Today we launch an article series under the theme ‘Technologies Shaping the Future of News’. In the next few months we will delve into technologies that impact news production, distribution and consumption. We will interview key experts from the industry and uncover cases from publishers worldwide.
1. Artificial Intelligence – a framework to get started
Without a doubt AI has been the word of the year. In May this year Gartner ran a poll with 2500 executive leaders which showed that for 45% of Executives the rise of ChatGPT has prompted an increase in AI investment. 70% of organizations are currently doing explorations with Generative AI.
To look at how news organisation can leverage AI we like to use the framework of Ezra Eeman who looks at opportunities in 3 categories:
- Automation AI – performs and replaces newsroom tasks to reduce friction and add scale. This includes things like planning and data structuring, transcriptions, tagging or automation of stories.
- Augmentation AI – supports and augments existing newsroom tasks with intelligence. This included things like content ideation and variation, personalisation or intelligent paywalls
- Transformation AI – rethinking, reinventing newsroom tasks and processes. This includes things like conversational AI, news bots, synthetic avatars or conversational archives.
2. Social Platforms – becoming ever more complex
The relationship between news media and social platform is complicated. Publishers seem to finally be on top of their Facebook or Twitter strategies and some have started to figure out how to engage with younger readers on Instagram and TikTok. But as social platforms are looking to secure their own business models and leverage new AI tools, new complexities may come for publishers.
- Snapchat’s My AI chat bot – adopted by more than 150 M users since it’s launch in May, the MyAI was used to surface recommendations, inspiration or information about historical events.
- Twitter – the announcement this week that Twitter will cap the number of tweets for different user types is another example of how platforms can influence the way content is distributed to people and why publishers should continue to build direct relationships with readers.
- Threads – a new social media platform launched this week by Meta shows a new interest in more text based communication which may play out interestingly for readers habits and news publishers.
One thing is for sure, though: By overtly focusing on text, Meta is acknowledging that people like to read, not just look at photos and videos.Martin Peers, The Information on the launch of Threads
- Instagram – allowing professional accounts with more than 10.000 followers to launch subscriptions yet limited traction or experimentation has been seen in the news publishing world
- Artifact – launched about one year ago, the app is getting updated with new innovative features at an impressive speed, from AI summaries to better use for local communities and even giving people the option to mark titles as clickbait and suggest new titles.
3. Email is here to stay
Email newsletters are a powerful tool for publishers, offering a direct line of communication with readers. In an essay published recently Axios founder Jim Van Den Hei argues that email newsletters will only rise in importance.
As Microsoft and Google make emailing magically easy by helping you write, answer and sort emails, the inbox will be a more indispensable content destination and repository.Jim VandeHei, Axios
- Daily Briefings – with most popular being at 7AM or 9PM, but also some successful automated and personalised lunch newsletters.
- Weekly Overviews – a very loved format sent on Friday evening or Sunday with a selection of personalised articles not yet read from the past week.
- Monthly Digests – selection of personalised relevant articles from a broader pool of content to further boost engagement.
4. Audio on the rise
72% of publishers have audio in their plans, but for many it is still seen as an experimental tool. Few have found a way to monetise this valuable content and bring it to the next level.
In his speech at the INMA World Congress, Nicholas Thomson, CEO at The Atlantic identified Audio as one of the key technologies publishers should build on. With Amazon further investing in boosting Alexa with new AI capabilities the smart speakers growth will be a catalyst for the continued adoption of audio content.
5. Mobile Apps becoming more key in the migration from print
This year we have seen and acceleration of the migration from print to digital. Companies like Berlingske and AJC have formally announced they will stop print while others like Alabama Media Group have already taken the bold step and introduced The Lede as an alternative, a new digital only edition built on Twipe’s NextGen platform.
Canada’s La Presse became the first major daily title in the world to replace its weekday print editions with a profitable digital version in 2016. Vice President of Strategy and Digital Products, Jean-Marc de Jonghe, will share his insights into this move at the upcoming Digital Growth Summit.
In this context, the mobile apps will become an even more key product in the portfolio of news publishers and different companies will have different app strategies. In research among customers of our app platforms we have see a 50-50% split between publishers aiming for hybrid, all-in-one apps vs companies that will keep separated single-purpose apps.
6. AR/VR promises at the horizon
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are set to change the way we consume news. With the recent launch of devices like Apple’s Vision Pro, the possibilities for immersive, interactive news experiences are expanding. While still in its early stages, AR/VR in news offers exciting opportunities for innovation.
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