“Nobody reads books, anymore.”
“Print is dead.”
“Cinema is dead.”
As technologies evolve and social habits change, we’ve seen one method give way to another, in the way we consume what’s now collectively known as “content”: Text, photographs, animation, video clips, feature films, music, etc.
The latest trend is for small screens and digital streaming on hand-held or portable devices – in an environment where it’s estimated that people across the globe spent an average of 4 hours a day on video in 2016, and the Millennial generation view over 51% of their content on smartphones or tablets.
But why the rush to mobile? And how is this trend affecting both the production and distribution of content, at all levels?
Mobile Content Distribution – Increasing Ways to Gain Access
Wireless connectivity is expanding opportunities for mobile device users to gain access to high-value content. And with wireless network technologies enabling smoother and faster data transmission, high-resolution images, greater screen depths, and higher definition audio and video streams have become available even to those using modest hardware.
Equipment of the “MiFi” class allows private users to set up highly localized hotspots, providing WiFi access to family and shared homes, as well as in the corporate arena. And with the emergence and development of 4G and 5G telecommunications technology, network carriers will, in theory, be able to provide their subscribers with faster and more reliable internet access than ever.
Mobile Content Distribution – Improving Ways to View
Historical and traditional methods of content consumption required consumers to buy or buy into a complete product – grab a newspaper off the shelves, buy a ticket at the movie theater, or settle on the couch in front of the television – and pretty much commit to viewing the entire package at a single sitting.
But with attention spans officially reducing, changing lifestyle patterns, and the tendency to multitask now ingrained in our natures, new and appropriate methods of content packaging and delivery are having to emerge.
The expanding social media phenomenon has forced a rethink on the part of marketers and content providers, due to the opposing demands of users on those platforms. On the one hand, people are spending long periods on social media each day. On the other, their activities on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the many others typically consist of short bursts: Tweet, or post an update, see what your Friends have been up to, leave a Comment, watch a video clip, and move on.
Accessibility, ease of use, and brevity are governing the form and substance of content delivery on social media, with an emphasis on panels, side bars, and other “short form” methods of presentation, sound bites, and video clips with a running time of seconds, rather than minutes. And for many users, the smartphone or tablet is now the viewing screen of first choice – and the primary format for which these elements are being designed.
Mobile Content Distribution – Increasing Ways to Connect
Smartphone and mobile device usage have created a culture of short, snappy, and instantaneous communications media such as SMS text messaging, video chat, and Instant Messaging. We’re now accustomed to being able to deliver real-time reactions or comments on things we’ve just seen or heard – and this functionality is having to extend to the way we interact with digital content, in general.
The kinds of immersive and interactive experiences pioneered in video games and on social media platforms are having to be incorporated into the delivery of more “mainstream” content such as TV, music, video, and online shopping. “Click to View”, “Click to Purchase”, “Add to Playlist”, “Like”, and other options are becoming universal, across the full range of digital content forms.
Mobile Content Distribution – Apps for Everything
These days, if there isn’t an app for it, it may as well not exist. Mobile applications are available for every category of activity under the sun, providing a real-time alternative to real-world pursuits such as actually having to visit a physical venue (retail store, theater, etc.), or having to fire up a browser to visit an organization’s website.
We’re now at the stage where a growing number of organizations are crafting Progressive Web Applications (PWAs): Mobile-formatted websites with user interfaces and functionality that emulate a mobile app, bringing the app experience to users on all kinds of computer screens.
The Rebirth of Newspapers and Radio
Ironically, the death of newspapers and radio due to internet alternatives which was predicted some years ago hasn’t actually happened. Rather, print houses and broadcast stations have adapted their output to suit the new technology – and mobile content delivery is assisting them, in this.
Radio broadcasters have been cashing in on the tendency for customization, by allowing users to personalize their listening experiences. For instance, the Spotify mobile app has a radio function which enables users to create personal stations based on a particular artist, album or playlist.
Newspaper and magazine publishers have actually enjoyed a new lease on life, with their movement of many services to web-based platforms and mobile applications.
Many houses rely on an emerging breed of third-party mobile content distribution platforms, which provide an alternative to self-hosted websites and online resources and can assist in preparing and delivering static or customized content on behalf of the publishers. The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, and VICE are among the publications adopting this approach.
Mobile video streaming hasn’t completely killed off television, either. A rebooted version of the medium (call it “Television 2.0”) kicked off in 2012, with the launch of the Dyle TV mobile app from the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a conglomerate including some of the world’s leading broadcasters like NBC, Fox, and Telemundo.
Programming from participating broadcasters can be streamed directly to a user’s mobile device. There’s been talk of adding a DVR feature to allow users to rewind, pause, and record the shows they’re watching.
New and Tailor-Made Content Forms
As the global usage of mobile technology increases (which it’s doing, at a steady rate), the production and distribution of all forms of content will need to improve and adapt, to keep pace. Existing formats will have to be tweaked, to optimize their download and display on various screen sizes and mobile operating platforms – and new content formats may have to be developed, to cater specifically for mobile environments.
Broadcasters, publishing houses, content providers, and marketers will need to “adapt to survive” in the coming era of mobile content distribution.
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