TikTok and a new pivot to video: Will it be another boom and bust?

In his review of the year ahead, Nic Newman at the Reuter’s Institute highlighted the role that video, particularly vertical video, was playing in the innovation plans of publishers and broadcasters in the coming year, and our top two stories speak to those efforts. (Of course, Nic also spoke of audio, and it’s important to understand how podcasts play into efforts to retain those important subscribers by adding a touch point with audiences.) 

But is this just another pivot to video as news organisations try to capitalise on the latest off-platform trend? We’ll have the answer to that by the end of this year, if not sooner. 

Speaking of faded off-platform champions, BuzzFeed has been making headlines as it gets another infusion of Facebook cash to crank out creator content and also as it will use AI to cheaply generate some of its content. It is a move that Wall Street seems to love

And I think that CNET should be applauded for being transparent about the results of its AI content generation experiment. It was criticised for not being open that it was doing it in the first place, but I think that they learned that this kind of experimentation can’t be done without that transparency. Knowing who is writing and reporting a story is essential for trust and accountability, whether it is a person or an AI. 

But as I said at a conference in Hungary last week, AI is much more than a robot to outsource content creation to, and there is a flurry of developments in the application of AI for media.

Newsrooms focus on TikTok. Is it another doomed pivot to video?

The battle for talent who are authentic on the platform is on with major publishers looking for video talent. 

It seems to have an audience tailor-made for TikTok. 

Semafor Ben said that one of the lessons that he took away for BuzzFeed was that you shouldn’t build your business on someone else’s platform. It’s a lesson that he wasn’t alone in learning. He looks at the News Movement, who are looking to be a counter example to that lesson. 

AI Round Up: BuzzFeed Outsources – oh, ‘enhances’ content and quizzes with AI 

Speaking of BuzzFeed. AI to its rescue? Media watchers are not nearly as impressed as Wall Street

The Guardian’s take. 

And that Meta deal that is also driving Buzzfeed’s stock price. 

Or 18 Common mistakes that journalists make with AI and how to avoid them. As I said at a conference last week, AI is much more interesting when it comes to personalised content and dynamic paywalls. 

Exhibit A: an acquisition of a company that can “deliver effective content tailored to users’ interests across email, push, and other channels”. (The end of audience engagement editors? Nah, a great conversation still requires humans, well at least for now.)

Lessons were learned by CNET. I actually applaud them for their transparency. 

The ad market

Media watchers are carefully monitoring the ad market for signs of distress to understand whither the media market is going. AP, the US news co-op, is looking to earn more from its content with ads. It’s an interesting move considering the uncertain outlook for the ad market. 

Semafor is starting to demonstrate some interesting innovation, and that is both on the content and advertising side with a text message interview series sponsored by US mobile phone major Verizon. 

And Digiday says that the ad forecast is decidedly dour. 

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