My Thoughts on Technological Change in the New Media Age

I was invited to take part in a panel at 2016’s SVIEF event. This annual conference strengthens bonds between the US and China’s technological innovators, focusing on sharing ideas and exploring forthcoming changes.

It was a great privilege to be involved, and I had a fantastic time discussing changing technology in the new media era with three fellow guests, leaving me with a lot to consider in the coming year.

Agora.io Head of Product Ed Brakus spoke at SVIEF 2016.

The Importance of Interactivity

One point I’ve been fascinated with for some time is the way in which user participation and engagement continue to become more important in new media.  For example, the ability for audience members to interact with the broadcaster in real-time has become a popular feature of social media in Asia and has started to cross the Pacific as a trend.

This is a welcome development for anyone looking to improve monetization in their social media applications.  This feature leads to much higher levels of user engagement, time in appand conversion.

Every media company should make greater engagement a priority, developing products of a higher interactivity to secure consumers’ interest.

This is core to Agora’s mission. As we enable the fastest, most reliable global video communications available today, faster, fuller, and more frequent engagement in communications are factors we emphasize.

Think about it. These three factors have the constant trend in the evolution of communications technologies since the creation of movable type: we had books, and periodicals, and the telegraph. From there, we have voice calls, faxes, emails, instant messaging, and most recently, video chat. Video is now an everyday communications tool providing a more personal, intimate form of long-distance connection than any before it.

Real-time video communication allows consumers and businesses to chat with people around the world at their own convenience, eliminating the need to send letters, to wrestle with faxes, or to compose lengthy emails. We can all provide instant video to our friends on Facebook and Instagram (to name just a couple of examples) using the new broadcasting technology, allowing us to communicate with anyone in our circle in real-time.

A major benefit of this, though, is the two-way interaction – your viewers can comment and ask questions, creating back and forth between the broadcaster and potentially thousands of people.

Take a look at the trend in Korea, in which people broadcast themselves preparing, and then eating, meals. People have flocked to this by the thousand, inputting their own thoughts and ideas – it’s something of a phenomenon, and is sure to expand to other nations. This interactivity fosters a real sense of community and unity, bridging gaps imposed by geography, culture, finances, and other factors.

Again, monetization is a key issue. It’s all well and good (beautiful, in fact) for a technology to enable people from disparate regions the freedom to interact, but if it offers no revenue, it won’t be around for long. How can such real-time video broadcasting generate profits?

Generating Revenue from New Media

Generating revenue is all about finding incentives and capitalizing on the technology’s full potential.

Let’s consider just how popular concerts held by the music industry’s biggest names can be. Taylor Swift is probably the perfect example.  If she were to perform in New York City (at Madison Square Garden, let’s say), a live broadcast would allow people unable to enjoy the show in real-time, the next best thing to actually being there.

Would they be willing to pay for this, though? Certainly not the same price they would have paid for a ticket. Setting a much lower price as a compromise may not be part of a viable business model, and put many businesses off immediately.

But how about if the live broadcast allowed fans to interact with the performer, and potentially enjoy a deeper experience than they had ever imagined? For example, video technology could allow paying viewers the chance to take part in a duet with Taylor, right on stage, in front of the world – all you need is a screen and an exceptional connection. Likewise, you could even take viewers backstage to meet Taylor, to hold a Q&A … the idea has huge potential.

Innovations Inspire Innovations

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in the new media and testing the boundaries of technology’s role in global communication. Innovations inspire innovations: the more new ideas developers bring to market, the more these will spawn others, and so on. Innovations in hardware, even at the smallest level, can lead to innovations in software, and vice versa, which is why it’s so important to open the conversation.

I look forward to next year’s event!