Digital trends that will shape the media industry

by John Einar Sandvand on October 25, 2010 · 13 comments

What are the digital trends that will shape the media industry? I asked three digital media experts. Here are their answers.


I had the pleasure of talking to the board of executives at Schibsted Media Group recently about the big changes taking place in the digital landscape. As part of my preparation I asked three smart digital media observers to answer the following question:

  • What are the three most important digital media trends right now that will shape the media industry over the next 3-5 years?

Here are their answers:

Thomas Crampton

Thomas Crampton used to work for years as a globetrotting newspaper journalist, primarily for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.

He then changed the course of his career – and since 2004 has been passionately involved with digital media. He is now the Asia Pacific director for 360 Digital Influence at Ogilvy – and a frequently used keynote speaker on social media.

I recommend you to follow his excellent blog, in which he often provides very interesting information about social media in Asia.  He also tweets at @thomascrampton.


Grzegorz Piechota is the president of International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) in Europe.

One of the points he makes is how the older generation also will become digital.

“New devices like iPads seem to be much easier for the old generation to understand and to use. (Look at my parents-in-law.)”, he writes.

“Printed media used to think they had problems with the young readers, now watch out as their core readers are going finally to discover digital news, entertainment, communication, geolocation and e-commerce.”

“And you know — at least in developed countries the market of the old is much bigger than the market of the young, and it is going to be bigger and bigger.”

Grzegorz tweets at @forum4editors.


Nic Newman presents himself as a “digital consultant working on the future of journalism”.  For many years he used to work for BBC, first in different editorial positions and then in charge of teams developing major web sites for the broadcasting corporation.

One of his points is how the use of videos create new ways of telling and distributing stories.

“Navigating the world of the web through video led gateways will shake up the old broadcasting elites and open a new wave of innovation on TV, PC, Tablet and mobile”, he writes.

He tweets at @nicnewman.

  • Per Helge Seglsten

    Has Grzegorz Piechota elaborated his thoughts on the digitalization of older people/readers somewhere (on the web)?

    • http://www.betatales.com John Einar Sandvand

      Per Helge,
      I have forwarded your question to Grzegorz. However, he is in Ukraine at the moment without good web connection. He will answer when he is back home in Poland.

      • Per Helge

        Thank you! I’ll be waiting eagerly…

        • Per Helge Seglsten

          And that was really much mor than could be expected! Thanks, both of you!

    • http://twitter.com/forum4editors forum4editors

      Dear Per Helge,

      I am going to share more insights about these new devices and more results from our research at the INMA Transformation of News Summit at Harvard on December 3.

      So let me here elaborate a bit just on this one point:

      1) I believe new devices like iPads seem to be much easier for the elder generation to understand and to use.

      I admit there is a lack of hard evidence about it. Early Nielsen research done in the US suggests iPads and other devices are bought first by early adopters who tend to be young (63 % of iPad buyers are aged 35 and younger). But it is a nascent market, premium priced at the moment — many things will change when the market matures, number of devices become available and prices fall.

      I do believe iPads and similar devices have some killer features making them attractive for elder people:

      Intuitive touch-based interface: so no more intimidation when the young try to teach you the new technology, no more problems with operating the mouse and finding cursor on-screen.

      Simplified operating system and apps: no more fear that pressing anything is going to corrupt the device or data, no more features regular guys don’t need and that make the whole experience complicated.

      Concept of apps: this world of ”one click = one feature” seems to be somewhat more familiar to their world of brands/utilities they trust and look for.

      Media consumption patterns: according to our research old users tend to be rather consumers of media than producers. iPad and similar devices — more easy than flexible – are simply more suitable to their needs.

      2) These new devices may diminish the most important barriers for the growth of the Internet usage.

      Until today in all European Union countries the Internet has been adopted more by the young than by the old.

      Some Eurostat data: among people aged 18-29 almost 100 % use the Internet. among people aged 55-64 do it only 48 %. Among people aged 65 and older the Internet is used only by 25 %.

      In my Poland the difference is even bigger: compare 95 % to 30 % and 8 %.

      So if the Internet usage is to grow, it is to grow among people aged 55 and older.

      This difference is a market opportunity recognized already by many players like telecommunication companies, financial services etc.

      It is yet to be recognized by many other players as hardware or software producers… and media themselves.

      It will be recognized sooner or later as Europe is aging. At this very moment 30 % of Poles are aged 50 and older. In 20 years there will be 50 %. No business can ignore such a change on the market.

      According to our latest research study done in Poland infrastructure or money are not in fact the most important barriers for the elder people to start using the Internet.

      The top barrier is that they don’t see it any useful. The second barrier is they believe it is too complicated.

      You can interpret these answers in many ways. Many researchers including me believe that what these people really mean is they face a lack of devices/services suitable to their capabilities and interests, and they don’t know what’s really useful for them on the Internet and how to use it.

      Here come the iPad and others.

      3) This new breed of hardware have been already supported by a new generation of software and you can just expect this trend will grow.

      New, easier to use software will help the old people to discover things we — the younger ones — already know like digital entertainment, communication, e-commerce. The most popular features of the Internet apart of finding information and news.

      Printed media used to think they had problems with the young readers, now watch out as their core customers are going finally to discover the Internet.

      What do you think?

      Grzegorz Piechota

      • Per Helge Seglsten

        Thank you very much! Being able to order blogposts from the president of INMA sure gives a feeling of indulgence, stronger than any chocholate could ever provide?;c)`
        I do agree with you on all points, especially I think we will see that the pad format will increase the older generations use of PCs and the internet. At least if they feel that the content they find on their pads are interesting. Which they however may not do if only magazines like Wired and other “youthy fruit” reading is considered for pad publishing. I also think we might see that leafing through a pad magazine for older people will have to be a different experience than navigating through content made for a generation born into the internet age.
        I’m sorry that I’m not able to attend at Harvard in december, but hopefully you will be able to share more of your thoughts with us afterwards?

        • http://twitter.com/forum4editors forum4editors

          Dear Per Helge, I am glad you pointed the design and content issues.

          1) Design: In general I think that making the service easy to navigate for the old could be also appreciated by the younger generation. Messy, misleading designs with so called ”young feel” confuse anybody, not only the old ones. There is however a growing need for some standards like options to manage font size, navigation of content apps (is the rest of article below like in Wired and Time, or on the right like in WSJ or New York Times?) etc.

          2) Content: On AppStore you can find not only Wired magazine, but also AARP — the biggest magazine in circulation in the US which is targeted for people aged 50 and older. When talking about newsmedia my guess is more and more publishers will package their content offers and services to suit the needs of different demographics or niches. At my own company we run over 90 bigger and smaller web and mobile brands and we segment them also by age of users. We have several general news sites in order to differentiate them not only in topics, but also look, feel, and the ways interaction with the audience is managed. Just compare: gazeta.pl, wyborcza.pl and tokfm.pl

          • http://www.betatales.com John Einar Sandvand

            This is a very interesting discussion, indeed! Thanks a lot, Grzegorz, for sharing your insight!
            In Norway we see that around 60 % of the population now use Facebook regularly – and the strongest growth is among people older than 50 years.

  • http://twitter.com/dan_christ Dan Christ

    Being ready when the greatest generation goes digital will be a huge key to future success. Good to see it now.

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  • website hosting in chennai

    I have forwarded your question to Grzegorz. However, he is in Ukraine at the moment without good web connection.

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