The 5 biggest digital media trends for 2014

Three years after the launch of the iPad, mobile publishing is changing rapidly - and you ain't seen nothing yet, says Matt Cokeley.

Three years after Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, it's clear that we're looking at a new paradigm of digital publishing: content designed for and delivered through apps on touchscreen devices just isn't the same as the web or print. Content owners everywhere - from traditional publishers to retail brands - have to recalibrate how they think about distributing content in this new space, because what users want and expect there is different than any other medium.

It isn't yet entirely clear how everything will shake out. Publishers, advertisers, marketers, businesses and organizations are just now beginning to realize the full potential of the platform. The good news is nobody disputes that mobile touchscreen devices are the future of where you’ll find eyeballs for your content, and that means opportunity for everyone. Here are five areas we see being fundamentally changed by the touchscreen, app-based content ecosystem.

01. 'Magazines' will be less and less about paper products

Mobile publishing trends: Main image

Paper may be lovely, but digital magazines can be so much more interactive

Traditional monthly publishers need to rethink issue content and frequency for these new spaces - the old print and ad imperatives for monthly issues just don’t apply here. For many, that will means splitting their issues into smaller, compartmentalized editions designed for specific devices and delivered on a daily or weekly timeline.

This approach will put different types of content at subscribers’ fingertips in a way that it is most likely to be consumed in any given moment. Think: breaking news via push notifications on the phone, short pieces to be read while waiting for the train, more in-depth content for leisurely weekend read. The effect will be more touchpoints for the user to the brand, deepening value and brand loyalty.

02. The long read will make a comeback

Mobile publishing trends: TED

The TED conferences have branched out into ebooks

The success of the Kindle and iBooks apps, not to mention sites like Long Reads and Atavist, are proving that people will read on screen. While print and web based publishing focuses increasingly on 'bite-sized' news and features, apps will allow publishers both to design long-form stories for easy consumption on phones and tablets, and to enable offline usage and smart bookmarking.

03. Travel magazines will become utilities

Mobile publishing trends: Budget Travel

Previously Mired in bankruptcy, Budget Travel magazine has found ways to generate revenue through digital subscriptions on iPad, Kindle, Nook and Android

Tablet versions of travel magazines will tie back into booking websites with sponsored 'Book This Trip Now' options. This will mean pre-packaged deals for customers who want all-inclusive amenities listed as is within the corresponding article. Add to that location-based recommendation services and tie-ins with third-party services like OpenTable and Yelp, and your travel magazine will become an invaluable travel companion. And then once you're aboard the plane...

04. In-flight magazines will go digital

Mobile publishing trends: United Hemispheres

United Hemispheres puts out an amazing print travel magazine, have created an impressively interactive digital magazine for iPad and Android

With the FAA lifting the ban on device usage, major carriers will be increasingly able promote their in-flight titles from the gate for download and consumption before, during and after the flight, delivering fresh content based on location, user status or other factors, making the content more personal and more valuable. United Airlines and American Airlines already have iPad versions of their in-flight publications for tablets. And just imagine a 'Buy Now' version of the duty-free shopping catalogue.

05. Fashion retail and publishing will be more intertwined

Real-time updating combined with subscription delivery will allow fashion 'look books' for major retailers to be more responsive and better at distributing hot sales trends between brick-and-mortar retail outlets. For a small taste of the future, check out the InWear Trade Tool Fashion App in action in the video below.

How do you feel about these predictions? Do you have any of your own? Tell us in the comments.

Contributor: Matt Cokeley

Matt Cokeley is the creative director of Mag+. His background includes print design as well as working as the art director for Popular Science.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.