In the last three decades, there has been mass adoption of the internet and thereby consumption of digital media has increased. People started moving from the traditional way (newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, broadcast TV and direct mail) of consumption of news to digital ways (online advertising, search engines, social media, video streaming services, and websites) because of easy availability, cost-effectiveness and handy nature of digital media.
How a good publishing platform helps you make content distribution effective and easier?
As Print media is on the verge of extinction, the need for a digital publishing platform has ever since increased. A publishing platform is simply a platform to publish the content digitally to be consumed by its users. The whole idea is to digitize and distribute content (content such as articles, pictures, and to be able to share articles on Facebook, Instagram, etc.) through electronic devices.
There are essentially two types of publishing platforms: Custom and off-the-shelf
- Custom: When a company has its own platform, they put features which they need in particular and they can choose to post what is relevant to them. Basically they put whatever expresses them in the best way. E.g.: pictures, photos, written content, videos, etc. without prior permission from any authority or without any additional charges.
- Off-the-shelf: A few companies on the other hand create publishing platforms and provide them on a monthly/ yearly subscription basis to others for them to post content. In this case, the content is scanned and approved before putting it online and is of course chargeable.
Support: Once the publishing platform is in place, it needs regular up-gradation for smooth functioning (in terms of glitches, scalability, etc.) and minor enhancements to keep up with the changing trend. This is taken care of by the support team.
Need for a publishing platform:
A publishing platform essentially:
- Ensures easy, cheap and 24*7 availability of news for customers
- Ensures huge cost savings
- Creates an opportunity for interactive Ads for advertisers
- Creates an opportunity to gain exposure from social media shares
- Gives a better chance to interact with its present and potential customers
- Ensures better feedback mechanism
How to select a good publishing platform?
As a matter of fact, every news agency wants to generate revenue, expand their user base, reach out to maximum potential customers, get the best advertising deal and be better than their competitors by catering to the user’s needs in the best possible way which brings them to choose the most lucrative ways to do all of the above i.e. by to have a publishing platform in place.
The challenges faced by almost every media agency which is trying to go digital is similar. For a very long time now, there have been concerns about the best distribution platform because there can easily be gaps in features being offered and the features that one might want. According to a survey, 2/3rd of the online news consumers prefer to access news through algorithm-driven platforms such as news aggregators and social media websites which makes use of algorithms for best user experience. This is just one aspect, there are plenty of other factors that should be considered before committing to a publishing platform.
A few factors to be considered for choosing/designing the best publishing platform:
- It should be easy to use and provide high performance and have basic CMS features
- It should not be overpriced
- It should let you create whatever you intend to create (no restriction on creativity)
- It should include interactivity: e.g. adding videos, pop-ups, feedback, plugins, etc. to the publication
- The content’s performance should be measured constantly and should have built-in analytics
- The platform should be able to integrate with other services
- It should allow targeting specific audiences/ user group
- It should allow distributing the content across multiple channels. It should offer multiple sharing tools
- The content that is created should adapt to multiple devices and platforms
- The platform should offer support if and when needed
- Data Migration – Data migration cost during first setup as well as the cost of moving data out of their platform
- Data Risk- Hosting the application in vendor location you will lose your control over data
- Should support multimedia content like- audio, video, news story, workflows, scheduling(News scheduling)
- Should have SEO support, AMP, publishing support to the social platform, paywall.
Why is it important to have the good technical architecture to create the best publishing platform?
To build the most desirable publishing platform, we would want to have the following:
- Security- Firewall, VPC, security group, etc.:
- A firewall that provides comprehensive protection and helps to identify vulnerabilities and get them fixed through WAF rules. E.g. Indusface WAF, AppTrana WAF, CloudFare WAF
- Different caching- CDN, varnish, memcache :
- A general-purpose distributed memory caching system which can be used to speed up dynamic database-driven websites by caching data and objects in RAM to reduce the number of times an external data source must be fetched. Basically, when a similar request is asked for, the request is not sent to the database server, instead, a reply is sent from this caching system. E.g. Memcache
- A content delivery network which provides a globally distributed network of proxy servers which can cache content, such as videos or other bulky media to improve access speed for downloading the content. E.g. AWS Cloud Front, Google Cloud Storage
- Autoscaling- To handle the load for viral content :
- A load balancer which automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets and can handle the varying load of your application traffic in a single Availability Zone or across multiple Availability Zones. E.g. Varnish ELB, AWS ELB, Drupal ELB.
- Secure object storage :
- A good distributed message queuing service. E.g. ActiveMQ, Amazon SQS, Redis, Amazon MQ
- A service that provides object storage preferably through a web service interface. E.g. AWS S3, Microsoft Azure, Amazon EBS
- A cloud storage resource for image queuing. E.g. Amazon bucket, Google Cloud storage, Heroku
- Search-platform :
- An enterprise-search platform including features like full-text search hit highlighting, faceted search, real-time indexing, dynamic clustering, database integration. So, when we enter search command, they give us multiple options using our keywords. This keyword is stored in this SOLR search. Just like a dictionary. E.g. SOLR search, OpenSearchServer, ElasticSearch
- Database :
- An easy to use, secure, scalable, highly flexible, highly productive & platform-independent database management system. E.g. MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB
Apart from the above tools, we might want to make use of the below tools as well:
- A scalable and highly available domain name system service that connects user requests to infrastructure and hence ensure routing. E.g. Azure DNS, AWS route 53, Google Cloud DNS
- A cloud service that enables you to build a virtual network in the AWS cloud and lets you define your own network space and also controls how your network and cloud computing activities inside your network are exposed to the internet. We essentially want it to act as a security layer to our server which would not allow access to our application from outside the team. E.g. OpenStack, OpenVPN, AWS VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)
- A platform (more like a content management framework) for designing amazing digital experiences that can be used for dynamic as well as static web pages. E.g. Drupal, WordPress, Joomla
Sankey belief system:
Sankey Solutions does not believe that every firm should start from scratch. We in fact believe that smaller firms should go with SaaS (software as a service) while comparatively larger firms can have their own publishing platform.
Sankey catered to digital initiatives of one of the biggest media agency groups. We are more into providing additional features, bringing minor enhancements especially when there is a major event about to take place, conducting events, etc.
E.g. during elections, we built pages in which viewers can get live updates on the count of votes.
- The second project was paywall based where we made sure there was a paywall in place.
- We have also catered to the festival specific activities like on the occasion of Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, etc. when almost 25000 people watch live streaming.
- Marathon events: We built in marathon App where the user can register on them and then get the current status of his location, road map of the marathon track, his position compared to other participants in the race, etc.
- We essentially are working on digital initiatives, SEO, and other additional services.