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 a webinar, Why Personalization Is Media’s Next Frontier. In it, Bob Kempf, WGBH’s Vice President for Digital Services, talks about the trends WGBH is seeing in the industry, how it's approaching these trends, and how the organization is planning for the future.
1. Publishing with an omnichannel 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 feel overwhelming. And expectations are higher than ever—87% of people want companies to provide a more seamless multichannel experience. Modern newsrooms seeking to meet viewer demands must put technology in place that will enable them to deliver engaging, customized, multichannel content.
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 easy 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 one 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 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, that 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 of Media Practice at Brightspot, said, "The foundation of successful personalization is a solid content strategy."
3. OTT video
According to Kempf, "the dominant modalities that people want to engage in are about watching first, video first." Not only is video king, in this day and age it is also being consumed on a wider variety of devices—with 47% of Americans 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, in part, to the surge in smart speakers as more than 20% of American adults now own one. Overall, media companies cannot afford to treat audio as a secondary channel to video but must view it as an 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. 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 transformed how media companies distribute content and engage users. To succeed long term, media companies must deliver immersive multichannel, multiformat audience experiences. Failure to keep up with these trends will result in audiences tuning out and opting to view content from competitors.