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WHEN SHOULD PUBLISHERS MOVE INTO DIGITAL?

univ of leics 56mm

 

Professor Barrie Gunter heads the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Leicester.  He's speaking at the Specialist Media Show Conference on how publishers can use research to decide when to move onto digital media.  He will also be available for 1-1 consultations in the Advice Centre.  Below he describes how publishers can use research to pinpoint digital opportunities.

ARE THE WEB AND DIGITAL MEDIA THE WAY FORWARD FOR PUBLISHING?

The rapid evolution of digital technologies has opened up lots of new opportunities for businesses in terms of how they can attract and engage with their customers. For publishing in particular there has been a relentless drive towards going online. This began in earnest with newspapers more than ten years ago but as the internet has taken over a firm foothold in the everyday lives of most people, book and magazine publishers have followed. The emergence of third generation mobile devices in the past five years has opened up another platform for reaching readers.

WHEN IS THE TIMING RIGHT?

As a publisher, however, when do you know that migration online is the right move for you? Is this decision dictated by fashion? Does it rely on the experiences of business counterparts? Is it swung by the sales pitch of an information technology (IT) expert flogging you the latest gadget?  Or do you reflect on careful market analysis underpinned by robust and relevant market data? 

WHAT RESEARCH DOESN'T TELL YOU

In wanting to be seen as market savvy, you might reply that you of course study market research and make a point of keeping up with the latest findings. But how do you know when the research is really telling you what you want to know. Even if you know where to get hold of relevant research, what do most standard market research reports actually reveal? In my experience, they usually provide  descriptive accounts of survey respondents’ answers to questions about which publications they consume and which IT gadgets they might own or use or say they intend to own or use in the future. Further data might then break down these responses between different sub-groups defined by age, gender and possibly socio-economic status. 
 
These data might provide some clues about the demographic profile of users of different online platforms or different genres of published content. What they generally don’t tell you is whether there is an increased likelihood that people like your readers are particularly likely to welcome your publication migrating onto the latest mobile device. However, it may be possible to extract this information from a survey if you know how. 

HOW TO GET MORE VALUE OUT OF RESEARCH

In general, this will amount to knowing how to take the original survey and re-analyse its dataset to explore more complex relationships between the different factors it has measured.  In so doing, it may be able to reveal findings that can, for example, pinpoint more precisely whether people who read fishing magazines are more likely that those who follow sports publications to welcome an iPad version of their favourite magazine.  
 
Knowing how to get this extra value out of market research can also be useful at the stage of creating a new survey. If you know in advance that you need answers to this type of detailed question, you can ensure that a survey is designed to facilitate predictive analyses that can provide more sophisticated profiles of magazine readers not just in terms of their demographics, but also in respect of their IT experiences. Such data could help you to locate your customer base within cyberspace and determine whether a new online version of your magazine is the right move for you to make.            
 
 
Hear Professor Barrie Gunter speak at the Specialist Media Show conference and arrange a 1-1 in ouradvice centre to find out more about using research to get your digital timing right.

 

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