As media consumption becomes more accessible and available to us across multiple devices, analyzing the competitive media environment in silos of social, mobile, content discovery and voice-enabled solutions has become short-sighted.
The right lens for the competitive media landscape is how each solution removes friction – swipes, taps, pauses, indecision, confusion or wait – from our content discovery and consumption process. The solution that allows us to engage with the content we want as simply, easily and quickly as possible in a given moment is the one that is going to win.
This cross-silo competition is fiercest in the areas of news, local info, entertainment and lifestyle – the content categories that every consumer seems most interested in. Consider the impact of the growing voice-enabled device market. We can now wake up and start our day with news or weather simply by asking Alexa. In the past, we might have gone to a news, weather and/or social app for this information. This switch is already impacting mobile usage and daily behaviors, and usage ultimately influences ad revenue.
As tech companies continue to innovate further, you can see a frictionless media future taking shape – one where the winners and losers of consumer attention will be determined by how well they address friction.
The Five Driving Factors of the Frictionless Media Future
When it comes to friction removal, there are five factors where technology is simplifying how we discover and consume the media we love:
- Search: Simplifying the effort required to find the content we’re looking for
- Discovery: Removing the need to search for what we might enjoy
- Curation: Reducing the noise by aggregating preferred content
- Snackability: Streamlining consumption by formatting content to the available time
- Accessibility: Increasing availability to content no matter where you are
Different types of competitors have different blends of these factors, and understanding how they compete in these areas is critical for understanding who is best positioned to win.
Content recommendation solutions like Outbrain and Taboola seek to keep us nose-down in captivating content – recommending stories we might like in the middle of content we’re already enjoying. They remove friction across the discovery (here’s a story you might like), curation (real-time personalization) and snackability (truncating stories at break points to recommend the next story) dimensions.
Social media solutions like Facebook and Twitter have evolved from being ways to connect with people to a place where we seek to find content that others in our network are engaging in. Identical to content recommendation solutions, social media seeks to remove friction via discovery, curation and snackability dimensions.
Voice-enabled solutions like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant are designed to respond quickly to voice activated searches. They remove friction across search (just say what you’re looking for) and accessibility (say it anywhere, no need to be by a computer or phone) dimensions.
Mobile solutions are having the most profound impact on friction and content consumption – and we’re seeing no shortage of innovations seeking to further remove fiction:
- The “minus-one” screen (or launcher) you find by swiping left on a smartphone, is becoming the easiest, most convenient and primary place to go for news or other critical content.
- A dynamic first screen that serves as an intelligent agent to proactively present curated content right on unlock, eliminating the need to click, look or go anywhere else.
- The lock screen, which can serve as permanent, but dynamic, billboards to present content, reduces friction in the same way as the dynamic first screen.
Mobile solutions remove friction in all five areas: search can be eliminated, discovery is streamlined, curation is improved, content is made snackable and everything is accessible in the palm of your hand.
Recent history shows that simplifying across any of the five factors has been a blueprint for success. The success of platforms like Netflix and Pandora has greatly improved how we consume video and music. And for content, we have already seen Google enhance its search by creating a new portal, while Facebook has taken steps in improving its news feed. That these media giants are taking proactive steps to remove friction from products that people already use in mass validates that there is a massive opportunity to be a game-changer when it comes to our news, local info, entertainment and lifestyle content.
While voice agents are currently the new kids on the block, the frictionless media future will be marked by further innovation. The mobile screen has a display angle that some of these voice agents currently lack – which is why you are seeing OEMs trying to build voice agents into the device. However, that is not the only way to remove friction from content discovery.
What this all nets out to is that, in the world of digital content, the barriers are down. The breakout winners who succeed in this fight for consumer attention will be the ones who remove the friction and make it easier than ever for consumers to get to the media that they want – when they want it.