Last week I was lucky enough to have spent a couple of days at the Digital Innovators’ Summit held in Berlin, Germany. It is an event that brings together representatives of many of the leading magazine, news and website publishers from across the globe to discuss how their industry is changing. Each year too a series of themes emerge which, if previous years are anything to go by, have shaped the way that the media industry has developed in the following 12 months. So here, gleaned from key speakers at the event, are five key trends.
Journalism is back
One very clear message that came from numerous speakers was that real journalism has returned. The ever-shifting political landscape in the US and Europe has ignited a real desire for quality journalism. Crucially it appears that advertisers are willing to invest to be associated with premium publishers and consumers are once again inclined to pay for high-quality journalism. Publishers are also seeing increased engagement and the number of subscriptions to quality news providers, from The New York Times to The Guardian and Quartz, has grown significantly. Ironically Trump and Brexit’s legacy could be a return to old-fashioned journalistic values.
Chatbots are poised to change the media landscape
Chatbots will be the future of interactions between consumers and brands, argued Laurie Benson, CEO of Upnext at DIS 2017. “As things evolve, bots are now doing everything, from distributing media to delivering services,” she explained in a presentation. “This will transform how business and consumers will interact. You no longer have to search, you just ask.” There are already some very interesting high-profile examples of media brands using chatbots, the best of which is arguably Quartz and its mobile app. It will also be interesting to see how this type of conversational interface driven technology impacts on the media world too. There is endless potential for interactive chatbots in long-form content.
Voice is the next major disruption in publishing
“Voice is everywhere. It can give you an immediacy that your hand does not provide.” It perhaps wasn’t to surprising to hear those words from Max Amordeluso, EU Head of Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) at Amazon – the makers of the Echo voice-activated speaker system. However, many other speakers at DIS 2017 referenced voice, citing in particular the impact it could have on the SEO industry. It isn’t just Amazon either. Google Home was announced in the UK this week and there are many other potential uses for voice-activated technology on content too.
Consumers have app fatigue – but Progressive Web Apps are a potential solution
Are consumers getting tired of downloading apps? It seems that way. And the apps that are downloaded are rarely used unless they are high-profile service apps like Uber and Slack. So what should publishers do? One potential solution that John Wilpers highlighted at DIS 2017 are Progressive Web Apps. Unlike native apps, PWAs are responsive, web-based apps that are cheap to build, safe, and fast. They work just as well online as off and are indexable by search engines, which makes them discoverable. Wilpers highlighted the success of apps by the FT and Washington Post and suggested that the type of apps that they have patented are going to be copied by other media companies.
Publishers are starting to seriously tackle fake news
After a period of collectively throwing their hands up in the air, it seems that the publishing industry is gearing up to to challenge fake news. At DIS 2017 As Jenni Sargent MD of First Draft News stressed how “trust in media is a major issue” and exhorted media companies to do all they can to check news stories. Sargent is leading a push from mainstream media companies to check and check stories again.