Is Digital Publishing a young person’s game?
The Millennials are history’s first generation of digital natives. The digital world isn’t something they’ve had to adapt to, it’s all they’ve ever known, and it’s their invaluable platform for gathering information and social interactions. Often, they are cited as the generation responsible for the challenges facing print, and yet they represent a significant chunk of legacy titles’ digital audiences. The Millennials are now increasingly in management and ownership roles in publishing industry (and many others) — they are the new breed of bosses and it is definitely changing the dynamic within newsrooms and workplaces.
On the other hand, Baby Boomer and Gen X publishers are often portrayed as the surly technology phobics who are poised to lose their way with young audiences – a demise that could be saved by digital media rafts. Quite the contrary, these generations were the darlings of the publishing game throughout most of the ’80s, ’90s, and the turn of the century. Perhaps the bad rap doubting them to thrive publishing businesses have more to do with perspective than data.
Although Millenials are typically the pundits of gizmos and high-tech gadgets, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were in the workforce during the dawn of computers, email, and the internet, and were the first to recognise and understand the value of technology. Not to forget, the pioneers of the technology that we use today – Bill Gates, Tim Berners Lee and the late Steve Jobs – are classic baby boomers.
Today, we are on the sluice of an inevitable generational transition in leadership. One way or another, more millennials will end up in publisher seats. But rather than buy into the oil-and-water view, in the interim, we can take a look at how publications are getting the best of both worlds: the dynamism of millennials matched with the security and structure of mature backers.
How about you? Think millennial publishers are going to be made in the model of the traditional and decisive baby boomers?
Collin Morrison, consultant media strategy and award-winning blogger, gives us facts into how millennials are taking over businesses in this digital age. In his article in The Huffington Post, ‘Are Traditional Bosses Too Old to Compete in a Digital World‘, he tips off warns traditional media bosses of the scale of media revolution that’s underway.
Traditional media is rightly obsessed with “millennials”, the 18-34 year-olds who have grown up with the internet. They are up to one-third of the population of most of the major economies, and are the largest, ethnically and racially most diverse generation ever. They are already some 50% of the working population of many countries and, in a decade or so, will be 75% of the global workforce. And they are, to say the least, less attached to traditional print and broadcast media than their “baby boomer” parents.
While Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have increasingly become trusted news sources, traditional journalism has struggled to engage young people. Sky News recently revealed that only 18% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK trusted mainstream media to provide them with relevant information. It’s a media generation gap which is threatening to swallow up decades of newspapers, magazines and broadcast channels.
Last month, Barack Obama marked his annual ‘State of the Union’ address by giving White House interviews to prominent YouTube vloggers. Like the US President’s four-year participation in video chats on YouTube and via Google+ Hangouts, the interviews conveyed an unmistakeable message about the shift in media power.
Millennials are huge consumers of media – just differently. Deloitte recently forecast an average spend of $750 per millennial in the US, including pay TV and online video and music streaming. They are fuelling the growth of Netflix, Spotify and targeted digital news operators.
More than half of all web-browsing millennials in the US visited BuzzFeed in October, according to ComScore stats reported by Digiday. And they accounted for 61% of Vice’s 25m news visitors during the same period. The four-year-old Mic was launched “because young people deserve a news destination that offers quality coverage tailored to them” and has rushed to 19m monthly uniques. Elite Daily, the news site which was launched three years ago as a wordpress blog and now claims more than 30m monthly uniques, was recently acquired by the UK’s Daily Mail group for a reported $50m. And Snapchat’s Discover pitches the highly-popular app to become another major news source for the smartphone generation.
BuzzFeed was a pioneer but distinctive millennial news services are now so much broader and deeper. And it’s not just news tastes that are different. A US report last month said that only 40% of millennials tune in to live TV each month. The disparity between millennials’ perceptions of traditional and native channels is reinforced by the US-based Intelligence Group’s Cassandra Report which showed that 77% of 3,000 millennials across 10 countries said it was “important” to be informed about current affairs, but 60% said they depended on social media.
For most, though, it really is a tale of two media in which so much of traditional media seems to be getting it so wrong. The reasons are not difficult to find.