How tech will affect your readers and your media business and what you should do

Revenue sources for media businesses RISJ

Digital technology is changing how people want to consume news and content, and how media businesses must evolve. Publishers will need to change how they package and present stories, how they attract attention, and how they generate new revenues.

The RISJ have made a number of predictions of trends for journalism and media, based on their research primarily among news organisations worldwide. You can download the full RISJ report here.

This is my interpretation of how these trends will affect more specialist media businesses and what you might need to do…

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Why B2B media brands need an events strategy

fleet news awards

While digital tech grabs the headlines, what with AI and VR and AR et al, one of the strongest growing revenue sources for media brands is low tech, face to face, in person events.

Over the last year I have had in depth conversations with several B2B leaders convinced that live events are a strategic part of their future, as part of a joint research project with Helen Coetzee of MPG.  This article explores why events work so well and how they can add value to your media business.

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Webinar: 10 Practical Strategies for the Future of B2B Media

 

This is the recording of a webinar I presented on Navigating the Future of B2B Media: 10 Practical Strategies, for InPublishing Magazine on 30 Jan 2018.  I consider the importance of events, data and intelligence products, customer insight, content marketing solutions, marketing automation and the digital talent gap.

Below is a summary of the Q&A session after the webinar, covering topics from paid subscriptions to the future of display advertising, artificial intelligence, social media, the future for print and the potential of virtual reality technologies for publishers.

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Navigating the future of B2B Media: 10 practical strategies

Business to business media is in a state of flux, with subscribers and advertisers’ own businesses changing fast thanks to technology and internationalisation. The organisations formerly known as B2B publishers are having to reinvent themselves as information services, networking facilitators, lead generators and marketing solutions consultants.

Where are the nuggets of future value in this more complex environment for B2B media? How should publishing leaders be evolving their brands?

Over this year I’ve been working with several B2B publishers on aspects of their digital strategy, and also interviewed ten B2B leaders as part of a research project for Merit Group. This article summarises my observations on how to create long term value in B2B media.

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Building communities at B2B events: learning from Web Summit 2017

Events are a growing part of B2B media portfolios, building brands and increasing revenues. A successful event, however, is about more than the speakers, sponsors and content: delegates are keen to use live events to expand their network and make new connections. So building a community in advance of the event is increasingly important. I’ve looked in depth at one event, Web Summit, which has always focussed on networking, and drawn out some ideas which could be applied to other B2B events.

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Ethical issues in tech: what it means for media businesses

artificial intelligence robot sophia

This article on ethical issues in tech is part of a series exploring key tech themes raised at the web summit and how they might affect media brands.  Read about all the themes here.

Technology has been evolving faster than our ability to develop ethical codes and regulation.  Social platforms and algorithms can be gamed for political ends.  Technology will destroy some jobs (including truck drivers and call centre agents) and create new roles, causing social disruption.  Large global tech corporations have enormous power and governments struggle to collect taxes and control monopolistic practices.  And as AI starts to surpass human intelligence, how can we ensure its power is not exercised to the detriment of human values?  But tech can also be used for good, to counter inequality and fight climate change.

So how should media brands react to these ethical issues?

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How digital is changing learning and work

digital changing learning

This article on how digital is changing learning and work is part of a series on major tech trends and the impact on media brands based on ideas from Web Summit.

Read about the other tech themes here.

How is digital changing learning and work? Rapidly changing job roles mean that school and university students must acquire different skills, with some calling for more “code literacy.” Those already working will need to accept the need for lifelong learning, using a mix of online tools and face to face. The proportion of freelance workers will grow, gaining flexibility in hours and location, and providing on-tap expert skills for larger organisations.

So what are the challenges and opportunities for media brands created by this new landscape of work and learning?

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How artificial intelligence could affect media brands

AI landscape

This article on how artificial intelligence could affect media brands is part of a series on key themes in new technology and their likely impact on media brands – from the Web Summit 2017.  Read about the other trends here.

Artificial intelligence was everywhere at Web Summit – from the high profile Chief Humanoid Sophia to the use of chatbots for customer service and machine learning to analyse mountains of data.  AI is also behind the real time natural language processing of Amazon’s Alexa, which could revolutionise how people search for answers to their problems.

So what are the main developments in AI and what are the implications for media brands?

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Building trust in media brands in the age of social and algorithms

Building trust in media brands

This article on building trust in media brands is part of a series exploring the key themes in new technology for media brands from the Web Summit 2017.  Read about all the themes here.

The furore over fake news on social media and its influence on political change has sharpened the focus on which media brands to trust.  Several high profile newspapers have built resources in investigative journalism (but bringing new digital tools to bear) to enhance their reputation for independence and accuracy.  The debate on the value of human curation versus algorithms is still fiercely raging.

So how can news media brands encourage a fickle online audience to trust their reporting?

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Planning for digital content promotion

Blue Planet promo clips

This article on digital content promotion is in a series exploring technology themes from Web Summit that are relevant to media brands.  Read about the other themes here.

Digital content is now increasingly discovered through social platforms and via influencers.  So media owners must work out their tactics for digital content promotion from the very earliest stages of planning new features, and become familiar with analysing data on how previously published content was discovered.   Content creators and media brands have to review their relationship with distribution platforms like Facebook.

So what can media brands learn from programme makers, influencers and digital publishers?

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New digital storytelling: video, VR and AR

This article about new digital storytelling with video, VR and AR is in a series exploring key themes in technology from the Web Summit in Lisbon and how they may impact on media brands. Read about the other themes here.

Video already drives engagement on mobile and social.  So media brands need to adapt to this form of story telling and engaging audiences. But the gaming and entertainment industry, in search of more immersive experiences, are already developing augmented reality (AR), volumetric video and virtual reality (VR). As mobile devices evolve to be capable of handling these forms of content, consumers will become used to these new visual experiences, and media owners will need to develop new ways to present content.

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New frontiers in tech: what media brands can learn from web summit

Web Summit Lisbon 2017

Technology is enhancing and disrupting every sector of business and society, in every part of the world. Like a benign virus, technology can worm its way into any value chain, find efficiencies and share information transparently, automate and simplify processes. Startups are endlessly seeking markets that might pay for new and better services.

Web Summit in Lisbon in November 2017 brought together 60,000 people working in tech businesses, from aspiring startups to large corporations, from marketers to developers, plus investors and policymakers. New products were showcased and ethical problems explored in hundreds of talks and panel sessions. Hundreds of startups hustled for investment and partnerships. The energy, ingenuity and ambition of the movers and shakers in the tech ecosystem was awe-inspiring.

Nobody can ignore the pace of technology change, and what may seem futuristic and far-fetched on stage here will be affecting consumers and businesses in a matter of years, or maybe months.

So what trends should media brands be monitoring? I have summarised six key themes to be aware of:

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10 strategic themes for the future of publishing from FIPP Congress

FIPP World Congress

What is the future of publishing and media brands?  Magazine media businesses from around the world gathered in London for FIPP Congress 9-11 October to share experiences and emerging business models, listen to tech innovations and navigate an increasingly complex world.

These are the top strategic themes I took away from the event.

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How to build a compelling premium intelligence product: 10 tips

premium intelligence product

“We need more repeatable revenues.” Practically every media owner I speak to is focussed on driving higher ticket, subscription propositions, as advertising continues to be volatile.

And most are exploring data-driven, digitally delivered intelligence products, sold into organisations that want multiple logins for their team.

But this is a very different discipline to providing industry news and comment and running events and conferences.

If you are contemplating building an intelligence product here’s what I have learned from speaking to dozens of leading media businesses who are developing premium subscription propositions.

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Sponsored content: how publishers can deliver value to advertisers

Sponsored content IA Schroder

Display advertising is declining, and advertisers are focussed on creating content.  So for media and publishing businesses to thrive, they need to collaborate with their ad clients to create and promote sponsored content.

How are clients marketing plans shifting in specialist markets, and how can publishers deliver greater value?

Based on recent conversations with niche publishers and their advertisers, here’s my summary of what clients are looking for and how publishers should respond.

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Why live events still matter for publishers

Festival of marketing gallery

When the world is connected and all content is digital, is there any point these days in publishers running live events, whether conferences, exhibitions or festivals?

Media is not the only sector to worry about the live vs digital experience.  Last week I met Shearer West, the newly appointed VC of Nottingham University, and she felt that higher education has also done some soul searching about the value of the lecture-based university experience.  But the HE sector has discovered that students still really value the inspiring, articulate, expert lecturer, and the chance to question and discuss in small groups; those in person experiences that digital learning can’t quite yet replicate.  And the sense of community created by living and studying with other students is just not possible when learning solo and remotely behind a screen.

So a sigh of relief for HE, and also for media businesses, especially in business sectors, who are seeing revenues from live events grow even while digital eats up their traditional print income.

In the last couple of months I have been interviewing senior B2B media execs for a report on events strategy.  You’ll have to wait till the Autumn for the full results, but it has made me reflect on the importance of live, in person occasions for a media brand…

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Building a valuable membership community

digital media experts

Most B2B media brands are now talking about “membership” rather than “subscriptions” – but what does this actually mean?  And more importantly, how can you create a meaningful membership proposition for your community?

The strategic intention is clear: if we can build greater affinity with our community then they are more likely to be loyal, and keep buying our content and attending our events, thus securing steady revenues in this uncertain world of advertising volatility.  And it does fit with the subtle shift for media businesses from being mostly about “products” to becoming more of a service to their community.

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10 reasons for UK publishers to attend FIPP World Congress

FIPP World Congress

I’m moderating the specialist theatre at the FIPP World Congress in London 9-11 October, and wanted to let you have a sneak peak at the agenda, which brings together the experiences of media businesses from around the world.

I have a special rate for my specialist publishing contacts to attend, saving significantly on the full rate – see details below….

The FIPP World Congress offers a rare chance for UK publishers to learn from media businesses from around the world sharing how they are tackling the challenges of digital technology and shifting audience behaviour, without travelling further than London.

With over 60 speakers in three theatres over two days in Tobacco Dock, London and 800 international delegates it’s a feast of ideas, inspiration and networking.

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How publishers are getting into conversation with chatbots and messaging

Quartz chat app

Messaging apps are taking over the mobile internet, with rapid growth outpacing established social networks. Users like to communicate within a closed group, and notifications pop up on the lock screen, which is now functioning as the “new inbox.” Brands are starting to use simple chatbots for customer service, and it seems people like the more informal chat style interface.

Publishers, especially in news, are already experimenting with chatbots and using messaging platforms for distribution. Whilst revenues are currently limited, this is a channel that warrants further exploration.

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Why audience data is key to digital subscriptions

Times uses popular content to build registrations

Even formerly sceptical publishers are now starting to consider developing stand alone paid online content, beyond the digital magazine replica bundled with a print subscription.

And the consistent message from those who are succeeding is that quality audience data and a real understanding of readers’ online behaviour are absolutely crucial to making subs marketing effective.

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