a look around to see what other industry observers are saying about the state of digital magazines, especially industry observers with a strong track record.

Publishing Executive is the leader of the pack in that department. Let’s see what they gathered up from their 2015 articles as well as what they’re predicting for 2016.

Modern Publishers and Data: Looking Back at 2015’s top data-driven publishing stories of 2015 run the gamut from lead generation to content analytics to managing metrics.

“At Publishing Executive Live: Executive Summit on Digital Media, executives from ALM, Hearst Digital, and Condé Nast argued that scroll-down, loyalty metrics, and shares are the best benchmarks for gauging audience engagement — not the pageview,” Ellen Harvey writes about this PubExec story on “The Death of the Pageview.”

Modern Publishers and Online Advertising

Selling is not as simple or one-dimensional as it sounds —’s top 10 stories of 2015 demonstrate that. Here’s a sampling:

“It’s not about selling ad space in today’s media world, writes NAPCO Media president David Leskusky. Salespeople need to learn how to sell outcomes,” Harvey says about this PubExec story.

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

On the Time Inc. digital push, including a branded content studio: “This year, Time Inc. made a major investment in content marketing by launching its own content studio. The goal of The Foundry is to produce branded content at scale, said EVP of global advertising Mike Ford.”

On why publishers should act like agencies: “Katie Risch, SVP of publisher development at Centro, argues that publishers should go beyond selling ads on their site. Like agencies, they should buy ad inventory on other sites and retarget their own readers who go to those sites on behalf of the advertiser.”

On Creative Programmatic: The Need for Better Rich Media Ads: “Banner ads aren’t enough to engage readers online. Programmatic ads should be interactive, which is why rich media ads are gaining steam, says Keith Ahern, CEO and founder of Ooomph.”

Modern Publishers in 12 Words? claims it can handicap the issues facing modern publishers in 2016 in 12 words, and we have to say, they do a pretty admirable job. But the first one is a gimme, and you’ve probably guessed it all ready: blocking. As in ad blocking.

“A year ago, no one recognized ad blocking as a soon-to-be-hot issue; now it’s on everyone’s radar. The big question is how we publishers will react. How closely will we monitor ad blocking? Will we have the discipline to reign in slow-loading and just plain obnoxious ads? Will we erect paywalls, block those who block, or pay to get whitelisted?” D. Eadward Tree writes.

“It could be a big year for formats that are beyond the reach of ad blockers, such as native ads, white papers, and sponsored e-books. And maybe even print.”

Modern Publishers’ Survey on 2016 Trendspotting

Also offered on is a chance for you to chime in on what you think lays ahead when it comes to digital publishing trends. Be sure to share your own predictions here!

“How will magazine publishers use data to accelerate and grow their businesses? How will native advertising evolve and what will its impact be on the structure of media organizations? What new revenue streams will buoy the industry?” Harvey writes.

“There are a lot of unknowns for the media industry in 2016. We’d like to take this opportunity to survey publishing executives and decision makers about where they predict growth for 2016 and which tools they expect to enhance their businesses.”

Modern publishers need the Mequoda CEO Institute Program Guide to stay ahead of the many trends coming at them. Luckily, you can download it for free!

To read more about modern publishers in the news, visit


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