The pace of change is relentless

19 Sep 2012  |  Abba Newbery 

Abba Newbery, director of advertising strategy at News International, on the big trends that will fundamentally impact the way we publish the newspaper of the future... 

News International recently commissioned The Future Laboratory to consider how the current trends will impact on the way we consume news and entertainment in the future.

The aim of the project is to inform and inspire everyone involved in the creation of our newspapers to consider the big changes that are starting to gather pace. Below are some of the big trends that will fundamentally impact the way we publish the newspaper of the future.

Trend 1 - Information overload

Increasingly people are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, distractions and choices they face in an always-on culture. Twenty years ago, people dealt with as much information as if they had read 40 newspapers every day. Now, they get through the equivalent of 174 newspapers a day. (Source: University of Southern California).

Reuters alone puts out three and a half million news stories a year. We are now thinking about news publishing in a much more sophisticated way: is it social, best consumed second screen, how much can you read in 16 mins on a mobile device?

Trend 2 - Digital diets

We are starting to see tools and devices emerging that enable information-overloaded consumers to navigate the noise and focus on things that matter. The RescueTime app monitors where you spend time online, forcing you offline at certain times, and claims to rescue an average of three hours and 54 minutes of productive time per person per week.

As a newspaper publisher News International's role is rooted in not only aggregating but also providing intelligent editing and services that eliminate complicated processes.

It is our role to understand that a reader may like to read long-form journalism at the weekend and shorter blog posts on weekday mornings. The digital revolution in newspapers means we start developing, editing and creating our journalism tuned to real and subtle behaviours and habits.

Trend 3 - Simple information

We are seeking new and simpler ways to visualise and consume the wealth of data we come into contact with daily. Instead of producing text-based results, the Wolfram Alpha computational search engine presents some of its results in the form of graphs and tables.

Google Labs' Culturomics viewer enables users to search through books in Google's digitised archive for key words, presenting the results as a graph. We are increasingly investing in infographics and dashboards to present complex information quickly.

Trend 4 - Integrated advertising

We see a powerful future in interactive commercials that don't conflict with the content in which they sit. We are looking at ways to embed technology that lets our readers point at a static or moving image in order to buy or see more without opening another page.

Kiosked is a new platform that embeds advertising in online media to enable people to seamlessly shop for related items, and to share with friends without navigating away.

Trend 5 - Personalised media

Broadcasters are ahead of newspapers streamlining their services based on users' personal information. Magazine start-up app Zite is a very interesting model for the future. It learns its users' interests, enabling them to edit their own iPad publication. The app gathers information from its users' Twitter accounts to select and direct relevant stories, and consumers can create their own layout for the iPad publication to personalise their reading experience.

Some believe that interfaces will become even more intuitive - imagine a newspaper that serves stories to you based on facial recognition of how happy you are.

Trend 6 - Data rewards

We see that the growing awareness of the value of personal data is motivating consumers to engage with games and websites that reward them for information on their behaviour.

Social shopping game Fantasy Shopper enables players to spend virtual money on items from familiar brands, sharing their outfits to earn badges and points. This gives consumers a stimulating social game while benefiting brands with real-time data about their consumers' buying behaviour.

People are starting to realise that they are becoming the product as much as the customer in terms of the relationship they have with a social network for example. As a subscriber led business News International's challenge is to find the right balance between user experience and a strong commercial model.

Trend 7 - Responsive content

We are constantly looking at new technologies enabling our readers to interact with content easily, with swipes rather than clicks, as well as to respond to readers in real time.

The Post tablet magazine enables the reader and viewer to swipe in different directions to find new pages, to manipulate moving imagery, and to navigate through video Q&As by tapping on questions.

The pace of change is relentless. This week we announced a pioneering approach to our advertising model that breaks down traditional barriers between print and digital. We've developed proprietary technology that automatically translates print creative to digital format allowing print advertisers access to our full range of digital editions.

Not what you'd expect from a traditional newspaper publisher. We are committed to investing in digital publishing and this means keeping close to the changing behaviours all around us, some of which may be the next big thing.

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