The digital content landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As more people consume content through digital platforms, the diversity of stakeholders involved in the digital content market ecosystem is growing. This reflects the ever-changing shifts happening in the market.
In the earliest days of mass online connectivity, advanced global economies – and, to a degree, wealthier pockets of developing countries – experienced the shift towards digital content as a viable contender to mainstream modes of consumption. Early platforms like DailyMotion and YouTube marked the shift towards online content as a form of entertainment and information. Traditional television networks began to transition some of their programming online, or broadened their portfolio to provide exclusive snippets of online-only content for digitally savvy viewers. This gradual normalisation of digitised access to content aided the transition towards digital content as a primary avenue of digital consumption, creation and distribution.
With consumers becoming increasingly connected, there are numerous channels through which the consumer can access content. Whilst smartphones, desktops, and laptops have all been long-established methods of content consumptions, emerging devices, such as smart speakers and immersive reality devices, will have an impact on how content is consumed.
The social restrictions and closures brought on by COVID-19 prompted a bump in content consumption. Digital content platforms reported record levels of user engagement and quarterly profits during the global lockdowns. As digital content platforms and providers foresee a post-COVID world, they will need to retain user engagement by incorporating compelling content. Creators that facilitate this process will be welcomed by online networks and given the necessary resources to monetise their presence. While established platforms continue to grow and attract audiences, the future of digital content will involve broadening beyond its established outlets. It will include widening how content is consumed and created; meaning that this new outlook also requires a cohesive and dependable infrastructure of stakeholders and systems to make it viable in the long term.
Indeed, in 2021, digital content monetisation will broaden beyond mainstream video and music. While video and music content will continue to blossom alongside gaming, other avenues of digital content will continue to flourish outside of the typical formats consumers associate with online content. For example, immersive reality experiences will become more mainstream as smartphone-powered mixed reality apps democratise access to users across a range of devices and formats. While the domination of advanced immersive reality platforms is still some time away, in 2021, multi-device experiences like augmented reality will advance the trend.
Consumers now have endless options for on-demand content, so platform developers should leverage personalisation to help them navigate the never-ending streams of content. If done well, personalisation can increase the lifetime value of a customer because it relates to them on an intimate level. If consumers feel they are less likely to match with content elsewhere, this is a powerful way to maintain customer relationships. In addition, paid platforms can use personalisation to provide exclusive and premium matching capabilities; automatically helping consumers sift through endless realms of content to find the best selections.
In addition, they could inhibit monetisation by analysing how users navigate the landscape. At the same time, user-generated content platforms need to balance monetising the platform and providing an enjoyable experience for users. Too much emphasis on monetisation could have the contrary effect and drive consumers away from interacting on the platform, if they assume every interaction is a potential selling opportunity. Platforms also need to establish which payment models are best suited to their offerings. Does it make sense to permit a digital wallet payment or carrier billing in a particular instance? Strategic monetisation is a delicate balance for established online platforms, while newer players are better positioned to experiment without overt alienation of their audiences.
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