February 2, 2016 Last Updated 2:17 pm

Five digital publishing predictions for 2016

Arazoo Kadir, chief blogger at Kaldor, creators of the digital publishing platform Pugpig, shares some predictions for the new year from the company’s clients and partners

Some years ago, Jon Marks (our CTO) predicted that 2014 would be the year to mark the ‘death of the app.’ Fast-forward to the present-day and we can’t deny that apps remain ever-prominent in our engagement with content and brands. In fact, statistics show that 2014 was actually the year that mobile interaction with digital media overtook that of desktop and laptop devices.

Having naturally embraced the power of the app, here at Pugpig we’re pondering what the future holds for digital publishing. 2015 predictions foresaw Android growth and a move towards continuous publishing models. Questions arose around Facebook’s potential jump onto the publishing bandwagon through article-based consumption – which turned out to be a taster for the release of Facebook Instant Articles. 2015 also saw the release of Apple News, Google Amp and Snapchat Discover.

At our recent Pugpig Customer Day, we took the opportunity to ask our clients and partners their predictions for the new year in the fast-paced world of online publishing. We’ve summarised the findings here in these 5 digital publishing predictions for 2016.

1. The growth of third-party publishing channels

Apple News iconThe first big trend we’re betting on is all about content distribution – and with the big tech players all vying for consumer attention, publishing channels such as Apple News, LinkedIn, and Snapchat Discover are going to be at the forefront of their battle for that attention, offering exciting new opportunities to publishers and consumers alike.

With built-in audiences, all of these channels provide a crucial platform for getting your content seen by people who may not even know you exist. Once you’re seen, the trick is then to corral them into your own properties (such as your website or apps) through the use of deep links and smart banners. If you’re clever, in one step you can send new readers from someone else’s service right into pages deep inside your app. The undeniable growth of these channels was also noted by our customer day attendees, who voted Apple News as the as the most significant third-party publishing platform to have emerged in 2015.

2. Mixed publishing models

Deciding what publishing model is most appropriate for you content may be tricky. To go for an edition-based model means you can mimic your print process by creating beautiful digital flip-page content that can be posted periodically, however, it could be at the cost of frequent engagement from your audience. On the other hand, a continuous publishing model offers a sense of immediacy with a continuous feed that will undoubtedly bring readers back into your app regularly to check out new content.

Who says you can’t have both? We predict that the mixed publishing model will be popular in 2016.

Our CEO, Jonny Kaldor, advises that “a healthy mix of edition-based content and continuously published articles will give you the ability to keep readers coming back to your apps more often for timely updates, while giving them the finishability of the editions they know and love. And with the intelligent use of segmented push notifications, you can let your readers know when content that is relevant to them has just been published and get them back in your app with one tap.”

3. App Streaming

Google are testing a new app streaming service that is perhaps one of the most exciting developments to have emerged so far in the last year. Imagine being able to move between between apps as seamlessly as you can between web pages. Well, Google (and soon Apple, we believe) want to offer a way to to do this and also give consumers the option to access apps even before downloading them.

How will it work? Well, they’ll do all the processing on the server and send the user screens from the app to their device through ‘app links’. They then give them the option to download the app on their own terms whilst being able to preview the content offered.

This will undoubtedly create a more open platform of discoverability, and make accessibility much easier. All of which means that if the consumer is engaged and excited by the content streamed through ‘app links’, they will be far more enticed to download the app to gain full features such as offline access. We are keen to see what app streaming will do for digital publishers in 2016.

4. Consumerism of corporate communications

There is a developing sophistication in how we consume content and it seems that businesses will start to do a better job of delivering high quality content to their internal and external audiences. Let’s be honest, how enthralling are your monthly company newsletters and weekly email bulletins? This could all change if we start seeing employees as consumers and encourage those within the corporate comms profession to develop content that is not only relevant but also looks great.

Throughout 2015 we saw an increased interest in corporate communications and sales force enablement apps, and we can see this trend continuing in 2016. Kat Elliott, a senior digital consultant at NDP agrees. She believes ‘big consumer companies have lots of different arms and they want to share information more efficiently. So what are people doing every day? They’re on their phones and checking their emails on their tablets. They will use those formats to enhance the structure of their organisational comms rather than monthly company meetings, for example.’

As we notice this cultural shift of content consumption and a rise in mobile engagement, we believe this could be the year for corporate communities to evolve their standard HR and Internal Comms practices.

5. Increased interest in wearable technology

There has been speculation that 2016 will see an increasing number of vendors that will consider app development, device management, and content delivery that is wrist-ready. Wearable technology such as the  Apple Watch offer the potential to expand the publishing experience beyond the smartphone and tablet. With a device that is arguably more intimate than your smartphone, how can digital publishers use this to actively engage smartwatch users with their content?

apple watchThe Apple Watch and many other smartwatches can offer concise previews to your new content and notify the user with the potential of increasing engagement once new content has been published. Creating apps for the watch means creating a simple and practical way to consume digital content through brief synopses, headlines and images which offer a handoff that can load the full story on your phone.

arazoo-featureGilles Raymond, Founder and CEO of News Republic, recently stated his interest regarding wearable technology. ‘On the wrist, news alerts become more immediate, closer to the reader, and more intimate. This increased intimacy puts additional pressure on making sure the user gets the alerts they find most important, to them.’

This could mean that digital publishers have to consider catering to a new device, but is creating content that is wrist-ready a worthwhile investment? Only 2016 will tell.

Arazoo Kadir is the chief blogger at Kaldor, creators of the digital publishing platform Pugpig.

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