Much of the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit was focused on restoring trust; from fake news to viewability and ad fraud.
But there was still time set aside for looking forward at some of the opportunities and challenges that will face media over the next couple of years. Tom Goodwin, the executive vice president of innovation, Zenith USA talked about the ten themes that will move us forward in 2017, if only we are brave enough to approach them with boldness and creativity.
1 – Abundance
Goodwin’s first point was a warning about the content machine, and its inevitable consequences:
“We need to be mindful of the incredible amount of content that’s available, but also the complete lack of attention most people pay to it; the amount of content in the world is paralysing us all. Our phones have created media moments, and increasingly phones can create them wherever we are.
“This is not a particularly sustainable future. We’re always designing adverts with the assumption that people have spare capacity and time.”
This assumption that people have spare time to read, watch and listen to what media owners have created is one which will result in an increasingly aggressive competition for eyeballs.
“The current breakneck rate of media means that we’re saturated and our attention is limited. Grabbing meaningful attention is the greatest challenge,” he added.
2 – Digital disappears
Many people have critiqued the industry’s obsession with the term ‘digital’. Goodwin pointed out that much of this is because we didn’t grow up with the technology, and can still estimate how much of our time we spend ‘online’. But that’s no longer a concrete concept.
“The younger you are, the less the concept of ‘time spent online’ makes any sense. For 14-year-olds, for there to be an ‘online’, there would have to be an ‘offline’. We talk about social media as if it’s an activity that people do rather than just the way things are.”
This is especially true with smartphones; it could easily be argued that we are constantly online.
“This obsession with digital being an ‘activity’ is laughable. There are devices like Google Home which will bring these ideas forward and blur the lines further – as an internet connected device, it doesn’t look how we think it should – it has no screen!”
Goodwin argued that we need to stop thinking about ‘online’ and ‘digital’ as things we do, and instead as an unspoken part of our everyday lives:
“Digital is like oxygen. It’s there all the time and surrounds us every moment of every day. We can’t base our businesses on the ‘digital’ concept, it has to be an integral part.”