pulling on a rope
New dynamics in content creation will demand businesses to reassess their internal strengths and their external relationships PHOTO: Stijn Swinnen

As content creation and publishing become more automated, personalized and truly multichannel, the traditional content market is transforming. At the same time, software giants such as Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Google are taking a more active role across the entire content lifecycle. 

For traditional content companies, these moves represent both potential new competitive threats and opportunities to forge fresh partnerships.

Preparing for these challenges will require internal reorganization as well as rethinking third-party relationships.

Identify and Magnify Core Content Strengths

As new players enter the market, now is the time to reexamine whether or not content creation and publishing will remain your primary business. With analytics providing more insight into customers’ interests and buying behavior, you can make such a significant decision based on knowledge rather than intuition. 

In some cases, content may end up being a key driver for consumer attachment to your newer business ventures, such as events or products, rather than the primary revenue generator.

In looking to serve up content to new audiences and via new channels you may also want to consider how best to present or reimagine your content, so it fits its new medium. You may also want to rationalize which channels and which audiences you aim to appeal to and focus on in the future and which markets you may choose either not to enter or to no longer play in.

Form Short-Term Content Partnerships

Partnerships will play a more prominent role for many content companies, particularly if you choose to limit your own market focus. Teaming up with a community of like-minded content creators and managers is one way a single company can effectively compete with much larger entities moving into the market.

New alliances may well be formed on more of an ad-hoc basis, with companies joining forces on particular projects for a matter of months rather than years and then going back to competing in other areas.

Reorganize Staff to Realize Content Automation Benefits

Once you have determined whether or not to shift your core business and where partnerships make sense, ensure you have the right resources in place to meet your future needs.

As traditional content creation and management tasks become more automated, companies can move employees to higher-value positions within their organization. For example, think of a task like color correction, which in the past was an issue requiring a team of editorial staff, whereas now it’s heavily automated and relies on IT rather than editorial support.

In the future, your employees’ roles will focus more heavily on content creativity, storytelling, active curation and two-way engagement with content consumers as you create more personalized content for communities or individuals. There’ll also be more in-house analysis of content consumers’ behavioral data and decision making based on those insights. The end goal may be one where consumers can actually customize your content to provide the ultimate personalized end user experience.

To prepare for this reorganization, you will need to invest in training and retraining for employees’ new roles and responsibilities.

Pool Content Resources Internally

Several emerging models based on resource sharing suggest potential ways to shift the process of publishing and managing content.

One approach companies are starting to take internally uses specialist competency hubs to meet the content needs of multiple brands rather than the traditional approach of assigning separate resources to individual publications. This centralization of roles is already taking shape within the magazine world, where hubs are forming around areas such as photos, beauty and sports.

Tap External Subject Matter Experts

Another approach sees a company engaging outside specialists as subject matter experts to create content and then using internal staff as what can be called "brand guardians." The guardians can ensure that all content adheres to a brand’s look and feel and messaging. 

In that way, while sourced from a variety of third parties, the content has a single voice or identity.

Give Content Personality and Purpose

Whether content remains your primary revenue generator or becomes a key driver to other offerings remember, good content will attract and retain audiences while poor quality content may alienate consumers and harm your publications or brands. 

Capitalize on your internal resources to create and manage high-quality and engaging content for all channels. At the same time, band together with more companies as new content ecosystems develop which rely on a strong spirit of partnership. In that way, you can feel and act less as an individual entity and more as part of a content community.

This is the second in a series of articles from WoodWing examining the future of content. The first article on the impact of emerging technologies is here.