Raghav Bahl, Co-Founder, Quint Digital Media Ltd spoke on “Digital Media Predictions for 2022” in a webinar. As part of this engaging and insightful panel discussion, he shared his views on a wide array of topics concerning the future of digital media. The webinar featured Chirdeep Shetty, CEO, Of Quintype in conversation with Bahl.
Digital ad revenues were one of the key points of discussion, Bahl observed that Covid has ushered in a significant movement towards digital and while the first wave of Covid saw a decrease in serving of digital ads, the subsequent waves have seen the advertisers come back and adapt to the new digital paradigm, which has reflected in increasing digital ad revenues for publishers in 2021. It is likely that this trend of increasing ad revenue will continue, albeit the advertisers need to be mindful that the secret sauce is in serving ads across channels and in several formats.
In the same vein, Bahl added that traffic comes from different channels and website traffic is not the only indicator. Different formats of content distributed across different channels add up to a publisher’s digital presence. While specific businesses may want to focus on particular channels for distribution, depending upon their business model, the true power of digital, in the foreseeable future, is in being present across channels, distributing content across formats. Speaking of sources of traffic, Bahl stated “It’s not only website traffic that matters. In the digital world website traffic is the legacy”
The discussion also covered call-outs on specific formats like short-form videos which are likely to keep trending; specific methods such as newsletters were also discussed with the conclusion that niche-content newsletters would witness greater engagement than generic ones. The panel also discussed the elevated interest in recent times around “creator’s economy” and the fact that the plethora of digital channels is giving more opportunities for individual content creators to build a following for their brand driven by the intellectual value they offer.
Bahl shared his views on the choice of social channels for publishers. He opined that while niche publications might want to focus on specific platforms, the best way forward would be to have a well-balanced presence across a mix of old and new-age platforms, also to cater to the entire spectrum of demographics comprising the audience. Bahl shared the mantra of “do less engage more”, in this context, with a view to having a smart social presence.
The panel dwelled upon the topic of paywalled content and subscriptions – with observations around the importance of knowledge-driven value and a reputed brand, in this context, Bahl shared interesting insights around how upcoming brands can still have a significant presence in certain channels and for certain demographics. He also spoke about the distinction between memberships and subscriptions wherein memberships cater to following for a certain ideology or specific interest whereas subscriptions are almost always driven by following for super-specialized, vertical-specific content. Shetty touched upon the proverbial “subscription fatigue” and the potential thereof for one-time micropayments driven purchases. The panel concurred that the perceived fatigue is real and most consumers would likely have a maximum of two (primary and secondary subscriptions), going forward. The panel also concluded that micropayments would likely be a rare occurrence and not really a widespread trend in the future. In the context of the discussion around subscription revenues, Bahl also observed that ad revenues are still at a nascent stage and so while subscription revenues are important, publishers should not take their eye off the ad revenues piece that promises a massive potential.
The discussion flowed towards consolidation of media in the future. Bahl emphatically termed this as an inevitable phenomenon, with the need for catering to varied content needs of the same consumer. This could only be achieved by consolidating various specialized properties under the same brand, with central control on the dissemination of content.
The panel closed the conversation with remarks on the impact of technology on journalism and publishing. The panel observed that investment in technology is necessary for publishers, albeit they may want to modulate their spending based on the state of their business. Bahl opined that machine learning-generated content is still not going to be as impactful as what can be possibly created by a human mind. Discussions ensued on the recent buzz around the metaverse and possibilities around it in the future. Bahl mentioned that as long as the “metaverse experience” does not strain our senses or our mind, it would become really sought after, with a lot of content dissemination and consumption happening in the metaverse.