5 Opportunities That Are Transforming Digital Media As We Know It

Ask anyone who has been around the media block more than once, and they’ll tell you that the industry has changed drastically, both in the way media properties and marketers communicate with their users and in the sheer volume of content out there. People are accessing information from multiple devices, commenting and sharing with their social networks and quickly flitting from one source to another, with barely a breath in between. While there are certainly challenges to the new media environment, we think this is also an exciting and rewarding time to be in the content marketing and publishing businesses.

As we see it, there are five key areas of opportunity in media that you can leverage for customer and profit growth:

Opportunity 1Engagement

Before digital was king and social media became a force to be reckoned with, media companies pretty much knew the score: You’d push out content to your readers and hope, with your fingers crossed, that it had an impact. Some readers might write letters to the editor, but that was about the only way they had to interact. These days, your audience is talking back frequently, on multiple channels.

Why is engagement so important?  You can tell a lot about your readership, or customer base, by looking at which content went viral – be it a blog post or a YouTube video – or generated the highest number of comments,  or which particular content helped you acquire new users. By studying the data carefully, you can optimize your content strategy. Increased engagement gives you the opportunity to refine strategies through testing, allowing you to  optimize content and acquisition strategies based on the results.

Opportunity 2 – Access

Publishers and marketers used to have only  a few basic touch points with their audience. But today’s reader is always “on” and always addressable, using at least three devices, on average, and accessing content many times throughout the day from multiple locations. Plus, each time a reader checks in, she gives you valuable data about her habits and preferences, providing your with the opportunity to customize delivery times. Pay close attention to these cues; you don’t want to be the virtual equivalent of a party crasher, arriving when you’re least welcome.

Opportunity 3 – Knowledge

Old media companies had only broad demographic data to rely on about their readership: you didn’t know much more than addresses and reported household income. Today you can gather a wealth of personal data about your users’ preferences, interests and behavior and use that information to optimize content and personalize delivery. Such knowledge adds new value to the vast assets of your content library, allowing you to surface deeply archived content with appeal to a particular niche, or even to individual customers. Say you’ve got a subset of users who regularly click on articles about solar energy and sustainability. It’s no sweat to push them links to all the articles and videos on the subject, without alienating your users who’d rather access gluten-free cake recipes.

Opportunity 4 – Channels

One minute your users are engaging with your brand on your mobile app. The next they’re clicking on a link in your email or sharing information on your latest post on their social media accounts.  Your users interact with your content on more channels than ever before, so you must be everywhere they are. But it’s also important to prioritize your communications, making the best use of each channel based on your users’ personal preferences, behavior and expectations. If she’s only consuming YouTube videos, it won’t help to send her audio podcasts or long articles. If he’s exclusively engaging on mobile, the push notifications you send him should be relevant.

Opportunity 5 – Revenue Streams

Today’s savvy publishers and content marketers understand the value of each channel as a revenue generator and they realize that they can diversify those sources of income. They’re using branded content, native advertising, and retail partnerships to boost their bottom lines. Take BuzzFeed’s sponsored content from L’Oréal: A September 2014 post dubbed “11 Vintage Hairstyles Anyone Can Pull Off,” complete with tutorials and illustrations, includes a Love it? Buy it! button that takes customers directly to L’Oréal’s retail site to purchase the products used to create the hairdos.

BuzzFeed can directly measure the impact of the article based on conversions. “From an engagement and sharing perspective, beauty tends to do very well,” BuzzFeed Chief Revenue Officer Andy Wiedlin told The Wall Street Journal. He said “how to” and “do it yourself” posts tend to get shared at a higher rate than other pieces of branded content.  ”If you look at ecommerce consumption, health and beauty are a popular category.”

And new possibilities are hitting the news all the time. Take the recent news for example: Giants like YouTube launched a “click to shop” button program; Instagram unveiled its new advertising package also including click to shop and Facebook targeting; and Condé Nast announced they are introducing a new ecommerce venture.

The bottom line is that the industry is going to continue redefining what revenue means beyond pageviews and ad units – and it’s going to look different for every media company.

With all of these opportunities at hand, the outlook for today’s publishers and media brands looks incredibly bright. I can’t wait to see what’s next. What other opportunities for media brands do you see in the market today?

Marielle Hanke, Senior Manager of Analytics and Optimization

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