Many media companies have struggled to pivot to a digital-first mindset. However, WGBH—the nation’s largest public news organization—has successfully made the transition by staying ahead of changing consumer preferences.
WGBH discussed how it accomplished this during the recent webinar, Why Personalization is Media’s Next Frontier. Hear from Bob Kempf, WGBH’s Vice President for Digital Services, about the trends they’re seeing in the industry, how they’re approaching these trends, and how the organization is planning for the future.
1. Publishing with an Omni-Channel Experience
When it comes to publishing, where you choose to distribute your content is almost as important as the content itself. These days, the sheer number of channels, platforms, and devices through which media organizations can reach segments of their audience can be overwhelming for publishers. And expectations are higher than ever—with 87% of people wanting companies to provide a more seamless multi-channel experience. Modern newsrooms seeking to meet viewer demands must put technology in place that will enable them to deliver engaging, customized, multi-channel experiences.
To keep up, WGBH has had to evolve from text and still-image based content to delivering the dynamic multimedia experiences that utilize high quality audio and over-the-top video. The omnichannel delivery of these experiences is made possible with a modern CMS that simplifies publishing, making it seamless to distribute any content type, to any device or channel, right into the hands of their viewership.
2. Personalization with an Audience-First Strategy
The Netflix effect is real. It is estimated that 88% of companies believe their audience expects a personalized experience and delivering them begins with powerful metadata. Today, just 26% of media companies are leveraging machine learning or artificial intelligence to enhance tagging—instead relying on laborious manual efforts. Leading media companies, however, leverage modern solutions that allow them to continue manually tagging but augment their efforts, vastly increasing the amount of metadata through AI.
WGBH believes that the audience guides the content—the content doesn’t guide the audience. As such, it has implemented an audience-first strategy which matches content and delivery to appeal to existing user behavior. Powering this capability is a data driven approach that collects information and uses it to personalize the experience for each user. With this analytical mindset and an upgraded premium distribution engine, WGBH can now deliver individualized experiences for newly engaged audiences and members alike.
Keep in mind though, while personalization is critical, it is a means to delivering compelling content to the right audience at the right time. As Sandeep Hulsandra, Vice President Media Practice at Perfect Sense, said, "The foundation of successful personalization is a solid content strategy."
3. OTT Video
According to Bob Kempf, "the dominant modalities that people want to engage in are about watching first, video first." Not only is video consumption king, but in this day and age it is taking place on a wider variety of devices—with 46% of Americans now preferring to watch their news, rather than read it. Video is also delivering a new wave of digital advertising dollars, expected to surpass $20 billion by 2020.
In addition to the explosion of video, audio is making a huge comeback in the digital world. This can be attributed to smart speakers bringing audio back to the forefront of entertainment. Since smart speakers launched less than five years ago, more than 20% of American adults own one of these devices. Overall, media companies cannot afford to treat audio as a secondary channel to video, but must view it as as equally important way to distribute content.
WGBH has adapted to their audience’s consumption behavior—watch-first, listen-second, and read-third—with the help of Brightspot. Not only is WGBH the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web, but they also have a partnership with NPR and are deeply committed to producing radio programs and podcasts. Utilizing a modern CMS like Brightspot with premium OTT and audio integration, enables WGBH to deliver the dynamic experiences expected by their audience. With Brightspot, WGBH.org also benefits from seamless interoperability with NPR and SSO capability with PBS.org.
Changing consumption patterns driven by new devices and content channels has fundamentally changed how media companies distribute content and engage users. To succeed long term, media companies must deliver immersive multi-channel, multi-format audience experiences. Failure to keep up with these trends will result in audiences tuning out and opting to view content from competitors.