Ask anyone who has been around the digital media block more than once, and they’ll tell you: The industry has changed drastically. People access information from multiple devices, comment and share with their social networks, 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:

Digital Media Opportunity 1: Engagement

Gone are the days when media companies would push out content and cross their fingers that it had an impact. Some readers may have written letters to the editor, but that was about the only way they had to interact.

In the digital age, people are just as likely to receive your content via email as they are snail mail. You can tell a lot about your readership, or customer base, by looking at which content resonates. What drives the most opens and clicks? Studying that 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. “Cooking” and “Watching” are two areas of The New York Times with particularly high engagement. As a result, this advice-driven content factored heavily in the newspaper of record’s digital revenue plans.

Digital Media Opportunity 2: Knowledge

Old media companies had only broad demographic data to rely on about their readership. They 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. 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.

Digital Media Opportunity 3: 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, accessing content many times throughout the day from multiple locations.

Plus, each time a reader checks in, they give you valuable data about their 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. Personalizing send time was one factor in The National Review increasing its email clickthrough rate by 142%.

 

Digital Media 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.

Modern media brands should prioritize your communications, making the best use of each channel based on users’ preferences, behavior and expectations. If someone only consumes YouTube videos, it won’t help to send her audio podcasts or long articles. If they exclusively engage on mobile, the push notifications you send should be relevant.

 

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.