Exploiting opportunities in a disruptive media environment

This was the theme that John Cunningham, manager Woodwing, UK and Ireland took for his session in the tech area at FIPP London today.

He began by talking about his company Woodwing explaining that they had been operational since 2000, and are now are in 100 countries and power 900 customer sites. As well as key publishers, a lot of agencies and brands use the company’s services, including in the UK Warners Music and BSkyB.  The company is headquartered in The Netherlands, but also has offices in US and AsiaPac.

The company has technology is three keys areas. The first is Enterprise, its multi channel system which enables companies to publish on a number of platforms on the web through mobile, print and tablet.

A more recent introduction is Inception HTML, which takes articles and optimises them so they can be published on social platforms such as Apple News, Facebook’s Instant Articles, etc.

Then Woodwing also boasts Elvis – which is a digital management system that enables publishers to manage literally millions of assets.

Cunningham then went on to talk generally about the notion of digital disruption and explained how it can be scary for incumbents. He used for his example Uber and Airbnb and the impact that they have had on their respective industries.

He then wondered “Is there something similar in publishing and what that might look like?”

Ultimately he concluded that there wasn’t really anything quite in the same league as Uber or Airbnb. However, he pointed to the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, as an example of how this might change in the future.

Cunningham then began to explain that digital disruption might offer publishers a very interesting opportunity in the atomisation of content.

He referred to the music industry and the way in which albums had largely been superseded by tracks. “Might the publishing industry now move from magazines and websites to individual pieces of content? In other words less about the amazing more about the articles.”

He then explained how by using Blendle companies can monetise their content on article level. 

He then stressed that companies need to think in terms of splitting stories and breaking them apart as individual elements, and using them for different mediums. For example, when shooting video content, splitting the digital elements so that words may appear on a website, images on Instagram, videos on YouTube with outtakes on Vine etc

Cunningham then explained there are two strategies for innovation:

Firstly article based publishing, as he had touched in earlier in his speech. Secondly harnessing a powerful digital asset management system to store, manage and push content out through syndication to teams within a publishing group and also their external clients.

To illustrate this John talked about how Time Inc. in the UK created a syndication and licensing system using Elvis. Three million images are stored in the system that they can reuse or send out to their syndicated partners or other publishers. All the content is searchable, so for example if someone searches for the Queen’s birthday they would be presented with a host of assets that they could use or purchase.

The publisher can also incorporate rate cards per client. The key benefit is that this speeds up the syndication process and enables people to reuse core assets easily in the future.

“Publishing has alway been about the marketing of content. Moving forced publishers have to get the bigger picture. Technology can take content to the right user, in the the right place, at the right time,” John concluded.

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