FEATURE 

Publishing 2023

InPublishing celebrated its tenth birthday in November 2013, by asking some leading figures in the publishing world to try to predict what different sectors of the industry would look like in ten year’s time.

By Publishing 2023

The National Newspaper Publisher in 2023

Ray Snoddy writes:Looking back, it is very easy to see that 2013 was a nadir for the national newspaper industry – or newsbrands as we are now happy to call them. The near perfect storm created by the march of the internet, the confused commercial response, the arrival of endless consumer choice and years of recession have been endlessly analysed by media academics.

One of the keys to the revival was the arrival of a new generation of sugar-daddies coming, ironically, from the ranks of the internet entrepreneurs whose activities had so devastated newspaper advertising revenues. As often happens, the first sign of the new trend came from the US a decade ago when Jeff Bezos of Amazon bought the Washington Post and then Pierre Omidyar of eBay set up a powerful organisation of independent journalists specialising in investigative journalism. Once it was successful builders and property developers who flocked to buy newspapers in the search for social cachet and political influence. The traditional path was trodden by internet entrepreneurs as soon as they had made their first paper billion. In the UK, there were even a few purchases by merchant bankers seeking redemption. Who would have imagined that?

The turnaround was accelerated when the penny finally dropped that giving away all that expensive journalism for nothing was not a clever idea – though there remains to this day a wide selection of economic models and charging mechanisms. The widespread growth of 3D manufacturing machines in the hands of consumers was an important factor as was the appearance of the £9.99 tablet. The way things are going, the new communications watches will soon be cheap enough to start appearing in Christmas crackers.

These factors combined to ensure something that would have seemed truly extraordinary a decade ago: all the historic publishers have managed to survive in some form though obviously with changes of ownership. Even more extraordinary, most of them are still producing print products – or newspapers – though in very different ways.

The Guardian, unsurprisingly, was the first to go totally electronic and The Independent only prints at the weekends and on big occasions such as the recent coronation of King Charles. For most of the others, it still makes sense to print and distribute newspapers in the urban centres as premium products. Despite everyone having their own unique electronic communicators, some smarter than others, there are those prepared to pay a bit extra to turn paper pages. Outside the cities, if you want a paper, you obviously print your own. Sales online round the world have also been surprisingly high.

Journalistic teams, of course, have changed out of all recognition. What would have been called the staff in the old days have mainly slimmed down to just an editor and section commissioning heads with everything else produced by freelance writers and editors located all over the world.

In 2013, futurologist Don Tapscott predicted emphatically that the very last printed newspaper would close in 2030. Tapscott is almost certainly wrong but that’s seven years away yet, so you never know.

Contact information:raymond.snoddy@gmail.com * @RaymondSnoddy 

eCommerce in 2023

Paul Johnson, CEO of MPP Global Solutions, writes: The future is now, and the publishing industry must adapt to cater for the 2023 consumer.

The advent of social media, the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other new connected devices and access to limitless data regardless of location have led to the emergence of the always-on, connected consumer.

By 2023, there will be more devices than people, our smartphone will be a wallet, wearable devices such as Google Glass will be on the market and the internet will have evolved to enable instantaneous communication.

Delivery of newspaper and magazine content will evolve to become truly multi-channel and the leap from physical wholesale / retail to direct-2-consumer eCommerce will be complete.

Publishers will complete the overhaul of their platforms, uniting customer and behavioural data to provide a single customer view and a seamless user experience across all channels. Attribution modelling will have advanced beyond recognition, driving cross-selling capabilities, while personalising advert and content targeting and the merging of disparate databases into a single customer view across all channels will continue.

Single sign-on, identity management and centralised entitlement and rights management will be common. For example, a customer reading page 12 of a newspaper on one device will automatically view the same page if they switch device. CRM systems will be designed with digital first and with flexibility at its heart.

‘Big Data’, a term which today is as important as it is fashionable will be a de facto standard tomorrow. Big Data enables extensive customer profiling and will change the way that publishers track customer behaviour. Publishers that use Big Data effectively will typically combine ad-server data as well as other data sources in a proprietary data warehouse where data can be manipulated by software and queried by analysts.

Speed will become a differentiator and this window of opportunity will only exist for a short period of time. Any delay in delivering actionable behavioural data will render it obsolete. As a result, marketing will become more scientific as data analytics provides real-time statistics and fact-led decision making will come to the fore.

There is no doubt that an increasingly complex digital ecosystem is bringing about a revolution in behavioural analytics whilst offering a number of new eCommerce opportunities. Publishers who successfully embrace multiple channels, customer centricity and address how to best use Big Data will succeed in the brave new world of digital-only publishing.

About us: MPP are the leading provider of CRM, payment and eCommerce solutions to the media and entertainment sectors. With well over a decade’s experience, MPP offers a breadth of CRM and payment functionality which has helped to attract such high profile clients as The Times, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail.

Contact information:info@mppglobal.com * 0844 873 1418 * @mppglobal * www.mppglobal.com

The Regional Newspaper Publisher in 2023

Steve Dyson writes: In ten years’ time, there will be few – if any – daily regional and local newspapers left in the United Kingdom.

It’s not a hard scenario to predict: 13 regional newspapers have converted from daily to weekly publication in the last six years, most changing in the last two years.

Of the 78 dailies currently remaining, more than 30 sell less than 20,000 a day and will go weekly – or close – in the next five years; a similar number – perhaps more – will convert by 2023.

If any dailies remain, they will be in largely indigenous urban areas like the Black Country, Merseyside, Tyneside and north-east Scotland; and they will only be making tiny profits.

Instead, the industry will mainly consist of two types of weekly publisher: regional ‘giants’ with shared online platforms; and local start-ups and buy-outs with hyperlocal blogging websites.

Regional ‘giants’: the likes of Newsquest, Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror and Local World will have changed out of all recognition, and will halve in number.

The two that remain, along with the larger family firms, will publish fat, cat-killing weeklies covering cosmopolitan cities, large towns and urban counties where there are still enough readers and advertisers wanting regular and unique local insight in print.

Note the word ‘insight’: most content will be analysis, timeless investigations and detailed comment, resulting in high quality papers that will be premium priced; breaking news, sport and videos will appear on their website pages, updated daily.

Those online sites will be shared national structures – www.upyourstreet.com (or something like that) – with local pages automatically appearing based on a new post code app.

These ‘giants’ won’t have large revenues or staff; most will share back offices, production, sales, IT, finance and printing, and will make a few millions in profit out of tens of millions in revenue each year.

They will have fewer full-time journalists: more than half their print content will come from highly-skilled freelance reporters and writers in portfolio careers; much of print and most online content will be enthusiastic, user-generated and social media-based.

Local start-ups and buy-outs: in many rural towns up and down the country, smaller papers coming out weekly, monthly and in some cases, only quarterly will be owned locally, with free distribution models.

Their owners will be former journalists, local businessmen or worthies; some will be start-ups, others buy-outs; all will be happy breaking even with a regular print product in areas not served well by larger regional and national products.

Staffing will be a microcosm of the giants’ structures: none will have many salaried journalists; most will pay freelance contributors for exclusive hard news; all will nurture user generated content from knowledgeable, village-style correspondents for token rates.

Hyperlocal blogging sites will provide more regular local content – some owned by the same worthies along with print products, others more cottage-industry, covering costs but only run part-time and often filled by volunteers.

Overall, no regional or local publishers will have websites making fortunes. But they will be sustainable in print and online, celebrated by their audiences and more focussed on fulfilling community roles.

Contact information:steve.dysonmedia@gmail.co.uk * 0781 800 4575 * www.dysonmedia.co.uk

The Printing Company in 2023

Roger Pitt, Managing Director of Headley Brothers, writes: In 2023, print will still very much exist as an integral part of the communications mix. Print runs, in particular magazine print runs, will be shorter overall, and printed communications will be more targeted to the recipient. Data-driven digital printing will have grown exponentially; with nanographic printing technology dominating. Nanographic printing processes will have bridged the profitability gap between low volumes of digital and the high volumes of the offset printing processes; enabling cost-effective, high-speed production of higher run variable data work on a vast array of substrates.

There will be more emphasis than ever on reader engagement and interactivity with the product, and advances in the efficiencies of finishing technologies will have resulted in more prevalent use of the ‘specialist’ finishes that we employ now, such as glow in the dark and thermocromic inks, monogrammed foil-blocking, fragrance burst and face paint inks to name but a few.

Successful publications will be content-driven, with high levels of editorial integrity, and will deliver more than just words to the reader – they will deliver an experience that spans print, mobile and online channels. Printers will have therefore become more than just printers; to survive, they will have expanded to deliver content expertly across these channels.

The printed piece will be truly interactive. Advances such as ‘Clickable Paper’ will have replaced the QR code; further bridging the gap between print and mobile devices; and providing the reader with more extensive access to video, audio and social media through the printed piece. This will optimise the user experience, and provide advertisers and publishers alike with the opportunity to truly engage with the reader, and track reader behaviour extensively and accurately. As current new technologies, such as augmented reality, show – print is very much a part of the communications mix, and provides a tangible experience unrivalled by, yet entirely complementary to, online channels.

Much debate has been had over whether print is ‘dying’ at the mercy of online communications. The truth is that print, and communications in general, are evolving and will continue to evolve. In ten years’ time, the successful printers will have evolved into experts in the field of cross-media communications, incorporating a wealth of online offerings and expertise to complement advanced print and finishing technologies that provide high-speed, cost-effective data-driven print that truly engages with the recipient.

About us: Headley Brothers is an independent company, offering complete and innovative magazine content delivery solutions from one site in Ashford, Kent. Our award-winning solutions include: digital, web and sheet-fed printing services, finishing and fulfilment services, mailing and subscriptions, online file delivery & approval, web-to-print, digital asset management, magazine apps and digital editions, design and web design services.

Contact information:sales@headley.co.uk * 01233 623131 * www.headley.co.uk

The Consumer Magazine Publisher in 2023

David Hepworth writes: The big consumer magazine publishers of 2023 have turned their expensive West End offices, most of which were opened just as the stock market tanked, into coffee shops, boutiques selling merchandise from their best-known brands and in some cases finishing schools for daughters of the dotcom billionaires.

They no longer require these huge, airy work spaces or prestigious addresses because an increasing amount of the magazine business can be done remotely and since the design function of companies morphed into the new area called Development, there's little call for a big boardroom table. In fact, where there is one, it's used just once a year, when the staff gather to have their pictures taken with a celebrity guest editor, who still likes to think that the world of magazines works like AbFab.

The giants of the consumer magazine market are privately-held. Since the stock market is no longer eager to put its money behind print, there is no longer the same dash for growth and new titles are few and far between. Companies are led by the advertising rather than the editorial department. It's no longer a question of "if you build it, they will come" as it was in the past. What new magazines there are appear in niches which have been identified by the massive telescopes of the new business departments.

The very glossy end of the market sails on serenely, based not simply on the fact that the rich remain impervious to economic downturn and also uninterested in the latest whizzy form of delivery. Country Life and Horse and Hound keep their pride of place on the coffee tables of smart hotels and magazines remain a unique indicator of status. The luxury titles are also maintained in their place by the fact that everybody else aspires to buy a taste of luxury in some shape or form and certain industries, fashion being one, simply cease to exist unless there are magazines there to define them.

There are more and more free magazines which are paid for by advertisers who realise that while the internet is good at answering a need, it's not as good at creating a desire as a traditional magazine. Editorial material is commissioned and prepared with one eye on the ease of repurposing it, not simply for "other platforms" (which keep being added to) but also for re-use, on any of those platforms, as time and chance may bring it back into salience. The notion of a piece of expensive editorial that washes its face on a single-use will have disappeared into pre-history.

Somewhere a hack has been commissioned to predict what will be the shape of the consumer magazines industry in the far-off year of 2024. The only thing he can say with confidence is that the Queen's Platinum Jubilee souvenir is expected to have done well.

Contact information: mail@davidhepworth.com * @davidhepworth * www.davidhepworth.com

Mobile Publishing in 2023

Gregg Hano, CEO of Mag+, writes: When I project forward ten years in mobile, I predict three things. 1. Device proliferation and advances in hardware will pressure publishers to truly design content that compels an immersion of most of our senses. 2. Smart brands will do a better job of translating content for both device and customer. 3. We may see a continued rise of the trend of patron as publisher, which will force traditional publishers to think differently.

WHAT CONSTITUTES “MOBILE”, IN 10 YEARS? The future of mobile publishing equals constant change. In a decade, will we carry smartphone-like devices that can transform any surface into a screen? Will we even still have laptops, tablets? And if we do, will we be mostly talking to them or working them more like a Kinect? Will advances in technology mean we are interacting with our devices with movement and voice even more than we do today?

ALL DEVICES AND ALL CONTENT WILL BE BRAND AMPLIFIERS. The current print and PDF model that the less ambitious publishers are using will completely disappear. Does this mean that 2023 heralds the “death of print?” No. But it may mean that the print product of a brand is a rich, treasured, coffee table keepsake, while mobile content is very interactive but shorter form. Thriving publishers in 2023 will be creating brands that are balanced, making content that is both uniquely suited to their brand identities AND tailored to each device’s correlative usage patterns, such as pubs like The Economist or the Atlantic Weekly are pioneering today.

I also expect a redefinition of the “subscription”, with people not just pre-paying for a year of issues, but instead opting into various levels of membership, to receive trusted, branded, curated content in multiple formats at multiple frequencies. This could include a monthly print issue, a weekly tablet issue, a daily phone issue and a minute-by-minute web feed or push alerts for breaking news, plus events, webinars and other direct interaction.

PATRON PUBLISHERS AND BRANDED CONTENT WILL PROLIFERATE. In recent months, we’ve seen Amazon founder Jeff Bezos buy the Washington Post, and eBay founder, Pierre Omidyar lure Glenn Greenwald away from The Guardian for a brand new media venture. If these are successful, I expect that we will see more of this patron as publisher trend. How that plays out for journalism remains to be seen, but these tech-savvy business CEOs are certainly going to understand and focus on mobile strategy with an aggressiveness that should keep all publishers on their toes.

About us: Mag+ is a complete digital publishing ecosystem comprised of a plug-in for InDesign CS4-CC, a powerful web-based backend, and white-labelled reader apps for iOS, Android and Kindle devices. Mag+ pioneered touchscreen publishing on the first iPad and remains the fastest, simplest publishing platform for creating content optimised for mobile devices, without the need for programming skills.

Contact information:gregg@magplus.com * www.magplus.com

The Specialist Publisher in 2023

Carolyn Morgan writes: The rain lashes against the dark windows of the train and Steve sighs as he searches for the Singletrack app on his phone. It’s the Tuesday night commute home and time to plan the weekend ride. With a few swipes, he checks the weather and shortlists some appealing routes within two hours of his home, highly rated by other Singletrack members. Sherwood Pines sounds perfect, and he shares his plans with the community, connecting with several other members who want to go too.

Back home, he realises he needs some new shorts and reads the reviews on his tablet, ordering directly from the Singletrack website - with the member discount. They arrive Thursday and fit perfectly – he’s all set.

Saturday morning, in the car, Steve listens to the route tips podcast and picks up Ben on the way, meeting the other members in the car park and comparing kit. It’s a crisp autumn day and the group has a blast on the ride, agreeing in the pub afterwards to go to the Singletrack Lake District event next month.

Back home, Steve logs his route and pics captured on his phone during the ride to his personal page on the Singletrack site and shares the highlights on Twitter, then watches a video of a new bike to put on his Christmas list. Later in the bath, he reads a feature about biking holidays in the Pyrenees in the printed magazine.

Monday morning, Singletrack sends Steve an email with route suggestions based on his review of his weekend. He cheers up his commute by browsing reviews from Spanish members and ordering brochures from his phone to be delivered to his tablet to read on the way home.

None of this is rocket science – many big digital businesses like Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and Dropbox already work seamlessly across multiple devices so users can access content and plan their lives from anywhere – and meet like-minded people online and in real-life.

But the challenge for specialist publishers is in connecting their content and user data across multiple devices to become an indispensable and trusted guide to their niche audience. This takes a deep understanding of the audience and the following mind-set shifts: * Think like a service, not a product – how can you make people’s lives easier and more fulfilling? * Move to membership – phase out newsstand sales and cultivate 1-1 relationships giving members access across all platforms * Work with retailers – make it easy for members to buy the products they want at a great price * Connect your audience – encourage users to share experiences and meet online and in real life * Learn from analytics – track users behaviour to optimise their content and suggest tailored products and activities

The specialist publisher of 2023 will need a smart content archive and top-notch CRM to provide this service: the rewards will be steady membership revenues and a lucrative partnership with retailers. But I wouldn’t be surprised if clever publishers like Singletrack get there much quicker!

Contact information:cmorgan@siia.net * 07887 625229 * @siiauk @carolynrmorgan * www.siia.net/uk

Mail Services in 2023

Adam Sherman, Managing Director of the Air Business Group, writes: Today, the mail services sector is working hard to consolidate its mailing and direct marketing activity for the publishing world by taking a greater share of a shrinking volume. We are already seeing fewer operators dominating the sector but many smaller operators are still finding a niche within the market.

By 2023, there will no doubt be even fewer operators, with survival of the fittest being essential: it will be those who not only have an established ‘traditional’ volume but also have been fleet of foot in diversifying and expanding their services in support of e-publishing and e-commerce that continue to thrive.

I can envisage that publications will still be in print, but I cannot believe, whether they are B2B, Consumer or indeed Specialist, that they will make up any more than 20% of the circulation mix. So, whether it is distribution of content or mailing of marketing and billing material, the print format will be relatively non-existent. It therefore goes without saying that mailing companies that are just printing and mailing will struggle to survive once the transition has become the steady state. The ones that will be around in 2023 to tell the story will have had a strong and smart sales and customer service strategy and will have won the market share race, with plenty of fallers and consolidation of services along the way.

The smart players will have expanded and diversified their services and will support a core of ‘bread and butter’ mailing and product distribution services with deeper software services to manage publishers’ circulation, marketing support and delivery service solutions, providing a more ‘end to end service’ than we typically see today. Database services will go hand in hand with online marketing, e-commerce and delivery of digital and e-products under one virtual roof. For the publishing world, subscription or membership management capability will be a must if traditional mailing and fulfilment companies are to bridge the gap and drive further up the value scale in support of publishing, which by 2023 will be to all intents and purposes an ‘e-industry’.

In 2023, publishing and media companies will have worked hard to diversify and develop their brands and expand their portfolio of sales. Mail service providers will be supporting product delivery of brand extensions and product sales linked to their titles, and they will be required to provide a far more comprehensive service in pulling bundled sales packages together. Mailing products, parcels and packages will be part of the service.

So for mail services in 2023, it will be operators with a variety of solutions for data, circulation management, e-commerce and online marketing for e- and digital products, with expanded mailing and distribution capabilities across a wider range of products, that will have thrived.

About us: The Air Business Group is the UK’s leading global distribution and fulfilment company and incorporates Quadrant’s integrated subscriptions management bureau. Established in 1986, Air Business has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of An Post, the Irish Post Office, since 2002. We specialise in mail and fulfilment, courier, freight services and warehouse logistics.

Contact information:adam.sherman@airbusonline.com * 01727 890 620 * www.airbusonline.com

The B2B Publisher in 2023

Ross Sturley writes: Ten years ago, B2B publishers were consolidating, with larger ones buying smaller ones. Magazines were still being launched, and the ‘companion website’ was more of a shop-window than a business in its own right. How things have changed.

So in ten years’ time, we can rely on things being pretty different from today.

Obviously, we will all be walking round with a smartphone embedded in our wrists, and intelligent contact lenses giving us terminator-style visual feedback on our immediate environment.

When we arrive at a typical tradeshow in 2023, we won’t need a printed catalogue, we’ll just press a few codes into our wrists, then follow the map delivered to our heads-up display, pressing a button behind our ear when we see something we like so the relevant information is downloaded to our internal memory stick for consumption when we stop for a cup of tea.

Yes, people will still need tea. And biscuits. People will still be people.

Obviously, they will be filtering a continuous social media soup around them to give TripAdvisor-style user reviews, and using these to interrogate the interactive information system that lives and breathes, grows and evolves, in the cloud above their heads.

The good news is that the heart of this – information on business products and services, and the business, legislator and regulatory environments that surround them will remain critical to the successful and sustainable operation of businesses. That, of course, is the key competence of the B2B publisher. We specialise in delivering carefully filtered and reviewed information, usually in focused sectors, for people who have, over time, learned to trust us to do so.

B2B publishers will still be specialists in certain sectors. We will still be engaged in the discovery and dissemination of information critical to our customers’ businesses, who will still want to see information from sources they trust.

Indeed, in the world where anyone can say what they like, where even the most obscure widget has a hundred diverse opinions, easily findable on the internet, on the suitability of the said widget for its intended application, the filter of trust will be more important.

Yes, those publishers able to deliver their information in ever more concise form – as attention spans decay – will find success, as will those who are able to spot and articulate trends in data, probably in big data.

Those who specialise in a sector – probably the smaller single-brand type company – may be closer to their customers and better able to serve them once the advantage of size is removed by intuitive, easy to use, software-as-a-service content management and customer relationship management tools.

Those who remain able to act for a community – to stimulate its thinking and then propagate that, and to speak loudly to government and regulators about their key concerns – will also do well. They will be given trust.

Stay close to your community, and 2023 won’t feel much different to now.

Contact information:ross@chartlane.co.uk * 07774 980 950 * @rosssturley * www.chartlane.co.uk

The Subscription Bureau in 2023

James Ormiston, Managing Director of Circdata, writes: There is no doubt that the business of acting as a subscription bureau has fundamentally changed in the past few years and those changes have been hastened by the economic turmoil started in late 2007. This coupled with the march of digitalisation has been a big disruptive influence, for better or worse.

Looking to the future, three, five or ten years ahead, the changes will not stop. Consolidation of the market for subscription and data processing has been a very significant factor; publishers have reduced inventory, subscriptions are under pressure as is the newsstand. The B2B market is much smaller than it was say five or six years ago both in terms of titles and circulation but perhaps most importantly for the service companies in this sector, the unit revenue of business is significantly smaller.

As much as bureaux do not need vast armies in the typing pool anymore, automation both in fulfilment and marketing will further reduce the work load and head count. As we get more and more accustomed to an online world, fulfilment will become largely automated. Have you ever tried to telephone Easyjet? I understand they have a telephone somewhere.

So what do we do? Accept that publishing is effectively a retail business online like any other online offering and adjust our business model to serve the industry. It may well come to a point where it’s not possible within these shores for a bureau to develop a ‘subscription’ business that can scale up enough to generate a significant business. The skills, the kit and the knowledge contained within subs bureaux are however transferrable across many industries. In other words diversify; you do not have to be a pure play subscription house. For instance, men in white vans are in great demand in the online world and the filling of those vans requires similar skills and knowledge that we use for subscriptions; customer service, online platforms, storage, print-on-demand and, more importantly, data.

Data and the customer insight it realises is a big driver to the future and many B2B publishing companies now see themselves as data intelligence providers to their chosen sectors. This pattern will be repeated. Although a good number will need support, many are now ‘in-housing’ this function as it becomes more of a fundamental question of control of IP.

As with all crystal ball gazing, there will be the unexpected and more of the disruptive; currently on the horizon are the new data protection proposals from the EU commission apparently due to be implemented by 2017. Data to be renewed every six months? Explicit opt-in for everything except direct mail? Every company holding more than 5,000 records to appoint a data protection officer for a minimum of four years? Are these potential game changers for the subscription bureau?

About us: Managing your audience relationships is complex but doesn’t need to be painful. At Circdata, we excel at organising highly complex multi-channel audience data and transactional processes. We bring together data from digital, print, live events and merchandising into an easy to use system and service that enhances the audience’s experience.

Contact information:j.ormiston@circdata.com * 01635 869 868 * www.circdata.com

The Customer Publishing Agency in 2023

Nicola Murphy writes: In 2023, I will appear more current than I do now. I will be older in years - and wiser (one can hope) but what I gain in experience will not be reflected in wrinkles. I will be rounded (in intelligence, not spine) and yet will look pristine. What am I? I am a customer magazine.

Print is dead. Long live print. A man far wiser than I said - digital is mainstream and print is becoming a cherished distraction from the (digital) world. In the last two years, print has achieved a renaissance - not in numbers of print magazines, but in the use of magazine content across more marketing mediums.

Today, customer publishing is the new kid in town, except he's changed his name to content marketing. And the poor boy of publishing has elbowed his way to the front of the queue with an admiring marketing director on each arm.

Customer magazine strengths of mentor, shopping buddy and distraction have morphed into branded content strategies embracing multiple mediums and imbuing those brands who do content well with more satisfied consumers who spend more and stay loyal longer.

But that's happening now right? No. Few brands are getting it right. 2023 will see that change with branded content leading marketing strategy and properly putting consumers at the heart of marketing communications.

We've accepted that to succeed as a brand you have to be there in content marketing terms. When a customer wants you or might.

Good quality content will remain fundamental. Web, mobile enabled, instore and in any other iteration consumers watch, read, or play. Medium agnostic. That means customer publishing agencies will still exist (phew) although with the rise of inhouse publishing they will be more consultative than currently.

In 2023 there will be more content.

Successful brands though, will produce content that does more, which cuts through the web noise that will be the norm. Digital will still be central to all successful marketing strategies but management of the total customer experience, embracing touchpoint mapping and identification of the customer lifecycle will show the importance of post sales support, conversion rate optimisation, management of social channels, and measurement of results, and reapplication of success.

Location services and data will be key. Consumers are out there and they want brands to find them, making NFC imperative. User generated content and user generated curation of content will be the norm, powered by content discovery apps - the next generation of today’s Flipboard and Pulse - allowing personalisation of content to interest and preferred context, giving more engagement, and importantly, new advertising formats allowing their better integration into content, and thus to more revenue.

The customer journey will begin with magazine-like content in the consumer’s medium of choice, with consumers choosing content and context as they prefer. Print magazines will exist in ten years’ time as premium rewards, but as importantly, magazine-like content will be a pivotal asset in the marketing armoury of the world’s most successful brands.

What am I now? I'm a content marketing strategy.

Contact information:nmurphy@therivergroup.co.uk * 020 7420 7000 * @therivergroupltd @themagazinefan * www.therivergroup.co.uk

The pieces written by Paul Johnson, Roger Pitt, Gregg Hano, Adam Sherman and James Ormiston are sponsored content.