Sylvia Jensen
Sylvia Jensen 14 February 2019

3 Trends Facing the Media, Entertainment and Publishing Industry

It’s hard to think of any industries that have been harder hit by the deluge of technology advances and changes in consumer behaviour as the media, entertainment and publishing (MEP) industry.

Even as little as 10 years ago, the MEP industry looked entirely different. Print media was still king, Blockbuster had around 100 stores around the UK, and barely anybody had heard of Netflix or Spotify. Consumers still favoured physical media and accessing video content through the internet was a pipe dream.

Now, the tables have turned — publishers of every kind are still struggling to deal with the digital onslaught. Blockbuster is no more, and Netflix is a shining example of how to serve customers in the digital age. In fact, last marked the year that subscriptions to online streaming services overtook subscriptions to traditional satellite and cable services in the UK.

Given the huge pace of change recently, Acquia hosted a Twitter chat with MEP experts to find out the challenges facing the industry right now, and what it has in store for the world in the near future. This is what we learned:

1.It’s becoming harder for MEPs to differentiate themselves

As Myles Davidson, managing director at Inviqa pointed out, there are thousands of subscription services vying for people’s attention, and the likes of Netflix have set the bar very high for low-cost, high-value services. And because there are so many organisations competing for attention, it’s difficult for any organisation to really stand out from the crowd.

And vying for attention is especially hard in an age where, thanks to YouTube and other streaming services, consumers are used to getting a lot of content for free. The challenge therefore, is to produce content that is so good that it makes people feel like it’s worth paying for — and content that is worth coming back for.

2.MEPs want the benefits of focused customer targeting — but are struggling to achieve it

One of the ways in which most organisations try to differentiate themselves is through effective use of personalisation.

Effective personalisation enables MEP organisations to push different pieces of content to different people based on their preferences — all at the right time and on the right device. The Times, for example, uses artificial intelligence to learn an individual’s preferences and automatically personalise each edition in terms of format, time and frequency.

Big data analytics and predictive technologies are starting to play more of a role to underpin personalisation, but for the vast majority of MEP organisations, the main hurdle holding back these technologies is the lack of a single customer view. With multiple customer data points stored in different siloes (which were quite often built years ago with no thought towards future integration), organisations are struggling to get the right insights about customers — making segmenting and targeting a significant challenge. And without being able to segment and target, effective personalisation becomes a serious challenge.

3.Revenue streams are coming under more and more pressure

While consumers now have a huge amount of choice when it comes to MEP platforms, the shift towards original programming and exclusive content has left consumers feeling the pressure to subscribe to service after service to get to the content they want. For example, consumers wanting to watch both The Crown and The Grand Tour would have to subscribe to two services in Netflix and Amazon Prime. In the UK, half of all streaming subscribers pay for two or more of the services.

With consumers keeping their fingers on the pulse of all the streaming services in terms of price, MEPs are facing less and less flexibility with pricing changes. As time goes on, consumer use of multiple platforms could lead to bundling services at a reduced rate.

Why open-source technology is key to the success of the future MEP industry

The volcanic eruption in the number of delivery choices for media makes keeping up extremely challenging. Providers need to meet consumers on the device they choose, and there are plenty of them: smartphones, tablets, e-readers, electronic assistants, set-top delivery services. And there’s more on the horizon with voice-assisted devices, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and plenty of things we probably couldn’t imagine today.

It’s easier for MEP organisations to be left behind, especially with technologies that were developed based on yesterday’s needs, clumsily integrated into existing platforms, and likely to be obsolete almost as soon as they’re launched.

Therefore, keeping up with the fast-changing media environment simply calls for open-source technology. Thanks to armies of willing and able developers, only open-source web content management, personalisation and customer journey orchestration technologies can evolve quickly enough to meet customers on their terms — and ensure investments don’t quickly go out of date.

Drupal is one example of an open-source foundational technology. Drupal operates on an integration model with future generations of technologies through open APIs, so should any new technologies arise that MEPs need to integrate, incorporating those technologies becomes much easier than traditional, proprietary technology.

And if the next 10 years changes as much as the last 10, MEPs have little choice but to consider their technology choices now — or as one expert put it in our Twitter chat: “either progress or compress”.

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