For years now, news media has been evolving and endeavoring to keep up in an increasingly digital world. This evolution has extended far beyond the move from print to digital channels as media companies work to compete with Google and Facebook for web traffic and advertising dollars.
Here are eight trends we see continuing as media companies to succeed in a competitive and fast-changing world.
1. Invest in CMS for media platforms that enable easy multi-channel publishing:
News media reporters and editors work in overdrive to publish content as quickly as possible, to as many channels as possible. This means news teams need publishing platforms that enable them to publish channel-optimized content once to multiple devices. Media companies that have not re-platformed to more modern publishing platforms need to invest now in a content management systems that make multi-channel publishing easier.
2. Leverage AI for deep learning and personalization:
Several years ago, AI adoption in broadcast and media was slower than expected. Many media companies were still manually tagging images and videos, and manually curating content. But today, with the heightened awareness of the benefits of these technologies, most news media organizations are leveraging machine learning and deep learning for automatically tagging and organizing visual content—and using the increased audience insights for content personalization and monetization.
3. Invest more in over-the-top (OTT) video applications:
Video consumption is flourishing on mobile and smart TV devices. Publishers are changing their workflows to be able to quickly create and distribute videos to meet consumption demands. Unisphere Research forecasted that live/linear OTT viewing would surpass traditional broadcast TV by 2020, a prediction that held firm. As media continues its path down digital transformation, news media need to continue to invest in more OTT video applications and OTT CMS.
4. Embrace VR and AR:
VR and AR content lend themselves to vivid and compelling storytelling, which is what media companies constantly strive to deliver. In 2018, News Media Alliance called AR and VR the “wave of the present” and BBC Research and Development predicts that VR’s popularity and adoption will be similar to social media’s rise to relevance.
5. Create content for smart speakers:
In 2017, NPR commissioned its The Smart Audio Report with Edison Research, which studied the habits of smart speaker owners (i.e. owners of speakers like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home). In this study, NPR and Edison research found that 77% of respondents wanted a smart speaker to listen to news and information, and 28% of smart speaker owners had started listening to more news audio. Previously, media companies didn’t take the smart speaker movement too seriously. Because smart speakers are affordable, consumers are increasingly purchasing them and constantly interacting with them. As adoption of smart speakers grows, being able to deliver news content to smart speakers will be critical for news media and we expect this to be one of the most prominent digital media trends this year.
6. Increase paid subscriptions:
In September 2017, the Washington Post reported it passed the 1 million subscriber mark for paid digital-only subscriptions and The New York Times reported it had surpassed 3 million monthly subscribers in December. In spite of initial pushback, we predict that news media will see paid subscriptions increase in 2018 as print subscriptions and offline advertising revenue continue to decline.
7. Push the programmatic advertising model:
Historically, news media organizations have relied on large advertising sales teams to drive ad revenue. This will change as media companies move to programmatic advertising packages by automating the digital ad buying and purchasing process. Programmatic advertising enables advertisers to be able to set up, manage, and measure digital ad campaigns themselves.
8. See more mergers and acquisitions:
In the last couple of years, the media industry saw a huge number of acquisitions and mergers: Meredith Corporation acquired Time Inc., AT&T and Time Warner merged, Sinclair Broadcast Group bought Tribune Media Co., Disney acquired 21st Century Fox (who had purchased National Geographic a couple of years back), Discovery bought Scripps Networks, and the list goes on. The driver for mergers and acquisitions in the media space are primarily due to publishers competing with Google and Facebook for ad dollars (combined they control more than 60% of digital advertising dollars). Additionally, TV broadcasters are facing intense competition from OTT video providers like Netflix and Amazon, thus fueling the continued search for new revenue streams.
As media companies invest in new and leading technology, like AI, AR/VR, OTT, smart speakers and multi-channel publishing platforms, we believe that media will reach new levels of maturity in the industry’s digital transformation. Combined with additional mergers and acquisitions, we’re excited to see how these digital media trends play out, shaping the future of digital news media moving forward.