Future media models

TRENDAFRiCA April 22, 2014

By Louise Marsland

Future media models are all about reading – grasping the attention of the bored consumer – and being innovative with digital. But, it is predicted that 80 to 90% of publishers will still fail to innovate.

They will fail because they have not integrated digital strategy with print strategy. They will fail because they have not understood digital margins vs. print margins. They will fail because they cling to the banner ad and have failed to develop viable alternatives and are facing competition now, not just from other media houses, but from the brands themselves and their advertising agencies.

And they will fail because they have failed to understand their changing consumer – the millennial generation who read when they are bored, when there is nothing else to do or view or play with.

These were some of the very interesting insights coming out of the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin recently. The objective of the seven-year-old event is to help content business leaders develop better strategies and media models in the digital era, but the opening advice to delegates this year was to ditch the ‘D’ word, reports TheDrum.com in a very insightful article on the media summit.

If you are still talking about your digital model and your print model, you might as well put your pen down and retire. It is integration or bust.

Reading is key. Ten years ago I attended a global print conference in Cape Town which already warned of an increasing ‘alliterate’ generation that can read, but chooses not to. This was of course before the advent of social media.

We are still reading – but we are reading differently. And it is that difference that spells success or failure. The Drum quotes Buzzfeed.com as saying they wouldn’t exist without the “bored network” (people clicking in when they are bored at home, work or in a queue) and which Buzzfeed monetises solely through social content marketing.

This was a great quote used by the author of The Drum article, Peter Houston, from Bo Sacks of 70s magazine High Times: “Digital… print… the substrate is irrelevant. It’s all about reading.”

I would add being engaged and entertained. The consumer these days has so many other things vying for their attention, that it is not enough to just be good. You have to entertain, engage, create an emotional reaction, provide a feedback loop and build loyal brand fans. Things that marketers and creatives know how to do better than most traditional media folk.

Future media models were envisaged by the Digital Innovators Summit, as follows:

  • Native content is something we hear a lot of in South Africa, but mainly from the digital and advertising agencies, not publishers, which are losing a slice of major advertising revenue as a result.
  • Include the “social dynamic”. Stories need to be told differently for the different social networks, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and Vine, for example.
  • Reimagine news from a mobile perspective and learn to tell it differently. My Twitter feed scrolled so fast these past few weeks with the same tweets from the #Oscartrail from different media and journalists, that I could hardly keep up. It was disruptive and extremely repetitive. There has to be a different way. The worst is when people try to “serialise” their tweets with ‘Parts 1 – 10 when they are trying to make a point. Just like we don’t translate radio content for TV, too many are still trying to write for social media and mobile applications like they do for print. Déjà vu anyone? We made the same mistakes in the early days of online media!
  • The banner ad is dead (long live the banner ad!), and magazine publishers were told to look to new sources of revenue from “native and programmatic advertising”. Reporter Peter Houston from TheDrum.com explained in his article that “prescriptions for successful native included quality content, clear labelling and strong social integration”; and programmatic advertising was described as “an opportunity to exploit booking efficiencies to free up time for cross-selling and creative consultation with commercial partners”.
  • And this is where we get to the part where publishers were told to act more like marketing agencies. That makes sense, because many agencies have been acting as publishers recently with the increasing use of branded and native content. For more on native content and recent international trends, here’s an indepth article from Forbes last month .
  • Then there were partnerships for content distribution and ecommerce deals for readers, such as in the travel and leisure markets makes sense and many of our local publishers are being very successful with commercial brand extensions, travel tours and fashion websites, etc.
  • And here’s a very interesting one: publishers have been urged to invest in technology startups to bring talent and opportunities into legacy publishing businesses – something we have seen a couple of our big local media houses do with some success.

The advertising industry has learnt the hard way and in many ways is ahead of publishers in reimagining new ways to reach consumers with innovative content marketing across the different media spectrums that vie for the consumers’ attention. Publishers would do well to keep an eye on the agencies and brands which have long been predicted to become their own branded media platforms.

Source: This column by TRENDAFRiCA Publishing Editor, Louise Marsland, was originally published on Bizcommunity.com on 11 April 2014.


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