Thursday 08 December 2016

Measurement is King – Insights from Kickstart 2012

This year I was fortunate enough to attend Media Connect’s 2012 Kickstart Forum.  A virgin of the 10 year tradition, I have to admit being fascinated by the event.  My highlights include:

  • Paul Fletcher MP pitching the Opposition’s perspective of the NBN to Australia’s tech media
  • The tech media’s none-to-positive and thoroughly entertaining response
  • The perspective of industry leading vendors on key industry issues like Cloud, Big Data, Security, BYOD
  • The enthusiasm to which the tech media wanted to play buzzword bingo on Twitter with the above issues

However, what I found most fascinating were the Media Insight Sessions – specifically the insights around the changing face of technology publishing and the implications for technology communications.  Below are my key takeaways on both.

The changing face of technology publishing

It’s no secret that the Internet has revolutionised technology publishing forever.  And not surprisingly a major discussion point during the media insights sessions was how print publications could survive when eyeballs and advertising dollars were going online.

My key takeaways on this can be summarise through five points:

  1. Niche publications have a future in print
  2. The future of more general titles is inevitably online
  3. Print publications operate on skeleton staff and rely heavily on freelancers
  4. Expect more casualties in tech print media in 2012 – MIS is just the beginning
  5. Many technology websites are not yet ready for video content but are investing heavily in 2012 to take advantage of potential ad revenue

Future of technology media content

Just as fascinating is the impact the Internet is having on editorial content.  Specifically, that online technology publishers are now focused on producing two forms of content:

  1. Click driving stories – that have the greatest potential for monetisation.  Because as we all know, high click through rates (CTR) equates to strong revenue
  2. Positioning stories – that directly reflect the intended readership of the publication for the purpose of attracting advertisers eg. C-Level executives

Whilst these two trends could be relevant to any publisher, it seems particularly poignant for tech media.  According to some at Kickstart, technology content is amongst the most monetisable.

Arguably this can be proven by The Australian Financial Review recently surfacing its tech content from behind its paywall.  I wouldn’t be surprise to see The Australian IT to follow suit in weeks to come.

Either way, these two focus areas for editorial content will have a massive impact on what Australia’s technology media will write about in the future.

Learnings for communications professionals

Clearly, we can’t blame publishers for the demise of print and the increased marketisation of their editorial content – they have to adapt and innovate to survive just like everyone else.

But as communications professionals, there are things we can learn from these trends that can benefit our client and improve how we engage with the media.

Below are my top seven tips for ensuring successful outcomes for your clients in a changing media landscape:

  1. Write clickable copy – tech journos are increasingly time poor, so clickable copy (even if it’s sensationalised) will help your client’s conent get published.
  2. Monitor Google Trends – media look at this to see what issues drive the greatest CTR.  If you can link your client’s story to a Google Trend, it will improve the likelihood of being published.
  3. Produce dynamic content – beyond copy and quotes, provide media with dynamic content formats (like audio, imagery, infographics etc) that will drive CTRs.  As mentioned, many tech website aren’t video ready but expect this to change as advertisers demand it.
  4. Mimic the editorial focus – websites write about particular issues/topics because they have good CTRs.  Ensure your client’s story reflects this and you’ll increase your chances of getting published.
  5. Link to the NBN – based on what I heard at Kickstart, stories about the NBN currently have some of the best CTRs.
  6. Focus on the audience – remember that publications write positioning stories to attract a readership they feel they can monetise to marketers.  This is an opportunity for PRs.
  7. Target freelancers – publishers rely heavily on them to lower overheads so don’t forget to engage them as much as staffers.

So with all this said, the main thing I’ll take away from Kickstart is the growing importance of measurement to tech publishing community.

Whilst this will be a massive challenge for print publishers, the nature of ‘online’ means technology websites will increasingly attract advertising dollars through their ability to calculate ROI at a granular level.

For communications professionals, the game has changed and we must change with it.

- Grant Thomas