Digital Publishing
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A giant, multi-dimensional chess game: Publishing in the age of platforms

Authenticity and reader service remain paramount at the second annual PubTech Connect conference.

It seems a well-established consensus that trust and brand recognition will be media’s life preserver amid a rising tide of fake news and shifting consumption habits, but speakers at this month’s PubTech (organized by Publishers Weekly and NYU’s SPS Center for Publishing) particularly emphasized that protecting your brand means listening to what your audience wants, even if it runs against your own expectations.

Vox Media publisher Melissa Bell, on a morning panel focused on innovation, described her company’s content strategy as “a giant multidimensional chess game” to determine which types of articles or videos resonate with different audiences on different channels.

Keith Grossman, Bloomberg Media’s chief revenue officer, echoed that sentiment on the following panel, asserting that the damaging that “bad, cheap video” can do to a media brand far outweighs the downside of cheaply produced audio content.

Hayley Romer, publisher of The Atlantic (a 160-year-old brand, Grossman duly noted), agreed, saying that while it’s important for brands to expand into new environments, particularly digital ones, that expansion must happen in a way that feels authentic and natural to the brand’s identity.

“It’s not that we don’t see value in Snapchat’s platform or its user base,” said Romer, giving an example. “We just haven’t figured out the way The Atlantic can be itself on Snapchat yet.”

“You can’t rely solely on tech platforms for your business model,” said Axios media reporter Sara Fischer, before noting that we’re now seeing the manifold consequences of platforms being allowed to innovate without any regulation.

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