Just over the horizon, beyond publisher’s recent popular tactics of Paywalls and Apps lie more strategic approaches to evolving publishing into the 21st century.
Content as Brand.
This might be a difficult idea to grasp in a world formerly dominated by the celebrityesque personas of editors, writers and photographers. However the time has arrived for publishers to re-build their titles as strong cross-platform brands. Why?
Apps and Paywalls themselves are a primary reason. If parity content can be found in other venues for free, the value of a brand needs to justify the cost associated with implementing these tactics.
What drives brand value for publishers? Based on our recent research: both trust in the quality of the content and expectations for a superior experience. Publishers are in a position to build upon this legacy with a superior reader experience, because readers expect that familiar resources can provide them with increased value.
Content as Experience.
Because of the trust they create, strong brands provide a foundation for experience. Advocates of free content cite its ubiquity and short shelf life, ignoring the value of content that is kept and savored. Great publisher brands have a big advantage there. Yet, the opportunity to shape a more valuable brand experience around content remains largely untapped. Again, according to our research, preferred user experience can be driven primarily with personalization and added dimensional value.
Imagine being able to select only the cable channels you view in your cable package. Or the ability to only see automotive advertising when you are in the market for a new car. Or imagine logging in to a Condé Nast portal where you can personally tailor your Vogue experience to include: the September issue delivered on high quality paper and custom bound, with the balance of the year’s issues streamed your iPad, a curated shopping experience at Neiman Marcus and tickets to the Fall Shows at New York Fashion Week. A self-selected, year-long, Vogue-branded experience that you’ll gladly pay significantly more than $1 an issue for.
Too good to be true?
Sound overwhelming, if you’re a publisher? We think it’s the future and one example we can point to is luxury publisher Monocle. Aside from a suite of free iPad apps (both print and video), it’s flourishing as online digital content, a premium printed publication and a curated shopping site. And it has highly successful retail stores in London, Hong Kong LA, Tokyo and New York. These experiences drive interactions and value for users. Of course, though, this kind of experience can only be effectively built on top of a well-developed brand.