Short-format content is the fastest-growing segment in the media world: Raghav Bahl

The co-founder of Quint Digital Media shares forecasts on digital news media, the momentum to shift to a paywall and more...

Jan 28, 2022 01:25:00 AM | Article | Noel D'Souza

Quintype hosted a 'Digital Media Predictions 2022' webinar with Raghav Bahl, co-founder, Quint Digital Media and Chirdeep Shetty, CEO, Quintype Technologies, who played the moderator on 25 January 2022.

 

With the pandemic market ushering consumers to a shift in content consumption, a significant spike has been witnessed in digital demand. Keeping this digital shift in mind, news publishers are embracing the new, constructing reformed revenue models, and curating new distribution channels. 

 

During the webinar, Bahl broke down these forecasted trends and shared insights on new content formats, innovative monetisation models and more...

 

The robust market of digital 

 

Kicking off the discussion, Bahl said, "With conventional mediums taking a halt at the onset of the pandemic, people took to other forms of consumption and thus, digital came to its own during this period." 

 

"The revenue loss for traditional news media lasted for the initial three to four months at the onset of the pandemic, until they found their footing on digital. When the world didn't look like it would collapse,, things were different. Once content and operations were established from a publisher's abiding, advertising revenues also started rising", he explained. 

 

Ad revenues and rates

 

Bahl stated that digital is a two-way communication street with the consumer, and a multi-platform and multi-distribution medium. However, he reckoned that we tell our stories across different mediums, which allows advertisers to have different avenues too." 

 

"With this multi-faceted approach, the CPM (cost per thousand) is only one part of the advertising solution that publishers pitch to a client at the moment. We now pitch to advertisers based on how we can cater to multiple formats and CPM or ad rates have become a small part of the conversation", he continued. 

 

Bahl voiced that advertising is currently based on branded content on different platforms with a different context for diverse audiences.

 

Use different types of media

 

Bahl cautioned publishers to not invest all their spending and content in only one medium. "To me, the most important trend in 2022 is that one cannot be betting on only one slice of media. We must leverage the different content formats completely. When putting out an interview, I may decide to put out a podcast, video, or slice it up into small Instagram Reel videos. Going after a linear or hybrid one depends on the business model one wants. In my experience, digital is a multi-platform medium. If we have the resources to be present on different media sources and platforms, then we must take the opportunity," he added.  

 

Short format videos

 

Bahl then spoke about the emergence of short-format video and the apps that have been created for the same.

 

"Audiences are consuming short-format videos and it is the fastest-growing segment in the media world. The multi-format consumption would see YouTube video getting 8K to 10K views, whereas (Instagram) Reels could garner up to 40K views within a minute or less. Similarly, Twitter is a universe by itself and is somewhere between the two with an engaged audience. Content needs to be everywhere with different versions." 

 

The trend of newsletters

 

Bahl's next topic was newsletters. 

 

He advised, "When there are specialist newsletters that satisfy a specific need or interest of the reader, receiving curated content in the newsletter, the engagement level will rise. Newsletters will have to transform into a highly special interest output that caters to different people. If a publisher takes time to map the reader's interest, its consumption patterns, then the newsletter can be tweaked accordingly." 

 

Bahl declared that, in order to captivate the audience with a specialised piece of content, the journalist putting out content will require a level of intellectual brand recognition and following, getting good traffic on their posts. 

 

"Once intellectual brand recognition is established, then a reporter could opt out of being a full-time employee. With the ability to reach out to audiences directly they will be able to earn from specialised columns, books, and speaking engagements," said Bahl. 

 

Bahl went on to talk about the paywall. 

 

He said, "Distribution is inversely proportional to the publisher's ability to monetise on subscription. If the content is going to be put out on every conceivable platform then the ability to make it into a paid platform gets diminished. Some calls needed to be taken depending on the content and revenue strategy. Till now, I don't think we have seen this future of a paywall. We are all still learning, and the jury is still out. It is also about brand power like The New York Times or The Economist, which has a pristine journalism coverage of over 100 years. This brand power will pull in consumers." 

 

However, Bahl added that a paywall should be thought through and cannot be added to every platform.

 

"For new and upcoming properties like The Quint, challenges will have to be tackled when it comes to a paywall. This niche of The Quint which is mostly young students, will not be able to pay and going on a paywall will be a blunder," he said. 

 

Metaverse 

 

Bahl ended the discussion by discussing the much-talked-about Metaverse. 

 

He said, "If sustained consumption with immersive 3D glasses takes shape, and if that is a pleasurable experience for the consumer, a lot of content consumption will move to the Metaverse. The jury is out on how easy it's going to be. Often consumer behaviour matters the most. In theory, technological advancement can look good. But if it's not comfortable for the consumer, it won't take centre stage."