Notes of Media Transformation – Hot Topics from the Year 2015
There’s never a dull season, when you are looking at the changes in the media industry. If nothing else, there’s the good old Apple shaking the industry in one way or another. This was true also in 2015. Let's take a closer look at some of the topics that heated up the conversation in the media industry last year.
Ad blocking: Publishers’ nightmare – consumers’ pleasure?
In 2015, ad blocking brought in a new headache for publishers. The technology that allows ads to be blocked had already been there, but now Apple took it a major step closer towards becoming mainstream, when it introduced the technology to its new iOS in September. iPhone and iPad owners could now have an ad-free web browsing experience on their devices. Publishers were not pleased. How would this nasty technology affect their industry? Were all the efforts of trying to get money from digital advertising suddenly useless? Well, perhaps the panic was premature. Maybe they don’t need to persuade people not to install ad blockers if they make sure a few things. Make better ads. Make user experience a top priority. Do not annoy users with heavy loading and annoying ads. So, who knows, perhaps the users will benefit, whether they prevent the ads or not…
The rise of platforms – shift in distribution
In 2015, several big tech companies came out with their publishing platforms, i.e. services that aggregate several publishers’ content on one news platform. Facebook introduced its Instant Alerts, Snapchat Discover, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Apple News. All promise great user experiences to consumers and lucrative monetizing options for publishers. For publishers, this means ever more fragmented distribution market and a step away from a simple brand dot-com approach. Early-adopters such as Time Inc. has already jumped on the bandwagon, but most are still in the wait-and-see mode. The year 2016 will show how the platforms will evolve and whether consumers will adopt them. (Note that when it comes to Apple, it offers a solution to the problem that provided for publishers by ad-blockers. Quite a player, isn’t it?)
Internet billionaires’ investments continue
Two years ago I wrote about media transformation and hot topics from the year 2013. At that time my attention was grasped by viral content sites and short-form videos but also Internet entrepreneurs’ notable investments on traditional news media. Such investments are on the news again. The Chinese Internet giant Alibaba announced in December it is to take over The South China Morning Post, saying it wants “to improve China’s image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets”. It seems like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has got his Chinese counterpart. I’d say this is a sign that traditional media still has its glory. Expect more acquisitions to take place.
By Pirjo Viinamäki