modular building
In the coming years, brands will be tasked with delivering a greater variety of content to a wider audience — here's what that will look like in practice PHOTO: Simon Goetz

As companies look to the future and strategize how to expand audiences for their content, they face some significant challenges. They must determine how best to create and manage rapidly increasing volumes of content, while at the same time delivering that content in context to an ever-widening variety of consumers.

While the format of the content will be a mix of traditional and brand-new types, target audiences will range in size from millions of consumers down to very specific groups and even individual customers. Emerging technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, machine learning and behavioral analytics, stand ready to help companies take advantage of these multi-channel content publishing opportunities.

Begin Piloting New Technologies

How can companies best prepare for the broadening array of targeted content they will likely have to deliver in the next five to 10 years? Start experimenting with emerging technologies now. In that way, you can gain insight early on about what works well (and what doesn’t) in appealing to the current and future audiences for your content.

For instance, if you’ve already attracted a loyal audience for video content, it’s time to explore how your company might effectively use augmented, mixed and/or virtual reality to help provide consumers with even more immersive content experiences.

Companies may also want to consider the use of facial recognition software to help in automating the classification and retrieval of images. Increasingly, the visual component of each and every piece of content is becoming as important as the text, whether it’s a photo, a composite image, an infographic, a video or all of those image types.

Strike a Balance on Content Personalization

Through use of increasingly sophisticated content intelligence — a combination of technologies including machine learning, behavioral, marketing and predictive analytics and sentiment analysis — companies can more accurately gauge the effectiveness of content and then tailor it to specific groups or individuals.

Greater personalization of content comes with its own issues too, particularly around privacy. Companies will need to continue to walk the line between mining the personal data a consumer opts to share while not giving that individual the sense that they’re being specifically targeted.

Pursue a Complete Content Lifecycle

Content itself is becoming more intelligent, with increasingly sophisticated application of tagging and taxonomy and much higher levels of metadata quality. Once content is more modular, better structured and more easily searchable, organizations will be able to reuse and repurpose content much more easily than was previously possible.

This means being able to more quickly respond with the right content at the right time via the right channel. Companies will be able to establish a true content lifecycle from creation to use and reuse and through onto decomposition and retirement.

Technology Alone Is Not Enough

While emerging technologies can provide an extra lift to multi-channel content publishing, technology by itself isn’t the answer. 

For many companies, what’s also required is a fundamental rethinking of current business processes to lay the foundation for true multi-channel publishing to take place. So, in part, it’s taking existing technologies and using the functionality they offer more efficiently.

For many companies, it’s not the technology that’s holding them back, it’s their current workflow. It’s the contrast and conflict between the traditional carefully crafted "ready, aim, fire" approach to print publishing versus web publishing’s "ready, fire, aim" where the focus is to publish as soon as possible and make any corrections post-publication.

The goal for companies is to realize a channel-agnostic version of content. Companies are now starting to think of content as a raw material, the clay from which they can then fashion articles and stories for each of their channels.

The combination of emerging technologies and the reimagining of current software will help companies map out their future multi-channel content publishing flight plan and then reap the rewards from that endeavor as consumer interactions with their content soar.  

This is the first in a series of articles from WoodWing examining the future of content. Read the whole series here.