Is Online Publishing a Failure From Consumer’s Perspective?

Old and new publishers compare notes and discuss the future

Substance drives engagement. The banner ad is dead. Those have been hot topics of late in the digital media world and continued to be at Internet Week's Digiday Conference on Monday. In front of a near capacity crowd, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff and Hearst editorial director of the men's enthusiast group James Meigs compared notes on the changing publishing industry, and what, if anything the old and new guard can learn from each other. Here a few highlights from the talk:

'Not Your Readers'

Meigs drew an important distinction between a print publication's subscribers and Web audience. By and large, Meigs asserted, "the Web audience is broad. They are not your readers; they came to the site for a specific reason." Meigs told the crowd that publications should "cherish" this demographic, but warns that they rarely behave like subscribed readers.

Consumers Don't Love Your Web Experience

Sure, the Internet is the most vital and important force in the current media landscape, but Meigs argued that when it comes to Web experience, there is great room for improvement. "The Web can be seen as a failure from the consumer's perspective," Meigs told the crowd. "People are spending a lot of energy trying to get away from our websites." He's right. Sites like Flipboard exist to unclutter the Web experience. "Just because people fly everywhere doesn't mean we love airlines," Meigs argued.

A New Way for Marketers

Bankoff remarked on an important shift in online publishing—the increasingly popular "second way," where marketers and publishers pair up to create aligned content to enhance a publishing experience. "There is another market which is smaller but richer which seeks to provide premium value to markers by providing excellent content to connect audiences to the advertising message. Publishers are working with those marketers to understand what they want and learn to craft creatives to get their message out in a way that is consistent with the product experience we're creating."