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Adapting in the Age of Digital: 3 Tips for Publishers

Tiffany Kelly | Industry Analysis | 19th March 2020
Adapting in the Age of Digital: 3 Tips for Publishers

Digital disruption has become the new normal in the publishing industry after more than a decade of massive change. Companies are shifting their business models to accommodate large scale transformation driven by evolving audience behaviors and demands.

For example, personalization has become increasingly innovative and prevalent in recent years, with at least 90% of online advertisers reporting plans to use the tactic in 2020. Today’s consumers expect relevant content “anytime, anywhere, in the format and on the device of their choosing,” according to this article by SuperOffice

This means publishers will have to adapt their digital strategies to appeal to both advertisers’ and readers’ needs. Publishers must think not only about the new technology required to steward this shift, but also about what the future of work will look like for their staff.

Nearly two thirds of companies are worried about digital transformation and whether they’re too far behind to be competitive in the new marketplace, according to research from IDC. However, the good news is that you don’t have to get left in the dust—you can thrive in this new world. Here are three tips to help you adapt in the age of digital.

1.) Be open to change.

This first point sounds simple, but many struggle to embrace change and innovation. You’ve likely heard industry leaders insist that programmatic advertising doesn’t make sense for their business, or that they know their advertisers won’t pay more than a certain rate they've grown accustomed to over the years. Maybe you’ve even heard them question the value of first-party data. Perhaps you’ve held these assumptions yourself. Well, it’s time to shake things up.

To compete successfully in today’s digital landscape, publishers must be agile and stay up to date with new trends and technologies. Publishers have to be willing to part with legacy technology and invest in new platforms, as well as foster a culture of innovation among their employees. Sticking with the status quo might seem like playing it safe, but it could be the riskiest choice of all. As StoryChief puts it, “not being open to new ideas is exactly what can be the last nail in your publishing coffin.”

2.) Invest in strong internal communication and training.

Often, the most well-intentioned publishers hire digital specialists for their expertise, only to end up with these employees working in silos, rather than sharing in challenges and successes with other teams throughout the company. Digital specialists are expected to manage digital operations, stay up to date on industry trends, test, innovate, and hit KPIs.

However, it’s the entire business’ responsibility—from sales to finance to senior leadership—to learn the basics of digital and keep everyone’s knowledge current. “Digital” shouldn’t be a separate department or an afterthought. Nearly everything is digital now, including signatures, order processing, advertising, audience data management, reporting, and the list goes on. Further, if no one else on your team has a basic understanding of digital or the current state of the industry, who will hold your digital specialist or team accountable for innovating and applying current best practices to achieve business goals?

Digital transformation, like any organizational initiative, requires a strong internal communications plan to educate and inspire employees to get on board. “Strong internal communications drive and sustain change,” according to this article by SocialChorus. In addition, frequent cross-departmental training will ensure teams aren’t working in silos.

3.) Hire for the right skillset.

As job descriptions evolve, some publishers are facing challenges finding the right new hires. While change may continue to be the only constant in the industry for some time, if you seek out candidates who naturally strive to learn and grow, you’ll be well positioned for a successful future. Candidates who are innately curious and comfortable with change can also make excellent hires.

It’s important to build a diverse team with a broad range of skills, backgrounds, and personalities so that people can draw on one another’s strengths and experiences. It’s also essential to invest in your current staff by providing them with training and development opportunities.

Expanding your network can help you find your next new team member. Surround yourself with innovators and thought leaders, participate in industry groups and attend conferences, and engage with other publishing professionals on social media platforms. 

Finding a digital partner

It can be extremely helpful to navigate the digital disruption with a partner by your side who lives and breathes digital. Lineup Systems empowers media companies with the tools they need to increase revenue, improve productivity, and reduce costs. And we understand how to do this because Lineup was started by a team that needed exactly that.

Determined to move beyond clunky technology and expensive infrastructure, our founder and CEO Michael Mendoza and his Metro Newspapers team decided they’d build their own proprietary software solution.  

“Lineup has proudly hired industry experts throughout the life of our business. We used to look for people with many years of industry experience along with the right attitude toward learning and taking on challenges,” Mendoza said. 

“In the past five years, as we have seen even more rapid changes in technology and media revenue strategies, we are increasingly focused on hiring individuals with experience in these shifting environments, whether in sales, operations, and/or finance. The new gauge of experience is not based on the number of years in our industry, but how well a person can identify new trends, adapt, and be successful.”

Learn more about Lineup’s innovative spirit and how we can help your business adapt in the age of digital.