Has the age of media convergence arrived?

Digital transformation has changed the way businesses are functioning and the level at which the consumer is being engaged. This is also evident in the media industry. We are living in a world that is continuously exposed to new forms of media. We see only what we want to see; we decide what information we want to receive. All this is possible due to the tough competition that the new-age digital media platforms are giving to the traditional media platforms.

The future of digital media in India is clearly strong. The Internet userbase in the country is expected to register double-digit growth from 566 million in 2018 to 627 million in 2019, driven by rapid Internet growth in rural areas. 

With affordable devices and better 3G/4G connectivity, traditional journalism is slowly creating space for digital or online journalism. The Wire, Scroll, and the Quint are producing interesting content with mobile-first distribution strategy, as mobile devices account for around 79% of web traffic in India, compared to 50% globally.

Digital journalism has transformed news from a once-a-day product to an ongoing event to be consumed real-time on social media and news portals. Comments and reactions to a story are quick nowadays and unlike yesteryears, newsmakers and editors are now bound to respond to the audience’s query in a given time frame.

Millennials are reading more than previous generations (through online), as well as appreciating the experience of physically owning a book. With their recent pivot from Facebook to search engines as the main source of online traffic, the publishing industry’s web avatars are discovering the benefits of “long-form journalism”.  Many publishers have split their team into print and digital segments so that they can have the best of both worlds.

Are the scales really tilting; is print media going to die?

With more people showing interest and turning towards digital channels for consumption of information, the question remains -- how will print media adapt? Has it been reduced to a mere supporting media? or Have the rules of the game changed?

Although the numbers seem to point out to a different story, the fact remains that the print media is still deep-rooted in the consumers’ collective memory. While higher engagement levels define the success story of digital media, it is the higher memory and comprehension that is attached to print or traditional media. While we cannot deny that the potential audience for online articles is greater than ever, newspapers are also no longer limited to just black and white text. They have matured to interactive graphics and focus on the use of high quality, rich images to narrate stories. India is the only country where print media is still thriving and will continue to witness positive growth, unlike the West, where print media is clearly struggling to survive.

However, there are pros and cons with both online and traditional media. The sudden rise of digital media channels floating fake news has created major trust problems for legacy media. In the age of the 24-hour news cycle and never-ending analysis and debating over actual content, the core values of journalism are under tremendous pressure.

The need to attract and retain audience sometimes drives news agencies to report too quickly without checking for accuracy. At worst it motivates them to dramatize or misrepresent or sometimes even omit facts.

The era of Media Convergence Arrives

Media Convergence involves interconnecting IT, telecommunication networks and content providers from various media platforms like journals, newspapers, radio, television, and films among others. It is the convergence of the 3 C’s – Communication, Content and Computing.

It is not just the confluence of the traditional and the digital media but it is also about the unpredictable ways consumers and media producers can interact and associate with each other. Apart from technology, there is also a huge array of socio-cultural paradigm shifts that have changed the way the consumer evaluates a product and makes his decisions. Digital convergence enables one media outlet to take advantage of the features and benefits offered by the other.

For example, the convergence of television with other technologies has opened up a plethora of opportunities for marketers to target customers in ways not available with traditional over-the-air television advertising.

Another example is of Adobe and Salesforce. As these companies ramp up in the region, the joint forces of CRM, media and content will come to life in 2019. CRM, media and creative marketers and their agencies will increasingly organize themselves around the first-party data opportunity, led by Big Data.

One example of such a convergence is the U.S.-based discount retailer Target, which builds customer profiles over time, based on Big Data, primarily through email address or a credit card number. By comparing profiles among the thousands of Target customers, predictions can be made about what will be purchased next.

TikTok, a social media app based on user-generated video content, had recently revealed its advertising solutions in India – which are yet to realize their full potential. There is no better way for entrepreneurs to promote their services or products than through social media. 

At a time when leading social media platforms have become too mainstream, TikTok allows tier 2 and 3 users to explore their talent without the fear of being judged. For businesses, this can be a good time to build a user base and enjoy organic advertising techniques to show off their products or services. Businesses can use TikTok to market as well as to build and promote brand loyalty.

Through convergence, large Internet providers and content delivery platforms are integrating, and online giants are expanding into content and the traditional segment differences are blurring – between print and digital.

Anurag Mittal is founder CEO, NewsVoir 

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