The media industry has conventionally been the first port of call for breaking news and stories. Now, a fresh wave of emerging technologies is changing how this industry gathers and delivers content. Although some of these technologies sound like they’re straight from a sci-fi film, we’ll show you how they’re being used to transform the content creation and distribution process.
Facebook recently opened their Messenger bot platform to outside companies, and publishers like Fusion, Complex and TechCrunch have seized the opportunity to innovate in the news bot space. These news agency bots have found new ways to automatically dish up the latest headlines to users based on their interests and search history. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella believes that chatbots will become the next big thing as we move away from relying so heavily on apps.
2. Virtual Reality (VR)
The ultimate level of news interaction? Being right in the center of the action. VR promises to transport the viewer into the middle of an experience to form a better connection to the story. The New York Times VR app is a good example of VR, and its launch was accompanied by sending 1.2 million Google cardboard viewers to subscribers. The all-engrossing VR video experience builds a deeper level of connectedness and empathy with news stories.
3. Anti-ad blocking
While our latest report found that 69% of users are not currently using an ad blocker, according to PageFair, ad blocking could still account for around $21.8 billion in lost annual revenue. PageFair, Sourcepoint, Secret Media and Admiral have heard the industry’s cry, and are pitching their own technological approaches to publishers hoping to fight off parasitic software. Some of these approaches offer “ad reinsertion” software, while others look to serve different types of ads that fit in better with a user’s experience. Forbes has been testing technology that blocks ad-blocking users from their site entirely, but still offers users an incentive to whitelist their site by promising an “ad-light experience” once they turn off their software.
4. Automated journalism
‘Robot journalism’ lends a helping hand to journalists and publishers by interpreting and analysing data to produce content. Automated journalism is also used to test headlines, source information, and identify trending stories. The Washington Post has developed Bandito, which provides real-time testing to identify the best performing content and make improvements to stories that don’t quite ‘hit the mark’.
5. Social outreach apps
Journalists can go beyond the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get consumer perspectives. Social outreach apps bring a fresh take on how the media industry engages with its audience. Qanda allows anyone to provide video answers to questions, which enables journalists to get authentic video interviews from as many people as possible, without being physically present.
The Federal Aviation Administration has given permission for drones to be used for commercial purposes, so we can expect to see the last few years of drone reporting tests from publishers like the Associated Press come to full fruition. Drones are a much cheaper option than helicopters, and an effective way to capture footage that more cumbersome machines aren’t capable of. The use of drones is also important for the safety of journalists - data can be collected in dangerous war zones or natural disasters without risking additional human lives.
7. Data journalism/visualization
Text with visuals is the perfect marriage to satisfy an increasingly mobile audience. Presenting data in interactive and bite-sized chunks is key to engagement. Scrolling is the new clicking, so transitioning between different multimedia data sources should be effortless. ‘Scrollytelling’ is a visualization tool that reveals more data as the user scrolls down the page. A great example of interactive data journalism is The Dawn Wall by The New York Times, which charted one of the most difficult free climbs in the world.
8. Live video platforms
Facebook Live is touted as the next frontier in audience engagement. The media industry has boldly gone where most have yet to tread. E! already has a daily talk-show on Facebook Live, with other media outlets set to follow. Another live video platform that’s transforming reporting is Periscope. Paul Lewis, a journalist from the Guardian newspaper, used Periscope to livestream scenes from the Baltimore riots. Periscope and other live video platforms enable the media industry to capture the news as it happens, without the need for bulky camera equipment and a filming crew.
9. Wearable journalism
Wearable technology is changing the way consumers access news. The Apple Watch makes getting the latest news as easy as telling the time. Wearable journalism is ideal for quick updates until viewers have the time to get the full story. From clothing to contact lenses, wearable journalism presents the opportunity to deliver content in trimmed-down formats without losing the essence of the story.
10. Text-to-video creation
Video is becoming the king of content for news and media agencies to grow and maintain audiences. Publishing enough videos to satisfy viewers is no easy task, and most publishers don’t have the teams or equipment to meet video consumption demands. Automated software that converts text articles into premium branded videos is an efficient way to meet the supply of the ever growing demand for short and informative videos.
These ten emerging technologies demonstrate the advances that are radically changing the media industry. They’re worth investigating to find out how they can improve your content creation and distribution processes. Who knows, after you’ve adopted some of these technologies, you might wonder how you ever coped without them.