Readers have become “numb” to large volumes of content. Sharing content has become the trend in publishing to keep readers happy – and their own pockets satisfied.
“Scaled back: Why publishers are rethinking their pursuit of huge numbers”, a recent Digiday article discusses the numbers game that publishers are playing. By reducing the number of published stories, the theory ‘quality over quantity’ becomes a ruling principle, and impact on the readers reaching the ‘desired reaction’.
A recent report by The New York Times concluded that “too many” of the hundreds of stories it published on a daily basis “lack significant impact or audience” and that they failed in the most basic function that The Times’ content ought to serve: to make it a “valuable destination.”
So what do readers want?
Readers want efficiency. They want value, and expert information that serves a purpose. Josh Topolsky, founder of The Outline predicts that there is a “new business emerging.” The publishing industry is in retreat, and readers are becoming numb.
Digital publishing changed what readers expect, and how the market works. Content producers were no longer limited to page counts, printing costs, or desperation for the coveted ‘ad-fillers.’ This led to a snowball of content production with no leash to restrain the number of articles. The Daily Mail spits out 1,200 written stories daily (not to mention video), and the likes of The Washington Post writes 500, but posts hundreds more that they acquire from wires services (another handy tool to generate and recycle content). Trending stories are repeated on various sites, and so the story goes.
So what about the hard-lined lesson of quality over quantity?
There are some publishers that have added a spin to the ‘mass content’ game. And there are those who refused to play from the start. The value in “cheap stories” is falling, and the demand for quality is rising. Quality content that is detailed and exclusive is where the attraction lies.
The market has yet to parallel with the efficiency of publishing potential. Dan Fogarty, a former senior editor at USA Today and Boston.com says:
“The market hasn’t caught up, so unfortunately these businesses can’t exclusively do the right thing. Their quarterly numbers will look like shit, so they have to do bad things too.”
The revenue source is still alluring to publishers – wringing out the most from content is the smart move. Neha Gandhi, SVP and content strategist and innovation at Refinery29, says that,
“Being able to move ideas from one platform to the next is a big opportunity in trending.”
And herein lies the answer. Content sharing platforms have made huge increases in ad revenue in 2016. Instagram’s figures alone increased 196%. Advertisers and publishers are investing in the “next generation.” This has made Instagram and Snapchat extremely popular for sharing content. We live in a “mobile-first” world, and the more mobile-platforms you reach, the better.
Publishers need to be savvy with their content. Keep it original and fresh, but share it across platforms to keep it moving.