5 Takeaways from the 2016 Publishing Executive Trendspotting Survey

At the close of 2015, we surveyed the Publishing Executive audience to find out what technologies publishers plan to invest in and where they expect to see revenue growth in 2016. 133 Executives from consumer, B2B, association, city and regional, and custom publishing companies shared their insight.

Though relatively limited in sample size, the responses do point to some interesting trends that we’ve recognized in the industry and which we’ve covered in our reporting.

Learn more about how publishers approach new technology adoption and budgeting in an exclusive Publishing Executive report.

Here are 5 insights we gleaned from this year’s survey:

  1. Digital content and distribution remains top-of-mind for publishers. App technologies (29.5%), digital magazines (29.5%), and email marketing solutions (25.7%) are the top three technologies and services respondents plan to purchase in 2016. The search for better app technology is certainly due in part to rapid growth of smartphone usage. Pew Research reported in April 2015 that 64% of U.S. adults own smartphones, up 35% since spring 2011. Meanwhile, 2015 saw a reawakening to the value of “identified audience” and the importance of growing email lists across the media business.

PE Trendspotting 2016 Graph 1

  1. But print is not far behind. Despite the dominance of digital creation and distribution tech, printing services were 5th on publishers’ shopping lists. 24.2% of respondents indicated that they plan to purchase printing services in 2016. In 2015, Publishing Executive reported on some of the reasons publishers continue to invest in print, not least of which is its ability to serve up a unique and valuable reading experience to consumers.
  1. Publishers are relying on advertising to drive revenue. Despite the rise of ad blockers and predicted declines in print advertising revenue, when asked where they expect to see the most growth in 2016, respondents overwhelmingly answered website advertising (51.1%) and print and digital magazine advertising (49.6%). It will be interesting to see how publishers counteract the revenue-draining effects of ad blockers.

PE Trendspotting Survey 2016 Graph 2

  1. Podcasting not viewed as a big moneymaker yet. One of the surprising results of this survey was that podcasts ranked lowest among anticipated revenue drivers for 2016. Despite the medium’s growing popularity among consumers, this response may indicate that monetizing podcasts remains a challenge for many publishers. But according to executives at Slate and , the podcast opportunity is significant.
  1. Publishers want to learn more about emerging tech and mobile publishing. 9% of survey respondents indicated that they need further education in emerging technologies and 40.4% identified the need for greater digital and mobile publishing education. These responses suggest that while digital and mobile content are making a big impact on publishers’ business models today, the next major publishing disruptor may come from a lesser known technology.

What technology do you think will impact publishing in 2016? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Editor’s Note: Respondents were able to select multiple answers in the above survey questions.

Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.