The biggest trends in Digital Publishing

Retail print catalogs are trendy right now – but so are their digital counterparts. In fact, it’s estimated that the global digital publishing market will grow more than 11 percent year-over-year from 2022 to 2023, climbing from $41.3 billion in 2022 to $45.9 billion in 2023.

As a result, publishers are altering their distribution methods and expanding what’s possible. Trends like video covers, free-form navigation, web integration, native-style ads, mobile compatibility, and hidden depth of content are making more of what digital magazines can do.

Here are the biggest trends happening now and next in the world of digital publishing.

Skip to what you want to see: Free-Form Navigation

With print catalogs, readers can flip to the pages they want to read first, bypassing anything they don’t want or need to see. This feature used to be print-only, while digital publications required readers to click through from one page to the next without the option to jump to what interests them most.

But free-form navigation is changing the game and making it more straightforward for readers to jump to the most relevant pages.

With free-form navigation, readers can skip to their favorite features and choose their own adventure when exploring digital content. They can tap images to read specific articles or reviews and discover the content in their preferred order.

Ads that don’t feel like ads: Native-Style Advertising

Retailers are finding new ways to incorporate ads – and in some cases, readers aren’t even aware it’s happening.

Welcome to the world of native-style ads, unobtrusive advertisement strategies that publishers and advertisers can use to connect with their target audience without seeming too pushy or sales-focused. Native ads are custom-tailored to match the aesthetics and tone of the platform; these advertisements don’t feel like ads at all. They fit the look and feel of the digital publication, making them a seamless part of the user’s experience. Why is this so effective? The answers are two-fold:

  1. It expands the organic reach of each ad
  2. It fosters better engagement with target audiences

In the US, native ad spending increased by 37 percent in 2021, and spending is anticipated to surpass $100 billion in 2023. This spend may include sponsored content, in-feed ads on social media, video content, and other innovative native ad formats.

Making it personal: Personalisation in Publishing

According to McKinsey71 percent of today’s consumers have come to expect their interactions to be personalized – and what’s more, 76 percent of consumers find it frustrating if they don’t get this level of customized attention. Personalization can present challenges for paper publishing, but some barriers are removed for more digital formats.

Why does personalization matter so much? Besides offering consumers the experience they want, it increases engagement. When retailers focus on what individual customers want and need by working to understand their preferences, they deliver the kind of content your customers want.

How do retailers discover what customers want? You can leverage tools to analyze their actions and preferences and take small surveys on user interest to gear your publication toward specific audiences. With the proper data integration tools, retailers can insert user-specific content into digital publications, customizing messaging for each reader.

This is especially important for retailers looking to connect with Gen Z – the next generation of subscribers, consumers, and customers. Gen Z is a unique audience that consumes content differently than their older counterparts; they have a distinct point of view and spend more of their media time on video platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Publishers should seek ways to meet Gen Z audiences where they are and tailor their content to them.

More than meets the eye: Hidden-Depth Content

One unique benefit of digital publishing? Retailers can pack more content into each page with hidden-depth content, much like a children’s pop-up book.

Often, this looks like a small “+” in the corner of a photo or following a section of the text, revealing extra details like captions and additional data. Hidden-depth content can also include features like:

  • PDF downloads
  • Archival maps, letters, or documents
  • More statistics
  • Extended photo carousels or galleries

Scrolling text or historical timelines can sometimes be their own table of contents, with each point on the timeline serving as its access point to additional content.

What are the perks of hidden depth of content? It’s a great strategy to encourage readers to interact and engage. It can also serve as a far more exciting way to present information.

On-the-Go: An increased focus on Mobile and Responsive Design

There’s been a notable uptick in mobile versus desktop internet access for quite some time. This trend continues to pick up steam – and today, 55 percent of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. In fact, 92.3 percent of internet users are accessing the web via their mobile phones.

For retailers, this should mean increased, though not sole, focus on the mobile version of their online content. In certain instances, it may be beneficial to think mobile-first, depending on their target audiences and how they source their media. For now, the balance of mobile-first or desktop-first creation largely depends on the intended readers.

This doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of digital publication processes or twice the work to create two versions of the same publication; with a few slight adjustments, building a mobile version can be quickly accomplished at the end of the digital publication creation process, and some retailers may opt to utilize a completely responsive design that adapts to any device or screen type their reader may use to access their content.

Publishers don’t have to approach every piece of content in their digital publication from a mobile perspective – for some, the idea of limiting screen size may also limit their creativity. Instead, digital publications should be built and designed with the idea that every desktop page, article, and edition also has a mobile version. Artwork, galleries, videos, interactive media, and all other content can be easily borrowed or adjusted from desktop versions at the end of the creation process.

Bring it home: Web Integration

Another feature retailers continue to explore is integrating content with the web. This feature allows readers to explore products and information in further detail on an e-commerce page or the publisher’s website.

Digital catalogs can easily integrate their content with the web with responsive web links that direct readers to purchase, discover more resources, or connect with their brand on social media.

Moving Pictures: Add Video Content and Video Covers

In recent years, marketing teams have caught on to how impactful video content and covers can be in connecting with consumers. 92 percent of marketers reported that video content offers a positive return on investment (ROI), and 87 percent share that video content has a direct, positive impact on their sales.

But it’s not just marketing professionals who are taking note of how effective video content is. More than 9 out of 10 consumers want to see more videos from the brands they pay attention to in 2023. Audiences are more invested than ever in video content, with short-form videos like TikToks skyrocketing in popularity and offering growth potential and value to brands.

These audiences even use multiple devices simultaneously, so grabbing and keeping their attention is more challenging than ever. Short-form videos are becoming a trendy way to hold readers’ gaze, and even channels like TikTok are starting to experiment with longer forms, thanks to the rising popularity of video content.

Now, digital publishers can add this content form to their publications. Since marketers and consumers alike are embracing video content, digital publishers should take note and incorporate this content into their digital formats. Video covers, in particular, are an intelligent way to captivate readers from page one – some even feel like movie trailers. Digital publications allow publishers to expand what’s possible in magazines and newspapers, providing users with a memorable experience beyond what can be printed and published on a page.

Bonus: Interactive Content

It’s not just video content making waves in the digital publishing sphere. Overall, digital publications are becoming increasingly interactive. This includes video content, but it also includes audio recordings, augmented reality, animations, and other rich, interactive multimedia content forms to enhance the overall reading experience and create fresh, catchy content.

Your partner in modern Digital Publishing

At Comosoft, we’re all about expanding what’s possible with digital publications. From workflow collaboration to publication and distribution, we’re always on the cutting edge of digital publication and marketing production.

With LAGO by Comosoft, digital publishing is both simple and advanced. Every page and piece of digital content is an opportunity to engage and delight readers and showcase your brand. As more people consume media online, we’ll help you turn your printed marketing production, circular ad, or catalog into an extended experience with features like:

  • Automated hotspots
  • QR codes
  • Augmented reality

As a fully integrated PIM and DAM system solution, we’ll support your collaborative workflows with intuitive versioning optimization in real time and a detail-oriented proofing system. The result? A modern digital publication is created using less time and resources.