What is digital media? As innovation continues to drive the proliferation and evolution of online outreach, the answer to that question rapidly changes. The internet continues to offer individuals access to new digital content while introducing fresh opportunities for companies to engage with increasingly well-defined audiences.
Let’s take a closer look at three leading digital media trends that have accelerated towards the mainstream over the past several years.
Podcasting has become one of the most intriguing answers to the question “what is digital media?” By harnessing the power of grassroots broadcasting and democratizing access to listeners, many podcasters have been able to build enormous audiences outside of traditional media structures.
A huge part of podcasting’s appeal is its ability to reach a highly targeted group of listeners. Some shows focus exclusively on a specific topic and spend months, if not years, diving into them as deeply as possible. Others rotate a set of guests for interviews, commentary, and insight on a more general subject. There are also podcasts with formats such as panel discussions and talk shows.
Given how accessible podcasting is, it’s no surprise that the phenomenon is seeing exceptional levels of growth. Apple Podcasts alone provides a listing of more than a million shows worldwide, and that’s just looking at one of the most popular podcast services. Between 25% and 50% of individuals in the world’s major media markets have listened to a podcast in the last month, with a similar slice making it a point to do so on a weekly basis. Targeted, loyal, and growing, podcast audiences are increasingly important in the digital media landscape.
Video on demand
Even before COVID-19 closed movie theaters across the globe, the market for releasing video content both new and old began to shift inexorably online. The success of Netflix is a secret to no one, but in the last 18 months a host of new streaming services began to serve as a complement to, and competition for, the industry’s yardstick.
Estimates for video on demand growth earlier in 2020 from Fortune Business Insights and Mordor Intelligence had it doubling in value to between $87 billion and $120 billion over the next five years. In the absence of reliable revenues from in-person cinema viewings, studios such as Universal are now sending first-run releases directly to video on demand. This has narrowed the delay between any theatrical run and video on demand availability from 90 days to just 17, making earlier growth predictions seem modest. This opportunity exists not just for media companies, but for any organization seeking to reach a new and growing audience.
Live streaming of cultural events
Any exploration of ‘what is digital media?’ must include the rising popularity of live streaming. Like their movie theater cousins, live event venues were shut down, forcing performers and live event organizers across the world to explore alternative tools for connecting with audiences.
Live streaming offers the ability for each of the above-mentioned stakeholders to instantly export performance, in real time, with individual artists, as well as major culture-based businesses experimenting with the technology.
Individual event organization has also seen enormous growth: Video game streaming combined with music, dance, and theatre channels broadcast through services such as Twitch and Facebook have grown by nearly 100% so far versus the previous year, according to The Verge. As with podcasting, the proliferation of live streams resulted in the creation of exceptionally targeted, and directly-engaged digital audiences.
While it may require additional training or strategies to take full advantage of the opportunities that digital media has to offer, the potential for connecting with a new audience of prospects makes it well worth the effort.