Media business models are evolving in response to disruption, but there are ways news media companies can get ahead of the changing landscape, media leaders said during the first day of the South Asia News Media Summit on Thursday.
Rishad Tobaccowala, consultant, author, and former chief strategy officer at Publicis Groupe, raised the question of what a content company is now, and what it could look like in the future.
“In the United States, if you took the total number of people who watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the Oscars and you combine them, that’s less traffic than Kyle Jenner gets on her Instagram,” Tobaccowala said. “Who’s a media company?”
Tobaccowala discussed four drivers of change and how they affect media companies. One of those drivers, technology, is already in its third connected age.
“We entered the first connected age when human beings basically started to connect to shop and they connected to discover,” Tobaccowala said. “In the modern world, we call that search and e-commerce.”
The second connected age, he said, came in 2007 when we connected all the time and connected to everyone. We know these now as mobile and social.
“You know how much social media and search and mobile has impacted your businesses,” Tobaccowala said. “You ain't seen anything yet.”
Tobaccowala believes there will be an amazing reinvention of what the media landscape looks like in the next 1,000 days. That includes data writing software: “That’s how Netflix knows what TV show you want to watch before you know what TV show you want to watch.”
Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, president, international, at The New York Times, mirrored Tobaccowala’s sentiments and said news media companies must stop fearing technology.
“You need a full embrace of technology and everything that it offers,” Dunbar-Johnson said. “And understand that it’s a constant evolution. You have to always be in beta.”
An investment in journalism paired with the right tech and distribution strategy has allowed the Times to find many new routes to monetisation, including audio — such as the highly successful Daily podcast — and apps like the games and cooking apps.
“If you look at the intellectual property you own and generate, ask yourself, what can you monetise? The more you invest in high-quality journalism, today you can find interesting ways to monetise it,” Dunbar-Johnson said. “But none of this happens unless you have high-quality content.”