December 10, 2017 at 7:15 am #53885
Most large news organizations – and many smaller publishers – have established innovation programs and structures to drive their transitions in a rapidly changing industry. Some of the different types of initiatives include:
- Hackathons are run by many news groups, for example BBC News Labs, to uncover new ideas within and beyond the organization.
- Internal Innovation Awards are run annually by Oslo-based Schibsted to recognize the best innovation happening across the multi-national group.
- Distinct innovation groups, such as E.W Scripps’ Digital Solutions Group or Sanoma Innovation Labs, provide a space for developing ideas and prototypes.
- Agile and lean methodologies have been adopted within some publications, such as TIME across all stakeholders including editorial, technology and product.
- Startup acquisition brings in external innovation, such as News Corp’s acquisition of Storyful or Kompas Gramedia’s purchase of news aggregator Scoop.
- Secondments, for example Axel Springer sending senior executives to work in Silicon-Valley news startups.
- Corporate innovation programs at New York Times and other large companies aim to drive and shape useful innovation.
What have you seen that works – or doesn’t work in innovation initiatives in news organizations?
December 10, 2017 at 2:34 pm #55644
From a financial point of view, returns on investment for virtual reality journalism projects haven’t been significant enough to say that these initiatives are currently working. The New York Times did reportedly earn $8 million with its virtual reality projects up to mid-2016, but this was just a sliver of its annual digital revenue.
However, regarding audience reach and reaction, you could say in particular the Times has had successful VR projects. For example, both its El Pais and Fukushima projects were widely shared on social media. Still, most virtual reality reporting hasn’t attracted large enough audiences to entice brands and ad agencies.
While I have been focusing on how VR journalism hasn’t been “working,” Goldman Sachs estimates that the market for VR video entertainment will be $3.2 billion by 2025. Media outlets have the potential to make a lot of money.
To me, it seems crucial that news organizations that can invest in VR figure out what type of advertising would blend best with immersive reporting experiences. There doesn’t appear to be a consensus on what will work, though a strategy favoring native and custom advertising over interruptive banner ads seems likely. As the cost of production drops and audience reach widens, monetization opportunities will open up.
So perhaps I’ve been taking the short view when I should be taking the long view? Innovating with VR may be worth it in the long run, putting the Times in a top position for reaping future rewards, but for now it seems to be a time of parting with money not reeling it in.
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