It's no secret that publishers are struggling, with traditional revenues streams under siege and the content audiences consume decided by algorithms and largely accessed through closed ecosystems hiving off advertising revenue. Increasing automation, new ad units and inventory, the shift to mobile, viewability and ad fraud are all intersecting.
Just this year we've seen iconic magazines come to an end, with Bauer confirming Cleo would close its doors and Pacific Magazines selling off K-Zone and Total Girl. Next year is expected to be defining for Bauer and Pacific Magazines - the two biggest magazine publishers in Australia - with both businesses under the control of new CEOs who are on a mission to cut costs. If the rumours are true and the two are considering a merger, it would completely reshape the Australian publishing landscape and NewsLifeMedia would likely feel the impact.
Both News Corp and Fairfax have been making strides in 2016 to future-proof their businesses, with Fairfax trialling micropayments and News Corp continuing to acquire businesses, including a racing publisher and Sky News. 2017 could be the year Fairfax finally implements its weekend-only print papers and shift towards a more digital future.
Nine, Mamamia, NewsLifeMedia and Bauer have signalled women are a key focus editorially and commercially next year, with the publishers launching female-focused networks.
Discussion around "metric fatigue" is likely to continue in 2017, with Fairfax, NewsLifeMedia, Bauer and Pedestrian TV questioning the validity of the Audited Media Association of Australia audited circulation measurement. It will be interesting to see if News Corp and Pacific Magazines will follow in their competitors' footsteps and pull out of the audit.
While the current publishing landscape is a melting pot of complexity, publishers remain confident that they can compete against the duopoly power of Facebook and Google and stay relevant in the current content economy.
See predictions from Fairfax, News Corp, Pacific Magazines, Mamamia and more below:
Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood
There has been an explosion in media diversity, outlets, voices and options for consumers and advertisers. We would expect there to be a shift back towards quality for audiences, and quality context for marketers. There will need to be greater industry collaboration. To compete with the global giants we need to be more open to exploring areas of common alignment.
Pacific Magazines CEO Gereurd Roberts
The focus will (finally) turn from channel to content, from platforms to personal connections. Compelling, captivating, engaging content delivered in the right time and place for a consumer’s individual needs is what will win. Access to distribution is effectively ubiquitous – it’s what you are distributing that matters. As they say, there’s tidal wave of content and a teardrop of attention. In this way, customised content in context reigns. Like eyeballs, not all content is equal. In 2017 we will see publishers leverage their data in more powerful, personalised ways - in addition to audience, we will be offering brands the opportunity to dynamically target their messaging based on individual engagement. And as a result, marketers will move away from content as a disrupter to content as an attracter, in order to drive the right type of engagement.
Nine digital head of lifestyle Helen McCabe
The shake-out in media companies big and small will gather pace. Publishers and broadcasters will feel increased pressure to improve on the quality of their stories, the distribution of video will be the critical to overall success and the space around 9Honey will be hotly contested. It is going to be big.
MD of News DNA, Nicole Sheffield
The power of video and editorial in video will be incredibly important next year. In the past, we've simply cut up what existed in a broadcast format and thought that would suffice for our moving image storytelling. Well, it will no longer do. We are seeing user generated content in the form of Vloggers, YouTubers, etc, leap ahead however we in traditional media have not stepped up to the challenge. I believe that digital publishers are best placed to reframe the digital video opportunity in premium environments because we have the data, the framework and not the legacy of a business based on long form broadcast. The attention span in digital video is short and we all know that people aren’t going to watch for longer than 45 secs online so how do you create meaningful, informative and inspirational storytelling in that time frame? The winners in 2017 will work that out. The evolution of content marketing and the adaptation of mobile will also be game changers.
News Corp CEO Michael Miller
In 2017, the debate over real news versus fake news will intensify and the credibility of premium content will grow ever stronger. Good journalism - which provides a fair, accurate and complete depiction of what is happening in the world will become more necessary than ever. In 2017, you will hear a lot more about the value of real content for our audiences and our advertisers. All news is not created equal, as our global CEO Robert Thomson says, and real news has real value. People will pay for quality content.
2017 is likely to see further accelerated change in how people consume content. And given that consumers are increasingly in control of when and how they receive information, how we can combine the power of our audiences and encourage more interactions with consumers in different places will be our challenge. This year we put our content on other networks; Snapchat and Apple News to name a few. Of course, more options provide greater choice for advertisers wanting to tell brand stories in a different way and how we can assist them in doing so will be paramount to our ongoing success.
The Trump effect shows the real value of targeting your audience, knowing your audience, and understanding how they have changed. Those who know how markets have moved, and who target and understand their audiences and how they have changed will grow.
In 2017 media companies will more actively work together to further impress on advertisers the value of our content and our audiences. It does not help brands to be associated with fictional, untrustworthy news stories or content. Collectively, we have the information, intelligence and data that’s real, true and valuable and that is what matters to advertisers.
Mamamia MD Kylie Rogers
Content marketing will finally be elevated to the level it deserves within marketing departments and agencies alike. That we'll see far more brands start to be the content, not just interrupt it.
Yahoo7 CEO Ed Harrison
The inevitable automation of advertising can bring enormous efficiency to publishers, but only if they capture this value themselves. Publishers know this and will be increasingly investing in ad tech capabilities, making this a critical and central function within their businesses.
Pedestrian TV co-founder Chris Wirasinha
2017 will see further consolidation and acquisitions within the digital publisher market and at least one international entrant forced to either exit or downscale its offering. Advertising brands will continue to look for strong digital publishing brands that have a meaningful connection with their audience at scale.
Nine chief digital and marketing officer Alex Parsons
In 2017 we will see an accelerated rate of change across the digital media industry. Great content, real audiences and deep data will combine as never before to help merge the online and offline worlds and finally give advertisers the ability to communicate to premium audiences at scale in brand safe environments.
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