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How NOT to do digital transformation as a publisher

A ‘digital first’ approach is no longer a nice-to-have for publishers and media organisations; it’s a matter of survival. But becoming a true digital player is no mean feat, and there’s a lot at stake.

To help navigate the minefield, Inviqa held a roundtable with senior directors and digital leaders from some of the UK’s leading media, publishing, and entertainment organisations, hosted by Dietmar Schantin, founder of the Institute for Media Strategies.

This invite-only dinner – part of Inviqa’s exclusive event programme for digital leaders – aimed to explore experiences and learnings about how to avoid digital transformation pitfalls.

Here are the key takeaways from the evening to help guide your own digital journey.

Create an MVP culture and stick to it

Speed to market is one of the most important drivers in digital transformation. That’s according to one attendee who recently implemented an API layer into their organisation’s technology stack. They opted to relinquish well-architected solutions, with good workflow, in favour of launching minimum viable products (MVP) to get new products into the marketplace fast and start collecting information about how they’re used to guide further development.

Content needs to be contextual

Many of our attendees agreed that content written for print doesn’t translate into digital. Even a headline written for print needs to be changed and adapted for digital, some argued. A few organisations commented that they were adapting to this by recruiting a new breed of writer/editor who can meet the needs of their digital consumers by providing real-time information in bite-size chunks. At the other end of the scale, some organisations are contending with editorial teams who are slow to adopt a digital-first approach.

Measuring value

In most cases the driver for measuring content is to generate advertising revenue. But what’s more significant: click-through rates or circulation figures? One attendee highlighted that it was typical for readers to spend over an hour consuming printed content, and therefore consumer engagement is much higher in print compared to digital. Others highlighted the pitfalls of click-bait content which typically leads to high bounce rates and low engagement. Overall, attendees agreed that measuring the value of content continues to pose problems and multifaceted metrics need to be considered.

Brand extension vs new brand

To meet their readers in a digital environment, all our roundtable participants have taken their existing print brands and extended them into digital brands. When asked if they considered creating a new brand for the digital market there was little feedback. Is this a missed opportunity, or has the extension of their brand already expanded and shifted how they are perceived by their readers? Launching a new brand requires investment and resource, and at a time when companies are committing to digital transformation, it may just be a leap too far.

Understanding the value of digital transformation is a different beast to knowing where and how to begin on your digital journey, and one message from the session came across loud and clear: all transformation needs to begin with small experiments and methodical steps.

Inviqa’s roundtable events are held regularly in London. Get in touch to register your interest.