Q&A 

Where next for publishing: 5 minutes with… Lucy Howard

How publishers engage, retain and monetise audiences, and build the business models to support this activity, will be discussed at the inaugural Campaign Publishing Summit in December. We grab five minutes with the event’s marketing director, Lucy Howard.

By Lucy Howard

Where next for publishing: 5 minutes with… Lucy Howard

Q: What are the main threats and opportunities facing publishers?

A: The biggest threat will stem from not developing content which meets the needs of your target audience – with increasing ‘noise’ online, a well-developed content plan, delivered in a timely way to your audience is key. Cut back on time you spend on that at your peril. We know more about our audiences online than ever before and harnessing that information and generating a positive feedback loop into your content (across every platform from print and online through to video and podcasts) is a huge opportunity.

Q: How are audience engagement strategies evolving?

A: Audience engagement strategies are developing at a rapid rate and are only limited by the scope of data available to a publisher. One challenge though is developing strategies which can be delivered using the systems and data infrastructures in place – we need to aim high but have realistic expectations in terms of what is deliverable.

Q: How are cutting edge publishers using data to enhance the user experience?

A: When I think of a cutting edge publisher, I think of one no longer encumbered by legacy print systems in terms of data, IT or staff structures. Of course, a legacy print publisher can be cutting edge – where they have been able to embrace digital and move swiftly to ensure that they are truly ‘digital first’ in their approach. Developing insights based on online user behaviour is not always easy – and we need to be careful not to hardwire a content bubble for our audience. Therefore, data should be used to enhance and reinforce the central role of the editorial team – providing them with the tools to develop usable insights from current audience engagement metrics and then couple those with wider market knowledge and expertise to deliver a user experience that makes your content even more relevant and valued.

Q: How successful are publishers being at developing new revenue streams?

A: The degree of success is dependent on a number of factors – having a clear vision which is understood throughout the business, having systems in place to support the transition to new revenue streams, hiring the right talent at the right time and not being afraid to change tack if needed.

Q: How do you see the publishing business model evolving over the next few years?

A: Audience engagement will be central – how to measure, improve and relate back to revenue for both paid and free content providers. There will continue to be challenges around data – what we have and how we use it effectively. The move from volume to quality is still a work in progress and publishers will continue to grapple with that in the next few years. And the distribution models for content will continue to change as we become more adept at sharing and promoting content in channels best suited to our audiences.

Q: What do you expect to be the main buzzwords coming out of the inaugural Campaign Publishing Summit?

A: Audience engagement. Podcasts. ePrivacy. Personalisation. Paywalls. Machine Learning. Content. Technology. Talent.

The inaugural Campaign Publishing Summit takes place on 3 December 2019 at DoubleTree by Hilton, Tower of London.