Why innovation is so last year’s media buzzword (or should be)

By Western iMedia

Western iMedia

Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA


Click for speaker notes
Click for speaker notes



INMA President Mark Challinor greeted a packed Shaw Theatre Monday morning, the first full day of the 86th-Annual INMA World Congress, sharing some wisdoms about this year’s Congress’s unique location.

He spoke on London’s rich media history and its affinity as a breeding ground for new initiatives trying to break the rules and rewrite the norm.

Leonard Brody spoke to delegates at the World Congress about the topic of his next book: The Great Re:Write.
Leonard Brody spoke to delegates at the World Congress about the topic of his next book: The Great Re:Write.

Leonard Brody, author of upcoming book, The Great Re:Write, broadened that effort to a world-sized scale. The entrepreneur has been in the media business his whole life, having helped build several companies in the past decade and a half. As the opening speaker, Brody shared with attendees where media is going next and where companies fit into the future of media.

Although Brody is a self-proclaimed “digital grandpa,” he’s embraced the changing tides of the industry’s constantly shifting seas. He compared this mass change in daily habit to the of an inverted pyramid.          

“All things that manage themselves from the top down cease to make sense anymore,” he said.

The fast changes we are currently experiencing can’t be called a revolution, Brody explained, because revolutions take decades to enact change. The inversion we’re experiencing now has happened with dramatic speed, and will continue to gain momentum.

“Five years ago, if I asked a cab driver how the Internet will affect you, they would say probably not much,” Brody said. “We’re in the business of putting people in cars and taking them places.”

Using Uber as an example, Brody elaborated by stating cab drivers worldwide would never have expected a service like Uber to sweep in and change the entire car rental ecosystem. It’s easy to attribute such drastic change to the ever-changing technology that is more and more available to the general public every day.

“Innovators today, wherever they live, have access to the same tools of innovation as people at large companies at no cost,” Brody said.

What that means in real time is that a technology services that cost US$46 million in 1999 could be purchased in 2015 for a mere US$3,500.

Pegging technology as the catalyst is taking the easy way out. Brody attributes the massive inversion to three things:

  1. Disruption.

  2. Behaviour.

  3. Capital markets.

We aren’t the same people we were 20 years ago because each person has two separate selves (physical and virtual), Brody said. 

He challenges companies to go parallel. Media companies should invest in their own side businesses and laterally self-destruct to change the scene to adapt to modern trends while keeping themselves afloat: “What are we banking on to be destructive in the way we use our capital?” 

The perfect example is how new Microsoft software successfully painted the first new Rembrandt since the artist’s death. Microsoft trained a computer to paint a Rembrandt undetectable by Microsoft’s fraud software. Microsoft hacked itself and began the destruction process.

To ensure companies are making the most of their abilities, Brody suggests they spend 10% to 20% (the latter for news media companies) of their resources, time, and energy building parallel organisations and destructing current business.

“Use parallel organisms to eat the parent,” he said. “Create side businesses whose goal it is to put the parent company out of business.”

Patrick Behar, partner at McKinsey & Company, shared key data points with INMA delegates.
Patrick Behar, partner at McKinsey & Company, shared key data points with INMA delegates.

Patrick Behar, McKinsey & Company partner, shared some ideas with the audience on how to win the media space by thinking bolder, broader, and staying domination minded.

He didn’t suggest companies buy themselves out or disrupt themselves, but rather defined points of departure from the norm to explore and discover what will lead to successes.

Changes such as an increase in modes of consumption, the multiplication of news sources, working in a much broader connected environment, and the need to fight against multiple battlefronts are forcing media companies to make bold business changes.

Despite such a bleak outlook and suggesting widespread industry change, Behar provided a list of avenues to explore that lead to success. He stressed making specific choices “where [companies] want to double down as opposed to spreading the peanut butter too thin.”

He advised INMA attendees to connect data and analytics to their media consumers and use that knowledge to better serve their audience. Moving the focus from clicks to clocks, companies need to pay more attention to how long viewers stay on pages rather than simply recording the number of page views.

“Taking insights from data and turning insights into very concrete actions,” he said. “Bring them closer to what you do with it.”

Behar stressed operating multiple business models and connecting to advertisers. Brand content has become a buzz phrase that opens new relationships with advertisers.

“As you guys know, when it comes to scripted content, the money you put is shown on the screen.”

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