2016 Trend Report: What Publishers Need to Know

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

publishers, bots, augmented reality, amazon, alexaThe Future Today Institute has created a terrific, free report summarizing key technology trends and what they mean for tomorrow. I’ve embedded the report below so you can quickly flip through it.

I read the whole report and highlighted the most noteworthy elements for publishers below. That leads me (once again) to the topic of curation, a very important (current and) future publishing trend. Curation is becoming as important as creation, especially as we’re bombarded with more information than we can possibly consume.

As you read through my curated list below, with slide numbers in parenthesis, be sure to look at each item through the lens of publishing. How will each one of these affect how your content is discovered, acquired and consumed in the future?

Bots (slide 15) – This type of automation will be combined with other emerging technologies, leading to things like highly customized audio learning platforms where the UI is totally voice-controlled (see SVPAs below).

Natural Language Generation (slide 17) – I’ve written before about narrative science and I’m confident we’ll see more and more algorithmically-generated content in the future.

Smart Virtual Personal Assistants, or SVPAs (slide 22) – Alexa is the one I use every day when interacting with my Amazon Tap device. Expect this one to evolve quickly, as today’s functionality will be considered very primitive in a year or so.

Ambient Proximity (slide 23) – Beacons haven’t taken off yet but they represent such an interesting opportunity. Think of all the interesting things your local bookstore could do with beacons and promotional content.

Attention (slide 25) – Despite the lame name, this one will have a significant impact on the ongoing evolution of content presentation, especially when married to beacons and additional knowledge of the user’s current state.

Ownership (slide 36) – Up to now, creators of user-generated content seem more interested in visibility than compensation. But how long will that be the case?

One-to-few Publishing (slide 39) – Podcasts are dead, right? No, in fact there’s a significant opportunity in smaller, more tightly-focused audiences. This market concentration likely leads to higher subscription prices and/or advertising rates.

Intentional Rabbit Holes (slide 42) – Great concept that’s all about deeper engagement. What services can you add to your site or content to encourage readers to take a deeper dive and perhaps expose them to additional monetization opportunities?

Augmented Reality (slide 52) – It’s been around for a while but was only recently legitimized by Pokemon Go. Think of all the ways your content could be augmented via tools like Layar, for example.

Internet of X (slide 63) – Let’s say you’re a publisher of architecture books and other short-form content about design and construction. What’s preventing you from creating The Internet of Architecture?

Each of these are on different timelines, of course, and won’t affect content at the same moment. All of them, however, are likely to have a profound impact on just about every type of content in the next few years.


This article first appeared on Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.


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One thought on “2016 Trend Report: What Publishers Need to Know

  1. Michael W. Perry

    Although trained as a engineer—or may because I was so-trained—I tend to be of the “technology is not the answer” school of thought. Human problems require human solutions.

    Publishing’s main problem isn’t creating books with new attention-drawing gimmicks. It’s that our school system seems designed to teach kids to hate reading. When I was a kid, it was those horrid, whole-word primers, with their endless lines of “See Spot run. Run, spot run.” Harper Lee described the horrors of that era quite well in the early chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird. Whole-word made ed-school professor rich. They’re the ones who created those dreadful primers. But it taught several generations of kids to hate reading. Only when many parents took the solution Harper Lee hints at and made sure that their kids started school already reading thanks to phonetics, did the education establishment abandon its whole-word folly.

    Today, I suspect Common Core, with its goal of turning out dutiful little worker bees for businesses, is teaching kids to hate reading. I recall one CC program that forced grade-school kids to read about home insulation. Someone who thinks fourth-graders, either boys or girls, are eager to read about that is really screwed up. Give them tales of adventure (Treasure Island) or relationships (Anne of Green Gables).

    The goal of early schooling should be to make reading fun. Do that, and a good education will follow. Fail in that, and schools will do poorly and publishers will continue to ask, “why do so few people read?”

    –Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia.

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