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Top trends publishers should adapt in 2017

Facebook dominance. Ad blocking. Decreasing engagement.

These are just a few of the major challenges premium UK publishers will face in 2017. The question is: how can publishers respond?

The answer? In one word: adaptation. Publishers must adapt quicker, smarter, and more effectively. But, where to start?

We’ve compiled a list of the top 2017 trends that we believe are crucial for publishers to adapt if they are going to remain relevant, improve their digital strategy, and grow their revenues this year. So, let’s get started.

1. Personalization

What makes social media so powerful and addicting? It’s highly personalized. Each time you as a user click on a link, image, or video, social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn learn your preferences and show you similar content in the future. It’s a simple tactic (with complicated technology), but really effective. It’s part of what makes Facebook a $100 billion company.

If publishers want their readers to be engaged, they must create personalized experiences. Experiences that offer readers what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it. Put content in front of readers that’s personalized and matches what they’ve read before. Or, perhaps, offer content that runs contrary to what a user just read. This can go a long way in creating dialogue.

Personalization is key on the digital advertising front as well. While traditional advertising has its benefits, many marketers prefer to pay for ads that are personalized for each user. It’s important as a publisher to only work with monetization partners that utilize behavioral data to determine which ad will be placed in front of a user.

2. Chatbots

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic among publishers these days, but for good reason. Chatbots allow users to communicate directly with publishers, personalizing users’ reading experiences.

CNN was an early adopter of chatbots and the first one that comes to mind for me.  Their bot has some pretty amazing abilities. As an example, their chatbot allows readers to get a daily digest of the top CNN stories, personalized to readers’ preferences. In other words, the more you talk to the bot, the better it gets at recommending you stories. Readers can also ask the bot about a specific news story such as “What’s happening with Brexit?” or “How has Obama responded to the Syrian Civil War?” and instantly receive an answer.

3. Native

Native has been a trend for the last few years, but it will continue to be paramount in 2017. User experience is going to take center stage this year. That means intrusive ads such as auto-playing video ads or popups simply won’t cut it this year.

According to a recent study done by Facebook and IHS, native ads will comprise 63% of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Simply put, marketers will be less and less inclined to pay for ads that aren’t native. If you haven’t made the switch yet, 2017 should be the year.

4. Monetizing the visual web

With the rise of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites, there’s been a big shift towards a more visual web. Users crave images and videos. In fact, content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without.

Moreover, if you take a look at this heat map, you’ll see that that readers pay far more attention to content and editorial images than to surrounding ads. As a result, ads placed within images such as In-Image ads are far more likely to be viewed and engaged with. In short, the monetization solutions that capitalize on the web’s visual assets will see significant growth in 2017.

5. 360 Video

Many large publishers such as BBC and The New York Times have adapted this trend, but it’s time for it to become mainstream in the digital publishing world. 360 videos create an engaging and immersive environment that keep readers spending more time on your site.

Not sold? Take a look a the way The New York Times uses 360 video. Their videos are elegant, informative, and interactive. As an ad format, 360 videos can be very effective on your site as well. Because they are so engaging to users, they can help boost your RPMs.

6. Immersive experiences

In addition to personalization, Facebook is really great at creating immersive experiences. It’s what they work to get better at each and every day. Instant articles, 360 videos, and Instant Games are just a few recent Facebook innovations designed to keep users engaged and immersed. It’s time for publishers to catch up.

Publishers must work to create more immersive sites and experiences for readers. Whether it’s games, videos, surveys, or image galleries, the focus should be on designing sites that encourage users to engage and interact with your content.

7. Programmatic

Programmatic has been a trend for a number of years, but 2017 will continue to be a big year for programmatic. According to eMarketer, UK programmatic ad spending will reach £2.5 Billion by the end of 2016, an increase of 37% from 2015. And this rate is expected to grow in 2017, especially with the rise of mobile programmatic.

Mobile programmatic is advancing quickly because advertisers are recognizing that mobile is increasingly important for reaching users. As a result, it’s more important than ever for publishers to build strong mobile sites and work with programmatic partners that offer optimal monetization solutions for mobile.

8. Virtual reality and augmented reality

Creating virtual and augmented reality experiences can be pricey, but they can go a long way in engaging and attracting readers. Premium publishers such as The Economist and The New York Times began investing in VR & AR in 2016 and will continue to do so in 2017.

For example, The Economist recently created a six-minute video tour of a destroyed museum located in Mosul. As a viewer, you get the sense that you are inside of the museum.

These sorts of technologies allow users to immerse themselves in an outside experience or take outside elements and apply them to their reality in real-time. Publishers that can adapt these technologies quick enough will be at the forefront when the moment comes to monetize.

Today’s digital environment requires publishers to adapt quickly if they are going to stay competitive. The trends I’ve discussed today are only the tip of the iceberg, but they offer a solid place to start. How will your organization adapt in 2017?

Zev Newman is the Content Marketing Specialist at Imonomy, an In-Image platform. Zev manages Imonomy’s content strategy, social media marketing, and SEO. He loves the Detroit Lions, learning just about anything, and writing about the world of online publishing, marketing, and advertising. Connect with Zev at zev.newman@imonomy.com