How Digital Marketing is Changing Publishing

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What does digital marketing in 2016 look like and where is it headed in the next five years? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jeff Umbro, Digital Marketing Director at Goldberg McDuffie Communications and podcast host, on Quora.

I can really only speak to this in the book and publishing world, but I have an optimistic view. Every day there are publishers, new and old, that are embracing some of the changes in digital and online media and really pushing the limits of the Internet. Relative to the TV and movie industry, the numbers aren’t there yet (books are lucky to sell tens of thousands of units, TV shows can have two million viewers and get canceled), but we’re getting better every day.

In 2016, digital marketing consists of a lot of pieces, but the advantage an author has is that they’re born content creators in a world where there’s an unbelievable amount of outlets begging for content. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram provide outlets to connect with existing fans, Reddit, Quora & Product Hunt provide platforms to educate new fans on the exciting work an author is doing, Amazon and Goodreads are doing their best to become the new world booksellers (we’ll see if they can ever replace real people), Kindle, iBooks, Oyster (RIP), and Google Play Books provide new reading ecosystems.

Podcasts provide authors with an outlet for longform expression of their visions, with none of the barriers of legacy media. Facebook live, Periscope and Skype allow authors to connect with their audience in ways we’ve never seen before. New media outlets are excited to work with talented writers and expressive ideas, and they look at authors and their books as the perfect resources.

In the future I expect we’ll see more and more of the same, new platforms that allow for better connections. However I also expect that we’ll see some new takes on the same old kind of storytelling, which really is all marketing is anyway. Hardbound is a new platform that mixes text, storytelling, images and graphics to bring you a new experience that aims to educate. Atavist is kind of a first generation of this same platform. Longform curates the best stories on the web. I expect that we’ll see more of this in the next five years.

There are some really great publishers that are coming up with super effective ways to promote their books and authors. Riverhead books, long a leader in digital marketing for the book world, just launched a program where if you donate to Support Syrian Refugees, they’ll send you a 3d printed bust of one of their premier authors. Bookbubhas been the premier outlet for price promotions, which has a trickle down effect of selling a ton of backlist titles that will spur future sales for authors. Possibly to the detriment of the author and publishers (devaluing of work), we’ll see a lot more of this in the future. In a way it’s gaming the system.

Another piece of the future I’m bullish on is the actual creation system. I’ve seen a few companies in the last few years jump into the creative side, and actually export that business to help others. I’m thinking specifically of A16Z and their media arm (blogs, newsletters, podcasts, social media), which they provide to all of their new founders,Gimlet Creative, just launched, which aims to built native ad experiences for podcast partners, Pineapple Street Media, who’s teaming up with institutions to create new podcast ventures, and dozens more. Basically we’re seeing scrappy startups and billion dollar companies both getting into the content creation game because they see that as a way to help influence the news funnel. I think we’ll see that (and are already starting to) in the publishing business.

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