The digital disruption: What next for media?
By Raymond Mwangi
Disruption is a word that nowadays carries little meaning. Disruptive technologies and innovations seem to happen every other day. In some instances, however, disruption is the only way to describe a revolution that essentially forces an entire industry to halt and turn to a completely different direction, born anew or withered in the process. A good example in Kenya was the move from analogue to digital delivery channels that saw the need and influx of digital televisions.
Powerful innovations can completely change the face of future media.
Most of us have already experienced this shifting landscape, you probably don’t stop to think about it often, but technology has dramatically changed the way people access information. At one time, families gathered around the TV to watch shows together, and before that, they gathered around radios and told stories around the fireplace. But one of the biggest changes to information consumption has come in the way that people get their news.
There is no denying that the news and media industries have changed irrevocably over the past few decades. Before the rapid advance of 24-hour news cycles, for instance, newspapers were the main source of information along with a detailed showcase during the evening.
The Internet changed media in even more obvious and direct ways. Everything from deliverance to consumption of media is now somehow involved with online technologies and activities. Millions of viewers have already completely moved on to the internet instead of turning on the TV each morning. This shift has only progressed in the years since, with live TV’s audience continuing to shrink.
“Traditional TV news may not exist in 15 years’ time, but media audiences will continue to crave real stories,” says James P. Mahon, a news reporter at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s WDEF News 12. “It’ll probably be on a cross-platform basis, with bitesize stories, in a visual and engaging manner in real time. Our transition to Periscope and Ustream shows how news is not relevant to an audience at 6 p.m. when it happens at 2 p.m. They want their Twitter and Facebook feeds fed. And why shouldn’t they? Millennials are on their phones hours a day. Many choose to buy Wi-Fi packages and not cable.”
Changing Newsroom Tools
As much as consumers have changed the tools they use to get information, newsrooms have changed the tools they use to present the news and gather it. Facebook and Twitter have become heavily ingrained in the process. Most media stations know very well that it is crucial to be a heavy hitter on social media. Stations have also jumped onto increasingly popular live streaming apps, which they use to disseminate information to the often-younger demographic that heavily populates those services.
Content delivery has also undoubtedly changed
Companies like Netflix, Hulu and Roku have shown that providing users with unique and exclusive content is one of the best ways to ensure consumer loyalty and a thriving business. The shift is moving towards a future where generalized content will be restricted to specific things only and content delivery will be accomplished in a much smaller scale, where audiences will be provided with niche content of what they want, when they want it. The ability to pay extra minimal fees to filter adverts especially for cable television users also shows a big shift in the way audiences are consuming news
Similarly, companies like Snapchat have showcased the modern person’s need to consume ethereal and authentic content, in large part due to an intense need not to miss out. When even something as simple as making news stories and pictures time-limited can result into such extraordinary innovations in content delivery, the future of tech and media is exhilarating.
Other technologies such as Facebook 360 and YouTube 360 allow millions of consumers daily to experience and interact with content from afar with very natural, immersive human experiences through their phone cameras with streaming technology, that traditional media just can’t compete with.
Nil Alony- CEO and Founder of The Awesome Daily, a successful media company reaching millions of people around the world noted that “Being able to instantly reach an unprecedented number of people and deliver relevant and engaging content has completely changed the media landscape and has allowed us to constantly innovate in the field with new and exciting content.”
The popularity for personalized news is becoming more prevalent, especially among the millennials, meaning news outlets must find new ways to deliver content specific to each visitor’s personal interests. Technology is giving businesses the ability to learn about website visitors and deliver information specifically targeted to each person’s interaction with a site. This has made it more difficult for information to be delivered in a one-size-fits-all format.
On the downside, the breadth and range of content on offer is also one of the biggest challenges faced by both publications and consumers today. Providing people with an array of perhaps too many choices leads to the “deer in headlights” phenomenon, among others, leading people to stick only with what they already know instead of exploring further
The Business Connection
It is right to observed that most businesses now fear being “Uber-ed” from taxi drivers to television networks, from film makers to restaurants and banks, the ways in which technology is metamorphosing in business is so quickly that many companies find it hard to keep pace.
Businesses have to learn from the change in consumer information consumption. With online marketing now exploding in use, businesses must be strategic in the way they reach out to consumers, ensuring their efforts are as effective as possible. Just as the internet has broadened the reach of local news outlets, it has widened the audience for businesses of all types.
All in all, if there is one thing to remember is that tech disruptions in media are not a stationary fact but an ever-changing and evolving landscape of experiments and innovations. The Internet, for instance, changed media forever and is constantly influencing our daily lives and it had permeated pretty much every other industry in the world. As such, it is vital to understand that predicting future media is plausible but nearly impossible even as a mere thought experiment. The truth is, the only thing we can say for certain is that technology will have an influence over future media. So are you prepared?