Crappy branded content kills consumer connection - Broadsheet publisher

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 8 June 2016
Broadsheet publisher Nick Shelton says print has never made him a dollar.

“Crappy branded content erodes your consumer connection," according to Broadsheet Media publisher Nick Shelton who spoke at a Vivid Ideas event.

Speaking on a panel of publishers about cut-through content, Shelton and Marie Claire editor Melissa Gaudron agreed that when content is credible, authentic commercial partners materialise that feels real for the consumer.

“Broadcast succeeds when we can facilitate a connection with an advertisers and our audience,” Shelton said.

“Audiences are so suspicious of branded content these days,” Shelton said. “But the publisher is paid to create a connection and we use content to do that.”

Former online editor of Frankie magazine Georgia Frances King said producing content that is educational, engaging and active rather than passive is what helped Frankie Magazine gain traction when the magazine industry was facing decline.

She said publications are no longer fighting against each other for relevance; instead they are fighting for the reader’s attention in a cluttered landscape.

“Content should be educational, not just entertaining,” Frances King said. “Give the readers what they don’t know they want yet.

“Stop looking outward and using that as the basis of your brand. Identify who your business is and what they want,” she added

Is print dead?

“They say print is dead but we are still here on this stage,” Frances King said.

When the panel was asked if print would still be around in five years, Frances King said the print product isn’t going anywhere, but it will not be the primary source of revenue for publishers.

“We need to reconsider the goals of print but the primary revenue role can’t continue,” Frances King said.

Shelton said Broadsheet's print product has never made him a dollar, however it helps with brand awareness and reach a larger audience.

Publishers are increasingly having to diversify their revenues streams, through events, beauty boxes, real estate and startups acquisitions.

At the AdNews Media Summit, Fairfax Media commercial director Tom Armstrong said legacy publishers including Fairfax and NewsLifeMedia are diversifying their revenue streams through events and real estate as the monetisation model is disrupted.

Gaudron said Marie Claire is still relying on the tangible product and haven’t figured out how to monetise other models to the same degree of print, however they are investing more in events, which allows them to identify its audience.

Also speaking at the event, Australian Financial Review Boss Magazine editor Joanne Gray said even in the disrupted state of the industry and with the rise of PR, core journalistic skills are vital.

Looking forward

The panel believes in the next 10 years we will see "the next internet" emerge, with virtual reality (VR) and other technologies changing how publishers create content and opening the doors for new opportunities.

“Once we stop being so terrified of the new world, we can take advantage of what it has to offer,” Frances King said.

Last month, The Guardian released its first VR work, bringing the experience of a prison in solitary confinement cell to life. News Corp is also leading the publishing pack, investing in an augmented reality startup in April.

VR specialist Mariana Acuna-Acosta said at a separate Vivid event that journalism and documentaries are the best disciplines set to use the technology.

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