Audio, automation, and the apocalypse

Take-homes and highlights from the Future of Media Technology 2022 conference – a masterclass on how news organisations can thrive in a digital era.

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Big Bite proudly sponsored last month’s Future of Media Technology conference, and as you’d expect from an event aimed at news outlets, it was jam-packed with content. Covering a wide range of topics such as customer journey orchestration, adtech, and audience growth, the well-attended conference shared views and experiences from a host of well-known organisations including CNN, the Evening Standard, Buzzfeed and the BBC. 

The Big Bite team was also on hand throughout the day to offer organisations expert advice on how to publish rich, engaging content faster than ever before with WordPress. As well as meeting a lot of new and familiar faces, we also got the chance to hear some valuable insights, illuminating stats, and informed opinions from world leaders in the news industry, and have highlighted some of the key takeaways here.

Photo © 2022 – ASV Photography Ltd

Keep your data clean 

User data is always a hot topic in the digital sector, however with Google now phasing out Chrome’s third-party cookies, it’s an even thornier issue for organisations that are yet to get their data houses in order. This challenge was addressed in the aptly titled session, How Publishers Can Survive The Cookie Apocalypse, where panel members advised that organisations look to obtain first-party data as quickly as possible. 

The value of quality over quantity was also a major point, as the audience was encouraged to only retain user data that’s relevant to an organisation’s needs, not least to avoid potentially huge fines where legislation compliance may be an issue. Karen Eccles, Managing Director of Digital, Partnerships and Innovation at The Telegraph, also shared that high quality data has helped to increase the value proposition of the newspaper’s advertising, however balance is important as research shows that too many ads can generate poorer results. 

Audio is on the up

In one of two talks centred around podcasting at the event, panellists from the Evening Standard, Financial Times, and Small Wardour joined CBeebies presenter Nick Clarke to discuss the growing popularity of the medium. “I think we’re heading into the golden age of podcasting” said David Marsland, Head of Audio at the Evening Standard. “We have very, very large amounts of money coming into podcasting…It couldn’t be a better place to be”.

Despite significant spending increases on podcasts from major players across the globe – including Spotify which recently invested $1 billion in podcast production – it was noted that any news organisations looking to explore it as an additional revenue source will need to exercise patience. Often, it can take a fair amount of time to generate sponsors and subscribers to deliver a healthy return. 

Technology is your friend

An ongoing concern for some journalists and editors within the industry has been the rise of robots, and the worry that AI will eventually replace humans when it comes to reporting. This was directly addressed in a session entitled Future of Data Journalism, which featured speakers from BBC News, CNN, Bloomberg, and United Robots.  

“You do not automate people out of their jobs. You actually automate tests that they hate doing in a very precise way.” said Claudia Quinonez, Global Head at Bloomberg’s News Innovation Lab. “So really, in the end, we’re best if we look at technology as our friend, because it can help us do incredible journalism.”

Claudia’s view was echoed by other panellists who shared real-world examples of how automation frees up journalists to focus more on creating strong articles and breaking stories. As an agency that specialises in streamlining the publishing process for enterprise organisations, this was a particularly fascinating discussion for the Big Bite team and we’ll continue to follow the progress of AI within the news industry.

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