Welcome to the first MX3 weekly roundup of all that is new, exciting and surprising in media news. This week’s edition is written by me, Ashley Norris.
Here is a quick list of what has shocked, surprised and occasionally impressed me this week.
- The ChatGPT update that could be a gamechanger
- What happens if you let AI run your social media accounts for a month
- Might subscription social media be good news for publishers’ bottom line?
- The book about the recent history of the media you really ought to have read
And loads more
1. Why haven’t they done that before moment?
The winner of this accolade goes to ChatGPT, which finally introduced the upgrade users had been waiting for – access to online browsing. No longer are ChatTP users constrained by only having access to content that is already a couple of years old.
The reason why OpenAI hasn’t introduced it before is that it gives a very compelling reason for companies and individual users to subscribe as the feature is only available to ChatGPT users paying for Plus or Enterprise editions for now.
What does this mean for the long-term future of publishing? I bet media companies will be all over the new ChatGPT this week, experimenting once again to see how far they can automate content.
2. Why haven’t they done that before movement – part two?
The internet and social media are flooded with dubious videos of unverified origins, confusing people and imperilling democracy.
No worries because YouTube has a solution. This week the video platform launched an initiative it really probably should have come up with a decade ago, and introduced a new watch page to help users get information from “authoritative” news sources.
The content is “algorithmically generated and dynamic,” YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez confirmed, pulling together long-form video, live streams, podcasts, and Shorts on news stories on one page.
It will be interesting to see how consumers respond, but it is certainly a sign that YouTube is keen to keep mainstream news organisations onside.
3. The really brave media experiment
We are led to believe that AI is really useful for creating social media posts, but so far, not too many individuals, let alone brands, have let algorithms all over their Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
Pete Boyle from Hackernoon did just that, employing AI to create social media posts for a month and then writing about it. The results are what you’d expect, namely steady but low levels of engagement. Surprisingly, the AI led to a boom in retweets on X/Twitter. On LinkedIn, it also garnered Peter a few more impressions. But overall, it was when he dipped in and created a post for himself that saw the highest level of engagement.
“Long story short, the AI content seemed to help increase the daily benchmark of my reach and engagements on social. It also seems to help warm up the algorithms to me. You can see this as the posts that still did the best and got the most engagement and views were the pieces I wrote without AI that focused on real issues my audience faces.
“I believe this is because the algorithms are slowly filtering out and throttling the reach of low-value posts that could be written by AI.
“Moving forward, I think I will keep using these to grow the baseline engagement from LinkedIn.”
Again, this provides more evidence that search and social algorithms are trying to detect AI-generated content and possibly downgrade its value.
4. A must-listen
OnePitch bills itself as a service that helps brands engage “with the right journalists who are ready to connect.” And part of its content marketing strategy is a rather fun podcast called Coffee With a Journalist, where host Beck Bamberger quizzes mainly tech journalists about the stories they wrote, why they write them and how they go about finding those stories.
One of the most recent podcasts with Steffi Cao, a staff writer for Forbes, is a must-listen. She specialises in covering the creator economy and internet culture, and in her chat, she takes us to parts of the creator economy, Twitch streamers, hologram gamers, influencers who start their own coffee shops and more, that don’t often get written about in mainstream media.
It’s a great way to learn more about what might emerge from the creator economy.
5. The big crystal ball gazing moment
There is a lot of chat this week about the subscription, ad-free models that will soon be launched by Meta and Tik Tok. Both Vogue Business and Digiday take a look at whether this move from the tech platforms will be successful and what the long-term implications are.
Vogue Business looks at how much it thinks that the tech platforms can get away with charging users, while Digiday focuses on how the shift might impact the advertising industry. Might it lead to a rebirth of display in mainstream media?
Of course, much depends on how many consumers are prepared to pay for ad-free social channels, but ultimately, brands will lose reach on their social ads, and some might look elsewhere.
6. A book you should read
Earlier this week, I talked with Thomas Baekdal, a media consultant from Denmark, about niche media. One of his key positions is that the days of media companies chasing traffic at scale have gone for good, and they need to refocus and think about getting consumers into a habit of searching for their news and content, not stumbling across it in a random way.
The conversation reminded me of Ben Smith’s superb book Traffic, which came out earlier this year. I am still shocked that so many people in the industry haven’t read it yet! It is an insider story of how BuzzFeed, Gawker Media and their rivals (remember Upworthy?) worked out ways to beat the social media and search algorithms to pile up ridiculous amounts of traffic.
Crucially, though, it also explains why the venture-backed publishing mega sites couldn’t keep the traffic or revenue generation up long term. It reminded me once again that accepted wisdom on online publishing is never permanent; it evolves at a quick pace.
7. Surprising, but not really that surprising news
The invasion of US media by British companies is ramping up, according to the latest figures from Press Gazette. Its traffic updates for September show that AP News is among the top three fastest-growing news sites in the US in September, with visits up 9% year-on-year to 133.9 million.
The Independent also featured among the fastest-growing sites, in tenth place for growth with visits up 17% to 23.1 million. Incidentally, MX3 has an upcoming interview with new CEO Christian Broughton to explain why.
Other big winners include Axios, with visits up 37% to 22.8 million, and US aggregator Newsbreak, whose visitors were up 53% to 19.7 million.
It begs the question, are there any specifically British-only media news companies left? All of them seem to have adopted global expansion plans.
8. Our media lifehack
Podcasts are a great idea, and we’d all love to host them and grab a slice of that $23.5 Bn market value.
But podcasts are time-consuming and tricky to set up, and it takes an age to edit out all those “errs” and “you knows”.
It has very interesting ideas about how publishers can use text-to-speech technology to create podcasts quickly and efficiently. Another method is using RSS feeds to round up the day’s key stories in an audio format.
You can read it all here.
Look out for more media lifehacks on the MX3 website
Interested in more? Go to mediamakersmeet.com for exclusive interviews, updates about our upcoming events, reports and more.
I am Ashley Norris, for Mx3. Get in touch with me here.