Instead, the challenges are figuring out how to monetize digital and encouraging audience engagement.
“it’s very easy to build an app. It’s incredibly hard to build a brand,” CEO of AOL Tim Armstrong said earlier in the day at the AMMC. In fact, Armstrong said brands are so “incredibly powerful” that many Facebook or Google employees are leaving Silicon Valley to work for publishers and develop mobile and video.
Stephanie Ruhle, the moderator of the panel and managing editor and anchor of Bloomberg TV’s morning program Bloomberg <Go>, asked Declan Moore, CEO of National Geographic Partners, how the company can compete with adventurers who strap GoPros to their heads and take captivating video and photos.
Moore suggested drawing on the “power of brands as taste makers.” People trust brands for quality content, curated by leaders and experts in the industry. He said influencers on social media are key people for big, established brands to partner with, as they reach out to a community interested in the brand’s content.
Paul Rossi, president of global media businesses of The Economist Group, explained that partnering can be challenging, given the niche market of independent brands. Growth can be slower compared to that of bigger publishing groups.
But digital can solve some of those problems.
Larry Burstein, publisher of New York Magazine, said that going digital helped the brand reach beyond readership in the tri-state area. Now those interested in the “urban experience” that New York covers can access the content online, allowing the publication to reach a whole new global audience.
Rossi explained that the next challenge for publishers is monetization. Mike Perlis, president and CEO of Forbes Media, said that while print is “holding its own,” digital “grows dramatically.”
Michela O’Connor Abrams, president and CEO of Dwell, predicted that everything will go native at her brand soon, because native advertising “is more engaging.” “We can’t wait to get out of the banner business,” she said, calling it “disruptive.”
Rossi said The Economist Group uses ads and subscriptions to “slowly” monetize digital.
For example, content on social media can trigger engagement, which then can lead to subscription offers. For example, if you share a Dwell article on Facebook, you'll start seeing ads for a subscription to that brand.
The panelists agreed that making content more accessible is another way to get your brand out there — publications can use video, social media and mobile to reach out to an audience that might not want to buy a full-sized Economist but are interested in accessing specific content.