Adapting to a multi-platform world of content consumption
Guest post by M. Scott Havens, Vice President of Digital Strategy & Operations, Atlantic Media Company
When my 4-year-old son can slide open the welcome screen on my iPad, swipe the deck to locate and launch the Netflix app, find the latest episode of Diego, press play to stream the episode and adjust the volume midway through, I can safely say that the iPad is no longer an emerging trend for early adopters – I can boldly proclaim our way of life has been forever altered.
That sounds a bit dramatic, but for a device that made its debut less than 12 months ago, the iPad’s quick and powerful impact on content consumption can no longer be ignored by media companies. Nor can the appeal of a new, perhaps more monetizable distribution platform.
(There are of course, dozens of devices on numerous platforms in-market or coming to market in 2011, so it seems unfair to focus on one device. But the iPad unquestionably owns the tablet/app market and so we can safely use them as proxy.)
A watershed year for mobile
For The Atlantic– and many other magazine brands, I’m sure – 2010 was a watershed year for tablet, e-reader, and smart phone content consumption. The almost comical growth rates in content accessed through the various “connected” devices aren’t slowing down anytime soon, and the repercussions for media companies are significant.
To state the obvious, a key challenge for ROI-focused media companies testing and innovating on or near the digital “leading edge” is how to efficiently and profitably produce (and support) compelling products in a digital landscape that is constantly changing.
While it’s a fool’s game to predict the future of media or the date-certain demise of certain products or platforms, I feel confident making at least two predictions for 2011:
- Media companies will devote sizable amounts of time and thinking around restructuring organizations, improving the workflow efficiency, training our current staff, and creating new digital roles.
- Since media companies don’t have enough insight into how consumers are using and/or want to use these connected devices to consume content, we will launch research projects, define new metrics and KPIs, and invest in tracking technologies to get a much deeper understanding of consumer behavior that will drive more informed product and business decisions.
Arguably there once was a simpler time for magazine publishers, when we did not need worry about packaging content and advertising for numerous devices and platforms. Whether you agree or not, or whether you long for yesterday, one thing is apparent: The opportunity for magazine brands to reach a much wider global audience and develop new lines of revenue has never been greater.
And that is what makes media exciting today. We merely need to figure out how to navigate the treacherous and shifting currents without grounding the ship. Should be easy for us nimble media companies, right?
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