What’s Happening:

Changed context and new dimensions are the hallmarks of today’s digital age, and every online storyteller must master them. Ezra Eeman, head of EBU Digital, demonstrated the eight dimensions of this new media landscape with his eight-year-old daughter, browsing YouTube clips on the family iPad.

Why It Matters

Eeman’s daughter, Haru, is half Japanese and half Belgian, schooled in English and French and raised in Dutch — and therefore a critical representation of the new ultra-diverse digital world that does not fit neatly into audience categories. Haru’s time spent watching videos on an iPad completely encapsulated the full-stack experience of the eight important dimensions that every digital storyteller must be aware of.

Digging Deeper

These dimensions are:

  1. Know your audience. Too many journalists still create for an audience of one — themselves. Today’s audience has changed, along with the way media relates to them; they can no longer be easily defined by traditional demographics of age, social class, education or even gender.
  2. Frictionless media. Haru was browsing her device without any effort, and today’s users expect such a frictionless journey. Every obstacle you put in the way of your audience is an excuse for them to find an easier path.
  3. Join the conversation. Engagement is the code word of the day, and social platforms have built in the expectation of interaction. Innovative media companies are reinventing the newsroom process and role of the audience, who are no longer an uninvolved reader.
  4. Behavior shaped by technology. We shape technology, and it shapes us. Mobile phones have made a huge impact on our behavior, and the average person navigates her way across various screens and touchpoints. Publishers must understand context and device-driven media use.
  5. Interfaces interactions. Eeman noted that he never taught his daughter how to use the iPad — it was just intuitive for her. With new devices and interfaces constantly on the horizon, publishers must unlock these formats and create alternative possibilities for interaction, while being certain they are not adding layers of friction instead.
  6. The king of content needs the queen of distribution. Media makers have to make hard strategic choices about the channels they use to get their content out. Do we float in a stream controlled and created by others or do we tend our own garden with a lot of effort and no guarantee that someone will ever visit? Publishers must make distribution an integral part of their storytelling process.
  7. Welcome to the Youniverse. Media companies collect troves of audience data, but very few actually know how to turn that into value. They must figure out what to do with the data, while being aware of increased scrutiny of privacy and the use of such data.
  8. Hooked by experiences. The tailored, effortless experience, with social and engaging content, is what triggers Haru to go back to her digital experience. But it is not the single experience that is the end game, Eeman said, but the relationship. Media companies must understand what people seek out proactively and what drives them to watch from the same publisher or creator week after week.

The Bottom Line

Storytellers eager to succeed in today’s digital landscape and build their knowledge and audience must be aware of and learn to master these eight basics.

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