Publishing may be a tough business all around these days, but thanks to the internet, there are more publishers than ever.

Many of them won't survive, of course. And the ones that die won't just be traditional publishers that fail to adapt to the internet; there are plenty of digital publishers making potentially fatal mistakes too.

When it comes to mistakes publishers make, here are five of the biggest being made today by publishers of all shapes and sizes.

Thinking channel, not multichannel.

If you've been distributing your content via dead trees for the past several decades, it's probably difficult to think of yourself as anything but a 'print publisher.' Likewise, if you've been distributing your content via the internet, it's may be equally challenging to think of yourself as anything but a 'digital publisher.'

Even so, to thrive in the 21st century, most publishers will need to become channel agnostic. There are a growing number of channels through which content can be distributed and monetized.

None is perfect, but each has unique characterstics that can create opportunities if recognized and taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, many publishers are not channel agnostic. Even when they think of themselves as being 'multichannel', their strategy consists of little more than trying to distribute their content in new channels in as close a fashion as possible to the way they distribute that content in the channel(s) they are most comfortable with.

That is not multichannel.

Focusing on sources of traffic, not quality of traffic.

From Twitter to Facebook, there is no doubt that social media has made a huge impact on the way content is distributed and discovered. But for publishers in the business of monetizing content, where your audience comes from is only part of the equation.

Not all audiences are created equal, and investing resources in initiatives that frequently target sites that deliver traffic that doesn't doesn't convert or stick around can be a huge mistake.

Thinking revenue sharing is a viable substitute for investment.

Times are tough for many publishers, particularly traditional publishers. That often disincentivizes the kind of investments that are needed long-term in favor of revenue sharing relationships that don't make sense long-term.

Take, for instance, the high-profile publishers partnering with OnSwipe to create native app-like experiences on the web for their iPad users. OnSwipe offers its 'technology' free of charge in exchange for a share of advertising revenue.

Notwithstanding the the iPad is designed for web browsing, publishers who truly believe that iPad-specific websites are a necessity would be far better off building these themselves.

Maximizing ad impressions instead of optimizing yield.

When it comes to advertising, jacking up the number of ad impressions you serve usually has a negative impact on effective CPM. Unfortunately, many publishers do this, forgetting, of course, that yield is really what counts.

Thinking a pay wall is a paid content strategy.

Reality has sunk in for a growing number of publishers: ad revenue isn't enough online. Instead of being the business model, it should be a part of a business model. Enter Pay Wall stage left.

There's just one problem: many of the publishers erecting pay walls believe that a pay wall is a paid content strategy when it isn't. Pay walls are only an access control mechanism, and as the New York Times demonstrates, an imperfect one at that.

Without a coherent strategy that looks at audience, pricing, etc., a pay wall in and of itself can do little to build a solid revenue stream from paid content.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2647 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)


CRM solutions

You have explain good information about five big mistake of publishers i am totally agree with your info.
Thanks for sharing...

about 7 years ago


UK Supplier

I don`t agree to you Patricio. I mean the points/ways that you discussed in your post are really very important in today`s online marketing trend. But if you say that publishers are not focusing on it, than it`s miss understanding. The reason behind that is, in today`s online marketing trend no one can stay for long just because of changing algorithms of Google. If you are not perfect in your writings and postings, you can not run your business successfully and quality is very very important in it. All publishers are strictly focusing on these points that you discussed and this is the only thing that can save them from a big loss.
I hope you are getting my point Patricio, is it? I appreciate your provided information because it`s very important and useful for new users if they want good ranking and promotion in Google`s PR.

about 7 years ago


Tena Lady

its interesting and well judged analysis is reflecting in this writing.

about 7 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.