As the number of digital platforms has increased, digital news consumption has risen sharply.
In fact, the Pew Research 2012 News Media Consumption Survey found that digital news was the only news category that grew in 2012. In 2012, approximately 39% of survey respondents said they got news online or on a mobile device the previous day, an increase from 34% in 2010. Additionally, the percentage of people who got news from one or more digital platforms “on an average day” has risen to 50%, which is only slightly less than the audience for all forms of television news, and which is higher than consumption of newspapers (29%) and radio (33%).
However, while making content ready for multiple platforms is important, the content itself has to do most of the “heavy lifting” required to make a digital publication succeed. Here are 4 reasons why content is more important than platform in the digital publishing age.
1. Content Consumers Care More About Content than Platform
A 2011 survey by ACMA, Australia’s telecom and media regulator, found that for Australians, content is more important than media delivery platform. Consumers have similar expectations whether content is accessed through traditional media like print and television, or through digital media. Participants in this study were enthusiastic about the flexibility the online world brings to news and current events, whether the news is hyper-local, worldwide, or in between. However, many people believe that accuracy can suffer due to a need for immediacy. So while having a variety of platforms to choose from can be nice, content consumers are aware that the platforms are only tools to serve up content, and it’s the content that counts.
2. Media Companies That Focus on Content Succeed
Afar Media is an independent publisher of the upscale travel and lifestyle magazine Afar. Co-founder and chief product officer Joseph Diaz spoke with Media Next about balancing digital growth and utilizing different platforms. A central focus on content is integral to Afar Media’s success. “We start with what we do well—creating really good content, and then think about how to package that content in ways that make it easy for our audience—and like-minded audiences—to access it,” says Diaz. Focusing on platform, he says, is short-sighted: “Anyone can buy traffic … Our strategy is to ensure that each platform can achieve its goals independently of the others, but also works interdependently with the other platforms to increase efficiency.” Results for Afar has included lucrative partnerships with companies like hotel chain Westin.
3. Great Look and Feel Are No Longer Considered “Extras”
The barrier to entry for digital platforms is low. Creating a website and also having it optimized for mobile is no longer the challenge it was just a few years ago. People have used enough apps and visited enough mobile sites to expect a good visual experience regardless of the quality of content. While this does set the bar high for digital media companies (because people generally won’t bother pinching and zooming even great content), it also shows that the way publishers set themselves apart from the competition is with terrific content. High quality content targeted to an audience, from a publisher that has established good credibility with content consumers is capital-intensive, but it’s what readers expect from their content consumption.
4. Content Represents Stability in a Roiling Sea of Platform Evolution
Platforms will continue to evolve, and while this may be distressing for publishers who wonder when they’ll be able catch their breath while chasing every new platform, it is good news for those who concentrate on content quality. Most readers still understand that publishers can’t address every new platform immediately. Pamela Maffei McCarthy, deputy digital editor for The New Yorker, told Pew Research, “We want to be where our readers want to be as new platforms reach critical mass, but you can’t do them all at once.” And it only makes sense that publishers should add platforms when they have the high quality content to make the effort worthwhile for readers (and ultimately publisher revenues).
Putting your great content on new platforms should be a process that’s integrated with your revenue development strategy. In other words, you should make sure your subscription options, advertising, and job boards can accompany your content to the platforms on which you make it available. RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions to digital publishers and media companies that don’t hold publishers back as they pursue new platforms for their content.