Media Convergence – The New Content Paradigm-Part 1

One of the most rapid changes that are happening in the digital content sphere in the last few years is the explosive growth of new media delivery platforms like smart phones, tablet PCs and social networks. These newer content channels along with falling prices to access content (read falling rates of mobile services and device price) and an increasingly global business community present businesses with the unique challenge of serving up right content to the right people with the right context consistently across all the channels (e.g. print, Web, television, mobile and social). Organizations that traditionally served up content through channels like print or television suddenly are grappling with the challenges of sharing the same content however after repurposing to the new age media. As part of a two-post series on the changing issue of convergence of various media channels and how to tackle it, in this post we’ll discuss the typical content management related issues faced by organizations when multiple channels are involved. In the next post, we will focus on the solutions part.

As pointed out earlier, organizations are facing stiff challenges to share their content with the intended audience in newer media platforms like smart phones and tablet PCs. Following are some of the common issues associated with publication across multiple channels.

  • Media Specific Content: Organizations need to decide what content to serve on which media. Based on the capabilities of the platforms and cost of access, organizations need to draw a configurable strategy that will allow them to repurpose their content and serve it to a specific media in the optimum way – taking into account media real estate, screen resolutions, usability and cost of access. Since the capabilities of the media channels are rapidly improving and the cost of access is also decreasing, the strategy will be an evolving and configurable one with more rich content being served on web and smart phones.
  • Content Reuse: Reuse of the same content for different media channels is probably the biggest value driver for media convergence initiatives. However, it is easier said than done. The messaging that organizations deliver across media channels will often vary with segmentation across audience based on the channel they use. Hence sometimes repurposing content involves more than just reducing the volume of characters to fit into the screen real estate. Proper editorial team structure and workflow needs to be designed with the aim of maximizing content reuse and yet maintaining channel-specific messaging.
  • Content Synchronization across Channels: Organizations need to deliver consistent content across the channels in real time. Otherwise a disruptive customer experience erodes the value you are trying to deliver. For example, if a television channel has different scheduling information shown on the web than what is on the TV that is a cardinal mistake. You can’t afford mixed messages in these days of fleeting customer loyalty. The true convergence aims to make the user experience transition across channels (print, TV, Web and mobile) completely seamless.
  • Social Media Messaging: A lot has been written and said about the emergence of social media as the most efficient content channel and what organizations should do about it. Recently, the  public outcry in the blogosphere over the redesigned GAP logo and the subsequent withdrawal of the same is a clear example of the power and agility of this medium.  Millions can share their views overnight and can make your brand the most popular or most hated. Because of the rapid permeating nature of social media, organizations need to get their messaging absolutely correct as there is hardly any chance or scope to look back and make corrective actions after content is published in social media. Hence the need to have processes with strong editorial review built into the publication system.
  • Monetizing Content across Channels: With audiences flocking more towards new age media channels, monetizing the content with newer revenue models has become the norm these days. What will be your strategy? Will it be subscription based, pay as you consume,  or will you share content in exchange of newer currencies? These days some are allowing you to consume content in exchange for you sharing it further to your networks. Your “download now” link is activated the moment you “retweet” the link of the content or share it in Facebook or LinkedIn. Bottom line – the content application needs to be nimble enough to adapt to these newer rapidly evolving revenue models!
  • Contextual Advertisement and Promotions: Multi-channel advertisement and promotions are important for retailers. The intelligent and contextual dynamic advertisement on the web or mobile brings in additional revenue for the organizations. If it is in co-ordination with other channels it makes the user experience consistent throughout. That does not however stop retailers from offering web specific promotions or contextual dynamic advertisements.

There are quite a few other factors that play important roles in media convergence strategies like choosing the right CDN (content delivery network), streaming technology, cloud computing, load balancing etc. However, these are infrastructure-related issues and out of scope of our current discussion. What has been your experience while dealing with media convergence related issues? Feel free to share your views and stay tuned for part two of the series where we will be discussing some of the exciting solutions that are coming up in the media convergence space.

Prithwiraj Deb

Manager - ECM Practice, Virtusa. Prithwiraj is a manager in the business consulting group of Virtusa, with focus and expertise in Enterprise Content Management, Portal Development and Storage Technology. He has been involved in implementing solutions for global clients across Industry verticals and domains. Prithwiraj joined Virtusa in 2006 and has since been a key member of the ECM Solutions Group. Prithwiraj is a certified AIIM ECM Practitioner and has interests in WCM, Web 2.0, Mobile Content and E-Commerce related areas. He holds a post-graduation in Business Administration from Xavier Labor Relation Institute (XLRI), India. Prithwiraj prefers reading travelogues as and when he gets the time, and loves travelling and visiting new places and cultural sites.

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