WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 2014, I believe the news industry will be marked by creativity.
I’ve heard this over and over in my conversations with publishers, advertisers and journalists. We’re already seeing big ideas being implemented, and the industry as a whole is eager to collaborate in developing better consumer experiences and more unique product offerings.
These conversations and industry trends drove our program for NAA mediaXchange 2014. We’re thrilled to welcome hundreds of industry leaders in March as we gather to discuss cutting-edge technology, innovative new ideas and best practices for growth in 2014. Our annual event has become the launching pad for many great ideas, as we expect from the startup companies involved in our inaugural Accelerator Pitch program that have the potential to transform our industry. It is an event that should be attended by anyone in the media industry, from journalists to advertising and circulation executives to publishers.
As we look ahead to 2014, there are three key topics that will drive our continued growth – mobile, native advertising and individualized content.
The use of mobile devices will continue to explode, and newspapers will continue to explore what mobile really means for the news industry. The purpose of a newspaper has always been to connect with the audience and share news with people where they are. Once upon a time, it was in the town square. Now, it’s on wireless devices and social networks.
In 2014, we’ll see more newspapers creating a mobile-first strategy, as opposed to a “How do we fit mobile into this?” strategy. It’s worked, famously, for Twitter. We’re already seeing papers updating their websites and apps, putting a lot of thought into the user experience. The Washington Post’s Topicly, a mobile and visual news interface launched in September, was developed to rethink the news experience for mobile users’ preferences. I believe we’ll see many more creative ideas, strategies, and offerings over the next year that will truly optimize content and the experience for users on every platform.
In fact, we might lose the mobile buzzword entirely. We’ll be thinking less in fragmented words – like mobile, social, print and website – and instead focus solely on the audience and how they connect to infuse everything we do and create. The San Francisco Chronicle has instituted a social bootcamp to ingrain this mindset into their journalists and it is that type of forward thinking that will drive newspapers forward.
Bonin Bough from Mondelez International, one of our keynote speakers at NAA mediaXchange, will address what it looks like to leverage mobile effectively today, while a panel featuring executives from ESPN, The Wonderfactory, Digital First Media and the Dallas Morning News will discuss different perspectives on best practices and how to thrive in this environment.
Speaking of buzzwords, native advertising will continue to play a key role for both advertisers and publishers in our industry. It’s stirred plenty of debate about measurement, engagement and transparency, but it really comes down to good storytelling that engages and communicates with the reader.
As our biggest questions get answered and the hype subsides, native advertising will remain an effective form of advertising and we’ll get better at creating and defining the appropriate metrics to measure success. We expect that our native advertising panel at NAA mediaXchange, featuring leaders from Dell, NewsCred, the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, to be one of our most popular as these experts share how to make native advertising work for all involved – audiences, advertisers and journalists.
Technology is obviously a key factor in any industry’s growth in today’s culture and there is a tremendous opportunity for newspapers to leverage Big Data to deliver personally relevant, targeted news. There is an ocean of information on the Internet for readers to wade through, and in 2014 I believe we’ll see more and more newspapers augmenting their product offerings by listening to consumers, tailoring newspapers and reports, and growing in their role of information curator.
Start-ups and apps have been playing with the idea of customized news, but newspapers can further combine and leverage the trusted brand name, reliable news, and a wealth of data about consumer preferences. 2014 will be all about providing a custom news experience, which is why we’re devoting a panel at mediaXchange to dissecting this very topic. Raju Narusetti from News Corporation, Scott Howe from Axciom and Frederic Filloux from Les Echos will discuss how journalists, publishers and advertisers can successfully leverage Big Data to create an even better product, customer experience and advertising results.
We invite you to attend NAA mediaXchange 2014 to network and collaborate with these speakers and fellow industry leaders. We are only a few weeks into 2014, but early returns suggest a very good year for the newspaper industry.
For more from Caroline Little, follow @NAACEO on Twitter.
NOTE: The WVPA encourages all newspapers to visit and join http://www.naa.org