While more fortunate than many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed some challenges for the digital media industry, and it’s sending shockwaves through the industry.
Countless digital media companies have laid off staff or slashed salaries. (Check out Forbes’ media layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts tracker for a full overview.) Digital ad spend in theMarch to June period is expected to be down 33 percent, according to an IAB survey. Bustling newsrooms have been relegated to glitchy Zoom calls.
But it’s not all negatives. Media consumption is actually spiking - no surprise, as folks are stuck at home. The 10am to 5pm window of consumption grew a whopping 39 percent between March 9 and March 23. Health, news, and children’s content categories are three big winners.
Just as many individuals are taking the time to reflect on their lives and hobbies, this uncertain time presents unique opportunities for digital publishers to adapt and think creatively.
Leverage Your Credibility to Drive Retention
More than half of news consumers who rely on social media for news say they have encountered misinformation regarding COVID-19, according to Pew Research Center. This poses a unique opportunity for reputable publishers to gain the trust of consumers using credible information and news and the possibility of retaining these new users when the pandemic ends.
At the same time, find unique angles that resonate with your audience. Approximately 15 percent of all web traffic explicitly mentions coronavirus. That’s a lot of competition. Whether it be human interest stories in your locale, or health and wellness-related angles, leverage your publication’s voice and audience to create more compelling content that cuts the noise.
When all is said and done, you’ll find yourself with a more engaged audience, and even more gains to be had for those with subscription businesses.
Find Alternatives to Workflow
Fortunately for many digital media teams, much work can be done remotely. However, workflows have been disrupted, some more than others.
In the newsroom, the hardest hit might be video production teams, who can no longer shoot in person nor collaborate as effectively.
Even Peloton, which has been an early beneficiary of the pandemic, was forced to pause live production and streaming of classes after an employee tested positive for coronavirus.The company had already been operating with a skeleton crew.
Already, video teams have been getting creative with the resources they have. They’re conducting remote interviews and Instagram livestreams, which are all great community engagement and retention tactics. But with an uptick in web traffic, there are still many eyeballs - not to mention, much demand - to be met on-platform.
With fewer news videos being produced, and an increase in content consumption, digital publishers have a unique opportunity to potentially introduce reputable third-party content into their offering. Not only can content from other top publishers help bolster a publisher’s credibility (similarly to link outs), but also help fill video supply issues across secondary verticals, or in times when video production output is low.
VideoElephant aggregates video content from top publishers and licenses it to digital publishers to help supplement their video production, as well as grow their video supply for monetization. Our library covers nearly all content verticals, as well as major news coverage, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meet New Audiences Where They Are
As a result of social isolation, publishers are seeing traffic spikes, especially on mobile. Streaming companies are setting viewership records day after day. Apps like Snapchat and TikTok are skyrocketing.
Some of these spikes will normalize once folks return to normal, pre-pandemic lives. But OTT is no fleeting trend. OTT revenue is not only expected to grow 29 percent in 2020, but overall streaming service revenue is expected to nearly double by 2022, according to Convergence Research Group.
Publishers with existing streaming products or services might want to focus efforts on user acquisition while the iron is hot. They might also direct business intelligence resources toward these experiences, staying attune to what audiences are engaging with, while also personalizing, diversifying and curating content to avoid content fatigue as folks spend hours upon hours glued to screens.
Publishers without their own branded channels or the like might consider distributing their original video content by partnering with streaming channels or third-party distributors like VideoElephant.
It’s not a platitude that hard times breed innovation. Encourage your team to bring forth new ideas, and give their suggestions some real thought.
Explore new partnership opportunities that might help you get through this time, but also that will tee you up for success when this is all over.
Take the time to network remotely. Purely anecdotally, folks seem extra open to conversations these days, even if it’s purely due to cabin fever.
Business Development Director