Good news for the news industry: With nearly 20 tech innovators the Start-up Park at the DCX is fully booked. We talked to Aude Pilleron, “Happy Ambassador” at Pandasuite, one of the first movers of the DCX Start-up Park, about future technologies for news publishing.
Aude, amid widespread pessimism about the future of news publishing, the DCX promotes the rallying call “Make publishing successful”. From your experience, why is it a good time to be part of this industry?
Today digital is no longer a nice-to-have for publishers and media organisations; it’s a matter of survival. There is a growing demand for change that is impacting not only products, but people, processes and business models.
Publishers need now the technology, flexibility and mindset to think fast, build fast and learn fast. There are a lot of initiatives going on right now and agile processes are implemented inside their organisation to foster a new culture of innovation. However, publishers also need external start-ups for content creation to distribution and sales to quickly face these upcoming challenges. Start-ups bring speed of execution, openness and innovation.
With our product helping to quickly prototype and produce interactive content, we participate in the most innovative projects and we are aware of publishers' needs. It’s quite exciting and challenging for us to work with a 5,000-year-old industry. Even if we don’t come from the same culture, we share the same passion for content and stories.
In your opinion, why is the economic success of news publishers important for journalism and a functioning democracy or society?
Our world is hyper-connected and digital enables anyone to write a piece of content. This is a great way to help people express themselves and share different points of view. However, it blurs the line between various sources of content and this can have major consequences. Fake news stories, for example, and how they were spread during the American and French political campaigns. This wasn’t neutral and affected the course of the regular campaign.
It is the role of journalists to emerge from the crowd and stand as a referrer. They help people step back and reconsider things. Digital is no longer only a matter of business for publishers, this is also a way to (re)build trust, influence society and endorse world views. As storytellers of our times, they also need to be actors in the way they tell stories now and innovate in their field.
How is technology impacting news publishing today, in terms of how audiences are consuming content?
Mobile drives content consumption. Most of the time is spent on social networks and messaging apps (Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat…) and anyway millennials do not want to pay for news. Many studies highlight a shorter attention span (around 8 seconds) as people have never been so stressed and speed so important.
This is why every publisher is looking for the right channels and new formats. We’ve seen lately more and more rich media content as it records much higher click-through and engagement rates than traditional static text and images. Publishers need to focus on creativity and advertising.
Which technologies will drive innovation in the next years?
Innovation will come from a mix of different technologies. We need to better understand their advantages to use them smartly depending on the context.
VR and AR are all about experiences. These technologies are bringing really interesting forms of storytelling. For example, while you are reading about volcanoes, you’re asked if you want to see the eruption of a volcano and suddenly you’re on the top of the crater, seeing lava…
Beacon technology and GPS are great for geo-contextualized stories. Everyone knows about GPS but Beacons remains quite unknown (especially in France). These Bluetooth sensors trigger content when they come into range; this is the best way to deliver the right content at the right time.
AI technology is helping publishers deliver even more customised experiences. It helps process a lot of data to determine what a person is going to do and what content is relevant for this person. Chatbots will feed your audience on demand through messaging platforms.
And there are so many more. One technology won't stand out alone, the future will be a mix. And what is more it will be about seamless experiences. The ones that will emerge will be the ones that bring value to their audience.
What does your vision of future publishing look like?
In this digital world, print won't die. Concrete, everlasting and physical, it will surely produce great results combined with digital experiences.
We believe in interactivity. In the future, every publisher will deliver interactive content to capture their audience and tell their stories differently. They will use VR, AR, image recognition, AI etc. alternatively and depending on their subjects without any technical knowledge. Yesterday was about technologies, tomorrow will be about experiences. This is what PandaSuite stands for.
Publishers will have in-house skills to manage, create and optimise content creation. Automatisation will come for non-strategical tasks (visual, …) so that journalists do what they know best: deliver great content.