Until recently, Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) were seen as one of – if not, the – key mechanism through which future higher eduction schemes would be delivered.
From their first use in 2008, educators, entrepreneurs, and reformers had been queuing up to talk about the virtues of a learning model that offered the prospect of an education system where thousands of people could learn together.
Throughout 2012, and even up until last year, the idea that MOOCs would represent a fundamental part of the future of higher eduction was still common – but then something changed.
According to Angela Maurer, it’s Head of Innovation, Tesco is also a technology company set on developing the future of retail – and that includes experimenting with grocery shopping via a Google Glass concept app.
Even the most superficial reader of newspaper websites can’t fail to notice the abundance of new technology that is now regularly incorporated into the storytelling process – and as the demand for new ways of telling stories evolves, the range of editorial skills required is evolving almost as quickly as the technology used to publish.
But it isn’t just in editorial that new digital skills are required. As publishers, both local and national, struggle to work out how to make money from digital, the roles of advertising salespeople are changing even more rapidly.
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been immersed in the newspaper sector; talking to senior decision-makers about the kind of posts they find hardest to recruit. By some margin, the most common answer has been ‘good salespeople who really understand digital’.
In the last two years we have worked closely with several key firms producing successful workflow tools for the professional services sector. In that time we’ve had many wonderful conversations with our partners, but again and again these discussions seem to orbit one central concern – in a digital age, how do our partners build products that are indispensable to their professional service clients?
The message that comes from these discussions is that at the heart of every process to product and content development should be an acute understanding of the user, the intricacies of their day-to-day work, and a fundamental grasp of their pain points.
Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the last few weeks, it would be hard to avoid knowing the 2014 World Cup kicks off tonight in Brazil.
As with many other large sporting events, the build-up to the tournament has been littered with stories about institutional corruption, levels of preparedness, and disquiet in the host country about about staging the event. Yet, if the Brazilian World Cup follows the traditional pattern, all this noise should fade away once the football begins and fans will get down to the serious business of shouting at their televisions as they watch men run about in the searing heat.
Have you dipped your toe in the world of social media? Have you set up a Twitter account for your firm, but then perhaps forgotten about it? Is social media something you think your business should do, but haven’t really yet figured out how it all works or what the benefits can be?
If the answer to the those questions is mainly ‘yes’, then you’ve come to the right place. The good news is that it can be a relatively straightforward process to get something workable in place, the bad news is that you may have to do a quick audit first – don’t worry, we’ll keep it short and sweet.
For educators, students, parents, and politicians the shift to online learning presents an opportunity to improve achievement, reduce costs, and deliver tailored learning experiences. For educational publishers, this change is as much a headache as an opportunity.
Educational publishing is undergoing profound upheaval, and for some traditional firms managing the shift to a digitised world is proving tricky.
Publishers are often guilty of focusing too closely on how customers engage with their existing offering rather than asking themselves the fundamental question: what do my customers really need?
Publishing for the professional services used to be a sedate affair: a magazine would come into print once a week, perhaps once a fortnight, and at regular intervals it would be accompanied by a special pullout or an information booklet. It was all very calm and straightforward.
Digital publishing changed everything. News and comment is now instant, and data sets are available at the touch of a button, but of all the changes brought about by technology, this speeding-up of the information transfer is neither the most radical or the most useful.
Providing news and data sets quickly is all very well, but what modern businesses really need is smart information derived from data-driven analysis, and to have that integrated with workflow tools.
Imagine running a business where behind the scenes there wasn’t just lots of dull clerical work, but a ton of switched-on, enthusiastic people experimenting at the cutting edge of technology to push your organisation forward.
Wouldn’t that be great? Isn’t that probably something you’d like to tell your customers about?
Previously, we have asked what makes good brand publishing and looked at best practice in financial services – a sector notorious for its heavy regulation and conservative approach to storytelling – but when looking for brands that are really good at developing innovative ways to talk about what they do well, technology companies are a great place to start.
Last month I tried to buy software online. I knew what I wanted, but when I visited the provider’s website it was full of baffling options and unnecessary guff. So I bought a rival product. My second choice. It was easier.
Then, last week, I bought a television. I researched online, found a product page with all the necessary info and a simple payment method, so I bought it. Suitable follow-up email has encouraged me to go back and buy a printer.
In both cases the determining factor wasn’t the product, it was the experience.
In recent weeks the concept of “efficacy” has become something we have been thinking about more and more. In conversations with clients and prospects, the ability for them to ensure a desired or intended result with the services and products they supply has been high on their list of concerns.
How do we – the conversations go – ensure we produce stuff our customers really want or need? How do we ensure a great reception for the things we produce or the programmes we run?
Increasingly, the answer is to establish a better understanding of the customer – and the way to do that is to talk to them more directly, more personally, and in an overall smarter way.
Over the course of a few short years digital technology has fundamentally changed our publishing industries. Daily and weekly print editions have been replaced by constantly updated websites, apps, and digital downloads. Not only that, but the way we tell and adsorb stories has also changed.
To accommodate new formats and ways of sharing information, those working in publishing have been forced to adopt new skills. A keen editor now knows as much about the social media impact of their content and they do about story sources. But what do we really know about the skills publishing will require in five years time? What talents will staff need to remain relevant?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to senior managers across the newspaper industry to gain some insight into their recruitment needs. For those who have been paying close attention to the sector, much of what they’re saying won’t be hugely surprising , but over my next few posts I thought I’d share some insight for the benefit of any job-seekers out there.
Shira Feuer, head of social media EMEA for The Walt Disney Company, told The Economist’s Big Rethink conference the proposition was simple – to get attention, brands need to create something that is of value to the consumer.
But how does a brand define what is valuable? How does it know what consumers want to connect with across social media?
A publishing revolution is taking place and industries of all shapes and sizes need to be ready for the change – mobile will soon become the dominant technology over desktop computing and businesses need to align themselves for this new way of doing things.
Speaking last week at the launch of IMC’s Innovations in Magazine Media report, Juan Señor, a partner with Innovation Media Consulting, outlined how he thought the news publishing industries would be affected by the shift to a mobile, adding that this wasn’t a change that would happen in two or four years time, mobile first was happening right now.
“This is the mobile moment,” he said. “The tipping point where mobile traffic overtakes desktop.”
The traditional ‘funnel’ model used by marketers to map how consumers move from being interested in a product through to purchase is broken and a new set of factors has been brought into play by the rise of social media, according to a leading media consultant.
Bjorn Timelin, a partner with McKinsey & Company, told The Big Rethink conference last week that despite the ‘consumer decision journey’ being nothing like it was ten years ago, many companies still use the funnel model to plan their marketing campaigns.
For brands that want to prolong their relationship with customers, he said, it was essential to understand how technology had changed purchasing journeys and adapt accordingly. It is no longer a linear process, he said, but a circular one. The old model of customers moving neatly through the funnel from the ‘marketing’ phase to ‘store purchase’ was gone – as was the old idea that ‘advocacy’ came after a purchase.
Banner advertising has long been the established method by which digital publishers generate income – but an increased use of mobile, difficultly innovating the humble skyscraper, and growing customer ‘blindness’ to banners has led many to re-evaluate their approach and instead start experimenting with native ads.
Guardian News & Media is the latest publisher to jump aboard the native ads bandwagon. The Guardian is by no means the only newspaper looking for new and innovative ways to raise revenue (in fact, the Times has been has been involved with branded content for years), but even by its own forward-thinking standards, its move into native advertising is a compelling one.
The publisher has set up a branded content division – called Guardian Labs – with the aim of creating innovative marketing campaigns that can stretch its revenue stream beyond display ads.
Remember the days when making a purchase meant having to drive to the shop and buying whichever version it stocked of the item you wanted? It almost seems like another age.
Now, with Amazon and others, we research, review, compare deals and shop for alternatives at the touch of a button. Control has swung to the consumer like never before, and in the next 12 months that trend is set to increase as brands invest in technology to enable even greater levels of personalisation.
Late last year, Marketing Week predicted the rise of ‘Me-tail’ would be the biggest marketing trend in 2014.
Put simply, the ‘Me-tail’ concept will see brands move from one-size-fits-all messaging to a position where they can feed specific campaigns and offers to consumers in the hope that they can build relationships that are increasingly relevant to the needs of individual customers.
As specialists in media recruitment we often get asked about interview technique – what are the best ways candidates can present themselves to us and to potential employers. More strikingly, perhaps, we rarely get asked about the howlers, the absolute no nos, the things you really don’t want to say or do say during an interview – yet time and again we see the same issues cropping up.
Quite rightly, candidates focus on the positive aspects of their interviews – the points they intend to raise that show them in a good light to a potential employer – but too often not enough thought is given to the kind of behaviour that is best avoided.
If you want to avoid coming a cropper, it might be worth bearing in mind these few simple things:
The social network already has its own mobile chat platform, but its traction has not nearly been as strong as other standalone chat apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat. The astronomical price paid for WhatsApp reflects how keen Facebook is to get hold of a lithe, mobile technology.
What does a typical night-in look like in in the ‘teenies’? X Factor on the TV? Youtube during the breaks on an iPad? A constant stream of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates in-between? There’s also email and texts to check, not to mention all those WhatsApp messages flying back and forth.
Ask a digital advertiser about the biggest challenges they see ahead and they’re likely to tell you it’s this type of ‘dual screening’. Or, more accurately, it’s the inability of advertising to follow consumers as they hop from one device to the next. But all that could be about to change…Yes, welcome to the Brave New World of Sequential Messaging!
For the uninitiated, sequential messaging is the ability for marketing communications to leap between screens – for a campaign to play out in a chronological succession that builds from an initial touch point on TV, then across Twitter and so forth, dependent on a consumer’s next point of interaction with digital media.
News came last week that Bauer Media was launching a multi-platform title called The Debrief. There’s no great shock in a magazine publisher launching a new digital brand aimed at ABC1 20-something women, but the difference with The Debrief is that it plans to make its money by eschewing traditional banner ads in favour of native ads buried amongst its editorial content.
For the uninitiated, native ads are essentially pieces of promotional content designed to fit with the look, feel, and tone of a specific digital publishing platform. Some publishers claim they aren’t even a new phenomenon (advertorials anyone?), but the point is that 18 months ago saying ‘native ads’ to a brand manager might cause them to stare back as if you were talking Swahili. Say it to them now, and they’ll tell you it’s a phenomenon in which they’re extremely interested.
Johnston Press announced last week that every staff photographer working for its Midlands operation would be made redundant. That’s right, every JP newspaper in the Midlands will be left without an in-house photographer.
The presumption is that JP will instead rely entirely on freelancers – or just as likely, on “user-generated content” and other snaps from whomever happens to be in the vicinity with a mobile phone next time something newsworthy happens.
If that wasn’t sufficiently bad news for the state of media jobs in the regions, it appears that discussions are now ongoing to do something similar in the North West.
Whether the job title is Chief Communications Office, Head of Content or Director of Corporate Affairs, the day-to-day tasks in-house professionals in the public relations industry are asked to perform are undergoing fundamental change.
Across sectors as diverse as retail, financial services and health, the nature of PR jobs is being redrafted by the inevitable rise of digital technologies. New skills are needed at the highest level so businesses can compete in a world where new forms of communication are increasingly important.
When it introduced its paywall in August, The Sun became the first tabloid in the UK to charge for online content. For £2 per week, users are granted access to the newspaper’s website and its smartphone and tablet apps.
The Sun’s publisher, News UK, has previously taken sister titles The Times and Sunday Times behind a paywall, so the move was not wholly unexpected. However, taking The Sun behind a paywall was considered a gamble by some, given how News UK needs the publication to generate cash to support the wider business, and the wildly different approaches being taken by its closest rivals.
One of The Sun’s big online rivals, Mail Online, is now the world’s most popular newspaper website. It has achieved this by remaining an open site, where revenue is created by the scale of its audience.
Thanks to staggered release schedules, we’ve been robbed of a good old-fashioned console war for several years now. But, with Microsoft and Sony launching the Xbox One and Playstation 4 within a few weeks of each other in November, the tail end of 2013 once again presented the opportunity to put the devices back to back. So, which of these two consoles won Christmas?
Libor, PPI, and high-profile stories about boardroom incompetence have done little to end the public beating dished out to the finance industry during the economic crisis. If that wasn’t bad enough, the sector’s pedestrian approach to content marketing seems to have done little to help win back old sympathies or convince new customers of its trustworthiness or expertise.
In part, the problem is one of justified anxiety. Perfectly reasonable fears about breaching regulations and falling foul of one penalty or another have fed a culture of risk-averse marketing in the financial sector. Consequently, everything has a beige hue and fails to light the imagination.
With its traditional conservatism and complex regulations, the financial services industry doesn’t immediately strike you as a sector ready to embrace the brave new world of content marketing, but scratch the surface and what emerges is a set of compelling reasons why it should.
Unlike consumer disposables, buying a mortgage or a pension product is a significant purchase. When faced with such a big decision, potential customers tread carefully and have important questions. Digital technology has enabled them to seek out answers like never before, meaning firms that can engage individuals with high-quality content have the potential to build lasting relationships. But how do they go about doing that?
One of 2013’s most eagerly awaited gaming releases, Grand Theft Auto V, has proved to be the most successful launch in the industry’s history – but what does that mean when compared with other media earnings of recent times?
The game – developed by Rockstar Games – had reported sales topped $1bn (£626m) within three days of its release.
To put that success in some kind of context it’s useful to compare the figure with earnings in media verticals that sit away from the world of computer gaming.
When you click to a web page how often do you notice the adverts that surrounds the content you’re interested in? One in ten? One in 20 times?
It may be a crude approach but banner advertising is the established – if unspectacular – way publishers generate the bulk of their online revenue.
But as mobile usage increases publishers have found it hard to innovate the humble banner ad and link valuable click-through info to customers; couple that with increasing consumer ‘blindness’ to banners and you have a system in need of overhaul.