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What does digital investment really mean for media?

By Wayne Morgan


Norwich, United Kingdom


Like many of you, I am currently finalising plans — and the requirements to achieve those plans — for the coming year.

During this process, naturally, I have been talking a lot about people — our people, my colleagues — at Archant, whom, collectively, will deliver our plan for 2017.

I have also been talking to other publishers about the same thing: their focuses, approaches, and, of course, seeking opportunities.

Investment in digital requires actual engagement on behalf of those who pledge investment.
Investment in digital requires actual engagement on behalf of those who pledge investment.

But, in 2016, I am still shocked — actually, no I’m not, I’m baffled — at the lack of engagement from the majority of people who work within our industry.

I have heard it time and time again about digital transformation: We need to change, and digital has to be a bigger priority.

Why? We know why. Our industry is under some duress at the moment with regard to circulation and ad revenues due to the massive fragmentation of the markets we serve. Add to that our printed platforms are competing with an ever-increasing volume of solutions and competitors.

So, ever so naturally, we say, we need to transform.

I did sell print advertising prior to my current position, but I’ve been working in pure digital media for a little while now and I love it. My job is my hobby. I feel fortunate to have found it, and, quite frankly, it’s absolutely fascinating and bloody good fun.

I am personally “invested” in digital. I couldn’t get away from it if I tried. It’s who I am, not just what I do. The same goes for any interest: golfers, chefs, fitness fanatics, pilots, movie stars, and even gamblers. They are personally invested; it’s who they are.

I think you can see where I am going here: Digital transformation is not going to possible for everyone; they just don’t care enough. Sorry, that’s not fair at all. I retract that. They do care, greatly, but they are not personally invested in digital, therefore it’s not front of mind, in their DNA, a part of who they are.

Some of you reading this will know you are not personally invested in digital either, yet you will most certainly tell people you are. That’s not sustainable, is it?

Now, of course, my statement may somewhat annoy you, but that’s fine, because you won’t “out” yourself. And to the rest of you to whom this statement doesn’t apply, you’ll be nodding along with me in agreement. Is that a paradox?

The time is now. The opportunity with targeted display and content products is maturing. We are finally being regarded as genuinely trustworthy in a distrusting environment, and we do actually have more people invested in digital.

This year has been a good year at Archant for digital and digital transformation. I have more colleagues who I can “talk” to than I’ve ever had before, and we have been doing some really good things. Well, that is handy timing and not a coincidence.

Everyone has to get involved, though. Think back to your time at university or college. You would revise, revise, and revise again for your exam. Why? Because you believed, rightly, that working hard to better yourself would pay off for your career.

Why, then, when people start to work do they not do that? Why do they not put in the effort or go the extra mile for their own success? Is that another paradox? To be honest, I am not sure what a paradox is. Is that, in itself, another paradox? (Sorry.)

Invest is a good word. If you invest in a business venture or stock, you won’t get a return unless you actually put something in.

Same with digital knowledge: Those people who just say they are “digital” without having personally invested time and effort into it won’t get anything out of it. If they don’t, is it a good idea to wait and see what happens? Because we already know, nothing will happen.

For successful transformation, investing in people is still the answer, but they need to invest, too. Oh, and if this post does annoy you, have a word with yourself.

About Wayne Morgan

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