It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

As an oft cited reference from Darwin, this adage rings especially true when discussing the current state of today’s evolving media landscape. Thanks to the proliferation of broadband and connected devices, the degree of disruption has rocked traditional business models to their core.

As competition for digital ad dollars rise, digital publishers are often too slow to identify threats to their business model until the damage is already done. This will be compounded in the coming 2-3 years with dramatic improvements in network connectivity and mobile user experiences.

In order to successfully compete in today’s fragmented and complex media environment, established companies must adopt transformation strategies now that empower them to outperform industry competitors and digital laggards, alike.

Know your end goal.
In order to actuate change through core business models, it is important for organizations to first assess what value digital transformation can bring to the table. Jumping on the bandwagon blindly, sans blueprint, in an attempt to stay ahead of the game is inviting disaster to your own doorstep.

Always set a framework of intent and objectives to help clarify your end goal, priorities, pain points and long-term objectives to drive home change initiatives. How can data help you better target and engage your desired audience? Do you have the bandwidth, talent and/or wherewithal to realistically support and deliver on these endeavors?

Taking time to develop a roadmap that answers and aligns with company-specific initiatives can help drive higher performance and better margins. For instance, given that 80% of a digital publisher’s audience will be accessing their content through connected devices in 2 years, publishers must be putting forth a roadmap to monetize their assets at a higher rate than they are today through traditional desktop strategies. This takes critical time and planning, so the vision of a true end goal or north star for the business in a truly connected world needs to be set forth today.

Agility is not optional.
Reinvention is a necessity for organizations operating in today’s high-speed media environment. To maximize success in today’s increasingly competitive environment, media companies must position themselves to be nimble and flexible on the fly—poised to anticipate, react and adapt to whatever curveball is thrown their way.

Take a page from Darwin’s book, be prepared to tackle digital disruption at any given moment; remaining agile enough to respond to the demands of a volatile landscape, while also ensuring your day-to-day business model remains unaffected by these intermittent bouts of change. In the last 5 years alone, countless digital media companies have bolted on new processes and systems to account for new formats, media channels, and programmatic buying and selling.  However, those operational processes and systems also must evolve rapidly to enable companies to effectively address the market and the dramatic pace of change.

Learn from the best.
To be a catalyst for change, you just also be able to identify the systems, processes and nuances of organizations that are doing digital right. Laser in on the crème de la crème of digital-first enterprises and determine what strategies contribute to their winning formula. Note their key success enablers, best practices, how quickly they respond to change, and the technologies and systems that help support their overall infrastructure. In doing so, you can identify, cultivate and apply the digital success strategies that best align with your own business verticals.

We are truly in the midst of one of the most disruptive eras for publishing in our history. Business models are facing intense pressures from emerging media giants, market changes, and dramatic transformation in user behavior. With the advent of 5G and and improvements in network connectivity in the coming years, this disruption and complexity will get more complex – not less.

Publishers and Technology companies must take hard looks at their operating models not just for today, but to deliver growth in average revenue per user across a connected world at a higher rate than they are on traditional desktop today. In doing so, their operational cost structures, processes, and systems must also evolve rapidly to meet the needs of the consumer and their customers. Without these assessments and difficult decisions, their businesses are in peril thus putting at risk the free flow of information that a well funded advertising model affords. Evolve or die.

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Posted by Matt Fogarty

Matthew Fogarty is a digital media veteran with 12 years of global business development experience across media, technology, and data. Matt spent much of his career helping digital businesses scale and operate more efficiently, thereby enabling them to more effectively leverage their content, technology, and data assets. He has held progressive leadership roles at AppNexus, AOL and Yesmail, and is currently the Vice President of sales at Theorem.

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