Fake news, filter bubbles, data leaks and misinformation. These are just some the issues regularly associated with the digital media landscape.
But for editorial director at leading technology publication CNET Jason Hiner, it’s important to push through the “growing pains” of the modern media landscape.
“There’s a negative narrative about media and the changes that have happened,” he tells B&T.
“It’s had massive impacts on jobs and careers, as well as publications and media outlets that were beloved brands and are now either really struggling or in some cases have disappeared.
“I think we should still be bullish about the future of media.”
Prior to CNET, Hiner has spent time working on TechRepublic and ZDNet – all of which are part of the CBS Interactive network.
CBS, of course, burst onto the Australian media market in 2017 when it acquired Network 10.
But despite the complex layers of media ownership around CNET, Hiner believes the narrative around digital media could soon change.
“There are new things that are happening in media that are really worth getting excited about,” he says.
What successful digital media will look like
Much like data has transformed the way advertisers operate, Hiner predicts news will soon be targeted to specific readers, as Apple is teasing right now with its ‘News’ function.
“The content is going to find you more than you having to go and find aggregators or individual publications, that’s the world of the media in the decades ahead,” he continues.
And this means machine learning will emerge as a valuable tool in the world of publishing.
“One of the truths of technology, and where we’re at right now, is that data is transforming everything,” he says.
“The publications that have a strong data and machine learning strategy will be the winners, and most of those who don’t will be swept away.”
He points to the three big global data companies – Google, Facebook and Amazon. Companies that have changed the way we live on the back of strong data strategies.
Media outlets will soon have to be data savvy or else face extinction.
“We’re seeing this now in vertical industries, the companies that are really good at data are going to disrupt everybody else.
“It’s going to be the same way in journalism and media in general.”
So, what does this look like?
In advertising, programmatic systems have provided a glimpse of what a strong data strategy looks like in operation by automating traditional buying methods.
The staggering percentage of online ad spend that if now dedicated solely to Facebook and Google also shows a real-world data success story.
But this is slightly different when it comes to publications, he explains.
“The way that [data-driven strategies] manifest is through surfacing related stories to users, understanding readers and helping them find the content that is going to best serve them.
“Whether that’s newsletters or social, it might be off of your platform, you know, in some ways.
“Finding, serving, understanding and anticipating users’ needs by meeting them with the content that best serves them – that’s the game… that’s the future of content.”