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Next Gen Digital Consumers Are Fundamentally Different

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Manish Maheshwari, CEO, Network18 DigitalManish has deep understanding of consumer internet & international markets. He is responsible for managing Network18 Digital's digital estates, which include Firstpost, News18, Moneycontrol, CNBC-TV18, In.com, and CricketNext.

Technology is disrupting the way we eat, travel and more than anything, how we consume content. The past year has seen a dramatic rise in the overall penetration, as access costs have fallen post the launch of Jio (as per Mary Meeker Internet Trends report ­ 2017). With faster and relatively cheaper data, the face of the Indian internet audience and its consumption is undergoing a change. Internet and technology are changing the way we consume content. There are three key broad trends that are visible in the space of content consumption based on the preferences of the users.

Users Want to Put-in Minimum Effort while Consumption
Users increasingly want to minimize the effort being put into the content being consumed, while ensuring that they are on top of things. Short, snackable news is increasingly gaining traction among the users, especially millenials. Today, video consumption is on the rise. Short news stories with six second pre-roll ads are being tried and tested for consumers making them glued to the news feed. Tech giants like Face-book, Twitter and recently LinkedIn also joined the bandwagon. With ‘Watch' to be launched in 2018, Face-book is all set to compete with the likes of Netflix in ‘original content' category. This is also true for Twitter which is heavily betting on live video content. Twitter's recent partnership with Bloomberg on streaming a 24x7 news channel live on its platform is a testimony to the big video plans that Twitter is foreseeing.
More than 89 percent of media houses globally, as per a survey in Journalism, Media & Technology Trends reports 2017 ­ Reuters, state that short social videos will be their priority. Tech giants like Facebook and Twitter are hoping to get advertisers to shift a significant portion of their digital spending into online video(s). Even television can expect to face pressure in the future, as younger audiences are increasingly consuming news delivered through social media and in shorter formats (news bulletins in France have seen a dip of 20 percent of their under-35 viewers as mentioned in the Journal-ism, Media & Technology Trends re-port 2017 - Reuters).

Publishers are constantly experimenting to be available to the users on the platform of choice, and CNBC TV18 is now available as an action on Alexa

Users Want the Experience to be Interactive & Conversational
Users expect to see a movement to-wards audio based consumption and voice based assistants. The ease of searching through voice is higher over text, especially for regional languages. As per a Gartner prediction, 30 percent of web browsing will be done via screen-less user interfaces (also called zero UI) by 2020. Glob-ally, publishers and other 3rd parties have developed more than 5,000 ‘actions' for Alexa, and Google's plat-form at its heels. Publishers are constantly experimenting to be available to the users on the platform of choice, and CNBC TV18 is now available as an action on Alexa. In addition, audio and voice based ecosystems provide a hands free setup, especially useful in multiple contexts. Experiential content through technological enablers like virtual reality seem distant in India, marketers and media houses are trying to experiment with the same. With the runaway success of Pokemon Go, there are multiple new players experimenting with VR and AR even in the media space.

News Moving towards a Multi-Touch Point Ecosystem
The lines between devices are getting blurred increasingly, and will soon be visible in the Indian consumption pat-terns as well. As televisions, watches, homes and cars become smarter, con-tent will move towards a multi-touch point ecosystem. Users are already consuming data such as stock prices on their phones (Moneycontrol app available in the Apple Watch), and store interesting news for later consumption through their desktop or mobile. People are now accessing the same content flexibly across multi touch points. With innovation, plat-forms and tools continuously evolving, the only thing constant is the way you communicate and connect with your audience, in which user experience is utmost important. Going ahead, we will embrace various technological innovations, but what's crucial is how best technology is leveraged to get closer to the consumer, to give them breaking news stories on the platform of their choice, in the format they want and make them the real participant in the story.