My Predictions for the Digital Media Industry in 2020

It’s a brand new year and so you know what that means…it’s
time for that time-honored tradition of sharing predictions for the New Year.

1 Audio will be the new video

I don’t think anyone will dispute the idea that video has
emerged as the format of choice for content. Video is the format most likely to
surface on your social media news feed. And it’s also the format in which
brands have been investing in the most for their content marketing. But if you
want to stay ahead of the curve, start thinking about audio.

Consider this: big tech is investing heavily in audio. Just
look at all the voice-enabled devices and services coming out from Google,
Apple and Amazon. And let’s not forget all the audio services already available
on all our smartphones, from music to podcasts to e-books.

In fact, the three tech giants just announced they’re
putting aside their competition and forging a rare collaboration over
smart-home standards. The idea is to develop and promote a new, royalty-free
connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, most
of which will be voice-controlled.

The TL/DR version? That sounds like an open API so that
it’ll be easier for third parties to develop voice- and audio-enabled services.

When it comes to audio, just to show you I’m putting my money where my mouth is, I’ve just launched the first in a series of podcasts.

So whether it’s podcasts or voice-enabled services, if
you’re a brand without an audio strategy today, you’re going to be playing
catch-up in twenty-twenty and beyond.

2 Print will make a comeback

People always raise an eyebrow every time I say this,
especially from someone known to be part of the digital media industry. But,
yes, I do believe we are set to see a renaissance for print…but probably not in
the way you think.

This is a copy of a magazine called Smart CIO. It comes in both digital and hard copy. And it even comes in English, Japanese and Korean language versions.

Full disclosure: my wife Jenny is the Editor-in-Chief of this publication. But Jenny doesn’t work for a publishing company or a media company. She is the APAC head of Communications at a Silicon Valley-headquartered cloud technology company called Workday. That’s right, the publisher isn’t a media company but a brand.

The publication contains industry information, interviews
with industry figures, Workday customers and non-customers (I’m sure they hope,
future customers), alike. To me, this makes a lot of sense. By developing original
content, Workday is able to reach out to and build credibility within the CIO
and CTO communities. And, just as important, they are building an audience and
community around their brand.

So why print? Well, there’s just something about the printed page that you
don’t get from reading off a screen. There are many studies that show words
printed on hard copy somehow have more credibility than, say, something you’ve
read online.

Having a physical copy also adds an inherent value. Just
think of all the old books and magazines you have stockpiled at home over the
years that you just haven’t had the heart to throw away.

When you hand someone a magazine or a book, people almost
can’t believe it when you tell them it’s theirs to keep.

This is why so many business leaders are publishing their
own books and giving them away when you meet them. It’s that instant
credibility and authority that comes with being an author and having your words
on the printed page.  

If I were the CEO of a major
company, I would be shopping around for a struggling magazine with a small,
niche, but otherwise loyal audience.

Think about it. You’d not only be buying
a media property with a reputable brand name in its own right, you’re buying
the community that comes with that brand.

And because you’re not a publisher
reliant on advertising revenue (although, ad revenue would a welcome bonus),
the economics are different for you. Think of how the cost of reaching
your target audience today through multi-million dollar ad campaigns compares
to reaching an audience that not only reads your publication willingly, but
actually looks forward to every single issue. Isn’t that audience worth a lot

3 More will be joining the Gig Economy

Deloitte recently released a
global survey of nearly 10,000 people revealing trends that impact HR leaders.
One of them is that people electing to work in the alternative workforce has
now become mainstream.

When most people think of the Gig
Economy, they tend to think Uber or Grab drivers, photographers, freelance
graphic designers, web developers, etc. That’s not really new. What I believe will happen is that
more senior executives, people in their 40s or older, will consider moving out
of traditional employment to this new way of working.

Whether that will happen by choice
or whether that decision will be made for you, it’s something for everyone at
that stage of their career to think about. There’s bound to be more upheaval
in the media industry as industries are disrupted, companies consolidate, get
swallowed up or are broken apart.

One big difference is that in
2020, opportunities exist today that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Services like Fiverr and Upwork make it easier than ever for freelancers to
find work. For senior executives, there’s
LinkedIn, which has enabled many executives to transition from the corporate
world to building up their own personal brands and starting companies of their

After all, when many people say
they work in the Gig Economy, I prefer to think of them by the more traditional
term: Entrepreneurs.

Enjoy what’s left of the Holiday
season and have a Happy New Year!

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