Podcasting Will Explode, and 4 Other Predictions From Top Media Minds

Content marketing is a big trend made out of many smaller trends—the Matryoshka Doll of media, if you will, with one exciting new technology stacking into the next.

Predicting these trends has become the new national sport of the media industry, and at the TrackMaven Marketing Summit earlier this month, media leaders took out their crystal balls, peered into this sea of tools, and hazarded a few guesses at the next big thing, to crib a line from Samsung.

According to CoolHunting, Mic, and Slate, here are the juiciest trends to look out for:

1. Podcasting will explode.

“The coming explosion of podcasting,” Jacob Weisberg, chairman of The Slate Group, said flatly when asked about next big thing in the storytelling space. “The most intense connection and most intense engagement I’ve ever seen run any medium is around podcasting, because it combines the intimacy of the human voice with time-shift listening,” he said, referring to the recording and storage of audio, which offers listening flexibility—in sharp contrast to rigid radio schedules.

Podcasts in cars is a trend that could potentially catalyze the medium. One in five U.S. adults listens to podcast at least occasionally, and mobile podcasting in the car grew 10 percent from 2010 to 2012. As Weisberg noted, the average listener is listening to nine hours a month. “I’ve just never seen anything like it,” he said.

2. Screens will connect seamlessly.

When asked the same question, CoolHunting founder Josh Rubin had a very different answer: “I’m most excited by continuity. I think that we’re starting to see technology hand off the content experience from one screen to another in a manner that will allow us to get off the subway, get to our office, sit down, and fire up our desktop.”

He admitted that ‘continuity and ‘handoff’ are both Apple words; for Apple fanatics, the company offers a smooth connection between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. “What we’ll see once the next operating system comes out is a very seamless way to move from screen to screen and back and forth,” he said.

3. Email will make a comeback.

Next to social media and mobile, email is a dinosaur. But panelists were quick to defend it. “It’s like Throwback Wednesday,” moderator Eric Kuhn said. “Is email the biggest, newest old thing?”

Noting that it’s never really gone away, Weisberg said, “Well-curated newsletters are incredibly valuable,” partly because they foster audience dependency. “If it’s late one morning, you want to call up and ask where it is.”

While email is an old tool, its landscape is evolving. Jake Horowitz, co-founder of Mic, emphasized the importance of keeping your voice consistent between your publication and your email newsletter. After all, quality content is more important than ever for reaching sophisticate email users who know all the old tricks and are sorting through increasingly saturated inboxes.

4. Millennials’ love affair with Snapchat will continue.

“Snapchat is moving into stories and we’re following that space very, very closely,” Horowitz said.

Snapchat launched Snapchat Stories a year ago, allowing users to create more comprehensive, 24-hour glimpses into their lives. Stories will be the backbone of Snapchat’s new advertising product, allowing brands to place Stories in the feeds of Snapchat users for 24 hours.

Still, deciding when to invest in Snapchat can be tricky. Rubin said that he balked when a CoolHunting intern insisted that the company try out Snapchat. “I’m not there yet,” he said. Willingness partly hinges on the publication’s target audience. “The millennial portion of our audience is still an important part, but we skew a little bit older.”

5. Video will be king.

Everyone in the media world is high on video right now, and this panel wasn’t any different. Horowitz said Mic is “very bullish on video.” Weisberg agreed, but with some caveats. Video advertisements should be separate from content, he thinks. And he slammed pre-roll advertisements: “Putting a 30-second ad on a 60-second video is a fundamentally flawed premise.”

“We have an incentive to foist video on our users, but our users are not asking for it,” he said. To get around this, according to Weisberg, Slate has been experimenting with in-stream video ads. The audience can skip them if they suck, so there’s more of an incentive to craft quality, authentic content that the Slate audience would willingly watch.

And, of course, crafting quality, authentic content that people willingly consume is the biggest trend of all.

Image by tomertu

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