December 8, 2014 The future of digital publishing

By Alexandra Hallam

AIMIA

The AIMIA Future of Digital Publishing Victorian event devoted a lot of thought to that old saying: content is king. However, a king on his own doesn’t have much of a meaning. So while content may be king, there is much more to making an effective message.

If content is king, then technology is its queen

Cambridge University Press Executive Director, Mark O’Neil made the point that learning and remembering are not the same thing. Whether a student trying to remember French verbs before a test, or your audience reading your message, it is still the same; we need to think about what we are taking in before we can learn it. So make sure your message is conveyed in a way that your audience will interact with and continue to think about. Cambridge University Press use interactive digital publishing for their educational products. They find that by creating content that is interactive and physically engaging, students are more likely to learn.

Alison Adey from Blitz Publications and Multi-Media Group discussed the importance of complementary old and new media, especially when reaching out to millennials. New media, she said, should be part of a conversation with your audience. Pay attention to your audience’s response – and then react to it! Build it into your plan. A strategic content plan with thoughtful content will always be better than bombarding your audience with a fast content overload.

If content is king, then context is its mistress

Understanding the context of how your content is being accessed by your audience will help to make its message more effective. Knowing where your audience is reading, on what device, and how much time they are committing to taking in the content can all affect how you might choose to present your message.

Matt Davis, the Senior Solutions Consultant from Adobe, discussed the growing trend for accessing web content from a dedicated app, rather than a browser. He said that typically, as much as six out of seven interactions are app-based.

Knowing that your reader is more likely to be consuming your content from a handheld device should make you rethink how to deliver your message. Roghan McKerlie of Bullseye Digital impressed the benefits of ‘snackable content’ – timely and relevant, but relatively short messages that leave audiences hungry for more. Be aware that your audience might click away halfway through the message, so think journalistically and provide your most important message at the top.

A key takeaway from panel discussion was: be a content engineer. Tweak the way you deliver your message across different media, so that it makes the most sense in that particular context and to that specific audience.

Final thoughts

It’s always interesting to hear the current feel for what ‘the future’ of anything will be – particularly digital publishing, where we are all feeling our way and seeing what sticks. It was clear after the AIMIA event that content will always be the most important aspect to a message, but that innovation is what makes the message effective.