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Technology innovations drive 2024 media trends

New research finds that media companies need to employ new technologies to improve operations, engage new audiences, and customize experiences.

May 7, 2024 | By Suzanne S. LaPierre – Independent Media Reporter @Bookmouser

New technologies will be critical to the media landscape in 2024, converging with trends towards immersive, personalized experiences and the increased impact of the creator economy, according to Arthur D. Little’s State of the Media Market 2024. The report is subtitled “Back to Balance: A Year of Prudent Economic Expectations,” reflecting the authors’ belief in the sector’s recovery and stabilization following a rocky 2023. Read on for a few takeaways from this extensive report.  

The media embraces new technologies

A persistent theme in the ADL report is the need to employ new technologies to improve operations, engage new audiences, and customize experiences.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) continue to transform the media landscape, helping to automate manual processes, personalize content and experiences, and enable data-driven decision-making to power industry growth. However, for all its utility and potential, AI is a powder keg of potentially explosive issues, as seen during the WGA strikes (which resulted in greater protections and compensation for writers). The ADL report maintains that early adopters will benefit from AI innovations, even as the regulatory and ethical landscape around AI continues to evolve.
  • VR and AR add dimension to immersive experiences for customers and will increasingly merge with other new technologies in the development of cutting-edge user experiences.
  • Cloud computing facilitates agility and reduces costs. Cloud gaming continues to expand globally, driven in part by immersive experience.
  • Big data and analytics should be wisely employed to discover customer preferences and behavior and inform industry decision-making.
  • Social media continues to be vital to the overall media industry, with huge capacity to engage audiences, build brand awareness, and boost content discovery. Platforms such as Twitch, Reddit, Discord, and TikTok are enticing content creators with AI tools that facilitate video and music editing, while also developing tools to label AI-generated content.

Audio is a big opportunity

Perhaps it’s a sign of multitasking culture, but the public’s appetite for music, podcasts, and audiobooks has remained robust and is forecast to remain strong.

  • Music streaming saw almost double-digit growth globally during the pandemic, and that growth is forecast to continue at a somewhat slower but still steady rate. The U.S. was the main driver, contributing about 40% of the growth in the global music streaming market in 2024. Spotify continues to dominate as a platform. Most streaming services increased consumer prices in 2023 but also expanded options such as audiobooks and podcasts.
  • Podcasts are still climbing in popularity and attracting advertisers. A significant portion of the public are tuning in to news podcasts, especially in the U.S. 19% of U.S. residents surveyed have tuned into a news podcast in the last month, compared to an average of 12% globally. Sweden is just behind the U.S. in news podcast use at 17%, with the UK lagging at only 8%, according to the ADL study.
  • Audiobooks continue in popularity overall and will benefit from a boom in education publishing (which is expected to achieve double-digit growth between 2020 to 2025), and in self-publishing. Spotify has moved into the audiobooks business, offering 15 free hours of audiobook listening to paid subscribers in the U.S., UK, and Australia.

Traditional news vs. the “creator” economy

Creator culture and the resulting creator economy have grown, and AI tools are making even it easier for individuals to create and edit content. Brands are recognizing the power of influencer marketing and giving creators more leeway to put forth fresh, albeit less polished, content.

A flipside of the enthusiasm for interactivity and user creation is declining interest in newsprint and linear television. Younger generations are driving this change. In the UK, only people aged 55 and older cited television as their primary source of news (42%). Those under age 45 showed a strong preference for online sites and apps as news sources, followed by social media. People under 25 relied on social media above all, with 41% of people in that age group citing it as their main source of news, according to the survey.

A concerning aspect of this trend is the lack of regulation, which makes misinformation much easier to launch and spread. Print news struggles to compete with free but often less reliable digital news platforms. Only a small minority of all age groups (ranging from 6% of people 55+ to 0% of those 45-54) in the ADL’s UK survey cited print as their primary source of news. Bundling and partnerships may be one path to combine more traditional linear media sources with more fluid and creator-friendly platforms.

Recommendations for media companies

In addition to the key theme of embracing and leveraging new technologies, the report’s authors offer a few more recommendations.

  • Forge strategic partnerships to reach new audiences, pool resources, and share expertise.
  • Balance user privacy with data-driven decision-making.
  • Invest in customer relationships, using new technologies to better understand and communicate with users and tailor content accordingly.
  • Deliver excellent content and experiences. There’s no substitute for outstanding content. Audiences seek high quality, engaging, unique experiences, so media leaders must invest in content that rises above that of competitors.
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