It was an opportunity to reflect on what I have learned throughout my Media Management Masters course and consider the current realities of the magazine industry, which as the speakers demonstrated is now a multi-platform and online one where many of the boundaries which were present in the pre-digitised era area have now been brought down or blurred.
The way the conference was divided between Mobile and Tech issues provided a useful way for delegates to hear about a variety of different topics – whether they be focussed on topics related mobile or on issues of technology and innovation.
Fireside Chat: As Google AMP Project evolves, here what publishers are doing (and should know next)
Luca Forlin of Google and Nick Flood of Dennis Publishing’s fireside chat was a fantastic opportunity to hear more about Google’s AMP project (it allows publishers to develop mobile optimised content which loads instantly), which is only in its infancy, and the ways in which online publishers are making use of it. The main principle that drove Google to develop the AMP project was the fact that speed was paramount to Google’s user experience. What I found particularly interesting was that the idea of Google AMP is to drive traffic through search. Nick Flood of Dennis Publishing highlighted that it offered a higher click-through rate in terms of advertising. For me, this was evidence that a pleasant user experience within a medium will make advertising within this medium more attractive. I am particularly excited to see how Google AMP will develop and expand to e-commerce.
Mobile futures: How the Gray Lady got going with Virtual Reality… and why they are smiling all the way
One of the highlights of the conference for me was Sam Dolnick of the New York Times’ inspiring presentation on how the Gray Lady has been developing virtual reality content through its NYT VR app. It was exciting to see how they had promoted the initiative by sending around Google’s Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset to all of the New York Times’ paper subscribers. The New York Times has been developing original content as well as working with brands in order to make their VR videos available on the app. What struck me was that this not only provided an additional source of revenue but also appears to be attracting users. Indeed, Sam pointed to the fact that the advertisers’ content was some of the most popular pieces of content on the platform!
Here’s how native advertising plays out in the global magazine media industry
My final highlight of the FIPP Mobile conference was Jasper Laursen’s, presentation on how native advertising plays out in the global magazine media industry. This was of particular interest to me as native advertising, along with ad blocking, is one of the topics that I am covering in my dissertation. It was interesting to hear Jasper’s perspective on the evolution of native advertising within the context of a changing eco-system where audiences are turning their backs on traditional advertising through the use of ad-blockers. It was interesting to hear his advice to publishers in regards to not overusing native advertising otherwise it will blend in with editorial content and will become less exclusive, therefore bringing premium prices down. A final piece of advice that I found valuable was that as soon as native advertising is programmatic (there is code), publishers will be entering an arms race with ad-blockers – publishers will therefore have to convince users to turn off their ad-blockers.
Beyond ad blocking: Advertising 2.0
An important theme that was presented during the FIPP Tech component of the conference was that of ad blocking. This was also a highlight of the conference as it is the topic of my dissertation. Johnny Ryan of PageFair explained the context in which ad blocking developed (unrestrained, cluttering and invasive advertising leading to a decline in audience goodwill and ultimately ad-blocking) and the reasons why ad blocking was becoming increasingly worrying to online publishers. For Johnny Ryan: “The time has come for print wisdom to save digital”. Publishers, not advertisers feel the most pain from ad blocking and consumer pain is real too. Publishers need to reassess and change the way in which they advertise in order to re-conquer consumer goodwill and trust in the new environment of what Johnny calls the ‘blocked web’.
How fragmented content and developments with micro-payments and digital subscriptions play out in the paid content game
On the second day of the conference, the theme of micro-payments was discussed during a fireside chat with Nikolay Malyarov and, Robert Cortell and Jim Bilton. I had always been curious about whether micro-payments could form a viable business model (having read articles on the possibilities of paying to view content through BitCoins) so this was a valuable opportunity to hear more about it. Although micro-payments did not seem like a feasible business model it seems that the model has been gaining popularity with platforms such as Blendle, 1Pass and PressReader. The speakers believed that single articles will be a big part of publishing simply because it is the way that most things are sold.
AI, data and automated journalism
The final theme, which was discussed, was that of AI and automated news. Wolfgang Zehrt of Data Driven News Agency presented a number of case studies on how automated news is currently being used and will be used in the future. For Wolfgang automated news will be used more and more in the future, especially for specialised news such as financial reports. Automated Content is 100% precise, unique, multi-lingual and extremely cheap (an estimated 1-5% of human costs). The technology will be developed so that the writing becomes more human (i.e. tone, dramaturgy). The costs will also decrease thereby democratising the use of such software. All of these developments, although near Orwellian provide a thought provoking insight into where content production may be heading in the future!
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