You should have already read that publishers’ traditional revenue streams of advertising and subscription are not really translating into online success - there’s too much free stuff online, so subscriptions and connected advertising revenues are turning out to be relatively low yield. Some publishers are pinning their hopes on Native Advertising - i.e. Advertorials by another name - but most savvy consumers have already learnt to spot and avoid clicking on those also. In my previous blog post I pointed to smart brand advocacy - Endorsement and Product Placement as being the most likely future for advertising. So what is left to publishers - what does the future of publishing hold?
As I see it, pushed content has limited scope for delivering revenues on its own, or in tandem with any kind of advertising - even in conjunction with smart endorsements and product placements. Publishers need to be thinking more about their subscribers as members, and start providing connected member services - to service the entire vertical space for that membership. A key component to any modern business is ’Engagement’ - i.e. how businesses connect with and make themselves relevant to their customers on an ongoing basis - this will ongoingly mean delivering interactive member services.
You pretty much need to think on an almost cradle-to-grave progression when targeting say a professional sector / vertical. Starting with your likely members’ education needs, then career / recruitment, category intelligence and training, seminars and events, marketplace, networking and collaboration. The intended audience must feel that they are joining a professional members club which will forward their lifestyle experiences / career opportunities and thus significantly improve their quality of life. People go to well-connected schools and join highly-networked member clubs to ensure better jobs and brighter, more successful futures.
It’s easy to find professional analogies and examples, one of the very best examples is triple PPA award-winner Procurement Leaders, which dominates the Chief Procurement Officers vertical. Procurement Leaders’ unique combination of interactive membership services puts them in an almost unassailable position. At its heart, Procurement Leaders is a publishing business - delivering news alerts, reports and category intelligence. But it is the member services that make it all work - the fact that peers can view, network and collaborate with each other. The portal is the embodiment of a highly interactive and socially active professional club. There are a variety of events and seminars, training and job opportunities, and supplier directories, recognition, awards and rewards. Procurement Leaders is providing the full 360° experience - everything a Chief Procurement Officer might need within a single, seamless immersive environment.
Our Social Commerce Platform Affino is essentially an enabling engine - a hybrid interactive business platform - which allows companies like Procurement Leaders to create these 360° Vertical Lifestyle Membership Portals. The fact that everything is seamless and provided almost entirely by a single system is what makes this all possible; as creating a fully integrated Vertical Portal using myriad individual technologies for everything you need to offer, would make the whole solution entirely prohibitive in terms of cost and management overheads, and therefore be far outside the reach of all but the largest corporations. Affino democratizes these hybrid portals and makes them affordable and manageable for most companies.
We have already seen some partial examples of Vertical Lifestyle Membership Portals - where one or more of the main integral parts - the social / community / interactive components were wholly absent - making those portals somewhat superficial and essentially inoperative. To capture the Vertical, you need to be able to provide the very best membership club space, with all those features the members need as part of their daily working / networking lifestyles. If you leave out a critical part - particularly something as important as social engagement and interaction, you make your vertical vulnerable to takeover from a better-equipped alternative.
To start off with it’s often just a matter of providing a membership club in the first place, it very soon though becomes about who is providing the best experience. For sure clubs can have slightly different outlooks and appeal, but the members will still very much be looking for quality and range of services and overall value in the long-term. Those that can deliver more of what is wanted / needed are the ones that will have lasting success...