Digital Media Strategies answers what’s keeping digital media executives awake at night

On Wednesday, I spent the day at Digital Media Strategies USA which was hosted in the beautiful Edison Ballroom in midtown Manhattan. As a PR person who specializes in advertising technology and digital media, it’s vital to understand what keeps key people in the industry up at night.  From learning about WashPo’s headline algorithm and Henry Blodget’s journey to acquisition to the stance, the day was filled with surprises and key learnings.

Here are some of my favorite tips and insights that I learned from the variety of speakers who shared their expertise on stage.

Trend to Video: Almost every speaker had something to say about long-form video being a key format for them in 2018 and beyond. Especially vertical video for mobile.

In fact, WashPo made a large investment in video last year with 100+ video studios, Bloomberg is launching a 24 hours video news partnership with Twitter in December, and Reuters just re-launched and expanded their live video offering. As no one is dominating the digital video space yet, it provides a huge opportunity for publishers to back a name for themselves in the space.

When is the best time to reach with video on social? According to Diply, the most videos are around lunch time and at night. But that isn’t when you should post your video. They advise 3-4 hours in advance of those time frames.

But video isn’t everything. Henry Blodget said although video is key, print and words aren’t done. There needs to be a mix of different mediums depending on the story.

What it takes to be successful: Many speakers touched on what it takes for a media company to be successful. Most important is innovation and leadership. With how quickly the tech industry moves, media companies need to be constantly innovating how they create and distribute media. From 360 video and VR to Alexa and podcasts, they need to go where the audiences are and optimize for the platform. And leadership needs to steer them in that direction.

This includes social channels. They are finding that younger audiences are moving from Facebook to Instagram and YouTube forcing publishers to figure out the best content strategies for those newer platforms moving forward. But don’t fear, they aren’t abandoning Facebook all together, after all they do need a decent cash flow while the transition happens.

However, the next big medium is voice. It’s not there yet but according to comScore, in 2020 50% of searches will be voice. Right now, there is only 3-4% penetration for Google Home and Alexa. When our society gets to voice being mainstream, the media industry will have to reinvent itself again.

Subscription-based vs. advertising based: Last but certainly not least is the argument between subscription-based and advertising-based business models. Subscription-based models were widely agreed to be the future of the publishing business. Just look at NYTimes success with it–60% of their revenue is subscription based! However, there is concern that lower income households won’t be able to afford to pay multiple subscription costs. So why not have a mix of both? Have subscription offering for those who don’t want ads and can afford the cost while having advertising for those who want to interact with the content but no subscription.

In conclusion, the secret sauce in running great media businesses is focusing on serving audiences quality content on the platforms they are on. Don’t retrofit, innovate. I highly recommend attending this event next year. Thank you to Campaign for a great day. Cheers!