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Web publishing: Is multimedia making writers obsolete?

Online publishers have typically viewed the hyper-crowded nature of the Internet as the main challenge in getting relevant traffic. However, most overlook the dilution of their content as having the effect of lessening the impact of their online presence or message.

A female attendee uses an iPad during day 3 of Graduate Fashion Week 2014 at The Old Truman Brewery on June 2, 2014 in London, England.
A female attendee uses an iPad during day 3 of Graduate Fashion Week 2014 at The Old Truman Brewery on June 2, 2014 in London, England.
Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Growing Impatience with Content

Many old school companies, marketers, PR execs, advertisers, and publishers may not be aware that an evolving Internet now features impatient users that are gravitating towards multimedia content, as well as, content validated by “social proof’ (i.e., Facebook likes and Twitter shares).

A corporate entity or large publisher may have dozens, and often hundreds, of web properties that represent a discombobulated collection of its subsidiaries and departments. Instead of being online assets, these can be SEO-neutral. Large entities may post thousands of pages online. Yet the content can become highly diluted by being distributed through incompatible domains and web portals.

More becomes less. People get lost while visiting labyrinths posing as Drupal-coded mazes. Disconnection between sites means that these entities may be losing valuable SEO juice as some search engines fail to recognize that the published content ultimately comes from a single root source.

Simplicity rules.

Multimedia and Social

Multimedia is becoming inseparable from social. If there is a pressing challenge for service providers, it is that millions of web users, especially the younger demographic, are growing impatient with text.

Let’s put this drastic shift in content preference in historical perspective. The invention of the printing press in the 15th Century (i.e., the Gutenberg Bible) rendered Homer’s oral tradition – where knowledge was spread by word of mouth – obsolete in western civilizations. With the printing press, text-based print (in the form of papers, books, magazine, dictionaries, directories, newsletters, newspapers, posters, and the like) all became extremely cheap to mass produce. As a result, alphabet-based letters has dominated the literate world for nearly 600 years.

However, text now has a major weakness in that modern cultures have evolved into preferring instant gratification. In the modern Internet, no one has time. Online, hyper-attention deficit disorder is actually normal. Therefore, hoards of users are preferring multimedia as the medium for consuming a publisher’s message.

A video of a cat hugging a dog can get a million views in less than 24 hours. No corporate press release can get such traction unless the name of your company is Walmart or Apple.

Audience Culling of Content

Traditional PR solutions may have involved the promotion and distribution of text-based announcements, but the Internet is clearly evolving into a platform for potentially viral photos, videos, memes, and Instagram.

How can publishers reconcile the two worlds?

Corporate markets, advertisers, publishers, PR execs, and amateur bloggers will need to adapt. Multimedia is inseparable from social because only photos and videos are going viral. There’s a reason why Super Bowl 2013 ads cost more than $4 million per 30-second spot on television. There’s a reason why YouTube now boasts over one billion monthly users. There’s a reason why Yahoo! wants to buy Dailymotion.

That’s where the eyeballs are. If they get eyeballs, they get more advertisers as clients.

Photos and images get vastly more “social votes” on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram than text-based content. Multimedia hosting provides the benefit of letting users share such content, and in turn, improve the client’s SEO by generating as much social votes in the eyes of search engines.

PR services is a competitive field and providers will need to match solutions to the evolving expectations of their clients. Relevant traffic and a targeted audience have always been the holy grail for marketers. A large portion of that traffic now expects content other than text.