Digital Challenges to Traditional News Media Models

Featured

In Australia, and internationally, traditional or legacy print media is being challenged not by its importance in informing people e.g. during bushfires, Covid-19 crisis etc. but related challenges of economics, populist politics, innovation or lack of and now preferred use of digital channels and major social media like Facebook and Google by most people nowadays.

 

Following are excerpts from articles outlining challenges of populism, PR, social media or atomisation of channels, and possible solutions to support news, democracy, innovation and business models in a digital world.

 

From Inside Story Australia:

 

How disasters are shaping Australians’ news habits

 

A new study tracks the rise in news consumption during the bushfires and the pandemic — and finds a glimmer of hope for publishers.

 

In times of great uncertainty, readers and viewers will seek out reliable, accurate and up-to-date news — doubly so when their own safety and wellbeing are at stake. But will the news media continue to be there when they’re needed?

 

The latest Digital News Report: Australia, the sixth annual study of national news consumption trends, provides further evidence that Australians still rely on the news media — directly or indirectly — regardless of its financial difficulties…..

 

….News businesses, digital platforms and the government will need to reconsider how to maintain a healthy news ecosystem and keep citizens informed. Paying attention to what news consumers are telling us would be a good starting point.

 

Our survey confirmed that social media and search are now the two major pathways to online news, with a growing number of people accessing news through mobile alerts, newsletters and aggregator apps. News consumers are trying to find efficient ways to curate and organise the vast amount of news available to them. Rather than go directly to the news-brand websites themselves, audiences are increasingly relying on Google and Facebook to find what they want….

 

….But we know news media businesses are struggling to adapt to the digital environment, and we know they haven’t yet found a sustainable means of surviving.

 

From The Conversation Australia:

 

Media have helped create a crisis of democracy – now they must play a vital role in its revival

 

In May 2020, with the world still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Margaret MacMillan, an historian at the University of Toronto, wrote an essay in The Economist about the possibilities for life after the pandemic had passed.

 

On a scale of one to ten, where one was utter despair and ten was cautious hopefulness, it would have rated about six. Her thesis was that the future will be decided by a fundamental choice between reform and calamity….

 

….She was writing against a backdrop of a larger crisis – the crisis in democracy. The most spectacular symptoms of this were the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the Brexit referendum. Both occurred in 2016, and both appealed to populism largely based on issues of race and immigration….

 

How the pandemic contracted the media landscape further

 

Alongside these developments, the existential crisis facing news media was made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. As business activity was brought to a stop by the lockdown, the need for advertising was drastically reduced.

 

Coming on top of the haemorrhaging of advertising revenue to social media over the previous 15 years, this proved fatal to some newspapers…..

 

Defending against the digital onslaught

 

At a national level, the Australian government took up a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to force the global platforms, particularly Facebook and Google, to pay for the news it took from Australian media….

 

Populism and scapegoating

 

A third factor in the crisis, exacerbated by the first two, is the rise of populism. Its defining characteristics are distrust of elites, negative stereotyping, the creation of a hated “other”, and scapegoating. The hated “other” has usually been defined in terms of race, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion or some combination of them.

 

Powerful elements of the news media, most notably Fox News in the United States, Sky News in Australia and the Murdoch tabloids in Britain, have exploited and promoted populist sentiment……

 

From Mumbrella Australia:

 

Publishers: Stop expecting handouts from Facebook and Google, start innovating

 

 

Facebook and Google direct enormous volumes of traffic to news publishers. But instead of paying for the privilege, like other brands do, publishers expect to get paid. Simon Larcey says that instead of the ‘last-ditch, half-assed cash grab’, media companies need to, unsurprisingly, innovate….

 

……In a nutshell, this sums up the ludicrous move by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and local news publishers, which have demanded that Facebook and Google cough up cash for any news content that the digital giants share across their platforms. And with Google agreeing to play ball last week, it looks like these demands are being met.

 

While some might regard this move as a digital giant throwing a lifeline to a drowning local news industry, other, more cynically minded people – myself included – might see this a move as one developed by Google’s PR department to win the hearts and minds of stakeholders. Putting Google’s motives to one side, there’s a risk that this is yet another nail in the coffin, an admission of defeat by local publishers who are no longer able to successfully compete….

 

The problem with handouts

 

Welcome to 2020, and after years of lobbying, the government has decided that if the news publishers of Australia cannot build a sustainable digital advertising revenue model, the two tech platforms will be strong-armed into footing the bill……

 

…….The numbers from the digital giants are probably even larger today. At least 50% of all news traffic is directed to Australian news sites via third parties. If Australian news providers did not have these two platforms, their traffic would be cut in half, and they would generate half the ad revenue. Any brand or marketer wanting to get that type of traffic to their site would pay Facebook and Google big money – in fact they do – yet Australian publishers think they should be paid for the privilege. It makes no sense.

 

For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, business communication, consumer behaviour, digital literacy, digital marketing, digital or e-consumer behaviour, media, political strategy, populist politics, social media marketing and WOM word of mouth.

 

Brand Trust – Social Media – Digital Marketing – Personal Customer Data

How can trust in brands be developed and maintained in an age of digital marketing, speed, mistrust and social media?

This article first appeared in The Australian on 15th February 2019, then via KPMG NewsRoom.

There are issues in trust round politics and marketing.

Brand Trust in Digital Times (Image copyright Pexels)

Brand power in the age of declining trust

Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer report in 2017 carried a headline “Trust is in crisis around the world”. A KPMG report last year found that “trust has declined in almost every major economy and many developing ones”. In a CNN interview recently, Salesforce’s founder and CEO Marc Benioff argued that “companies that are struggling today are struggling because of a crisis with trust”.

There seems no end to the brands, organisations and leaders that have lost the public’s trust. There has been a royal commission into our banks, multiple questions over Facebook’s use of personal data, cheating cricketers, fake news, church leaders charged, and political parties bickering among themselves.

It is hard to believe that some brands and organisations have turned a blind eye to building trust with customers over the past decade. Trust is the basis of all relationships, gained slowly like drops of rain but lost in buckets. It is fundamental to business, symbolised in a handshake and eye-to-eye contact. ……These brands meet the “trust” checklist in the KPMG report – standing for something more than profit; demonstrably acting in the customers’ best interest; doing what you say you will; keeping customers informed; and being competent and likeable.

There is no doubt that brand trust is more complex in a digital world, where social media and data personalisation have enabled brands to act as if they are talking to you in person. Combine that with the exponential growth of individuals’ data that can be captured; digital marketplaces; smartphones; voice technology such as Google Home and Alexa; and the algorithms and deep learning of artificial intelligence, and there are far more opportunities to get brand trust wrong. This is especially so when trust is measured at lightning speed and some decisions around brands are being made by machines acting like humans.

Data became the hottest brand trust issue last year. The biggest data breach involved the Marriott International hotel chain and had an impact on up to 383 million people on the Starwood booking database. This included more than five million unencrypted passport numbers. Facebook had multiple issues, the most discussed being Cambridge Analytica’s access to Facebook users’ data. This data was used to persuade voters to change their opinions in the last US presidential election.

Consumers started to question the trust they had in these brands: one US survey showed 71 percent of people were worried about how brands collected and used their personal data. …… Marketers also had their doubts after YouTube posted ads that appeared alongside offensive videos, leading to a number of companies and their media agencies withdrawing advertising from YouTube for a period.

In the past five years, some of Australia’s biggest companies have rushed to establish or buy into data businesses that can offer insights into the purchasing behaviour of their customers and also use that information to improve their marketing communications……

Some companies have commercialised this data by selling it to outside organisations that match it with their customer profiles, adding to the knowledge they have on their customers. Some have questioned the ethics of this, even if it is anonymous; others ask who actually owns the data – the individual or the companies?

Trust around data relies on the fundamentals: common sense says that being a friendly and helpful neighbour is better for a long-term relationship than being annoying or remote. The personal customer data a business holds needs to be treated in the same way. In a business environment where consumers have more choice than ever, as well as more transparency and lower barriers to switching brands, boards, CEOs and marketers cannot ignore the need to invest in brand trust.

 

For more blogs and articles about digital marketing, social media marketing and consumer behaviour click through.

 

EU – GDPR General Data Protection Regulation – US – Australia

In the US and Australia there seems to be much ignorance and complacency on the potential impact of the EU GDPR General Data Protection Regulation on private data, data collectors e.g. government agencies, and commercial entities, accessing and using data for commercial reasons; underpinned by lack of citizens’ rights?

‘Data privacy rules in the EU may leave the US behind

January 24, 2019 8.03am AEDT

France made headlines on Jan. 21 for fining Google US$57 million – the first fine to be issued for violations of the European Union’s newly implemented General Data Protection Regulations. GDPR, as it’s called, is meant to ensure consumers’ personal information is appropriately used and protected by companies. It also creates procedures to sanction companies who misuse information.

According to French data privacy agency the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), which levied the fine, Google didn’t clearly and concisely provide users with the information they needed to understand how it was collecting their personal data or what it was doing with it. Additionally, CNIL said Google did not obtain user consent to show them personalized advertisements. For its part, Google may appeal.

In other parts of the EU, similar investigations are currently underway against FacebookInstagram and WhatsApp.

This case demonstrates the increasingly prominent role that the EU intends to play in policing the use of personal information by major companies and organizations online. The U.S. lags behind Europe on this front. As a researcher who studies computer hacking and data breaches, I’d argue the U.S. may have ceded regulatory powers to the EU – despite being the headquarters for most major internet service providers. Why has the U.S. not taken a similarly strong approach to privacy management and regulation?

Do individual Americans even care?

There’s no single answer to why the U.S. hasn’t taken similar measures to protect and regulate consumers’ data.

Americans use online services in the same way as our European counterparts, and at generally similar rates. And U.S. consumers’ privacy has been harmed by the ever-growing number of data breaches affecting financial institutions, retailers and government targets. The federal government’s own Office of Personnel Management lost millions of records, including Social Security numbers, names, addresses and other sensitive details, in hacks. My research demonstrates that hackers and data thieves make massive profits through the sale and misuse of personally identifiable information….

Companies don’t want these regulations

Social media sites’ and internet service providers’ resistance to external regulation is also a likely reason why the U.S. has not acted.

Facebook’s practices over the last few years are a perfect example of why and how legal regulation is vital, but heavily resisted by corporations…..

….Should the U.S. continue on its current path, it faces a substantial risk not only to personal information safety, but to the legitimacy of governmental agencies tasked with investigating wrongdoing.’

 

For more related blogs and articles on digital literacy, digital marketing, digital or e-consumer behaviour, EU GDPR and social media marketing, click through