A synopsis of the presentation given by Allein G. Moore, Publisher and Editor of AdAsia magazine, at APC 2013 held in Manila.
Dr Who, the Time Lord hero of a long-running series shown on BBC television, travels back and forth in time in his TARDIS. On the outside this vehicle appears to be a modest-sized old-style blue British police box but inside it is a sophisticated time machine.
To prepare the publishers in the audience for long-term success, I want you to join me on a journey in my TARDIS, first back in time and then forward into
We can assume that publishing really began with Johannes Gutenberg who invented printing from moveable metal type around 1439. His first production run was 180 copies of the Bible. Soon the commercial possibilities were recognised and non-religious books and commercial publications were being published. The following three hundred years saw the development of newsheets and advertising bills. A newly-literate population snapped up newspapers and magazines. However, visiting this period in time, we would see little had changed in terms of production. Black ink was rolled over the words or engraved pictures after which paper was pressed upon them transferring the images.
Although there were periods when publications were heavily taxed or banned, and even times when authorities like the Church or the Nazi party burned books, publishing worldwide thrived and expanded.
In the UK, the first hint of a major change to our industry was the planned launch of a tabloid newspaper titled ‘TODAY’ using colour off-set litho and computer photosetting. This replaced the linotype and letterpress machines. The printing trade unions fought against these developments as it meant job losses. Compositors who had undergone a seven year apprenticeship were replaced by typists. The huge letterpress printing machines based in Fleet Street were replaced with smaller machines based in Wapping, in the suburbs. The man behind this revolution, Eddy Shah, had the backing of a right wing government led by Maggie Thatcher. Technology won but Shah failed to become the English Rupert Murdoch. Moving ahead in time, our time travellers would later find him running an entertainment complex and eventually facing criminal charges. But he deserves being remembered as a pioneer.
The publishing industry as a whole soon adapted and embraced the new technology. The sound of the clacking typewriters faded as journalists adopted computers and newsrooms became silent. Writers in the magazines also began to write copy on computers and it wasn’t long before the entire production was prepared on a screen.
Newspaper barons and large organisations continued to dominate the newspaper industry and book publishing was still a gentlemanly profession even if paperbacks were now being sold alongside cartons of milk in
Everyone felt comfortable until these three letters changed the world: “www” . The amazing world wide web supported by digital technology turned publishing (and many other industries) on its head. To be fair to us, we soon took advantage of emails to speed up communications and researchers used the web to get information. We adopted the format of e-newsletters and gaily sent these off to the readers. It did not take long for almost all publishing firms or titles to create their own website. At first pretty basic, but slowly these grew more sophisticated.
But as we move forward in our Tardis, travelling through time, we start to hear warning bells. Or rather the ring of the mobile phone. As this device became more and more ubiquitous and it developed screen, publishers created web sites and apps that were friendly to the new platform.
But before most publishers had caught their breath, Steve Jobs invented the first attractive tablet device: the iPad. It was an instant success.
Other manufacturers soon followed his example, with Samsung gaining
the most ground.
The touch screen tablets, and maybe the larger screen phones, gave a new lease of life to the publishing industry at a period when print readership and advertising revenue was declining. How many of you attending this conference decided not to carry heavy books to read whilst on this trip but instead to download e-books into your tablet? Most of you it seems. We are finding it more convenient to carry books in digital formats as we travel more and our luggage allowance seems to decline. Smaller apartments, as we move into cities, means less room for bookshelves. Book stores are shutting down and magazines are getting harder to pick up as bookstores and newsstands
We also have a generation growing up that is used to reading off screens. I suspect even in this audience many of you get your news purely from the TV or mobile screen. Fewer people are buying a daily newspaper. They do not want the printed page. Arthur Sulzberger Jr, Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times said,” We will stop printing The New York Times. Date to
Did the Tablet save us from early extinction?
Some say the tablet saved the publishing industry. We could now create the equivalent of a print magazine page on this new large bright screen. After flirting with turning pages of the original print magazine digitally, we publishers saw more opportunities offered by the digital platform. Photos could be expanded, or even offered in video form. We could encourage our readers to explore our stories and archives. We can start to interact with them. The tablet has given us all the printed page offered and a lot more.
The publishing industry can congratulate itself on adapting to the new technology. But, before you get too self-satisfied, let this TV commercial act
as a reminder.
One of the most popular TV commercials on YouTube was created in the UK in the seventies for Cadbury’s Smash. A group of aliens is studying habits on Earth and find it very amusing that Earthlings are still peeling potatoes and cooking them to produce mashed potato.
Perhaps people in the future will laugh at us using these devices. The title of my talk is “The Future of Publishing is Not as We Know It.” I will go further and say we will not only cease reading printed newspaper and magazines, we will dump the mobile phone; we will scrap the tablet.
Join me in the TARDIS to look at the future.
Audience of One
Our audience is changing. As I mentioned we have a generation growing up looking at screens for most of their awake hours. Maybe even the human physiology will change. In the future, humans may evolve with larger eyes to better see screens, perhaps the head will expand to take in the huge amount of information garnered daily. The average 10 year-old knows a lot more than the child of the same age 50 years ago! Toddlers today are confidently using the mobile phone and iPad, and future generations will develop more flexible fingers and better co-ordination than before. With so much time spent sitting down and travelling in motor vehicles, it seems likely that our legs will atrophy!
One upon a time we sought to expand our audience. Digital helped me turn AdAsia from local Singapore magazine to an international brand with 25 times the readership. I know Epicure magazine was surprised to find their digital edition being gaining overseas subscribers after they developed a tablet edition. We wanted to expand. The bigger the circulation, the more advertisers were drawn to us.
But our publishing firm of the future will be interested in an audience of one. In the world of Big Data, we can drill down to the individual. Each reader will get content that is unique to him or her. It will be related to the reader’s particular interests. Obama’s election team managed to send messages to potential financial supporters, addressing them personally by name and, incredibly,
with the knowledge of how much that person could afford to give.
The skill in the publishers of the future is knowing what information the reader wants to receive and blending content, like a good whisky, so the flavour is just right for that person. Pets magazine staff may know I like dogs (even the breeds I prefer) but will have also discovered from my data that I travel a lot. Airline offers or an article on Greece may be added into the digital issue that reaches me.
Farewell to staff journalists
Since 2001, one in five USA journalists have been shed from the business. One in ten UK publishers is cutting frequency. The magazines of the future will not employ any journalists. Content will be supplied from specialist companies. Publishers are already sharing content and there are companies now that collect content. The Asia-based Editor’s Content Hub represented here at APC is an example. The publisher in years to come will have access to the top award-winning writers in the world on one end of the scale and amateur writers who churn out blogs on the other. The journalists, who no longer work for one magazine, will be happily writing content (and getting paid for it) that is published all over the world. Photographers have been working this way for years – relying on direct commissions or putting their pictures in an image library like Getty’s. The publisher may commission a locally based writer for a subject that needs on-the-ground experience, the rest will be gleaned from the content libraries or exchangers. For my Online Marketing Weekly, currently my researchers collect stories from around the world on online and mobile matters. I select and then edit this into four lines which are linked taking my subscribers to the original. Eventually, with permission, we will probably reproduced the whole story. And in the future I will simply select stories from the libraries which I think are relevant to my subscribers.
We are more than publishers
The advertising agencies have struggled even harder to find a place as the digital revolution turned their business upside down. They ignored this platform for a time and then bought over digital agencies to get up to speed. But even now, surveys find media buyers have little knowledge and marketing directors are nervous of digital media.
After years of one way communications, agencies are not as well equipped as publishers to understand engagement. Magazine editors have had years of experience at building relationships with readers. All research shows the readers have more trust in publishers.
Advertising is moving past the direct sale and the publishers in the future will be well-equipped to develop branded content. We will work directly with marketing directors to inform and educate and lead readers to a brand. We are to become the new conduit from brand to consumer.
Rolling… and Action
In 2011 and 2012 we saw the growth of video content all over the web as download speeds improved. All research indicates consumer prefer seeing moving images to stills. Magazine publishers have responded to this preference and started to integrate video film into their tablet versions. It is this ability to comfortably show films that has led to the popularity in 2013 of the tablet as a device.
This expansion of video content will develop in the years ahead to such an extent that publishers will have to have a film crew on staff or create partnerships with production and editing firms. The magazine of the future will have few words and more film content. Our advertisers will also want films about their products, company and staff.
Devices down the drain
Our trip in the TARDIS will show our world of mobile and tablets has gone down the drain, joining the equally old-fashioned print and paper platform.
We have a hint of things to come with the Google Glass which shows the information we seek on a small screen right before our eyes. Through this we can not only receive information but record it too.
But do we really want to wear this device all day? Do we want to carry around a mobile phone or tablet as we move around, worrying if we will leave it in a cab or have it stolen?
Our world of the future will have screens everywhere for our free use. The technology of 2012 already brought us tables which can become screens. Windows can become screens as we saw in the film ‘Minority Report’. Tom Cruise moves images and words around on a transparent screen using just his hands or arm gestures. This technology is with us in 2013.
The École Polytechnique de Montréal in Canada has been testing fibres that can carry information enabling you to become a walking computer. These threads can be woven into suits. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine a handkerchief or scarf being unfolded to become a handy screen.
In public places, biometric sensors will identify you by your eyes or face and connect you to your personal data or public information. Your last access will be recorded and you can start where you left off when earlier connected in your home or public transport. All information is in the cloud. This means you have no need of hard discs to store information. Advertisers are already using programmatic bookings to reach you personally in milliseconds. Advertisers can address you in any location with relevant ads.
Moving even further into the future
Most of us have wanted to get into the minds of our readers. We can now literally do this via an implant. News and information can be delivered directly into the brain. In minutes all the knowledge you need for an MBA or how to fly and aeroplane will be entered directly into the brain.
Here are just two examples of what implants can achieve. Scientists have put implants into volunteers enabling with electrical impulses from their nervous system to trigger movement in a robotic hand. In another experiment in UCL, scientists have via a chip captured the actual images that a cat was seeing through its eyes and sent these back to a monitor screen. In future, skip Facebook, you could share images with you friends in real time! Just remember to shut it off at intimate moments.
There may be other problems. Remember Arnold Schwartzenegger in ‘Total Recall’? He went to a company established in the future to give the consumer the holiday of a lifetime, with a chosen companion of the opposite sex, without even getting on a plane. The memories would be implanted and seem perfectly real. Unfortunately, Arnold’s character had some hidden memories which resurfaced and he became very upset. We must make sure our content is welcome!
Return back to the present
Publishers of tomorrow may be even more powerful and influential than they are today. The reader will see the magazine as a close friend who appears to understand them (and we will). Our publication will adapt as they grow older and change interests.
The nature of our operations may change and will have to adapt even more but our basic role remains of bringing information and entertainment to the readers.
Return with me on the TARDIS back to the present. The rest of the speakers at APC 2013 will be bringing you solutions to your current situation.
Thank you for joining me on this exploration.