2016 looks to be another year where the only constant in the media industry is even more, radical, unpredictable change.
This makes looking ahead pretty difficult! And not that things are changing in media, it’s WHEN things will change. It might have been obvious when users were all switching to mobile, but few providers were ready for the almost overnight switch of the consumer web that took place in early 2015. And while I highlighted customer data as the trend of the year in 2015 its full impact is just getting started.
So what’s going to happen next? Here are 6 trends I think media organizations should be ready for in the coming year, which I divided out in Macro and Micro Trends.
Top 3 Media Macro Trends
- Data-Driven Publishing Media. A couple of years ago Dr. Sven Fund, then CEO of De Gruyter and now Managing Director at fullstopp, published a great paper called Integrated Publishing that outlined a data-driven strategy for publishing. Looking at the many challenges in the industry, he outlined a new approach using data across all the stages of publishing – from publishing to products to sales and customers. It’s a comprehensive plan that a couple of organizations on the information side of the business have already picked up. But now this strategy is poised to be a significant theme across all sectors – even in the entertainment industry where tracking and managing the data from creation to production to delivery will be one of the hottest and most important topics this year.
[NOTE: Dr. Fund’s paper, is only available in German. If you would like a translation or summary I can help but I would also recommend talking with Dr. Fund via fullstopp.com and also taking advantage of his new firm’s considerable capabilities in helping organizations execute on these strategies.]
- Context is King. The information delivery revolution is far from over. The first step in the digital transformation is to just get to digital. The result is often just a digital version of the previous product, an eBook instead of a book, a PDF instead of an article, all created with the same siloed processes. The next step is to break down those silos and create information that then can be delivered in any format. The step after that is to really understand the context of the user – who they are, what they are doing and even where are they doing it. Many organizations are still at step 1 or working on step 2. In 2016, the most successful organizations will be those that put the extra effort and priority to develop and create the context needed to get to step three.
- Customer data takes center stage. I’m going to wrap up the big picture with an easy prediction: My top theme for 2015, “Customers,” will again be the top theme for 2016! All the activity around data-centric publishing, i.e., creating context, tailoring the content to the location and connecting content with promotions, is based on knowing as much as you can about your customer. This trend had some great success in 2015 and will continue to be a critical strategy in 2016.
3 Media Micro Trends to Watch
- Mobile for Professional. Part of the drive to add context will be the continued consumer shift to mobile for the information products people use at work. This is more than just making the current products mobile ready, this is rethinking the way we deliver information and having the same kind of impact apps like Uber are having with consumers. We at MarkLogic are following this path; our new Mobile learning app tailors our courses to our developer community for better access on devices no matter what they are up to.
- Human Automation. Automation picks up steam — but people are part of the equation. Part of the big story around automation in every industry in 2015 was the Associated Press’ adoption of automated news generation. This is just one example of the maturity of information automation that will continue to have a big impact this year. However, these solutions are still at the early stages and human expertise is a critical part of the solution. That doesn’t mean holding back. From automated tagging of events to news generation, investing in the technology and the subject matter experts to be at the controls will enable this automation to be even more effective in 2016.
- Ads recaptured. Media organizations take back the advertising high ground. Just like the context of the user is critical to present information, it’s also a critical part of presenting promotional material that helps make the creation of the content possible. ALM Media pioneered this in 2015. I highly recommend that everyone watch this video addressing the new dynamics between advertisers, the audience and content creators. In 2016, online advertising will continue to be a battleground and content providers that leverage the unique position in both knowing their customer and their content will find there is still a lot of life in serving the right kinds of ads to the right audience.
At this start of 2016, I’m as excited as every about the media industry. No matter how this year pans out, it is sure to be another exciting year for all who engaged in the ever-changing and always surprising world of media!