Media industry evolving rapidly in the new normal era

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 00:00 |

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Thomas Bundi     

Following Covid-19 disruptions in 2020, the media and creative industries are evolving rapidly, as players strive to seek resilience amid social distanced workplaces, economic losses and changing consumer patterns. 

The adoption of digital technologies such as virtual meetings and online product offerings, are examples of an industry continuing to adjust to the new normal.

In a recent survey published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism titled Journalism, Media and Technology Trends 2021,  76 per cent of media industry respondents stated that the pandemic accelerated their plans for digital transition and transformed business plans to include more remote working.

With digital subscription now considered the most important revenue stream ahead of advertising, consumers will see more requests to sign up or pay before consuming content on online platforms.

Media companies are also experimenting with non-core businesses with the likes of US based BuzzFeed creating a range of branded cooking products, hoping to cash in on the e-shopping boom.

Other outlets are exploiting affiliate advertising revenue, through content, aimed at influencing consumers to buy third party products.

However, the survey further reveals that because of the cost associated with launching new products, media companies are more likely to improve on existing brands through better user experience and design. 

Widen the gap

Publishers also believe that Artificial Intelligence Technologies remain key to driving innovation in the media industries.

Already, this is being used to drive content recommendations to consumers.

However, many worry that this technology will widen the gap between big media companies and smaller or independent players.

The arrival of 5G technology makes it possible to connect more devices at the same time, enabling faster data transfers and better video display. 

This will inspire applications such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and high definition mobile video reporting.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, 5G enabled smart phones are expected to reach 600 million in 2021.

The continued domination of major media platforms, will continue this year with demands by news outlets to payment for content with the Facebook News tab already launched in the United States last year.

The service is projected to launch in parts of Europe, Asia and South America in 2021.

Google has also announced plans to pay news publishers for licensed content.

The relationship between politics, regulation and the media will also feature prominently this year, with governments trying to legislate media activity online and media organisations advocating for self-regulation.

At the moment, all the major social networks have banned US President Donald Trump following violations to policy.

Amazon hosting services, Google and Apple app stores have banned un-moderated US social media platform Parler for ‘lack of moderation’ in controlling mainly conservative Trump supporters.

In Africa, Facebook has banned accounts linked to Uganda’s Ministry of Information for using fake accounts to promote the ruling party ahead of the General Election.

In retaliation, President Yoweri Museveni has banned Facebook and other social media.

Overall, the influence of technology will continue to be a major influencer in the way media publishers relate to businesses and consumers.

Covid-19 pandemic has just accelerated the adoption and adaptation process. — The writer is Screen Media Producer

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