The publishing industry is in a state of rapid and extreme change. Established and new publishers alike are adapting to new technologies and business models, and competing for the attention economy with a wave of other media companies such as streaming services and social media platforms.
At times like these, it can be valuable to hear from people who have led major global publishers through digital transformations. Liz Schimel was recently head of business at Apple for Apple News+, and has also been President of Condé Nast China and Chief Digital Officer of Meredith. Recently, she sat down with WoodWing CEO Ross Paterson to discuss trends in the publishing industry and where we may be headed next.
Ross: Hi Liz, and welcome! I was wondering if you could first briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your background.
Liz: Hi Ross, thanks for having me. I have been involved in digital media for several decades, in a number of global roles and everything from helping magazine publishers transform for the digital age to managing early digital music sites to working on deals for American Idol and Grand Theft Auto. More recently, I was at Apple during the launch of Apple News+ and prior to that I ran Condé Nast China and was the Chief Digital Officer at Meredith.
Ross: Ok great, so to get into the discussion, we talk to a lot of customers and prospects on the value of a content-first approach, which some call mobile-first, or digital-first, but the essential idea is that the channel is secondary - once you have created a good story you think about the channel. Based on what you are seeing, how many publishers have adopted such a workflow today?
Liz: I would estimate that around fifty percent of publishers have adopted content-centric workflows. And those that have are seeing a lot more success than those who haven’t. But I think all publishers will be forced to adopt different techniques to enhance their content offerings. And whether that is print content or digital or video, I think they are all going to have to move in that direction of creating more immersive experiences for customers. It’s sort of a “never waste a good crisis” situation.
Ross: Can you elaborate on that a little?
Liz: Right now there are a lot of crises requiring transformation across a lot of levels. For example, digitalization is not just a technical transformation, it’s also a cultural one. But on top of that, simply moving from print to digital does not solve problems in terms of building a sustainable business model, because as we see digital advertising is also difficult. And even solving digital advertising is often not enough - you also need to look at if and how your consumers pay for content. But no matter how hard it is, they have to transform. There is no good news coming out of print revenue. So these changes are forcing a transformation on the industry, and whether they like it or not, every publisher will be dragged kicking and screaming into this transformation.