Tahaab Rais analyses news and lists out ways for it to be more meaningful for consumers and to exist as a medium of information.
Water. It’s essential for us. It is also resilient. And, because of that resilience, it is adaptable. It shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, adapting itself to its changing circumstances. Information. Like water, information is essential. In a world where we’re seeing exponential growth of technology around us, with evolving and emerging ways in which people are choosing to receive information — news — needs to shape itself to this constantly evolving world and be more meaningful in it.
This need to is particularly important in a time when the news isn’t trusted. With the death knell being sounded for many print news publications (in particular), with TV news under threat too as a generation grows up not having looked at TV news, in order to survive and thrive, news brands need to look at what will be consumed by the masses tomorrow and activate it today. As Bob Dylan said, “…you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin’.
News content gets shorter and interactive
Making it easy for people to consume news while on-the-go while making breakfast, while in a meeting while watching their favourite show — the ways in which they usually consume content — is going to be key. And there are steps being taken in that direction. For instance, last year, NBC News launched the first daily news show on Snapchat. Called “Stay Tuned,” it appeared on Snapchat’s Discover platform and covered national and international news, politics, pop culture, and more.
Now, in today’s day and age of social media beating news channels to the news, as news becomes new and instant, it also becomes instantly old, because everything new is technically available to everyone. And there’s a lot of talk around how the news itself becomes a shared experience, not a revelation or a breaking story. If the news is instantly shared, then the journalists’ role becomes crucial in making it interactive.
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Journalists shift from writing and reporting to content creation
Journalism, in today’s world of instant news, is no longer about simply sharing the facts, but about triggering a reaction and conversations. Imagine making the news content in emerging and evolving formats, interactive experience with viewers. Imagine the resulting engagement. Think about how Twitter, Facebook Live, and Twitch once made the live-streaming video engaging by allowing viewers to comment and react in real-time. Expect the same from the news.
Additionally, AI holds great potential for journalists too. AI-powered content solutions will be a valuable sidekick to journalists, willing to collaborate with machines. AI could help journalists assimilate and decipher data from a vaster number of sources than ever before, faster than ever before and with more details than ever before. In a world of fake news, fake images and fake videos, these solutions could also be constructed and designed to check for facts and detect any malpractice or manipulation with the content too.
Smart speakers become the new news reporters
Voice is the next big thing. We prefer voice notes over messages. We prefer asking Alexa or Siri than typing. We prefer listening than reading. Amazon Echo is enabling people to interact verbally, search for content, listen to anything they want, especially entertainment, and helping them shop, through voice.
Beyond engaging formats and AI-powered journalists, voice-powered AI is the next big leap for the news industry. And people will be ready for it, with the 1% already using it.
Last year, BuzzFeed launched ‘Reporting to You” — a morning news briefing, designed for smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, meant to give users a 4-5-minute overview of the most important news delivered by reporters, with topics ranging from pop culture to politics. With new information, increasingly, also going onto audio, and people publishing more podcasts than blogs, each morning news briefing of “Reporting to You” is also shared on podcast steams such as Apple Podcasts. Imagine these new news reporters right next to people. Or as wearables come into play, right on people.
Augmented Reality creates augmented news experiences in the real world
With AR merging worlds together, and AR sales expecting unprecedented returns, news brands have an opportunity! Think about Pokémon GO and how much engagement it generated by merging two worlds. It overlaid content from the digital world into the real world integrating storytelling elements into people’s environments.
Now, imagine that for news. And imagine that every day. Think about how news platforms can benefit through tapping into locally relevant and contextual narratives, targeted to people based on their locations in their communities and their cities.
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The discovery and the rise of new revenue streams
Given these evolutionary changes, publishers have to decide how their content will be presented to people and how it can be monetized. Truth is that people’s content consumption habits have changed. Netflix and Spotify, globally, have disrupted the TV and music industries, as people choose to pay for content that they value. There’s an opportunity for news to do the same. Premium magazines and newspapers are doing this already; selling premium coverage for topics such as luxury and sports, for people who can no longer find it in their dailies.
E-commerce is another area. Globally, news platforms have dabbled with this by going into areas such as sports betting, where it’s legal because it’s a natural fit when it comes to sports content. Ticketing is another. Fashion can be another. Movies and music can be another. These are all new revenue streams but ones that have a profitable future.
We’re fortunate to have witnessed the world of television, print and the world of tomorrow. Here’s to these next big leaps.
This article has been authored by Tahaab Rais, Regional Head of Strategy & Truth Central, FP7 McCann Worldgroup MENAT.