Marketing in the Digital Age: Are you doing it right?

Digital marketing is a very broad generalisation of the marketing of various products or publications in a digital format. The publishing industry has been around for centuries and so has their marketing techniques. However, the way in which digital marketing has developed since the 1990s and 2000s has changed the way brands and businesses utilize technology and digital marketing for their marketing. Digital marketing campaigns are also becoming much more powerful as well as efficient. As digital platforms are increasingly incorporated into marketing plans and everyday life, as people use digital devices instead of going to physical shops. Or access various services online rather than purchasing in person.

However, generally speaking there are nine types of marketing. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC), public relations (PR), social media marketing, content marketing, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, influencer marketing, and digital/online/web marketing.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a type of marketing of which its goal is to help you rank higher up in Google searches. Most businesses require this to run successfully, some more than others. It is one of the strongest types of digital marketing you will come across. Of all the clicks in search results, 94% of them go to organic listings – not PPC. The methods have altered and changed over the years; but the target is still the same. To put your business higher up the list for potential or recurring customers when they search the Internet.

As mentioned above, pay per click (PPC) is also a form of marketing. Unlike SEO which is about ranking highly long term in the organic listings, PPC is usually about paying a specific search engine directly to be up there. When people refer to PPC they are most likely referring to the ‘sponsored’ links you find in Google searches; however they may be talking about ads in any search engine such as Yahoo or Bing. These links can normally be spotted easily and usually have a note to inform you it is sponsored. These can also be picture ads found on other websites. It is one of the forms of digital marketing that is completely short term and will only work so long as you are paying for the service. Once you stop paying, the ad will no longer exist. Anyone can use this method and profit from it but prices can vary and it is extremely high risk if the business doesn’t know what its doing.

Public relations (PR) cannot be overlooked, and although it’s not technically just a form of digital marketing it can have a large impact on digital marketing outcome and results. Out of all of the types of digital marketing, PR is one the most likely of techniques to gain the most exposure fastest. Public relations is based on business or service exposure, whether that’s in a news article or holding an event, its aim is to get your business well known out there and in the right places to thrive. New businesses benefit hugely from this technique but even huge well known companies continue to use it on a regular basis.The ultimate type of digital marketing for the publishing industry is content marketing. It involves combining several methods together to build a business into a serious success. These methods being SEO, PR and Social Media Marketing. Content marketing is a method that uses great content that your customers will want to read to encourage new sales and leads online. It can be content found anywhere – from YouTube to podcasts, tweets to infographs. However most often it’s blog content on your website, driving new traffic through search engines like SEO. The downside is that it requires a lot of time and dedication, and can be the most expensive form of digital marketing; but you get out of it what you put into it.

Unlike other types of digital publishing, there is no upfront cost for affiliate marketing. You can sit back and relax and let someone else do the marketing for you. However like most things, there is a catch. If they bring in a sale, you have to share the profits. By recruiting ‘affiliates’ for your business or service they draw in leads. In a basic sense they are sales people who are paid on commission when you make a profit. The ‘commission’ is determined entirely by you (the business). There are variations however; some organisations will offer a percentage of the sale made while others may offer a flat rate per product. Affiliate marketing is where you recruit ‘affiliates’ for your business, and they draw in leads. Affiliates are like sales people that you pay on commission. The ‘commission’ is determined entirely by you; some organisations offer a percentage of the sale made, others offer a flat rate per product. This marketing technique is mainly used for B2C, e-commerce businesses, simply because you have to be able to track the direct sales and where profits come from for it to work effectively. The best part of this method is obviously the cost or lack of cost. However it does of course mean giving control of your brand to strangers. It’s usually only a good thing, but might depend on what service you wish to provide. Therefore you have to be smart and set out clear terms and conditions before you dive in.

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Viral marketing is very similar to PR in terms of speed of exposure, however viral is much more effective in a different way. Viral marketing involves getting a piece of your content to simply go viral; it could turn your business into an overnight success. To make your next marketing campaign can take a combination of a number of the other types of digital marketing – such as content marketing, PR and social media marketing – but it can also lead to some amazing results for your business. Viral marketing is when you release content that is strange, hilarious or ‘current’ in a popular topic at that time, which gets you noticed and shared – a lot (mainly via social media). It usually causes a big spike in traffic to your service over a short period of time. Viral marketing can help any business, however the biggest successes have come from large B2C businesses. This is mainly because the consumer goods are going to reach a much bigger audience than a smaller business, which is less well known. This method can however be achieved by any company that produces the right thing at the right time.

A much newer and exciting type of digital marketing is influencer marketing. It is equally effective as the other methods, however in contrast it is vastly different. Influencer marketing is relatively new – but it’s a very exciting form of digital marketing. It’s vastly different from the other types of digital marketing, but can be equally as effective. Influencer marketing is where sales are driven solely by striking a deal with someone who already has a following and ‘influences’ the same target market as you. For example, it’s like how Pepsi might sponsor Britney Spears as it’s spokes person. If your target market was other entrepreneurs for example, you might try to get Richard Branson on board to help market your business.

However in this day and age, with digital marketing as such a key element to drive any form of sales, and the prominence of social media sites; influencer marketing is extremely popular. For example, striking a deal with a popular instagrammer and getting the person to wear your brand of clothes or promote a certain product or service with a few photos – and this can influence huge sales for your business or service. But these days, with social media, it goes much further than that. If you can strike a good deal with a popular and relevant instagrammer and get them to wear your brand of clothes in a couple of photos this can massively increase the likelihood of your target market. This method is again mainly used by B2C eCommerce business owners, but not solely. For example, you could attempt to get an influencer in your industry to tweet about your business and this would also count as influencer marketing and be great exposure.

Digital, online, website marketing. These are all the same things. And they cover all of the digital marketing techniques above. It’s also referred to as an umbrella term. This means it covers all aspects, therefore when marketing for your company you should ensure you figure out which of the services you really want to use to reach your target audience before going to an agency that does this, so you know exactly which types of digital marketing you should ask for. Knowing your target audiences demographic is also a requirement for a successful marketing campaign in the publishing industry. Digital marketing doesn’t usually include PR but often includes a collaboration of any of the above.

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BookTubers: The Phenomenon that Changed Book Marketing

As society continues to become increasingly digitalised, the book industry has had to move away from traditional publishing methods and practices in order to remain of interest to the public. From publication formats to content, book publishing has changed significantly within the last decade and, although sometimes reluctantly undertaken, these changes have enabled the industry to reach a wider and more global audience. According to Ofcom;

‘The average weekly hours spent online has increased in total since 2013 to more than 20 hours’ Ofcom, 2015

Social media, in particular, has facilitated a new dynamic between the producer and consumer. By enabling a new form of interaction with their audience, producers, such as book publishers, are able to reach out to their readers successfully. According to Katie Leimkuehler from Social Media Today, the internet has also enabled publishers to gain an effective form of marketing momentum before their books are released and creating buzz that they would never have had before.

Author-Generated Marketing

John Green is a successful author, writer and producer who has flourished within the genre of young adult fiction. So much so that there are over twenty-four million print copies available in more than fifty-five languages.  With multiple titles taking pride of place in the New York Times’ ‘Bestsellers’ list, John Green has been graced with countless awards for his writing.

The Fault in Our Stars
© Flickr, 2012

Two of which include Paper Towns (2008), winner of the 2009 Edgar Award for ‘Best Young Adult Mystery’ (John Green Books, 2016), and The Fault of Our Stars (2012) which was chosen as ‘TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 1012’. John Green is also one half of the “vlogbrothers” on YouTube and is a regular user of a various social media platforms including Twitter and Tumblr. It is through his use of social media that The Fault in Our Stars was titled as a ‘bestseller’ before it even went to print. He achieved this through Twitter and used the platform to heavily promote his work as well as tweeting promises to sign all copies that were pre-ordered. As well as Twitter, another social network being increasingly used within the industry as a marketing medium is YouTube and it is through this medium that a new form of user-generated marketing came to the attention of publishers.

The Phenomenon of YouTube

YouTube has more than one billion users worldwide and is used by almost a third of internet users who spend millions of hours watching videos and generating billions of views. The use of YouTube as a popular social network, particularly within the eighteen to thirty-four demographic, soon came to the attention of publishers as knkPublishing found that ‘YouTube is 60% more popular than television’. It then comes to no surprise that, when watching YouTube content, the preferred platform is their smartphone with ‘more than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices’. It is also through this medium that the standard viewing session is gradually increasing and now averages at roughly forty minutes.

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© Flickr, 2008

This social media platform has also risen significantly in popularity over the past decade and continues to grow in both the number of users and subscribers on a daily basis. From gaming to beauty videos, this platform has become a popular medium for uploading and viewing online videos created by anyone who is keen to share their interests to the world through a mobile screen. This has caught the attention of multiple industries, including book publishing, as a means to interact and engage their audience and, more importantly, market their products. It is now commonly known that a ‘video of someone talking about your business or succeeding with your product can be much more powerful than a written testimonial.’ This can only suggest that companies who do not take advantage of this marketing strategy are making a crucial mistake.

Book publishers in particular have, in recent years, developed current marketing strategies by using YouTube as a means of reaching out to their younger and more technology-driven audiences. Over the past few years the migration from print to digital book formats has taken a significant toll on print sales with revenues in adult fiction in particular declining by over one-hundred and fifty million pounds since 2009.  The Bookseller’s editor Phillip Jones shared his opinion on the matter by saying:

‘[t]he ebook has quite demonstrably hit the commercial end of the fiction market’ Guardian, 2015

Due to digital platforms becoming increasingly preferred by readers, the industry had to find new innovative ways to engage with their audience. Marketing Director Kristin Fassler, from Penguin Random House, agreed with the significance of the platform as she was quoted saying ‘YouTube is the second-largest search engine, so video is very important’. Book publishers now use YouTube to disseminate marketing content such as interviews with authors and book trailers. However a new phenomenon has developed through the platform which has resulted in an extremely effective marketing technique for publishers but with one twist; it is user-generated.

The New Reading Community of BookTubers

The ‘BookTuber’ is an online digital community of avid readers who want to share their passion for books with a global audience by regularly uploading book orientated videos. The BookTubing community creates user-generated content which has contributed significantly to the success rate for the publishing industry in regards to online marketing. These engaging ‘vlogs’ are often either book hauls showcasing their recent book purchases, reviews, recommendations, reading challenges as a form of promotion, or even bookshelf tours.

The content produced gains a considerable amount of views and can result in the owner of the channel becoming a well-know face within the community. BookTubers such as ‘polandbananasBOOKS, ‘abooktopia’, ‘Katytastic’, ‘jessethereader’ and ‘PeruseProject’ dominate this increasingly popular community with each of them having over one-hundred-thousand subscribers, gaining more than ten-million views. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the industry has started to get involved with this phenomenon as a marketing strategy. By doing so it guarantees a high volume of publicity surrounding the product which will then, in turn,  encourage book sales.

The secret behind the success of BookTube stems from the fact that these vloggers fall into the same, if not similar, demographic to those they aim their videos at. This then means that they are creating visually appealing content that their audience are guaranteed to enjoy and engage with. The younger generation’s media consumption and online behaviour has enabled this community to grow into a significant resource for the publishing industry. knkPublishing found that 70% of peers within the eighteen to thirty-eight demographic said they preferred using BookTube as a means of finding new content to read. The peers within the study claimed this was due to the ‘perceived authenticity of the respective BookTubers and authentic exchanges within the community’. Therefore, suggesting that due to their honest and ‘authentic’ book reviews, they are successfully selling publications to the global online audience. According to Knut Nicholas Krause from knkPublishing, there has been evidence of this as three book recommendations from respected BookTubers have resulted in the publications hitting the top one hundred and sold more than six million copies.

However, recently there has been a change in dynamic within the BookTube community as it continues to become increasingly popular with individual channels gaining more views and subscribers every day. This shift has resulted in the user-generated network becoming more commercialised and professionalised as publishers begin to work alongside well-known BookTubers. Unfortunately, as these channels are entering the realm of professionalisation, ‘[t]he question of authenticity has arisen’. If BookTubers are becoming successful enough to sign deals with publishing companies, are they still conveying their own thoughts and opinions when producing sponsored content?

Having said that, the beauty and gaming communities that are fully established on YouTube are still maintaining their popularity amongst viewers as they continue to collaborate with brands and organisations and producing sponsored videos. According to Amanda Kirkham from Business 2 Community, is it the deals and sponsorships that are necessary for YouTubers to become full-time contributors to the platform as well as providing inspiration for future and aspiring channels. (2014) The commercial shift within the BookTubing community was perhaps inevitable and it is most likely that is will follow in the footsteps of existing channels which gain income from producing sponsored videos.

The BookTubing community is growing in terms of channels, views and subscribers and publishers are now aware of this trending social network as an efficient marketing strategy. Unfortunately, this user-generated community may become increasingly commercialised, and could affect the level of authenticity and trust perceived by the subscribers of existing BookTube channels. However, this network of passionate and enthusiastic readers will most likely maintain this phenomenon, as it has transformed the private pleasure of reading into a social hub of interaction. YouTube continues to attract millions of subscribers with nearly five billion videos being watched every day. Therefore the publishing industry will be able maintain the online interaction needed to remain existent within a digital-orientated society.

 

 

Feature image source: © About To Read, 2015

 

 

 

Should Digital News Be Free?

The rise in social media during the past five years has equated to 2.3 billion active users. Due to this escalation the way we view our news and digital content has shifted, this is because people are now able to view the news for free. The expectations for free news has resulted in the decline in print readership and print newspapers. As a result, many newspapers have been forced to think about a full conversion into the digital world, and with some newspapers already taking the step.

A study conducted by Srivastava has stated the different ‘availability on multi-mediums had more people to reading newspapers than ever before.’ However, the pressing question is: how much are consumers willing to pay for accessible content online?

Newspapers Conversion to Digital

According to Tess Saperstein of Harvard Politics ‘Print readership is steadily declining, newspapers are closing, and journalists with decades of experience are being laid off.’ Suggesting print readership has steadily started to decline and instead the digital news platforms are becoming much more popular. One newspaper that has converted to digital is The Independent. Evgeny Lebedev of The Independent stated:

‘The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital’.

© Shannon Barrett, 2016
© Shannon Barrett, 2016

Like The Independent, newspapers should look to their current readership to determine the future of their businesses. From The Independent’s conversion to digital, their readers were given a wider range of free news to choose from. In the last 12 months ‘it’s monthly audience has grown 33.3%, to nearly 70 million global unique users,’ highlighting the conversion has been worthwhile, it’s given users different platforms in which to view the news including video, typed text and a monthly app subscription.

Are Monthly Subscription Apps Worthwhile?

Rupert Murdock’s paywall was introduced to prevent companies such as google and Microsoft stealing hard-earned journalism, reproducing articles and then claiming them as their own. In 2009 Murdock stated ‘We intend to charge for all our news websites. I believe that if we are successful, we will be followed by other media.’ The paid subscription limited the content viewers could see, however, moving on 7 years we have seen a dramatic rise in internet users and as a result the amount of ‘free news’ has risen.

It is increasingly hard to measure what content viewers would be willing to pay for. Most newspapers allow customers to see certain news articles online for free. However, the added benefit of the subscription introduces new custom content which can only be viewed when paying the monthly fee. These subscriptions now come in app form, which can be downloaded straight to your mobile phone or tablet.

The Independent is an example of a monthly paid app where the buyer’s given two choices: the first being £2.99 a week or alternatively a fee of £12.99 a month. It’s aimed at those who prefer ‘a well-curated and paced news experience,’ and consists of content from their weekend supplements as well as articles unavailable to users of their website. Much like The Independent, The Telegraph’s app starts with a free subscription service, this then changes to £2.00 a week or £6.00 a week, depending on the type of content the reader would like. These subscriptions are tailor-made, with limited options in the free service and noticeable content for those who are paying for it.

© The Guardian on Twitter
© The Guardian on Twitter

The paywall, however, seems slightly lost when looking at online news websites. A number of these sites have news readily available for consumers to view in their own time, without the added downfall of a subscription plan. The Guardian is a newspaper with a highly-established online platform, and recognisable social media accounts that are constantly active. Whilst The Guardian has a monthly paid for app, their online free content trumps a lot of the paid for sites. Standing at 38 million users around the world, The Guardian reaches a large audience with its content. Their 5.9 million Twitter followers are treated to daily tweets, guiding them to The Guardian’s website.

© The Guardian on Pinterest
© The Guardian on Pinterest

Their alternative social media accounts, Pinterest, has over 600 thousand followers. The Guardian stated they ‘are always keen to trial new things, especially if they allow new users to discover The Guardian’s great journalism and online content.’ This free content stretches to boards including ‘Feasting,’ ‘Wines of the Week’ and also coverage on different news genres, such as ‘From the Olympics.’ Their content goes above and beyond just the news, proving not all digital content must be paid for. Pinterest links back to it’s original source suggesting this form of free content can be worthwhile for both publisher and user.

The BBC Licence Payer’s ‘Free’ News

A different argument for free news comes with the BBC and its content. Both the news online and, via mobile, are free for the public to view and do not require a monthly, or weekly, subscription fee to use them. However, the argument for ‘free news’ is already controversial as it is the BBC Licence payers who pay for the news uploaded each day. This £145.60 each year is a small cost to pay for all the BBC’s channels, radio stations, iPlayer and, of course, their online website and app. Therefore, the BBC’s licence ensures there are no hidden costs the public must pay to obtain their news.

But is the yearly fee worth it?

The Guardian have researched life without the BBC and found those who were reluctant to pay the cost, missed the BBC after agreeing to block it. One user also stated ‘being without the BBC was absolutely dreadful, just awful. I didn’t realise how much we watched it.’ With another user stating ‘The advertisement [on other channels] drove me nuts.’ But with the rise in social media and the way we collect the news, it poses the argument for both the paywall and the BBC licence, questioning if, perhaps, their fees are too high when people can access free news elsewhere. In contrast, the fee for other elements of the BBC platforms, such as radio & TV, are well worth this payment.

Is Snapchat Transforming our Free News?

© CNN on Snapchat
© CNN on Snapchat

Technology over the years has changed the way we view the news and how the news is reported. The controversial apps and paid subscriptions are being challenged by social media and its development. Snapchat in particular is challenging the traditional news and in 2015 launched its new Discover platform, allowing publishers to use Snapchat to generate short snippets of the news. The CNN commented that Snapchat has ‘a massive audience that’s passionate and engaged, but it’s not one that CNN is reaching on a day-to-day basis,’ proving the social media app accesses audiences that would not necessary approach news on a regular basis. Through Snapchat publishers are able to reach a younger audience, one that is dramatically changing the face of digital content. Therefore, it would benefit from other news reporters using the service.

 

The New York Times has a very large following and recently used Snapchat as a way to get original content to their users. They used several reporters to ‘narrate key moments and unusual aspects of the Democratic National Convention via Snapchat. Through a mix of video, photos and text overlays, reporters quizzed passers-by on their political preferences.’ This allowed The New York Times to reach the ‘150 million daily active users’ that Snapchat have. This type of news is free for consumers to access and thus people are much more likely to continue to welcome and support this type of platform.

Discover Channel © Shannon Barrett, 2016
Discover Channel © Shannon Barrett, 2016

Speaking for The New York Times Cynthia Collins said,

‘We’re using [Snapchat] as a means to connect with new audiences, a younger audience.’

Snapchat is a social media platform that can then relate to those who may not willingly search for the news themselves. It allows publishers to update their account regularly encouraging behind the scenes content from interviews, videos, to so much more and any audience is pleased to believe they are getting exclusive content for free. The Discover centre is especially important and Snapchat have stated, ‘You’ll see a more filtered selection of content for our Discover page, limited to technology, social media and a few lifestyle stories,’ allowing users to see first-hand the news quickly and effectively.

Snapchat also allows publishers and brands to create their own content on the app through their own free, personal accounts. In 2016 Sloanne stated ‘They use these organic accounts as an extension of their newsrooms or marketing departments,’ these quick snippets can entice and encourage their users to source the content online, acting as the ‘cliff-hanger’ that encourages a younger generation to view their website. The news can be immediate and is an excellent way for publishers to not only promote the news but also their own brand as well.

The Future for Free News

Overall, the news is becoming increasingly difficult to pay for, due to the free content easily accessed online. With the likes of social media, in particular Twitter and Snapchat, the news younger people are accessing does not include a subscription plan or a one-off payment. Whilst these may have adverts, they are generally small and easy to skip – taking away the factor which causes a lot of people to pay for the news. Whilst the BBC is a factor that must be considered due to its yearly fee of £145.60, the fee is something that is understandable due to the extra content such as TV channels, Radio channels and of course their online content. However, when the news is easy to access for free online and through the social media apps the question of ‘Should Digital News be Free,’ can only be answered with yes, it should be.

What can magazines learn from Vogue’s use of multi-platform publishing?

Digital Publishing since its widespread recognition in 2010 has had a formidable effect on the magazine industry and due to this, in the UK the circulation of print magazines has fallen by 4% in the last half of 2015.

Print magazines such as Company, Instyle UK and Computer World have shifted to a digital-only format. Ryan Jones notes that ‘Other industries are beginning to recognize the advantages of entering the digital magazine publication realm — namely the ease with which they are able to distribute content and capture a unique set of data.’ Jones is correct in his statement, many publications have been using multi-platform publishing to distribute and market its content and brand. It is an efficient way of getting content out into the public sphere in a matter of seconds. If magazines do not invest in multi-platform publishing, it could be costly in terms of future subscription revenues and affect the longevity of the industry.

 

Challenges of fashion magazines

An area of magazine publishing that has seen further challenges are fashion magazines; this is the result in rise of ‘fashion bloggers’ such as Susie Bubble and Leandra Medine. Magazines such as Vogue, InStyle, Allure and Elle are now not the only source of fashion related content for consumers. Consumers find fashion bloggers ‘more relatable’ than a high-end establishment such as Elle and because bloggers release content through their own website or Instagram and YouTube and is far more easily accessible. Readers are more likely to take the free option than pay £3.99 per monthly issue.

A magazine that has suffered considerably is InStyle UK which ‘saw its circulation fall by almost 18% in the first six months of 2016 to 121,000 copies a month’ and as of October 2016, is now cutting print and focusing on digital. InStyle UK’s Editor Charlotte Moore states ‘the fashion world is changing dramatically, the way our audience interacts with it is changing and we have to change to meet that challenge. With a focus on delivering the InStyle experience across all digital platforms’. Though it seems fashion magazines have struggled to keep print circulation in par with the ever-growing reach of digital publishing and more specifically fashion bloggers, magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar have been able to withstand the pressure to shift to digital-only publishing due to advertorials and their use of multi-platform publishing.

 

Vogue’s use of multi-platform publishing

Vogue magazine in particular has consolidated its status with its use of multi-platform publishing. Vogue, published by Conde Nast is an iconic high-end fashion and lifestyle magazine and is considered ‘fashion bible’ by readers. It was first published in the US in 1892 and has over 20 worldwide print editions. Its demographic is women (87%) and men (13%), specifically upper middle-class and those can regularly afford designer pieces. According to Conde Nast, Vogue has approximately a print audience of 11.9 million with an average total of 1,267,754 print circulations each month. Vogue has another magazine Teen Vogue that was launched in 2004. It attracts a younger audience than the original Vogue but allows them to target younger audiences who will most likely be interested in investing in Vogue material as a result of growing up with Teen Vogue.

Vogue’s editor Anna Wintour understands the importance of digital publishing and the need to invest in it. During Cannes Lions Festival, Wintour noted in her speech that ‘It would be ridiculous to ignore the speed and possibilities of the digital landscape — you absolutely need to have fast-moving news online, but if you want to build a large audience over time, you absolutely have to take a risk on the big challenging stuff.’ In conversation with Vogue Australia, Wintour speaks of the main advantage of digital ‘we have more access than ever to the people we are trying to reach thanks to social media and mobile technology, and more information than we know what to do with.’ We must discover how Vogue has used the digital landscape and what publications can learn from them.

Vogue has invested in multi-platform publishing in order to enhance its audience reach and brand that allow readers to capture or access Vogue material any time and place without the need to pick up its print issue. The ability to share content from different platforms, allows Vogue to have widespread, continuous exposure. They use social media and digital platforms such as Facebook (8+ million likes), Twitter (11.8M followers), Instagram (12.7m Followers), YouTube (800,000+ Subscribers), its newest platform is Snapchat and most coveted is its website – Vogue.com which launched in 2010. The Financial Times states ‘Vogue.com is today a vast adjunct of the print edition it represents. And it’s a mighty proposition. Since its relaunch last August it has grown its audience figures by 80 per cent.’ Since the re-launch of the website, it is evident that websites are key in attracting readers due to ease of access and ability to distribute content quickly. According to Vogue’s media kit, it has a monthly online audience of 8.5 million and 5 Billion press ‘impressions’ each month. Vogue has also created app extensions of its magazine for Apple iPad, Android phone and tablet and the Nook using Adobe AEM– allowing digital copies of the print issue to be viewed at the touch of a button.

On Twitter and Facebook, Vogue shares articles from Vogue.com with a direct link to the webpage – easily directing traffic to the website. Vogue’s digital audience is far bigger than its print audience, with an average of 11,058,165 monthly visitors and over 357 million page views each month. The YouTube channel offers one-on-one interviews with models and famous celebrities in its well-known series ’73 Questions’, sneak peaks at fashion weeks and events such as the Met Gala.

 

Vogue’s Instagram is a fresher, more modern approach to marketing its brand and magazine. Traditionally Vogue’s average print issue’s demographic is women aged 35+ but its social media platforms such as Instagram opens up larger reach to young adult and teenage audiences. Its Instagram focuses on behind-the-scene material in video and image and editorial photo-shoots. Vogue has several instagram accounts such as Vogue, Vogue Runway and in November 2016 launched an account dedicated to beauty.

 

© Voguemagazine Instagram

In September 2016, Vogue magazine joined the ‘Snapchat discover’ platform; which allows them to take users behind-the-scenes of runways, fashion events and interviews with models and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Vogue began by documenting 2016 New York Fashion Week, where users were able to access Vogue’s posts within seconds of it being uploaded – allowing users to feel as though they are ‘in the know’ of current fashion trends and as if they were themselves sitting front row at fashion week. Vogue also has its own Snapchat account (Voguemagazine) and release similar content as ‘Vogue discover’.

© Vogue Snapchat

Advertorials in Vogue

Vogue’s print circulation has decreased from 2015 – 2016 but Vogue has been able to withstand the movement of print to digital due to the advertisement placements and sponsorships or otherwise known as ‘advertorials’ in the print issues by high-end fashion brands such as Prada, Lancôme, Chanel and Jimmy Choo to name a few. The decrease of print sales does not affect Vogue as much as it would affect a smaller fashion magazine brand such as Grazia. ‘Vogue aim to target an audience, who have the purchasing means to buy the products mentioned, thus making it a gold mine for brands wishing to advertise within.’ Vogue’s coveted September issue tends to have the largest advertisement investments by brands. 2016’s September issues of over 800 pages, approximately 600 pages were advertisements.

Donna Karan in Vogue Magazine, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier
Donna Karan in Vogue Magazine, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier

Why has Vogue been successful in multi-platform publishing?

According to The Guardian, British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman ‘believes Vogue’s longevity has hinged on staying “very clear about the core values while being open to adaptation and innovation.”’ It’s obvious to state that Vogue’s key success in remaining prevalent in print and digital is in its ability to remain recognizable in terms of brand, its content being consistent and high-quality value across all platforms.

Business of Fashion believe that ‘Realistically, unless you’ve got a very strong brand, then it can be hard to make money online.’ There is no denying that Vogue has stayed true to its print audience with keeping the material of high-end luxury brands and it’s print style, more specifically its cover design. GQ’s publisher Howard Mittman states ‘The print market is shifting and changing at a dramatic rate, but the one constant that remains is consumers still understand and appreciate quality.’ Vogue’s success at digital is incomparable, its consistency of editorial style and in addition targeting several age brackets through different social media platforms and with keeping each platform producing valued content allow Vogue to keep its status in the fashion industry elevated. Vogue’s print issue won’t be leaving the newsstand anytime soon. Readers still enjoy print magazines rather than solely digital, like readers still enjoy physical books rather than e-books. They like to hold something, have a physical copy of something they have parted their money with for – Vogue is tangible and collectable.

Stephen Quinn, Publishing Director of British Vogue states;

“Don’t turn your back on print. Embrace social but don’t build your house on it. Invest in quality content that excites your readers. Focus on the reader and not the sales pitch and remember, you can build a brand on content – just be definitively good at one thing.”

Many publications can learn from Vogue’s digital and print strategy – don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Embrace all platforms and ensure that both digital and print formats are valuable in their own right to create a brand that is undeniably recognizable, reliable and timeless with the reader in focus.

 

 

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Feature Image: © Vogue Magazine

Young adults and their books: where does digital fit in?

In general terms the phrase ‘young adult’ (YA) refers to teenagers. But in the children’s publishing industry, YA is a far more complex concept. While the official definition may not have changed, there are a lot of adults who read and relate to YA fiction, and are therefore impacting the readership of the YA genre. This readership now extends out of the teenage bracket to readers in their thirties. Statistics show that 55% of YA books are bought by over eighteens and 78% of those are buying the books for their own consumption.

Despite that, the general consensus is that this audience – that is, readers of YA fiction – is in the best position for consuming digital technology; “teens continue to express a preference for print that may seem to be at odds with their perceived digital know-how.” This statement plays towards a particular stereotype which assumes that all young people are adept at using technology. Furthermore, it suggests that all young people should be using it. Just because young people are supposedly best equipped with the skills to use technology effectively, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to use it. While some aspects, such as social media, are more obviously embraced by young people, this should not immediately suggest that young people want everything, in particular books, digitalised.

The evolution of the e-reader
The evolution of the e-reader. © John Blyberg, 2010

Statements like this, which force everything digital into the hands of young people, were the results of a study that found a “disparity between the number of YA e-books being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read e-books.” It was this study that led industry experts to realise just how influential the 18-30 audience is on the sales of YA fiction. This wider readership has affected the analysis of e-book sales in this genre which begs the question, why does it matter if young people don’t enjoy e-books as much as society expects them to? Perhaps young people are finding other ways of combining their reading with technology.

The Road to Discovery

Before any reading – on Kindle, on iBook, in print – can begin, young people have to find the books they want to read. There are, of course, the traditional routes of newspaper reviews, perusing bookshops and word of mouth, but the internet has opened up a new realm of marketing possibilities.

A Nielsen report revealed that 45% of teens are ‘at least moderately influenced by social media’ which can encompass a diverse range of outlets. Sites such as Facebook and Instagram are, at a basic level, technologically enhanced forms of word of mouth. The obvious social aspects of these sites, as well as the many others in existence, provide the perfect platform for discovery via recommendation. Websites like Goodreads.com, as well as its parent company, Amazon, rely on similar tools of referral in the form of spaces dedicated to ‘because you read’, ‘we think you’ll like this’, and ‘people who bought this’ sections.

Discovery of new titles to read has also been somewhat affected by consumer generated content on various platforms. The act of reading, among avid readers especially, become a much more social hobby, despite it being commonly thought of as a solitary activity. This change has led to the growth of an ever-expanding community. With all the new outlets available for expressing interests and passions, this means that there is now a huge amount of book bloggers in varying forms (‘booklrs’, ‘bookstagrammers’ and ‘booktubers’), all of whom aim to spread a love of books and reading through reviews, photography and videos.

The presence of these passionate readers offers a rich and exciting new way to discover books, from the next big thing, to a fantastic read you may never have found otherwise.

The Eternal Debate

Once young people have found their next book, however they prefer to do so, how do they actually consume it? The book versus e-book debate is a long-running one. With both sides having benefits and downfalls, it doesn’t look like a debate that will ever come to a conclusive end, especially if considering every kind of reader out there – from those who read casually at bed time, to the academic reading to gain knowledge. When considering just one demographic it is perhaps easier to discern whether print or e-books are ultimately more popular.

In 2012, Publishers Weekly wrote an article about the relationship between YA readers and e-books. This article came to the conclusion that teens are embracing e-books which is what many people, as previously stated, would assume; “Teenagers are a demographic perfectly poised to consume digital content.” One of the biggest pros of e-books is the immediate gratification they provide. The buying process is quick, especially with the speed of discovery aided by the aforementioned ‘related to this title’ sections. Once a reader has chosen, they pay, they download, it’s there on their device. It is this immediacy that teenagers are particularly susceptible to, having grown up with so much right at their finger tips.

On the other side, a 2014 Nielsen report claimed parenting was an integral factor when considering why teens are still engaging with print. Because many parents still favour print books, this is the format they instinctually give their children. By this theory, it’ll take a while before parents are automatically considering e-books when finding something for their children to read. This parental influence means, according to the same Nielsen report, that it can take up to two generations for something new to stick as society becomes accustomed to and welcomes new things; the YA genre is an example in itself.

Ever since the debate between e-books and print began, one point of argument against e-books has always been that digital technology cannot replicate or replace the feeling of holding a real book in your hands. Reading from a hard copy can be a much more immersive experience and comprehension can be more advanced, with neurological studies supporting those claims. That immersion can be linked to particularly passionate readers of YA who want to have full bookshelves and appreciate the cover art and design of books, something that really cannot be replicated in digital form.

Beyond the Pages

Once the story is finished, questions answered, the book closed, what happens to it then? For most people, it would go back on the shelf and that would be it.

books-and-computer
Books and technology side by side. © Alice Hammond, 2014

However, the YA demographic is a passionate one and, encouraged by social media, they love to share this passion. As Emma Allison puts it, “teenagers do not passively love young adult fiction and its authors. The ferocity of [their] devotion rivals the heartbreak caused by the very same novels.” The internet has created a platform on which their love for books can be shared in an international community.

One website that is particularly popular for this age group is Tumblr. Of all the Tumblr users, who contribute or browse the site on a monthly basis, 46% are aged between 16 and 24. While Tumblr is by no means restricted to a book-based community, it is a “passion network” which, unlike other social media sites, holds its focus on connecting people based on what they enjoy; in this case, reading, books, and the lifestyle surrounding those things. Building communities this way means everyone is considered equal. Fans can reach out to their favourite authors who can, in return, engage with their readers.

It can be concluded that young people are, for the most part, engaging with technology. However, when it comes to their reading habits, it’s not a decision they should have to make: digital or not. Maybe the real challenge isn’t trying to make everything digital.

Maybe the challenge is to create a balanced relationship between digital and print. One which offers young people the freedom to interact with books the way they want to, whether that be all digital, no digital, or somewhere – anywhere – in the middle.

While reading has become a much more sociable thing, it is still a different experience for every individual reader and this should be celebrated. Young people shouldn’t have digital content forced upon them simply because they are expected to want it.

Digital Picturebooks’ Double Standard

Today, digital picturebooks are at the heart of one of the biggest conversations in Children’s Publishing: the controversy of app versus hardback. There is an element of nostalgia placed behind a picturebook: physical handling, illustrations, story lines and interactivity to name a few aspects. However, no matter how successfully an app replicates these areas a hard-bound picturebook will always resonate as the ideal product for most parents.

By comparing a children’s picturebook app against the picturebook format it was constructed from, adults place a double standard on picturebooks as they unfairly criticise a digital platform not on the success of the product, but on the publishing platform it resonates on.

Picturebook apps have the potential to expand

New methods of obtaining picturebook apps – through Apple iPads, tablets and most touchscreen technology – are increasing the accessibility of digitalised picturebook apps. In 2014 Nielsen Book found that 50% of family households now own at least one tablet; a figure which has risen 26% from the previous year.

The digital platform is clearly expanding, John Styring the CEO of Igloo Books believes while children’s publishing ‘has generally been seen as “lagging behind” in the digital stakes, it is catching up fast as more parents have the technology available to them, and publishers feel that the technology is relevant to their offerings.’

Publishers such as Nosy Crow build their apps in-house, employing game developers to complement their core publishing skills. This specialist team collaborates to avoid a clash of cultures, sharing a set of beliefs about what their apps should be like, and what’s going to appeal to children. This ethos appears successful, with The Guardian referencing the company as a children’s publisher that prioritises reading over digital gimmicks. Nosy Crow, a leading picturebook app developer, therefore sets the foundation for other publications to follow.

So why do adults have reservations?

Traditional arguments appear to focus on similarities and differences in story-telling between books and apps, the success of coding on compatible devices and a comparison of sales figures – all of which conclude either print or digital is more successful. However Kate Wilson, Nosy Crow’s Managing Director, argues ‘apps are not books, and books are not apps. Successful making of story apps requires an understanding that apps are another country, and we should do things differently there.’

With this understanding it is redundant to argue which format is more successful because of differing digital or print features. Instead the similarities between the two formats should be emphasised: after all, it is believed apps are constructed upon the conventions and gestures of print books.

Adults are becoming lazy

Apps are an additional form of storytelling, they are simply another way to use technology to engage children with reading. However, it is with this double standard, a technophobia of digital, that appears to deter many adults from engaging with digital picturebooks themselves.

Asi Sharabi, co-founder of Lost My Name, a publisher which makes personalised books for children, believes:

‘One thing that the iPad as a device, as a cultural artifact, has never really been good at are these shared co-reading experiences. Unlike books, where there’s no option but to sit down and read it with your kid in the early years… The tablet took a slightly different direction: it became the modern babysitter, or the modern pacifier. That’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it’s more about giving the child the device – “It’s your iPad time now” – rather than sitting down to read or play together on it.’

How picturebook apps negate an adult audience

The nostalgia placed behind the traditional reading experience is creating an unwillingness within adults to collaborate with the child while they hold a touch screen device. Data from Nielsen’s Children Book Summit 2016 found that data on apps is targeted towards children; despite this they believe ‘you need that moment when the device is in the parent’s hands. That’s the selling moment.’ Therefore, picturebook apps are failing to market themselves to a dual-audience and by doing so are restricting themselves by forcing a child to read alone.

Taken from Scholastics 2015 data: Parents’ Book Preferences for Their Child: Print vs. eBooks.
Figure 1. Parents’ Book Preferences for Their Child: Print vs. eBooks. © Scholastic, 2015

No matter how profitable picturebooks are or how successful interactivity becomes addictive to the story, it is the reading relationship between adult and child which makes a story limitless. Nicolette Jones found ‘if you look at a book with a small child, it’s a hug’; this sentimental concept shows how the participation of an adult extends the book beyond its pages and gives the story power. Publishers are therefore failing with picturebook apps as they are not encouraging adults to become co-users with the child.

Once again this is a double standard enforced from an adult’s perception. If placed in the context of a picturebook, children are guided in their learning; they have opportunities to ask questions and read at their own pace so that they can fully interact with the text. The Guardian found that for young children books are very much a social activity. Therefore, by taking away an adult who navigates a child through their learning, the child will struggle to form a relationship with a book. App publishers such as HarperCollins and online markets like Apple’s App Store are attempting to combat the lack of parental input by introducing a recommended reader age. By doing this an adult would assume the picturebook is age specific, resulting in an app which can be trusted to maintain focus by suiting a more specific audience.

A failure of engagement

Libby and James destroying the double standard and interacting together as co-authors on picture book app Pango
Libby and James destroying the double standard © Keith Wilkin

This brings us to how an app fails. Despite how an app introduces different devices such as guided reading, interactive characters and story lines which can only progress with the users’ participation, if a child refuses to engage they are unable to ask questions and instead are left to view the screen with no coherency. A regular feature writer for The Guardian found that when they write about children’s apps, ‘commenters steam in with variation on the argument “children should be READING not jabbing at screens”’. Once again this plays on the assumption that the child is independent in reading, an idea that would never be assumed if a child was left alone with a picturebook.

A way to destroy this double standard with picturebook apps is to encourage an adult to read with the child from a device. The app is only as successful as the level of interest a child shows it: in a recent study analysing picturebook theory in a digital age it was found ‘the flow of narrative only emerges if the user interacts with the images’. The opportunities that an app therefore presents ­– allowing the child to become a co-author as they explore the virtual reality – is a fantastic opportunity for both child and adult as they guide each other.

Children’s picturebooks on an adult platform

Adults place pressure on children to engage with an app as they would a book. Statistics have found more than eight in ten children agree that their favourite books, and the ones they are more likely to finish, are ones they have chosen themselves. This therefore is a concept which cannot be applied to apps as the market itself makes it hard for children to choose their own books.

It has been found standardised app icons limit the variety and diversity of picturebooks expressed on app stores. Moreover, the price and system of keychains a child would have to navigate through to make it to an app store means it is more likely an adult would choose, and purchase, a picturebook app. Therefore, a double standard has been placed on expecting a child to engage with an app they have not chosen themselves.

How are apps attempting to destroy this double standard?

By reformatting text, some picturebook apps are replicating classic books which play on the adult’s nostalgia. Sarah Llyod, Digital Director for Pan Macmillan believes their apps deliver so much more than the book format they derived from. Similarly, Nosy Crow’s app development remakes traditional stories that both children and adults enjoy reading. Stuart Dredge believes:

‘[Nosy Crow’s] Three Little Pigs, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood show it is perfectly possible to make a fairytale app with craft and care, while ensuring that interactivity and inventive use of device features like the camera and accelerometer don’t detract from the app’s main purpose: storytelling.’

Nosy Crow have not just restricted themselves to making translations of picture books; Tom Bonnick, Nosy Crow’s Digital Project and Marketing Manager, says Nosy Crow are hoping to adapt their Snow White app into a picturebook. ‘Although they’ve been adapted, these books are standalone products and they do demonstrate the value and the power of print books. Reading print is a very different experience from using apps. It’s about reusing material in different ways and extending the life of content.’ Watch how Nosy Crow’s app Little Red Riding Hood allow readers to create their own stories:

Jack and the Beanstalk is a further example of how Nosy Crow are developing apps further by remarketing picturebooks: Bonnick found they ‘made it with younger boy readers in mind, maybe who are reluctant to read too much on the page, but who are comfortable with on-screen gaming experiences’. Picturebook apps are no longer restricted to digital boundaries, with digital immigrants transforming and giving life to old text, and digital natives introducing new ideas, the opportunity to entice both adult and child is endless.

We need to change our perceptions

Adults need to work with a child to de-code picturebook apps in the same way they would with the hard-cover counterpart. By doing so a child is more likely to actively engage as it becomes a collaborative experience. This means like picturebooks themselves, apps should not be restricted by its format, but instead should flourish from the opportunities this presents both the adult and child.

A User’s View of Scholarly Publishing: Are Words for Web?

Books or Computers

In a society where using technology is as natural as smiling and where the world can be explored from a screen, many industries have had to rapidly adapt or risk becoming obsolete.

What do we expect when reading for academic purposes as a result of our phone-in-hand culture? Industry experts have said, “Digital technology has become inevitable in societies that are increasingly based on knowledge.” So, why is the library still so print-heavy?

Books or Digital?

While perhaps there is sentimentality or an ideal reading experience taken from print, print certainly has its drawbacks. Whilst paper creates an impression of lastingness, it will become damaged and eventually deteriorate. Paper is expensive, it is un-ecological, it will spoil, and it is space – as well time – consuming. In a chapter of Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier, Rob Kling and Roberta Lamb wrote, “Electronic publishing seems to have immense benefits – in providing economic payoffs to university presses, in making many academic practices more convenient and thereby increasing productivity, and in improving the diffusion of knowledge by reducing barriers between authors and readers.” However, a study directed in America by Student Monitor, and that appeared in The Washington Post, shows that 87% of textbook spending for the 2014 first semester was on print books. Further from this, in 2013 University of Washington lead a study that showed that 25% of humanities students bought physical versions of free eBooks. From this it could be deduced that technology is yet to banish print as an out-of-date medium of writing. If you would like read more studies, click here.

A Window of Digital Opportunity

A library, online
A library can be but a few clicks away. © Molly Jensen, 2016

In the user’s view, text availability is one of the big issues with printed scholarly texts. As students will express, it can be difficult to get your hands on specific research or additional sources. When an assessment is looming, and 50 or so students want to reference that one amazing source, which your lecturer hinted was their favourite and the perfect accompaniment, a sort of library war begins to take place. It is the library’s job to have an appropriate amount of copies of books, but this isn’t always possible due to costs and storage. One potential way to tackle this is by making texts available in an online library.

Ecosystem of Study

When thinking about whom scholarly publishing is for, we first think of the consumer; who is often either a student or a researcher. Other readers will spring to mind: lecturers, librarians, or a member of the public who has a specialist interest in a specific area, and other academics in similar fields of work. Scholarly publishing should be made easier to allow access to necessary materials.

Online libraries can be difficult to sift through in order to find that golden nugget of research. The preferred reading format, print or electronic, has been researched by the OAPEN-UK project (oapen-uk.jiscebooks.org). It was found that of those who preferred reading from print, 88.6% of people found the text in print. Contrarily, of the people who prefer electronic, only just over half, 54.9%, were able to find the text in a digital format. This could suggest the challenge of navigating digital libraries, as well as a lacking in resources.

Libraries try to fill a massive, insurmountable need for knowledge, yet they work under a maximum-capacity rule, and this is a problem. Credit: Free Stock photos ,
Libraries try to fill a massive, insurmountable need for knowledge, yet they work under a maximum-capacity rule, and this is a problem. Credit: Free Stock photos, CDC Library, 2005

It is often the case that reading lists cannot be fulfilled by an academic institution’s own library, vastly due to expense. This could lead to a student missing a vital section of research that would have greatly added to their assessment. But, does a student expect to spend money on additional texts? Should a student wish to purchase a scholarly text, the price can become rather daunting for your average twenty-year-old, who has been using pasta with sweet corn as their main nutritional source for the last week. Supplementary textbooks are often readily available in libraries (as well as to purchase), however research monographs are expensive due to their specific fields of interest, making them scarce in libraries. This becomes a problem for a student of the arts and humanities who requires this niche research in order to complete their own work.

It is in an institution’s prerogative to support the learning of its scholars. There is a potential solution to this – interlibrary loans. The OAPEN-UK project found that when accessing a book, only 4.1% of people used an interlibrary loan, compared to 35.2% of people who bought their own copy. Normally a library, or student, has to pay to put in a request for an interlibrary loan once they have reached their quota, depending upon the university policy. Interlibrary loans can be time consuming, and even unfruitful. An especially difficult time to attain an interlibrary loan is when assessments are due. As the library becomes busier and more loans are requested, the process becomes even longer.

In Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier, Robin P. Peek writes “Paper has served us fairly well over the years. Before an acceptable alternative was available there was little reason to give serious discussion to abandoning it as a vehicle.” In an academic utopia, every library would have a printed copy of all the texts that anybody needed or wanted. But this is unfeasible. A library has to pay for the books it has, and a library only has so much money to spend. However, it is hypothetically doable with a suitable online library or even open access e-books.

What about Open Access? 

Peek describes, “A scholar wants people to read his or her work. For a work to be read, it must be found.” There is one very controversial suggestion that aims to solve library issues – Open access (OA).

As Martin Paul Eve explains in his book, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies and the Future, “The term “open access” refers to the removal of price and permission barriers to scholarly research. Open access means peer-reviewed academic research work that is free to read online and that anybody may redistribute and reuse, with some restrictions.” Many people who have reacted to this issue have claimed that OA is pragmatically unmanageable. On an economic scale how can OA be executed? How would labour that sustains OA be subsidised and who would pay for that? Certain websites have been created to push the OA movement. It could be argued that, should all scholarly publishing move over to a digitalised platform, there would perhaps be little expense and upkeep to be done, except on an editing level. This is the fantasy that OA is trying to fulfill.

Will an evolution to digital take place in academic publishing? Credit: Jorghex, 2007
Will an evolution to digital take place in academic publishing? Credit: Jorghex, 2007

The issue that academics take with OA is: why should they pour their time and efforts into a book, for it to be free? Where is the incentive? If the incentive stops, the writing stops. If the writing stops, the learning will be damaged.

Largely, the costs within scholarly publishing lie within the editing process. We place a massive amount of trust and value within scholarly texts and this must not be tarnished by avoidable errors. The value of academic publishing would become stale should the reader encounter mistakes within the texts, thus shattering the trust that the reader has placed within the author. On top of this, an editor is not simply a person who scribbles over a manuscript; they manage a project from concept to completion, and that kind of service is invaluable.

Eve continues to explain; “open access relies upon the potential of the internet to disseminate work almost indefinitely at a near-infinitesimal cost-per-copy. This is because, in the digital world, the majority of costs lie in the labour to reach the point of dissemination rather than in the transmission of each copy. Open access was not, therefore, truly feasible in times before this technology; OA requires the digital environment and the internet.” A model of free business has been advocated in the digital age. With an ever-expanding online web of knowledge, free information is perhaps being thrust upon businesses. The business of scholarly publishing is not exempt from this tsunami of thought – the thought of “freeconomics”. Knowledge on all matters is accessible at the click of a few buttons, and if scholarly publishing wishes to withstand the test of time, it must evolve.

In an interview for this article, William Hughes, Bath Spa University English Literature lecturer and academic writer, said:

“Online publishing, for me, doesn’t carry the same prestige as print. People want to own something physical and produce something physical.

If there was a consensus across the writing and printing spectrum, the shift would have happened by now, digital is not a superior medium of publishing yet. It might become one when the computer literary generation take over. Those who are enthusiastic about digital publishing, will want, and get, everyone else to do it.”

A Final Word

Peek states, “Technology often moves faster than society is prepared to deal with the changes.” When we increasingly receive much of our news and information through the internet and digital media, it only makes sense for academic texts to be made available digitally. Peek predicts that, ‘Someday digitalized publication will be the scholarly norm, not because it is the “high-tech” thing to do but because it is the logical thing to do.’ Digital technology feeds the cultural demand that society has for information. But before this shift takes place, a suitable medium must be designed which is applicable for all forms of publishing.

What Happens when you try to make an author out of a social media socialite?

Can celebrities famous for their lives online successfully transition over to the print industry?

Over the past fifteen years there has been a huge shift in what it means to be a celebrity; rather than being known for their craft, career or talent, a select few have been celebrated for their lavish lifestyles. Even more recently, many of them have chosen to write a book. But how does one successfully transition over to the print industry when you’re only known for your extremely active social media accounts?

In the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of discussion on what will happen to the book industry as digital starts to take over. But surely, it’s also important to see how those who have their career online make the transition over to print. Two examples of this are Zoella and Kim Kardashian, both extremely successful within in the bounds of their respective target audiences, released books within six months of each other, Girl Online (November 2014) and SELFISH (May 2015). Despite having the same job, in regards to their brand and product, they both took extremely different routes. Zoella rebranded herself as an author and wrote a fiction novel and Kim Kardashian put her brand into a photobook. These decisions undeniably affected the response they received from their target market and critics.

A Girl who started Online

Known almost exclusively by her online name, Zoella, Zoe Sugg has spent the last seven years cultivating an online brand empire. She has successful maintained long term partnerships with some of the biggest businesses on the British high street, such as Superdrug and WHSmith. In 2014 her brand grew expediently with the release of her debut fiction novel, Girl Online.

 

In the first week of its publication, The Bookseller announced Sugg had successfully “sold 78,109 copies….– more than JK Rowling, Dan Brown or EL James achieved with their first books”. One of the most prominent reasons behind these incredible figures is Suggs dedicated fan base of around 35.1 million across all her online platforms. But how did she manage to transfer the majority her online viewers to read a physical book? To answer this, you must ask: who will be buying the book? The parents. In a world where it’s becoming progressively harder to control what the young and impressionable look at, parents want to know that, if their child is going to be on be online, that they have a role model who will influence them in a positive way. This is exactly what the Zoella brand achieves and most distinctively so in her novel which preaches the importance of online safety.

Zoella Girl Online book signing at Waterstones Bluewater, Britain - 26 Nov 2014
©Glamour Magazine

Ever since the start of her career, Sugg has successfully created a persona (also known as her brand) that is uncanny to the everyday young teenager. Her channel is fixated on subjects and interests of a young girl growing up. She has triumphantly retained the same character that she had nine years ago, despite coming up to her late twenties. This causes her viewers to have a stronger connection between who they think she is and they also feel like they are growing up with her. With such a strong connection, it meant that Penguin could almost guarantee a strong reception to her book, despite nearly all her of her previous brand deals being executed exclusively online.

When entering an industry such as book publishing it’s crucial you build a positive reputation of yourself. But there is one aspect of her novel that caused Zoella to potentially lose the respect of her industry peers and more importantly, potential customers, and this was by hiring a ghost-writer.

When Sugg labeled herself as an author rather than a Youtuber writing a memoir, it suggested she wanted to branch out from her online presence. Yet expanding her audience is something that the Zoella brand may have been unsuccessful in. For an online brand, it is one thing to maintain the trust between the product and a regular customer but a whole different challenge to create a new relationship with a potential customer. When Girl Online was published, critics speculated whether she had hired a ghost writer. It was in December of that same year that a representative from Penguin announced “to be…accurate…Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own.” (Flood, Hannah 2014). It was from then on, that Sugg received a huge amount of criticism from websites such as the Independent. Reporters theorised the damage it would cause her brand which was built on being an honest and hardworking individual. It may also be the reason on why she hasn’t attempted to write a novel different from series she’s already created. Instead she’s only focused on developing the Girl Online Franchise.

It’s hard to criticise such an immensely triumphant franchise and whilst she did successfully integrate having a life online into a fiction novel, Zoella is proof that if you are going to try and stray from being a known only online and transverse to one of the most prestigious industries you must be honest with your audience. Stay clear of branding yourself as something that you fundamentally are not.

A SELFISH business venture

Unlike Zoe Sugg, Kim Kardashian West did the complete opposite. Instead of rebranding herself into an author she put her brand into a book. Published by the self-declared “most beautiful book shop in New York” Rizzoli, SELFISH is a 448-page book, which is literally filled with hundreds of seen and unseen ‘selfies’.

selfish_cover-updated-w-sticker.jpg
Copyright: Rizzoli

The Kardashian brand have a reputation for making items that have huge demand with limited availability (as can be seen in the Kylie lipstick range), by doing this they ride on the prospect that their products becomes more prestigious, one for the elitist. So, ideally if you combined a book, an authoritative and respected commodity, with a brand, known for producing desirable items, surely it would sell out almost immediately. This could have been one of the arguments behind Kardashian West’s concept. Her regular customer is most likely not interest in reading a book, yet there was a clear attempt to get past this. Her brand also doesn’t run on customer trust unlike Zoella. Kardashian West’s image is about decadence, luxury and self-exposure, so how do you guarantee physical sales? By marketing her product as a coffee table book and doing a pre-release, the photobook had to potential to gain recognition from those who don’t follow her online whilst still catering for her current fans. As stated by MENDO a coffee table book is a beautiful item which has the ability to pull in all different types of people, “from business men to art students”.

 

Unfortunately, what could have been an extremely successful concept, in reality, did not come through. In April of 2015 Kardashian West had a limited-edition presale comprising of 500 signed copies of her upcoming book. Despite the hefty price tag of $60 the customer response from this looked extremely positive with a sell out in less than a minute. Although, after this, sales dropped and only achieved 32,000 in first three weeks, a tiny number in comparison to what Sugg had achieved six months prior. Considering Kardashian West’s following is nearly five times (165.5 million) larger than Sugg’s, her book’s failure was extremely surprising. One would have assumed, with such a large audience, her book would be an instant success.

Kim’s attempt at making an autobiography through pictures, whilst seems like a perfect concept for a lifestyle socialite, lacks anything intriguing. Most importantly, why would her fans pay $10 for content they’ve already seen for free and this is what the sales figures seem to reflect. This may be the crucial reason behind the books hesitant beginning, Kim Kardashian West’s life is already plastered all over the internet. Any promoting that she would have attempted to do, such as her infamous ‘when you have nothing to wear’ naked selfie, most likely blended into the rest of her social presence.

kimk©Instagram: Kim Kardashian West

SELFISH is arguably the opposite to what can be learned from Zoella’s novel. It shows us that if you are a socialite famous, for being famous, you must work extremely hard to distinguish your celebrity memoir from what your fans already know about you. Because she didn’t re-brand her as an author customers lacked interest. As previously argued by her critics why would fans pay out $10 for something they’ve already seen for free. A problem we’ve seen widespread across the internet with multiple industries.

The Aftermath

Despite the ghost writing controversy, she encountered along the way, Zoe Sugg has continued to promote her sequels, Girl Online: On Tour, which have gone on to be extremely successful. Kim Kardashian remastered her book (October 2016) but is not promoting nearly as much, rather she focusing on her other business ventures. Possibly reflecting her personal views on the success of her book.

SELFISH and Girl Online both beg the question is it possible to create a successful book off of just your social media presence and lifestyle brand. Both Sugg and Kardashian West are extremely affluent from a result of what they’ve achieved digitally. Yet by looking at the response they received, in either criticism or sales, it’s crucial to know that if you do make the move from digital to print you must prove that what you have to offer is worth its weight in gold. It must have substance to survive the print industry and be profitable, and this is what Zoe Sugg got right in her transition. Books demand respect, time and deep consideration, they are not just a regular brand deal.

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Feature Image: © (ANTHONY DELMUNDO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

What is Snapchat Discover and why is it important in the marketing industry?

Snapchat

Snapchat Discover is something that many people may recognise, but know very little about. From a marketing and publishing perspective Snapchat is a relatively unexplored and unused platform by major companies, mainly due to the app not being considered a viable marketing platform, since its launch in 2011.  However, with the release of Discover, is Snapchat trying to update its unprofessional stereotype?

What is Snapchat:

Snapchat was set up in September 2011 and was created for sending images and multimedia to friends. Nowadays Snapchat is the second most used social network after Facebook, with well over ‘150 million people using it each day’ and is fast becoming an incredibly important social media platform to use for marketing. Although originally seen as a platform for teenagers to send each other pictures of their pets, 63% of Snapchat’s users are actually 18-34 years old and over half of new users signing up are over the age of 25. So as a social media network in which 58% of students claim they ‘would be likely to purchase a brand’s product or service if they were sent a coupon on Snapchat’, why is Snapchat not taken more seriously in the marketing world?

Snapchat vs. Alternative Platforms:

Although Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, Snapchat is the fastest growing; a statistic that some advertisers may consider to be the more important. Americans have a greater brand awareness of Snapchat than either Pinterest or Linkedin, and Snapchat’s ‘swipe-up’ rate (their equivalent to click-through) is a colossal 5x higher than that of comparable platforms.

An Overview of Snapchat Discover:

Snapchat Discover Homepage
Snapchat Discover Homepage

As a way to be seen as more of a serious social media platform and a realistic option for large scale business marketing, Snapchat released the Discover update in January 2015. Discover is a separate section of the app in which the user swipes right, and is presented with all of the stories from the sponsoring publishers and media companies. On their website, Snapchat says:

‘Stumble upon channels from top publishers who curate content daily, watch Live Stories from an event, or check out local Campus Stories — you’ll never get bored!’

At launch, Snapchat selected a few companies that were allowed to post stories on Discover, with an initial range of 11 (including People Magazine, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, CNN, Yahoo, Warner Music Group, Comedy Central, ESPN and Vice) that has since expanded to approximately 20. They release articles (referred to as stories in-app) once a day that last for 24 hours, before being replaced by new ones; this constant refreshing of content is designed to keep the app’s younger audience interested.

It is important to note that the number of companies accepted into the Discover programme is intentionally kept low so as to keep the quality of the service high and to provide a secondary source of income to those companies via third party advertising.

With its release of Discover, Snapchat are attempting to rebrand themselves as an effective and accomplished news source. According to an article on Linkedin, Snapchat has ‘a wide range of sources that include some of the hottest media brands, […and] news that’s easy to find all in one spot… it has the potential to change how people access their news.’ By tapping into the growing trends of young consumers, Snapchat are in a unique position that enables them to capitalise on their strong presence in an emerging market and provide existing companies the ability to advertise to a completely new demographic that traditional media is less effective at reaching.

The Costs of Snapchat Discover:

Instax Advert on Cosmopolitan's Snapchat
© Instax Advert on Cosmopolitan’s Snapchat

There is not a lot of publicly available information on how much companies pay to use the Discover service. It is reported that Snapchat requires payment from the companies, which is to be paid over a specified amount of time, whether or not they are making any money or receiving any views.

However, Snapchat’s main source of revenue that comes from Discover is the ads that are placed on companies’ channels. For example, when CNN first launched its Discover channel in 2015 it featured BMW heavily as a partner.

There is no set price charged for adverts on Snapchat Discover; the price is determined entirely by the owner of the channel and can be negotiated. If the publisher themselves sell the ad, then they receive 70% of the profits, and Snapchat receive 30%; alternatively if Snapchat sell the adverts on their behalf then they split the profits 50-50. Daily Mail’s US CEO reported that he was speaking to advertisers about spending $50,000 per day on the platform. This proves that the Discover service is being taken seriously by prospective companies who are willing to pay large amounts of money to access the app’s audience.

Cosmopolitan On Discover:

Cosmopolitan on Snapchat
©Cosmopolitan on Snapchat

One of the most popular sponsors on Snapchat Discover is the American fashion magazine Cosmopolitan, who have had a channel on Discover since its release in January 2015. The company release on average 5 articles a day and ‘deliver them to [the user] by 8 a.m. everyday, so you can catch up on everything that matters before you even get out of bed’. They also claim that Snapchat has provided a huge boost to their marketing campaigns.

In the summer following the launch of Discover, Cosmopolitan had nearly doubled traffic to it’s profile, going from 1.8 million viewers a day to 3 million; in September 2016, Cosmopolitan reported that this had further increased to 6 million due to its partnership with Discover. When asked whether the app is worth the editorial effort, Kate Lewis, Vice President of Hearst Magazines (who owns Cosmopolitan) said:

‘Oh my God, yes. It’s been amazing, and we have about 3 million people a day on the Discover platform … Cosmo’s Discover Stories are shared up to 1.2 million times daily’.

National Geographic On Discover:

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© National Geographic on Snapchat

Another company that claims Discover provided a boost to its marketing presence is National Geographic. Although sceptical at first and only using Snapchat to ‘experiment’, National Geographic has increased its usage of the service, and now claims that Snapchat is a great opportunity for ‘growth’.

The Vice-President of Social Media for National Geographic, Raj Mody, explains in a Nieman Lab article that due to the fact that Snapchat ‘caters to a younger demographic, it’s a great opportunity for us to reach new audiences’ and he goes on to explain that as a Discover user, they can get anywhere between 20,000 and 3 million views a day. Therefore, one can see that using Snapchat Discover has expanded National Geographic’s traditional target audience, and allowed them the opportunity to reach younger readers, which they hadn’t been able to access yet via other social media.

The Removal of Yahoo and Warner Music Group:

Despite all of the apparent success of Snapchat, there are examples of companies who have not managed to utilise the platform effectively. In October 2015 Snapchat announced that Buzzfeed and iHeartRadio would be joining Discover to replace Yahoo and Warner Music Group who were removed earlier in the year. There has not been an official statement as to why the two high-profile companies were removed, but it has been variously suggested that they weren’t attracting or entertaining the primarily younger audiences, Buzzfeed is better known with young adults and teenagers, or even that Yahoo’s content was simply not interesting enough and did not transfer well to the app.

It is clear to see, then, that many companies consider who are interested in targeting Snapchat’s younger audience consider Discover an invaluable source of marketing – provided they are able to adapt to make this 21st Century media platform work for them.

The Present and Future of Discover:

As is always the case in the world of social media, it is difficult to predict the success or failure of any individual platform. However, it is plainly obvious that the current companies using Snapchat Discover are thriving, increasing their spend on the platform, and increasingly consider it a core part of their marketing strategy. With its exclusivity, reach, and new approach, Snapchat has established itself as an indispensable tool for advertising and marketing for forward-thinking and adaptable companies.

Words: 1361

What is the point of eReaders?

According to reports, Amazon controls 79% of the eBook market here in the UK. ‘When Apple announced the iPad with its iBookstore many people thought the inferior Kindle would be toast, but by letting people read Kindle books on any device, Amazon has preserved, and even arguably gained, marketshare.’ It is quite clear that many big companies see the eReader venture as a profitable one as there are many to choose from, even outside of Amazon, with Apple as ‘the second most-used e-book platform, with 9% of respondents saying it was their preferred choice’ and Google as the third most popular, being used by 8% of people.

However, since 2012 when eReader sales figures reached their peak of 40 million units worldwide, the numbers have begun to decline, last year only selling 20.2 million worldwide. So, what is the reason for this and would it be too far to think of eReaders as becoming redundant?

Why would you purchase an eReader?

One of the main selling points for Kindles and other eReaders is that they have a back lit, ‘glare-free screen’. This means that no matter where you are, what light you are in or how you are reading from your Kindle, you will always be able to do just that – read. Another aspect that many eReaders boast about is their lightweight feel and increased durability compared to tablets like the iPad, and let’s face it, we have all experienced or know many who have had to pay a huge fee to get their Apple device’s screen fixed. Another selling point is that eReaders also allow readers to store all their books in one device easily, usually without any annoying notifications popping up alerting you to your storage that is nearly full.

The newest release from Amazon, the Kindle Oasis, boasts that it ‘reads like the printed page’. But, it’s not the printed page, and with most of us used to smartphone, laptop and computer screens, why do we actually need this feature especially when, for a little more money, you could have a lot of components that are frankly, much better and anti-glare screen protectors are available for any device at a small fee.

Do you need an eReader?                                                                                                

Despite its shortcomings that seem to range over all the devices created by Apple, for example, software update issues, durability issues and charging problems, the Apple iPad sold over 58 million units worldwide in 2012 at the same time that eReaders reached their peak sales figures. Last year, in 2015, these numbers dropped, but only slightly with Apple still selling nearly 55 million iPads. These figures alone show that Apple has a much wider audience and is bringing digital print to a larger number of people even if that is not one of their main goals. The way we’re consuming books is constantly evolving and with a bigger screen, access to the internet and millions of apps and a camera are only some of the versatile aspects of an Apple iPad and many other tablets now available on the market. Despite Apple’s high price tags being common knowledge, there are many other tablets available if you are willing to shop around from the likes of Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and Amazon who released a range of Kindle Fire devices. Darren Laws, CEO of UK Publisher, Caffeine Nights says that “Amazon’s next challenge, and that of the publishing industry, will be how to transition older readers to newer technology than eReaders. This may take some time or be a natural progression as the market matures, so dedicated eReaders may be around for a while yet.”

man-791049_1920
©️ MediaShift

The introduction of the independent Kindle App available on tablets and smartphones have allowed consumers to completely bypass Kindle eReaders altogether. The app, which is free on the iOS App Store, Google Play Store and the Microsoft Store allow both Apple device users and android users to gain the same experience of reading without buying a Kindle, with the option to change the colours, brightness, text size and ability to highlight sections of text which you can return to later. In fact, most tablets have their own app already installed on their devices so it is not even necessary to download another app for your digital reading needs. For example, Apple devices come with iBooks, and android ones have Google Play Books ready and waiting for users to read from.

Hang on, do you even need a tablet?

The answer is no, not if you don’t want one. With smartphones being released all the time with bigger screens than ever before (like the Apple 6 and 7 plus, and Amazon Fire Phone), the inconvenience of reading on a screen that is small enough to fit in your pocket is becoming less of a concern to avid readers. Currently, an enormous 2.1 billion of us have a smartphone of our own all with the same apps included on a tablet that make reading easier for us. According to research, only 18% of older readers say that they can read a digital book just as well as on a tablet whilst this figure jumps to 32% for those aged between 18-34. With titles like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which remained a bestseller for weeks, all the way to The Three Little Pigs by Nosy Cow, the content existing on apps like iBooks is extremely wide and versatile even allowing users to download audiobooks. In fact, last year, an author named Iain Pears created an app that he claimed was actually necessary to understand his novel, Arcadia. An app that is free to purchase, claims that ‘the strands of story could be mixed or kept separate offered a liberation from those shackles known as genres’ showing that this innovative invention brings a greater and more interesting experience to readers who use smartphones.

Of course, there is always the option to completely ignore digital reading and stick to paperbacks, the tried and tested form which still remains its popularity. With no need for a power source and print being easier on the human eye, it has many qualities that other methods cannot produce. Dr. Gregory Leadbetter, Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing at Birmingham City University says, “I don’t foresee the extinction of print books with the rise of digital reading, especially if print publishers are sensible and don’t try to fight the convenience of digital technologies.”

Illegal Downloads

Unfortunately, for authors, publishers and booksellers, whether their audiences are using an eReader or a tablet, a smartphone or a laptop, typing in a book title on a search engine will pop up thousands of results, some of which are sure to be what you are looking for. The Booksellers Association released a video earlier this year featuring Nic Bottomley, the owner of independent bookseller Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, located in Bath, ‘urging people not to illegally download creative content such as e-books, or risk destroying the industry’. However, whilst these illegal pdf, mobi and epub files are not always the easiest to read due to the reader not being able to change text size, font etc., a survey indicated that infringers ‘downloaded the works illegally because it is easy (60%), quick (48%) and free (44%)’, factors that are enough to tempt many.

The Future of eReaders

The future of eReaders is uncertain because the industry has already taken multiple routes to improving readers’ digital reading experience. Matt Graham, Technical Consultant at app developer Apadmi in London pointed out: “I think eReaders will maintain their popularity. Amazon has by no means killed the eReader, because its tablets and phones do not replicate any of the USPs of an eReader, namely very long battery life, the ability to read in bright light, and no eye strain when reading for prolonged periods.” In the two years after this statement, Amazon has begun developing their eReaders in a more sophisticated direction, shown by their newest release, the Kindle Oasis, and innovation has begun to close the gap between eReaders, tablets and smartphones with the release of the YotaPhone, the world’s first dual screen smartphone, with an e-ink screen featuring on the back and five days’ reading possible on a single charge bringing those USPs mentioned by Graham to the smartphone industry.

 

 

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