| Aug 25, 2023 | | 8 min read

Driving media industry success: Four steps for effective digital transformation


As the media industry’s digital landscape evolves, businesses must adapt in order to thrive. Creating a digital transformation strategy is your best solution, but it’s not enough to simply draw up a blueprint. You must effectively implement and execute it, too. To do so, you should fully understand these four key concepts for creating and executing a successful digital transformation strategy.

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Step One: Navigate the Shifting Digital Landscape

Before you can plan an effective digital transformation strategy, you and your business should be thoroughly familiar with how to navigate this shifting landscape:

Examine macro trends shaping the media industry’s digital landscape

With new digital avenues saturating the media industry, it’s crucial to understand how to optimize these new channels and, more importantly, anticipate them so your business never misses a beat. 2023 has ushered in more streaming services and podcast consumption, new social media platforms, and digital data privacy trends, all requiring advertisers to continue the pivot away from traditional media and find other ways to optimize their ad spend and maximize their return. Additionally, personalized viewing experiences now require media companies to create original content with data and analytics in mind. By fully grasping these macro trends (and many others), media companies can keep up with the evolving digital landscape and not just maintain, but grow, their revenue.

Identify opportunities in emerging technologies for content creation and distribution

To evolve with these macro trends, media organizations must evolve in their technology, too. Luckily, there are plenty of options to maximize your content creation and distribution. With emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, companies can grasp and analyze more data while personalizing it to keep up with consumer preference trends. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) can also optimize content creation and distribution. And, there’s always a new social media platform or two, with a few more on the horizon. It is imperative to embrace these technologies by empowering your team to understand and utilize them; partner with digital evolution instead of fighting against it. By doing so, media companies can become leaders in their respective industries.

Step Two: Develop a Scalable and Agile Digital Infrastructure

As the digital landscape—and your media company—progresses, developing a scalable and agile digital infrastructure is more critical than ever. This crucial step will further ensure the successful implementation and execution of your digital transformation strategy.

Adopt agile methodologies to improve speed-to-market and develop adaptability to changing demands

With the increase in on-demand content consumption, improving speed-to-market will keep your business relevant and your revenue growing. Your business, however, has to be able to adapt to changing demands to improve. One way to increase adaptability is by adopting agile [development] methodologies. Under this methodology, your organization can divide more complex projects into smaller tasks that are easier to digest, handle, and prioritize. The various phases of agile methods allow for continuous collaboration, especially when involving cross-functional teams, leading to better improvement rates. Additionally, agile’s focus on shipping working product enables shorter development cycles due to the multiple phases of improvement during the process, lending itself to quicker speed-to-market.

Identify and work with partners, such as outsourcers and channel

Another way to succeed in developing a scalable digital infrastructure is by bringing on an outsourcer or channel partner. These organizations work to enable digital success, scale growth, simplify your tech stack, and generate viable margins. A channel partner is a valuable, strategic bridge between content producers and media consumers, empowering you to create a more efficient and personalized media buying method that takes the onus off your internal team. An outsourcing partner can accomplish the same but with the added benefits of media planning, ad optimization, trafficking,  targeting, and data analytics. Integrating an outsourcing team into your business grants your internal team the extra time, energy, and resources to focus on strategic, revenue-generating projects, such as new ways to satisfy the personalized ad content trends mentioned above. With the customization of digital transformation, more research, taskwork, and workforce needs to be implemented and completed faster. Because of this, your internal teams risk being stretched too thin, resulting in mistakes, makegoods, and, eventually, lost revenue. Avoid the costly issues and pull ahead of digital transformation trends by choosing a partner that is just as personalized to your internal team as your digital content is to your consumers.

Step Three: Foster a Culture of Innovation, Experimentation, and Collaboration

We are immersed in a vastly changing work culture now. With digital transformation expanding to more platforms and becoming customized to specific consumers, the typical nine-to-five workday has changed for the media industry. These trends have seemingly doubled work and, if not handled correctly by your business, can lead to decreased employee engagement, quicker burnout, and talent retention challenges. Pull ahead of these trends by fostering a strong culture of innovation, experimentation, and collaboration.

Encourage a culture that promotes continuous innovation and experimentation

Digital transformation demands businesses adapt quickly, create fresh ideas tailored to more specific consumer preferences, and discover different revenue streams to keep up with digital platforms and trends. Without an influential culture of innovation and experimentation, your team will find it difficult to accomplish any of this. Additionally, newer workforce generations, like Gen Z, crave more meaningful, strategic work beyond the seemingly robotic, back-end tasks of most entry-level positions. Without this meaningful work, they are statistically more likely to quit after their first year. Innovation inspires your talent to stick around and grow. They are encouraged to share their fresh perspectives and creative ideas, leading to unique solutions for old and new challenges. By fostering an innovative culture at your company, you will uncover more competitive advantages and increased relevancy because your team is pushed to their full potential. Encourage your team to step into the spotlight with new ideas, and they are more likely to stay.

In conjunction with innovation, a culture of experimentation emboldens your team to confront the status quo. It keeps you ahead of the competition with never-before-seen ideas, methods, content, and more. This culture will naturally increase your audience engagement, especially since consumers seek more interesting and personalized digital experiences. Lastly, experimentation improves risk management. It lets you catch possible risks and challenges during development instead of post-launch, decreasing your chances of costly makegoods and lost revenue.

Establish cross-functional teams to drive digital initiatives and share expertise

When bolstered by a strong culture of innovation, experimentation, and the agile methodology, your internal teams will naturally feel empowered to branch out and collaborate. This, in turn, optimizes your digital initiatives. Establishing cross-functional teams encourages them to access and leverage each other’s knowledge and various disciplines. This drives innovation, solves complex problems and projects quicker, and propels your business to the front lines of cutting-edge transformation.

Invest in employee training and upskilling to ensure digital fluency across the organization

Talent retention is a significant pain point for most businesses, especially with the current workforce and generational trends discussed earlier. It also might be the most important. If you cannot retain your talent, you cannot establish an effective culture of innovation and experimentation. You cannot establish cross-functional teams that work well together because they know, respect, and trust each other. Constant turnover also means less fluency in your company’s digital platforms and, therefore, decreased productivity because of the need to continuously re-train. Your talent needs to know they are valued and there is room to grow in their environment. Establishing a culture of innovation and encouraging employees to share and contribute to more impactful areas of your business is the first step to retaining talent. Beyond that, you can demonstrate your investment in your team by training and upskilling them. This will allow you to assemble a team that not only understands your company’s digital goals and can execute them with knowledgeable passion but also stays (and stays engaged) longer.

Step Four: Monetize Digital Offerings Strategically

This is the most important step for a media company to succeed. Obviously, monetizing digital offerings drives revenue generation, but the key word here is: strategically. With the new landscape of digital transformation conjuring opportunities left and right, your company must keep up with monetizing them. To do so successfully, you need a strong strategy that allows your business to find and assign the right resources along the right timeline with the right technology before the problem presents itself. Here are two—of many—ways to achieve this:

Diversify revenue streams beyond traditional advertising

As discussed in Step One, the current wave of digital transformation has broadened the horizons of digital offerings. The media industry is contending with many streaming services, increased podcast popularity, new social media platforms, and more, which means finding different revenue streams beyond the traditional. Establishing branded content through strategic advertiser partnerships is a great way to attack this. This initiative brings in ad revenue while creating and enhancing consumer engagement. By blending in more with the media company’s content, the content appears less intrusive and leads to higher engagement rates of all types. This branded content success can then lead to long-term partnerships that benefit both parties and ensure your media company’s relevance among its competitors.

Leverage data insights to offer premium, data-driven ad products and sponsorship opportunities

First-party data insights are your new best friend. With digital transformation trends prioritizing tailored, relevant ad content, it is crucial to research and understand the data that will drive this type of creation. These insights should be used to analyze and target your desired audience across multiple platforms, enabling each advertiser to customize their ad content to their consumers. Without high-quality and strategic ad products for your advertising partners, your business will find it difficult—perhaps even impossible—to monetize its digital offerings, costing you valuable revenue opportunities.

Digital transformation can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, it challenges media companies to deepen their understanding of the digital landscape, develop more effective digital infrastructure for a competitive advantage, embrace innovation, collaboration, and employee engagement, and diversify their revenue streams to thrive within the media industry.

If you want to discuss more insights or share some of your own related to digital transformation, please contact me at todd.handy@sebpo.com or visit SEBPO’s website today.

About the Author

For 12+ years, Todd Handy has led in digital media, spanning sales, business development, advertising strategy, ad operations, analytics, programmatic and native advertising. He drove innovation at a disruptive local media firm, led AdTech startup's publisher growth, and partnered with top digital players across display, audio, video, mobile, marketing & retargeting. Prior to his current role as Chief Revenue Officer at SEBPO, he's held executive roles, advised sales & digital marketing, and served on boards including Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium. Beyond work, Todd's a seasonal runner, cyclist, snowboarder, and won $10,000 on "The Price Is Right." Thanks Bob!

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