10 Local Digital Media Trends For 2014
If 2013 was the year that native advertising commanded much of the dialogue around digital media, 2014’s mantra looks like it will be mobile. By mid-2013, most local broadcasters had already reported that more than 50% of their overall digital traffic was coming through mobile, and newspapers aren’t tracking too far behind. With that in mind, here are 10 trends for local digital media we see developing around technology, disruption and revenue for 2014.
- Mobile ad units will improve and better engage users. There are too many smart people working on this problem in too many different rooms not to see some kind of breakthrough on newer, more engaging ad units in 2014. Look for more intuitive, native models to break the banner mold, and watch the case studies closely.
- There will be more content differentiation by device. Users are scratching a different itch when they access local content on desktop versus tablet, let alone smartphones. Newsrooms will increasingly need to integrate different headlines, body text and video pieces depending on where the content is being routed, which begets prediction No. 3 …
- Content management systems will be under increasing pressure to improve their back-end tools for differentiation. CMSs are already evolving rapidly now that their clients have become savvier. Those same clients are going to demand that differentiation doesn’t put a drag on their workflow. Dashboards will improve to streamline that workflow. (And look for some more consolidation in the CMS space too as the industry continues its accelerating game of musical chairs.)
- Video and content sharing networks will proliferate among and within local media companies. This process is already underway, led by players such as Digital First Media and Schurz Communications Inc., among others. Look for the deals to ramp up in 2014 as pressures rise to bring content generating costs down. The question is: Where will this leave the Associated Press?
- Newspapers will start producing more polished online video (and more of it). The learning curve is nearing its end. There are too many vendors eager to jump in to help professionalize even the smallest papers’ nascent video efforts to have any excuse for amateur content. In 2014, video will become a more reflexive part of workflow for more journalists, and that will show in the work they more regularly produce. Now will it make enough money to justify the effort?
- Everyone will be a publisher in 2014. Having changed its algorithms to emphasize original content, Google has put increased pressure on anyone with a website to update content more regularly. For brands and businesses, that is creating a steady need that someone is going to fill. Will it be on staff writers? Local search? Agencies? There’s a play for local media here if it can pivot into this business quickly.
- Google Now will show us the early power of big data. The hyper-individualized experience offered by Google Now gives us a compelling window into the future of digital information consumption. Media companies need to study this experience closely, as it may prognosticate the next major usage shifts in digital.
- Twitter News is coming. Vivian Schiller left NBC to build something at Twitter, but what? Will she serve as a kind of grand lobbyist/liaison to the news industry or lay the foundation for an entirely new and disruptive news service? In any event, local media that have come to rely on Twitter as a vital tool for newsgathering and breaking news ought to be on alert. The platform is too big to dismiss, and it’s fidgety with ambition.
- The journalist as brand phenomenon will increase and localize. Sullivan, Swisher and Mossberg, Silver, Stelter, now maybe even Klein. Branding oneself effectively can (mostly) pay off, so look for more local journalists to leverage their personal brands into independent plays.
- Digital marketing services have hit critical mass, and the space will now start to contract. This ship has sailed, and it’s carrying a lot of local media on board along with a big crowd from the Internet yellow pages space. Not everyone is going to execute on this well, and some companies haven’t given themselves enough runway to succeed (a pretty long one is necessary). For those not yet on board, and even those who are, it’s time to find yet another new revenue stream to get revved up about.