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Pivoting to video, the Google, Facebook duopoly and other media challenges

Challenges that face media in a platform age were the topic for an afternoon panel discussion at the FIPP World Congress 2017 in London on Tuesday. In today’s market where media companies operate amid increasing numbers of platforms, challenges abound.

Anne-Marie Tomchak, the UK editor of Mashable, Kalli Purie, group editorial director at The India Today Group, and Lars Moll, general manager of product management at Bild group, discussed media challenges in a platform age on a panel moderated by Stephan Scherzer, CEO of VDZ in Germany.

 

Media in a platform age panel ()

 

“The biggest challenge I faced, was the nature in which we distribute news and how we news gather,” Tomchak said. “Five years ago, it would be a new thing to do journalism on a variety of platforms, but now,  the distribution and business models have changed, that is probably the biggest challenge I’ve noticed.”

Purie said the biggest change she’s seen has been video.

“It’s a challenge for print publications to have to shoot video around particular topics, but that’s one of the big opportunities, too,” she said. “The other challenge has been social media and discovering how to present content in way that will get noticed, that will go viral, that will get a kick.”

When you look at the business side of media, the challenge is the competition with Facebook, Lars Moll said. “As a publishers, we use our own strengths to build media and we see two directions with Facebook,” he said. “Yet, a lot of clients still want visibility and still want reliable content channels.”

Publishers do so many things these days, publish different content on myriad channels, and some of the panellists thought they should be available on every platform and in every format their audience expected them to be. Scherzer asked the panel how they manage audience engagement and connecting people with their brands.

Purie said connecting audiences to their brand is difficult, especially if a publisher has partnerships with Google and Facebook. “Facebook and Google are strict about the format they want you to follow,” she said. “You need to keep a strong voice. You have to be their favourite mistress, because then you have more of a chance to dictate terms to them.”

Tomchak disagreed, suggesting it was important to be selective in where a publisher focuses their energies and knowing exactly where their audience is and what it likes. “With Mashable, what we produce on Snapchat is entirely different than what we produce elsewhere,” she remarked.

Moll nodded, saying that it isn’t necessary for publishers to jump on every trend and every platform. “With BILD, we have 20 million users online. Our process is to be on every platform our audience is on, but we test and learn about each of the platforms.”

Into the future, challenges abound. The rise in importance of personalisation is something that can’t be ignored. Scherzer asked each of the panellists how AI and algorithms are going to change how they do business. “What is your view on that? Is it hype or the next big disruptor? This could change the way we consume information.”

“It’s already happening,” Tomchak replied. “This is where the news landscape is going to change. We’re going to rely on machines to produce more factual information, and where the human element comes in, is for the emotion and context.”

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