Think back to the 1980s, when printing presses, typewriters, and analog televisions were being used to get information to the masses. In those times, media companies were 100% analog, surviving solely on the strength of their independent newsrooms and TV stations to build their audience.
Today, technology has evolved to a point where consumer engagement occurs across multiple platforms on a global scale, presenting a new opportunity and a new challenge for media companies – standardizing the digital backbone of their numerous brands.
Whether the company is a multinational media conglomerate with 25 newspapers or a national chain of TV news stations, they now require a significant investment of time and resources in order to stay relevant, while also reaping the benefits of a centralized digital strategy.
Here’s how we think media companies can make the most out of that investment and get ahead of the competition.
Establish an Authority to Address Digital Problems
For media companies with multiple brands to standardize, it’s vital to hire a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or assign someone to be head of digital. The right person should be able to recognize that there are problems and be adept at pinpointing non-standard processes.
Digital standardization can sometimes take a couple of years, so members of the leadership team need to be devoted and committed to what they are doing, possessing the ability to build relationships and communicate with external software partners.
An initial standardization strategy might be as easy as migrating one aspect of the business onto a new platform, but that can sometimes uncover numerous issues that previously went unnoticed. Once you pull on that thread, the whole sweater unravels, making it essential to hire a leader who can be prepared for that scenario.
Invest Once, Not Multiple Times
Digital standardization means ensuring every facet of the enterprise is using the same core technology platforms. If each business unit builds something independently, the value of those platforms is not multiplied but hugely reduced.
A common mistake in the media industry is that small technology investments are being made as one-offs instead of enterprise-wide. While the digital overhead of this may seem low in small chunks, it is much more economical for HQ to develop one new platform and roll it out on a large scale.
By building the right software just once and then successfully implementing it within all of your business units, you only pay for it once – and that’s not the only value behind this strategy.
With a single standard platform it becomes much easier to innovate across the company, because if one group figures out how to do something really well, the rest already have the same basic foundations to apply it themselves.
Embrace the True Value of Data
Without a mesh network of standardized platforms, there is a huge risk for media companies to miss out on the gold rush of the digital age – data.
There may be numerous divisions in the company with their own unique technique for capturing data, or maybe they are paying different vendors for localized analytics services. Either way, this is causing massive unnecessary spending across the enterprise.
If consumer data is being collected across multiple websites, implementing a rock-solid data engineering approach is necessary for capturing its true value. For example, if websites are sharing standardized data they can recognize users across brands, allowing personalized advertisements to be displayed while reducing the chance of repetition.
Despite its cross-selling potential, a centralized data strategy can also reduce your data storage spend and prepare the company for artificial intelligence solutions, robotic process automation, and the next big must-have technologies – after all, no one wants to miss out on the next iPhone or internet.
Forget Any Out-of-the-Box Shortcuts
While there has been plenty of SaaS (software as a service) adoption in the media industry, the types of end-to-end platforms that power Fortune 500 or Global 2,000 media companies are never just plug-and-play – there is frankly is no out-of-the-box solution that can address the needs of the industry, at least not without a significant amount of bespoke development.
A major company with 50 different media brands may want to form a central internal IT group to address this issue, but there is a risk that whatever that group builds is unlikely to be perfect for each brand.
Companies must also recognize which of their global divisions will be early adopters of new digital tech and which will be the more sophisticated users later down the line. There will always brands that will need extraordinarily well-thought-out systems before they can transition over. Even so, early adopters will eventually have a knock-on effect with the late adopters, influencing that valuable digital backbone from the offset.
Solving this conundrum requires an experienced team that can effectively respond to the problem and resolve it, which is very tricky to do without a strong external software partner.
Standardize the Tech, not the CX
Media companies need to be highly sensitive to the fact that technology standardization is a vastly different animal to customer experience (CX) – especially when there are multiple different brands to consider.
Local stations and niche brands communicate in a very specific way, using a voice and a presence that their audience has come to expect. By standardizing audience engagement you risk wiping out any hard-earned consumer respect and recognition.
Things like typography, video design, color scheme, and anything that actively speaks to the customer through that brand are hugely important, so you need to avoid a technology adoption process that will hurt the overall revenue gained through brand identity.
Standardized technology platforms, when implemented correctly, provide a deeper, more authentic customer relationship and free up revenue for additional experimentation. This may seem intimidating, but having a consultative delivery partner that is experienced in this process and sensitive to the needs of end users can really make a difference.
Choose a Strong, Pioneering Development Partner
Large media companies have always been digital pioneers, embracing tools such as email communication and establishing web presence long before other industries even heard about the internet.
Today, digital investments require a cross-team, consultative, and customer-focused development process, so the benefits of having an external partner can be powerful. The right software development partner is under less pressure than a newly formed internal IT group, and can focus on making everyone happy to increase adoption, which is ultimately the end goal for everyone.
The right partner will also help ensure that your company can ride the next wave of technology without fear of missing out. With an in-house team, this is more of a risk, as they require corporate buy-in to keep up with technological advancements.
Find partners that are critical, flexible, highly focused on the client, and have the skills to deal with multiple silos as new technologies are introduced. These partners truly are the pioneers in the digital age, giving them an incredible understanding of the complex technological needs of the media industry.
Find out how Wizeline can help your company implement a digital strategy. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation by our of media and entertainment consultants, or tell us what you need here.