What is article-based publishing, why is it important and what do we need to do to be ready for it?

Page Lizard have launched the first in a series of lunchtime webinars by hosting Sean Briggs; an independent publishing consultant at Creative Workflows, to discuss article-based publishing.

The half-hour webinar began by covering the key question of how publishers can cope with the challenge of reaching such a vast audience in a world where that audience expect publishers to come to them. Simply presenting magazine content in a format that can be read on phones is no longer enough – the task has now expanded to presenting the right type of content into the right digital channel. The potential digital audience is vast and diverse.

Why article-based publishing?

Sean clarified the definition of article-based publishing and its uses. It is where media content (be that magazines, blogs or other writing) is delivered as individual stories to diverse digital destinations. It isn’t a new concept, and some publishers have experimented with outputs to a few established digital channels like Flipboard, Linkedin Pulse and other content curators. In most cases, these are set up to direct consumers back to revenue streams such as subscriptions, paywalls and events.

This method of working is already proving difficult for most publishers, and even less are making money as people are used to ‘cutting-and-pasting’ articles into channels. More efficient workflows are required to make article-based publishing viable for publishing in the future.

Sean said that it was important to note that Apple are not doing anything new – Zite, Flipboard, Pulse,  Newsly, Newsify and more have been aggregating articles for a long time. What makes the difference this time is that there are a billion Apple mobile devices, many of which will be expecting an iOS 9 upgrade in September, and Apple News comes pre-installed with the update. The sheer scale makes Apple’s plans a potential game-changer  – and the opportunity gets very real when Facebook is added into the mix.

The new lifestyles emerging mean readers are increasingly on the move – they live in digital channels and if publisher’s content isn’t in that channel (whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or others) then that publisher is invisible. Publishers can no longer passively expect an audience to seek their content.

Sean also cautioned against engagement, noting that print magazines and current digital editions never achieve anything close to 100% engagement, and that most readers don’t even read to the end of the publication. Article-based publishing could bring much higher levels of engagement, with smart algorithms, adaptive learning and personal/peer choices making all the different. Perhaps, just perhaps Apple News might be enough to ignite article-based publishing

What to do?

Sean addressed fears from publishers, such as concerns about canibalising content. He reassured the webinar crowd that this fear is largely unfounded, and channel overlap with existing experiments is minimal (at between 5-7%). Taking articles right back to the start of the process (even before the print channel) could be one way to adjust workflows, but building an article-first publishing environment is too expensive an option for most publishers.

His recommendation to publishers was to seek strategic partnerships, as often when large companies invest in their own solutions, it is out of date by the time it’s built. His other suggestions included trying to automate the process wherever possible (so styling once and pushing out to various outputs) and to keep experimenting – using analytics and listening to your audience and how they consume content.

Watch the recap on YouTube


See Sean’s slides from the presentation below

Catch up with our live tweeting from the webinar by searching the hashtag #pagelizardwebinar

Missed out? Email us and we’ll add you to the list for the next one.

Sean Briggs

About Sean Briggs

Sean is an independent publishing consultant with over 25 years in magazine publishing, with the last 5 years specialising in digital editions and content delivery. He works with Page Lizard as a consultant, but is also active in large and small magazine publishing companies. Get in touch with him directly for more advice on digital publishing and Apple News.

How do Page Lizard fit into all this?

We offer a fully managed workflow where we take your publishing content (text, images, videos, PDFs or digital feeds) and flow the content into our CMS. We can also strip articles from PDFs for publishers with a print-first strategy. Our drag-and-drop templates can easily and quickly prepare beautiful articles ready to be pushed out to multiple channels. Get in touch for more information.


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