Traditional media companies haven’t all taken to new media opportunities like ducks to water, often just slapping on a picture gallery to text stories in an effort to draw readers in.
While it might have worked on the desktop browsers, the mobile front is a whole different animal, according to Shaul Olmert, chief executive officer, Playbuzz.
“If you think about it, this device [smartphone] is very interactive, you don’t walk around with the newspaper holding it like that [up to your face],” said Olmert.
“This medium is interactive by nature, if you want to tell stories using this device, you want to play to the experience of the device, you want to make the audience active participants in your storytelling,” he added.
Traditional media companies thus need to rethink about they way they operate, implored Olmert.
“It is a challenge, but I think slowly and surely we are getting there, convincing people, because authors want to be heard, they want people to actually read what they say and extract meaningful value out of it,” said Olmert.
“When the average time spent on a news article is 15 seconds and average time spent on a video is six seconds, you have got to figure out new ways to tell your story,” he added.
Content is king
In a world full of clickbait news headlines, the temptation to follow along and write what readers may be into is strong. But as other traditional media companies have pointed out, merely following the crowd is not good branding.
Olmert agrees, urging traditional media companies to take stock about how people are engaging with content today.
“You have to adapt to who they are. If you look at traditional media, they have adopted in the sense that their content is also available on digital, but it's still the same content,” said Olmert.
“People have changed, they are bombarded with so much information. In the old days that would be only a couple of news outlets, now there are a thousand different authors competing for their attention, they are really driven by FOMO, see everything and catch up with everything but they can’t, they have to play zone defence, they have got to scan and check.
“If you know how to play into that and recraft your message in a way to actually make them interested, it’s key,” he added.
While some media outlets think brevity would be key in engaging, Olmert disagrees.
“Short is not a goal. Try to make it digestible; it doesn’t mean it has to be shallow,” said Olmert.
“All those little things like the summary card and the videos make it more digestible and easier to consume,” he added.
Embrace change while remembering the root
With the abundance of options and avenues of content providers, the traditional media industry is changing, and not exactly in a good way, according to Olmert.
“I feel like the media industry in many aspects is choosing the easy route, not an effective one; by using clickbait, people click and the story doesn’t deliver what the headline promises, they move on,” said Olmert.
“Yes, they clicked and gave you an ad impression, but it doesn’t last very long. 500 years ago when articles were invented, they were invented in a form that was suitable for the society and consumption habits, but there was also no running water 500 years ago,” he remarked.
Olmert thus encourages the traditional media owners to embrace change, as merely buying success is not the way.
“You have to really change your tactics and embrace the fact that everything you’ve learnt your whole life, what made you rich, famous and successful, is no longer valid,” said Olmert.
“You have to embrace the fact that you have to change your tactics if you want to survive in this new world. One of the challenges of our organisation is asking people to break out of the comfort zone, trying to justify by showing them that using the same tactics doesn’t work, and adapting to new ones that do work. That’s why the data-driven components work,” he added.
Rather than just chasing numbers, Olmert believes that if the traditional media remembers its purpose, things will get better for them.
“They are really trying to go for the numbers to prove to advertisers they still have an audience, instead of going back and asking themselves why they are in business,” said Olmert.
“They are in business to engage people, they are in business to create content that people will respond to, let’s solve that. Once we solve that, we’ll get the eyeballs, we’ll get the distribution - you want it be meaningful distribution and not just numbers,” he added.