WeiserMazars Talks to Big4.com About Current Media Trends

An interview with Richard Faltin, WeiserMazars LLP Partner

1. What do increased risk factors cited in the survey say about the state of the industry?

Technological advancements in the ability to capture and maintain exponentially more data and to deliver that data over many platforms means that all media enterprises are now essentially required to continually re-evaluate their business models. Our 2013 Media Barometer was a reminder that the industry needs to seriously examine the business viability of its deliverables, the infrastructure required to deliver and secure output and the impact of technological advances on business strategy.

We have observed that ongoing development of an effective organizational structure is at the core of a successful business. Attracting and retaining key personnel is, more than ever, a significant identified risk because changes in business models and approaches draw on different skill sets and require frequent assessment as to whether the organization possesses the required talent and experience. Often, the enterprise relies on third parties to bridge the talent gap which creates a dependence on factors outside the direct control of the entity.

2. What are some of the significant changes in the media sector that are relevant?

We have observed that there is a significant challenge replacing revenues lost from traditional print sources. To offset this decline, the industry is focusing on the delivery of information in electronic/digital format and increasing the amount of content available “on demand” to the user. The ability to capture more information about specific user demographics has also caused the content provided to be much more tailored to the target audience. There is greater emphasis on audience contact and building a relationship, with an increase in live events, seminars, trade shows and webinars.

3. What do media companies need to do to become flexible?

Media companies are placing greater emphasis on analytical data to determine the effectiveness of content delivery. This information is useful to advertisers and helps them decide how to best distribute advertising dollars among the many choices available.

The typical media organization is now compelled to develop a strong information technology group that is capable of understanding the ever-changing technology platforms. It must insist on continuous feedback from its sales and marketing departments as to user needs and desires. All aspects of the business must be coordinated and organized around a branding concept that is not tied to traditional functional lines and empowers subgroups to make decisions without lengthy organizational levels of approval.

Lastly, emphasis must be placed on training all key organizational members to understand the core elements of an ever-changing media landscape.

4. What are the biggest takeaways here?

A successful media enterprise will have to develop key strategic elements which we present as our “Top 10 takeaways”:

  1. Effective analytical tools to understand customer behavior and interests, leveraging this to develop products and services that address the changing landscape
  2. A flexible organization capable of reacting quickly to the demands of the marketplace
  3. Key individuals whose experience and qualities match the need for flexible business strategy
  4. Appropriately rewarding key personnel based on performance
  5. Continued emphasis on training and individual development for personnel
  6. The sales effort is geared to customer needs and behavior
  7. Utilize third parties to supplement the strategic needs of the organization
  8. Consider mergers and acquisitions to achieve necessary capabilities
  9. Strong information technology infrastructure investment to assure stability, sustainability and security of valuable data/content assets
  10. Treat the worldwide marketplace as the audience.

5. What trends are developing?

Currently, there is significant emphasis on developing customer base. For example, Facebook recently announced the acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 Billion due to WhatsApp’s sizable customer base, which Facebook projects will grow to over one billion users over the next several years. While most media audiences may not be that large, it is the heightened understanding of the audience and its behavior which will drive successful media products and services. There will be a continued shift to digital media platforms and the ability to profitably monetize those developments will determine an enterprise’s success. Further, organizations are engaging key personnel who can adapt to the changing landscape, and then ensuring that they undergo continuous training consistent with the pace of change. Information technology platforms are also being strengthened.