Survey Reveals Need for Better Multi-Platform Publishing Strategies

Apr 04, 2012

Article ImageMany content publishers and distributors need to change their multi-platform publishing strategies or risk losing their audience, according to a new survey conducted by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

SIIA surveyed 85 media companies, information services companies and publishers of various sizes. The results revealed two significant dichotomies related to multi-platform publishing plans: one between the companies' strategies and practice, and the other between the priorities of different levels of management.

Not surprisingly, those surveyed ranked tablet and mobile publishing as their top priorities for 2012. Sixty-eight percent of companies prioritize publishing on the iPad, 58% on the iPhone, 38% on Android phones, 35% on Android tablets, 17% on Facebook (through Open Graph) and 16% on the Kindle. However, despite the high priority placed on mobile publishing, only 10% of companies had actually developed any platform-specific apps for mobile devices.

This discrepancy leads Kathy Greenler Sexton, Vice President and General Manager of the SIIA Content Division, to suspect that some companies may not know the difference between mobile-enabled websites and mobile apps. "A lot of people said they were publishing on iPad, iPhone, and other mobile devices," says Sexton, "but when we asked them what they were doing specifically, a lot fewer actually responded. Our theory is that some people think if they have a mobile-enabled website, they have an application that's workable on an iPad."

The survey also found that C-level executives typically placed greater priority on mobile and lower priority on web-based publishing than anybody else in the company. Sexton thinks that's because C-level executives are more focused on long-term strategy. "If you're involved with strategy, and you understand what's coming up, you're going to prioritize mobile over everything else because of the fast rate of adoption," says Sexton. "Now if you're a manager trying to produce the products, you've got many different priorities and not enough resources. Many managers don't have the luxury to stop what they're doing and focus just on mobile because they're still trying to keep up with their website."

In other findings, a fairly even number of companies develop apps in-house versus outsourcing. Another 25% syndicate content through existing platforms. Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies prioritize tablet publishing almost equally, but B2B companies place higher priority on web publishing than B2C companies. And large enterprises publish more on Apple, Android, and Kindle than small and medium businesses. One finding that surprised Sexton is that "given the hype of video, it was prioritized low pretty much across the board," she says.

According to Sexton, the survey highlights the differences between organizations' priorities and their execution of those priorities. "They are not aligned," says Sexton. "The biggest takeaway for any leader in an information company is, get your organization aligned so you can achieve what you think is a strategic priority."

The survey points to a need for more effective multi-platform publishing strategies. "The world of publishing to a single platform, a website, is gone," says Sexton. "So if you're publishing on one platform, you're losing your audience and your subscribers because they're not going to your website anymore. They're on LinkedIn and Facebook, they're on their phones, and they're on their tablets. Maybe they're consuming your content through an application within a larger aggregated type of product. You need to be where your customers are."

Sexton thinks there are two main reasons why most organizations haven't yet embraced multi-platform publishing: one is that their content is locked in legacy systems, and the other is cost. "A really great multi-platform strategy involves someone being able to publish in real time to their website, to their mobile apps, to their distribution platform partners, and perhaps only publish the bits of content that are appropriate for each platform," says Sexton. "To do that in house can get very expensive."

Sexton warns that content providers who don't embrace multi-platform publishing will be left behind because there are companies that are doing it effectively across all sectors already, but she also thinks that technology providers are making it easier for content providers to join the club. "We're entering a phase where even the publishers who don't have huge budgets or huge teams of developers will be able to jump into a multi-platform world and do it in a cost-effective and timely way," says Sexton.

Full results of the survey will be released at the SIIA Content VIA Platforms conference, which will take place in San Francisco on May 9 and 10.

Image of "Computer Technology" courtesy of Shutterstock.