Print Media vs Digital Technologies: End of the Game or New Beginning, with Jonathan Rivers

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The print market has been in decline year after year after year. Having an ability to reach your customers where they are is critical. The number of people who go for that lean-back experience of reading a magazine maybe on a plane or on their desk, diminishes by the day, as opposed to the number of people who consume all of their content on their mobile device or on a laptop, or on a desktop. Our customers consume different things on different platforms, both depending on the time of the day and depending on the media. At Fortune, we are committed to journalism, we're committed to deep insight. It's really about distribution and presentation layers. How do I act as a force multiplier for that content? How do I capture more eyeballs? How do I have a fast enough site that has good SEO so that when people are searching for things, they're directed to Fortune? To how do I distribute it further? How do I make sure that I have good content feed that can be shared with content aggregators? How do I allow Fortune to surface our content either on OTT applications, laptops, mobile web, Google AMP pages, video, YouTube? How do I make that easy and seamless for our journalists and our authors? Their job is not to spend a lot of time inputting content.

It's doing interviews, doing research, doing journalism. And so, we use technology to accelerate that and make their lives easier. I’m going to say Machine Learning first and foremost. The ability to understand what content is and what it means and match it with what people want or what they're looking for is just an unparalleled powerful force in media. You turn the way back meter to say the early 2000s, you used to have to know how to search. Searching was actually a skill, you needed to understand the words you had to put in the search box in order to find the things. And now you have natural language expression, natural language processing that “where can I find more about Fortune?” Over the next five years, it's going to start being woven into every platform so that way every article that is written or every video that is created should be sort of indexed and consumed by a machine learning application.

What is this article about, why is it being written? If we can use machine learning to help them find those answers more quickly, they're going to be more successful at their jobs and then keep coming back to us. It’s dragging companies who haven't transformed yet kicking and screaming into the present, not even the future, because if you're talking about digital transformation today – it's too late. A thousand percent. I think when the pandemic hit, and we really started working, we realized that we needed to go digital-first. It’s understanding that the world is a different place, that your customers are different Talent is one of the scarcest resources, and you have to take it where you can get it.

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Great people are sought out. Every single one of my developers gets one or more emails from recruiters trying to steal them from me every single day. And so, you want to really be flexible in how you do that. Do you work with third parties that specialize in things? Do you build core competencies internally? You want to mix, so that way you have a good, broad set of capabilities. How do we leverage things like machine learning and sort of the AI-type stuff to input information or film clips quickly that can then be programmatically edited, generated, enhanced for the platforms that they're going to, and be available on them all at the same time? So, I think that's where it's headed.

You have a two-prong problem that is going to kill media. The first is that the social media platforms are now the gatekeepers, they control all access, either you have to go to search, and so your search is controlled by an algorithm, and you are at the mercy of Google or Bing or whomever, to get your information into somebody's hands. You’re at the mercy of Facebook, or Twitter about their algorithms, about whether or not your content surfaces on your platform. So, all of the media is beholden to these giant platforms just for their information to get out. They also control all of the advertising dollars, so they have aggregated all of the audiences.

Over the next decade, what you see for Fortune is us continuing to build an audience of business decision-makers. We’re going to figure out how to convene those people digitally for communication and networking, and sort of growth as communities, business decision-makers, or people who are interested in the art and the craft of business, and bring them together around our content, our journalism and each other..

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