A recent article on the Media Briefing quotes chief digital officer Alceo Rapagna of Italy’s RCS Media Group, who states that traditional sources of revenue are still shrinking and likely to continue to dwindle. RCS Media Group is already diversified into TV, newspapers, magazines and book publishing, yet this is still not considered sufficient to safeguard the group’s future.
For me a great counter-point is the growth of alternative media services such a Vice, Newsy, Buzzfeed and even Yahoo’s twice daily ’News Digest’ app. The ongoing international success of Buzzfeed certainly should not be ignored. Publishers are having to think increasingly smarter, not only in how they create / source their content, but really how it is contextualised, packaged and delivered. Social Media sharing is proving to be increasingly important, and the high number of shares Buzzfeed continues to get is causing consternation for most mainstream media owners.
YouTube is still a runaway video media success, and even though many don’t consider its core mechanic, most of the high volume traffic is largely down to crowd-sourced content. I have always advocated the view that self-fuelling crowd-sourced media outlets were the future of much of publishing. Think of fanzines which are almost entirely populated by their membership. There is still a need for some degree of editorial control - in how best to organise, package, display and deliver said content, but far less needs to be actually originated in-house as such. If you want to continually keep things fresh and interesting, it’s as well that you tap into what’s happening organically and virally.
Buzzfeed and Daily Mail have shown just how international an appeal content can have - on my Facebook feed, I get the same articles being shared and liked again-and-again over a period of several years, translated and transmogrified across different mediums and re-shared, re-distributed and liked and promoted all over again.
The digital / mobile world is a truly international medium, I have friends in all continents, and follow them, as well as all manner of artists, celebrities and opinion-leaders across languages, international boundaries and time-zones. I have long protested the ridiculousness of staggered releases of media - whether digital or printed formats. The whole world is already actively wired and everyone knows when something new is released into the world, seeing the legend ’This is not available in your region’ will always be the main incitement to digital piracy.
A few years ago ’Curation’ became a critical talking point, in fact curation will be a leading battleground for the fight for supremacy between the soon to be launched iTunes Streaming service and global leader Spotify. In many ways we often have the same news stories fighting for eyeballs - it then becomes a question of ’original take’ or ’editorial voice’, but then also how it is curated, what other news and utilites are featured alongside, which complementary features and photographs / media resources, how is it all packaged then, and what are the delivery mechanisms. How easy is it for users to engage and interact with the content - how easy to share and save for later reading or clipboard / export into another collaborative resource.
I was expecting Clickbaiting to have blown over by now to some degree, but people are still fascinated to find out which TV show character they are most like etc. Topicality, currency and cultural relevance will always be key factors in the proliferation of media, but format and packaging seems to be playing an increasingly important role. If we look at how Buzzfeed is taking over mainstream media, how YouTube and Netflix control Video, Spotify and iTunes control Music etc. - it is increasingly the delivery outlets that are becoming more important.
As for Internationalisation, it is simply totally naive to think that you could be ’safe’ within your own domestic marketplace. The beauty and curse of digital mediums is that they are pervasive and quick to proliferate. Business today is all about capitalising on opportunities, if a business grows into a successful national franchise, the very next step is consideration of overseas markets and expansion. If a UK company hits upon a successful format it will have dozens of domestic competitors within a few months, and hundreds of international competitors within the year.
You have to assume that competitors will come at you from every direction - with a cheaper operation based in India, or a more luxury-oriented entirely domestic base or some other slight competitive advantage. In all of this branding then starts to become more important - how well you stand out and how strongly you appeal to your intended customers.
I still believe a full-service vertical membership approach is a strong angle - and getting the membership more involved in setting the agenda and sourcing the content. You need to be thinking about membership benefits and services, and how these can be applied internationally - a little bit like the Soho House Group operates ...