The world is moving away from print formats, and online publishers are poised to profit. That’s the key takeaway from dozens of surveys of consumers and media executives going into the year 2020.
With more than 4.5 billion people now using the Internet, the latest digital publishing trends suggest that even more news consumption will happen on mobile devices in the coming year.
Although newsroom employment has dropped by 25% over the past decade, employment at digital-native outlets has actually increased, according to Pew Research. It should come as no surprise that online news consumption has risen, as well, and more American adults are getting their news from social media now than ever before.
Some big obstacles remain for digital publishers, though, especially when it comes to finding subscribers and preventing churn. Even as more people around the world have access to the Internet, subscription fatigue is setting in and readers are thinking twice before agreeing to pay for access to more content online.
Below, you’ll find a roundup of the most important digital publishing trends in 2020. If you’re involved in the media industry, these are the trends you’ll want to keep in mind.
1. The pool of potential subscribers is growing
Surveying American adults, Pew Research found that the share of people who get their news online is growing. Thirty-four percent of adults said they prefer to read news on the web in 2018, versus 28% in 2016. That figure is expected to grow even larger in 2020.
The more comfortable people become with getting their news online, the greater the likelihood they subscribe to digital-first publications. That means the pool of potential subscribers is growing for online publishers. Publishers should be capitalizing on this trend by continuing to market their publications online via search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and display advertising.
2. Fancy features are out
People are doing more online than ever before, but surveys show that what consumers really want is for publishes to make their websites simpler and easier to navigate. Complex features might help a website stand out among technology folks, but that isn’t what the average consumer really wants. Eighty-two percent of Americans who get local news online say having an easy-to-use website is an important feature, ranking ahead of regularly updated social media accounts and schedules of local events.
If you are thinking about redesigning your website this year, focus on simplifying the design. Find ways to add the features that your readers are requesting without making your website more difficult to navigate. Not only will you see lower bounce rates, but you will probably see greater levels of engagement, as well.
3. More visitors are coming from mobile
Think the mobile revolution is complete? Think again. The transition from desktop to mobile is just getting started. According to the Digital 2020 Global Overview Report, published by TNW, mobile now accounts for half of internet use, and 92% of the world’s internet users connect via mobile devices.
If you are a digital publisher and your website is not optimized for mobile, then you are missing out on a big chunk of potential revenue. Visitors who come to your website through mobile devices expect pages to load quickly and completely.
Beyond the technical considerations, publishers this year should be thinking about how they can adapt their content for mobile-first environments. They should also be tracking whether visitors from certain devices are bouncing more quickly than others. That could be a sign that a website isn’t loading or displaying properly on certain devices or operating systems.
4. Subscription sales are getting tougher
While the number of people paying for online subscriptions is growing in countries like Norway and Sweden, it’s remaining static in the U.S. That could be trouble for some publishers who rely exclusively on subscription programs to stay afloat.
Part of the problem is the number of subscription services vying for the attention of consumers in 2020. Large media companies like the New York Times and Washington Post are still managing to attract new subscribers by implementing strategic email marketing and social media marketing initiatives. Smaller publishers should expect to follow suit as they make the case for why their audiences should pay for the news they consume.
What other digital publishing trends are you seeing this year?