Lessons from Digital Disruption to Enterprise Content Creators
What took Encyclopedia Britannica nearly two centuries to build up was defeated by digital businesses in just a few years simply because Britannica’s executives failed to understand what their audience was really buying and reading. The transition to digital in news, media, and commerce drove companies to adopt novel technology solutions, and rethink the ways of doing business to reach the end customer. This article will shed light on what enterprise content creators can learn from today’s digital media disruptions.
Robot vs Human Wordsmiths
Google is investing $805,000 in a UK-based news agency, called The Press Association to build software to automate the writing of 30,000 local stories a month. Given that Gartner estimated 20% of business content will be authored by machines by 2018, this news begs the question: “Will artificial intelligence take over content creators?” While Press Association Editor-in-Chief Peter Clifton billed the deal a “genuine game-changer,” he also emphasized that the partnership will focus on stories that might not otherwise be written up as local newspapers continue to die off in this massive fourth-estate extinction. Additionally, the Association stressed that human intervention will still remain in the process as The Press Association will fund five human journalists that will be tasked with building templates, identifying stories, and editing content.
This funding will go to the project called RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots) and the purpose of which is to produce 30,000 local news stories each month from open datasets which will be identified by human reporters. The system will populate the templates that human reporters have created with actual news stories through Natural Language Generation (NLG) software. It is expected to be able to auto-generate video and graphics to add to news stories as well.
From an optimistic perspective, just because algorithms are able to scout the web for information, compile it, and produce a full-length article doesn’t mean personal experience, sense of humor, critical thinking, creativity, a wealth of knowledge, and other components of humanity will lose their value. That being said, this type of technology can help content creators ensure their content meets the most critical SEO rules and save time for writers when it comes to researching the facts and analyzing the topics that resonate with their audiences. In fact, an analyst Greg Maczka commented on the impact of AI on the future of research: “AI will have a much greater impact on actual, real-life analysis which will eliminate the need to set up elaborate and unrealistic testing situations in the first place. And that'll be the future of market research.” Therefore, enterprises should consider the ways that they could incorporate the benefits of the technology into their content marketing strategies.
The Wall Street Journal Shutters Eight Blogs: Is Blogging Dying?
The topics of those eight blogs ranged from legal news to the Chinese economy to arts, culture, and entertainment. The reason behind this closure is not the topics, though, as the shift is happening in the presentation and the distribution of the content. A total of eight verticals have been shuttered as part of the WSJ 2020 project, a series of internal digital transformation action plans. In that scope, the giant media outlet also shut down its first mobile-only standalone product What’s News digest app which had a swipe-heavy design with a select 10 news stories at a time in quick summary form with custom headlines. Instead, the paper is planning to rebuild its main app in more flexible ways to indicate story hierarchy and package stories in the app.
The Journal is not the only paper that experiments with new platforms and content consumption styles to find the most effective and efficient way to engage its audience. The New York Times also shut down it’s the City Room blog “If it were 100 years ago, this would have lasted for 50 years, but the way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter,” New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson said at the time. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an important bridge, but it’s a different industry than it was when City Room launched. It’s truly the post-blog era, and I barely had time to get into the blog era.” The New York Times also closed its couple of standalone apps after only a few months of operation.
The moral of this story, from an enterprise perspective, is not that blogging is dying but forms of content people consume and channels of distribution keep changing. Especially with the explosion of channels, today, enterprises have no other choice than becoming data-driven and embracing cognitive computing to drive meaningful actionable recommendations from their customer data and make educated decisions on the state of their audiences’ content consuming behaviors.
Fox Sports Invests More in Online Video
In late June, 21st Century Fox Inc.’s sports department, Fox Sports announced that it would eliminate about 20 writing and editing positions and replace them with a similar number of jobs in video production, editing and promotion.
“Creating compelling sports video content is what we do best at FOX Sports,” Jamie Horowitz, who oversees the Fox Sports cable networks and online operations, wrote in the memo. “We will be shifting our resources and business model away from written content and instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video across all platforms.” He also added: “Gone are the days of uploading content to a hub and hoping an audience seeks it out,” Horowitz wrote. “We will be taking a proactive approach to distributing our content to sports fans on their preferred platforms.”
According to data from eMarketer, U.S. adults watched 67 minutes of online video a day in 2016, whereas they watched just three minutes of online video a day in 2009. Additionally, Vice Media Inc. and BuzzFeed Inc. have raised millions from investors at valuations surpassing $1 billion due to their potential in video. MTV News has also followed suit as it announced that they would shift from the long form editorial work, which the media company has been promoting in the past two years, to short-form video content as they believe it is more in line with young people’s media consumption habits. On a related note, a HubSpot research unveiled the breakdown of what people pay the most attention to versus only skimming for information. The breakdown illustrated that 55% of respondents stated that they pay close attention to video content.
When it comes to the future of video content, eMarketer, for instance, expects US digital video ad spending will see double-digit growth annually through 2020. Research firm Advertiser Perceptions found that 72 percent of marketers planned to invest in those digital video ad dollars with YouTube in the next 12 months. Since less competition is established for video content than a text article, an SEO-friendly video on YouTube is 52 times more likely to show up in one of the Google search result pages. More importantly, a study by eyeviewdigital.com shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80 percent.
For enterprises, video content does not only increase customer engagement but also employee engagement. In fact, Kaltura’s third annual State of Enterprise Video report revealed that over 90 percent of respondents saw at least some value in the use of video in nearly every one of the listed organizational goals. More than half considered video very valuable for four of the goals: improving communications, training employees better/faster, connecting geographically dispersed employees, and enhancing product marketing and brand awareness.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching and engaging your audience. Even a current strategy that seems to work today may stop working tomorrow in this ever-evolving digital era. Therefore, enterprises should never settle for any content strategy, conversely, they should develop a culture of frequent experimentation. As William Blake puts it, “the true method of knowledge is an experiment.” If you wait until your marketing campaign is perfect for running, you will unfortunately never find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If you wonder what makes video content compelling, for instance, look no further than the authenticity it provides. The only thing you should never compromise on though is the narrative quality of a story in your video. Whether it is shifting to video content or experimenting different channels of content distribution, the main point, here, is that companies always should be on the lookout for adopting the new trends that resonate with their audience to stay on the top of their game.
Enterprises should first, truly understand what kind of message resonates with their audience, then which channels and devices they are spending their time on, from there, how they can integrate their message with those channels to deliver the most seamless and relevant experience, and finally how they can optimize those experiences for each consumer. And, repeat this cycle over and over again whenever they detect any change in their consumer behavior.