Media leaders from the UK and Canada will meet tonight to discuss rapid and significant changes in media at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event in Toronto. Bell Media Digital’s Jon Taylor will weigh-in on intersection of broadcasting and digital media.
Jon Taylor is Senior Director of Content for Bell Media Digital. He is responsible for the acquisition, creation and measurement of Bell Media Digital’s online content.
Jon most recently worked as an Executive Producer in the Programming and Production departments at CTV and continues to work closely with those groups.
His work creating web-exclusive complementary content for Bell Media’s digital platforms includes So You Think You Can Dance Canada, The Juno Awards, We Day and The Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Tonight, Jon takes the stage at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event along with the speakers from the National Post, BBC World News, GigaOM and OpenFile. In a Q&A with Digital Journal ahead of the event, Taylor touches on what’s in store for broadcasters and where digital media fits in the TV business.
Digital Journal: As someone who manages the content side of a media business, how has your job changed over the last year and where is it going?
Jon Taylor: As the business model evolves, the focus has turned to user engagement and user experience and how people consume content online and on mobile platforms.
There is much more focus on companion content and unique online executions. Bell Media has had some good success with unique online programming like WE DAY, largest youth empowerment event, and programming several original series last summer. We’re going to see more of this in the future.
In a way, everything has changed because the delivery method changes quickly, but nothing has changed insofar as content is still king, regardless of platform.
As for where it’s going, I’ve noticed a definite shift in business function within a large organization. Whereas new media was often a peripheral business unit, there is a more definite seat at the table for everything from programming and production to sales and marketing.
Digital Journal: Where is programming heading? Outside of news, what kind of content should a modern media business focus on/produce/deliver?
Jon Taylor: Strategy is challenging since it needs to be two-fold.
First, it needs to make money, and second it needs to be somehow innovative. There is no right answer for this one. Nobody has the brass ring for content production and delivery.
Innovation is expensive and can be risky. However, what we are focusing on is strong content, year-long strategy and, currently, integrating and exploiting the strength of Sympatico and the Bell Media (former CTV) properties.
Digital Journal: We’ve seen significant changes in journalism with the rise of digital media and the Web. How is television being affected by these changes? Where is it heading?
Jon Taylor: The revolution might not be televised, but you can bet it will be online.
By aggregating or curating first-hand accounts from social media, blogs and other sources that have access to a wealth of bleeding edge information, news becomes part of the revolution.
More leaders are going to emerge in this space, and I think Canada is poised to be a leader in how digital is leveraged for journalism. Our proven objectivity — not quite British, not quite American — puts us in a unique position.
Digital Journal: What affect have start-ups had on media businesses? How do they play a role in media’s future?
Jon Taylor: From an online video standpoint, Netflix and other over-the-top services are going to be an obvious concern. But in general, the proliferation of services and add-ons is endless.
We’ll continue to see the rising-up of the most-needed or wanted services. How they’ll continue to change media will be part of the greater evolution of how we all do business.
In this case, I’m not sure that being a fast adopter of these kinds of services really benefits the business. For example, is the company that first integrated Facebook into their site right now better off than those companies who went down that road a little later?
Digital Journal: What do you think makes a good “digital-first” strategy for a media company, and should modern media businesses approach with a digital-first mindset?
Jon Taylor: The right strategy is to make sure that the right platform or platforms are taking the lead. I keep going back to it, but there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy in the digital or multi-platform world.
Digital should be first when it makes the most sense, and when compared to the still-formidable power of broadcast television, isn’t going to be the case 100 percent of the time.
More and more, we’re seeing the prominence of digital as it stands on its own or as a companion piece to television and radio.
The modern media approach should be to marry the right content with the right platform and match it to an audience.
Digital Journal: What revenue channels beyond advertising do you think we’ll see become more prevalent in the digital media space?
Jon Taylor: Subscription models will be more dominant, but I don’t believe we’ve see the end of what advertising online is or does. There is still a huge frontier of advertising opportunities in the digital space and there will be more creative integrations with content.
Digital Journal: How will rapid and significant changes in digital media over the last few years affect the average person at home in the years to come?
For sure people who haven’t already will come to expect all media to be available on all platforms. The idea of having what you want when you want will be a given.
It’s easy for us, as fast adopters, to think that we’re there now, or that the omnipresent expectation already exists, but we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.
My kids, who are four- and six-years old, have no idea what linear TV is. They only know on-demand and they rarely see an advertisement. How advertisers reach viewers is what is really going to change and evolve. Content will inevitably be where you want to be in the future.