The media industry is grappling with the pace of change, facing the challenges of layoffs and cutbacks and feeling the growing pains symptomatic of a state of transformation. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
There is a bright and fascinating road ahead for media companies who are prepared to embrace and leverage the tech trends of the future.
Arthur Goldstuck, renowned author, researcher and speaker on technology trends, recently addressed the Media24 Lifestyle Summit, sharing some of the highlights from his recently released Social Media Landscape Report 2017.
“Media is starting to arrive in the future, but it’s only just beginning. It’s still at that in-between awkward stage, caught between the old and the new ways,” said Goldstuck.
Key points from his State of the future: Media feast and famine presentation are summarised below:
- 29 million South Africans will be on smartphones by the end of 2016 – highlighting the need for more affordable data costs. A quarter of these users are not activating the internet on their phones because of expensive data costs.
- Traditionally internet users start participating on social media, followed by mainstream media and then they become transactional users. This usually happens within a five year period of internet use. In South Africa, mainstream media is already beginning to experience the intensification of demand for content.
- There is a new context emerging around connectivity and in the use of connectivity: The Variable Future. The media challenge is that every individual, every market segment and every target audience will experience the future differently. That implies preparation for diverse types of futures.
- The Variable Future presents the challenge of a Feast or Famine situation. There is a feast of content and platforms available but also a famine of profitability because of the investment required on these platforms. Added to that is the challenge of affordability for the audience the media is wanting to reach.
- Virtual Reality, augmented reality and other progressive technologies will reach an affluent and small audience and are not accessible to the mass audience in South Africa. A key question challenging media owners in South Africa will be how to generate profits from a small, affluent audience.
- Those who can afford the latest devices and the data to use those devices will have arrived in the future in 2017.
- VR (Virtual Reality) immersive content is going mainstream in 2017. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO presented VR as the next mainstream platform for social media, at the Samsung S7 launch at the Mobile World Congress in February 2016.
- Augmented Reality: It’s not all about Pokémon Go and trivial games.
AR has a bright future in terms of providing content, particularly in the education environment.
- Mobile phone based AR is already in use. The Virtual Tee below has information that can be read by an AR viewer on the phone.
The printed environment offers many AR opportunities for both content and advertising.
- The challenge to media owners is when can news be augmented vs. when MUST news be augmented? In the near future people will start expecting additional AR content. Media owners must provide a technological relevance to traditional print media to reinvent and attract audiences.
- Social media is also part of the variable future but is becoming the common future for everybody. Engagement with social media has grown dramatically in the past year.
- A survey of 116 major brands in South Africa showed that Facebook and Twitter are pervasive, followed by YouTube and Linked In. 47% of South Africans are on Facebook. That equates to 14 million users, 12 million of whom are on mobile.
- South Africa is no longer looking at mobile first, it’s moving to mobile only. New internet users on smartphones do not have a back up device such as desktop or laptop computers.
- The next twelve months will see the Snapchat platform, a form of augmented reality, taking first place on the brands social media platforms.
This is a heads up for media to move onto the Snapchat platform where brands and audiences are interacting. Media is going to need to find new ways of interacting with audiences in the Snapchat environment that are not welcoming or waiting for them.
- Instagram has seen a growing presence from brands and will join Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as the top social networks for brands in South Africa.
- Audiences are moving to video. In 2014 YouTube had 7.2 million active users in South Africa and is now up to 8.74 million in 2016. This has become one of the most important platforms for media in South Africa, with the two most important content categories being news and entertainment, with news having risen to first place, partly due to it being an election year.
- The most popular YouTube content for brands has come from SuperSport as well as car brands, attracting massive audiences.
- The most popular content overall is Nature sightings, also known as Kruger sightings.
- Twitter has come into its own in South Africa this year. Users are up from 2,4m in 2012 to 7.7m in 2016. This is a massive platform for public discussion and now engagement is up significantly with more retweets and commenting.
- Instagram boasts over 500 million users monthly, worldwide. The fastest growing social network in South Africa in 2016, users are up significantly from 680 000 in 2013 to 3.5 million today.
- Car brands are dominating on Instagram in South Africa, particularly Mercedes Benz.
- The first media brand to enter the top ten most popular brands on Instagram is SuperSport.
- Brands with the greatest presence and engagement across all social media platforms include Mercedes, Samsung, Ford, Audi and KFC.
- Usage times across platforms vary. Twitter usage, which is low-cost data usage averages out throughout the day. Instagram, which is more data-intensive is more active during office hours, as users don’t want to use their own data. YouTube videos are also posted at work, and not from home.
- The most pervasive news platform of tomorrow will arrive in 2021. At the moment it is known as the self-driving car. However the self-drive technology is not the major factor of interest to media owners, it’s the content that can be delivered to the car. The entire dashboard is a content area and the steering wheel is voice activated and also makes suggestions to the car occupant/driver. Surrounded by sensors and a range of cameras, the self-driving car will be recording continually. It will be a content creation device as well as a content consumption device, thus it is another media platform.
- By 2020 90% of vehicles globally will be connected and geo-connected. In South Africa 50% of vehicles are expected to be connected. Cars will become important media and content environments.
- 2023 will start the era of smart home technology which has major implications for media content delivery.
- 2025 will usher in the display of tomorrow. This is all about what you are able to project onto a surface and not about the device itself. Smartphones are going to vanish. The surface is interactive and becomes the display. The implications for media owners is that content will be able to be delivered to anywhere, wherever their audience is.
Looking ahead ten years to 2026 we can expect to see:
- Self-driving infotainment systems (what our grandparents called ‘cars’)
- Virtual news and augmented headlines
- Invisible devices
- An infinitely variable future
- Feast of options, famine of profit.
Goldstuck predicts that media owners will struggle to produce the type of content and profits that they are used to experiencing.
“This future is being built right now, and savvy media owners need to familiarise themselves with the upcoming trends and prepare themselves for a connected variable future,” he said.
A fascinating series of slides showed how Facebook has grown over the past six years. Look at Africa…
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
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