Predictions for the Future of Content

It’s nice to talk about the future. You can say what you like because no one knows if it’ll come true or if you’re miles off the mark – yet. And that’s the beauty of looking into the future.

While we don’t claim to be psychics, we do like to look at growing trends, and seeing where they could potentially take us.

One trend that seems to be a growing force across the world is the strain between ownership and renting. Consumers (in general) have limitless access to a limitless number of brands essentially offering the same thing, and it seems we are yearning for the experience rather than the product itself. This can be felt everywhere from music to auto-motives.

Volkswagen is the latest car manufacturer to launch a car sharing programme. The programme will include 200 fuel efficient VW Golf BlueMotion vehicles at 50 locations across Hannover, Germany. Volkswagen have joined BMW and Peugeot in this market space, as more consumers look for an experience, not a product to take home with them forever.

These small operations are heading towards a shift in a long term strategy; it’s not just a fleeting trend. Car manufacturers are estimating this market will have 5.5 million participants by 2016 in Europe alone.

Another market that has seen a shift in user behaviour is the music industry. The way we buy, listen and even watch music has changed massively over the last five years. We don’t buy CDs to ‘own’ that song anymore, we rent it by downloading. And books and games are starting to head the same way.

What does this mean for the future of content?

There’s a video on YouTube of a two year old girl playing with a magazine. The ‘About’ section of the video states that she thinks it’s an iPad that doesn’t work. Whilst at first, our paper and book generation may be shocked, but it’s actually OK. Technological progress is the future, so how will this affect content? Here are our five prophecies for the future of content:

1. Paper will be a premium format

Device-based content consumption will become the norm, so anything created or written on paper will command a higher price and be held in greater esteem.

2. Digital content will be personalised

The recent law regarding Cookies, now states that every website must ask permission before storing information about your browsing habits. This allows sites to personalise their content to you, and your previous behaviour – only if you give it permission to do so though.

Publishers and websites can now deliver content that we want rather than what we never read or look at, whilst tempting us to look at something different.

3. ‘Free vs paid’ will continue

This debate will never die. Consumers will be willing to pay for content if it is exactly the content they want. Brands and publishers will need to package their content accordingly if they want it to generate appropriate revenues.

4. Content that does more

Should we keep creating content? Do we need to keep churning out articles, pictures and whitepapers? No, instead we will need to create content that does more. It will need to contribute, capture data, be shareable and allow purchase.

5. Even more devices

We’ve already got the mobile, the tablet, the ‘phablet’, the PSP, I could go on. We now have even more devices that help our day to day lives, and some aren’t even tangible. Cloud storage, Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity means that ‘whatever’ becomes ‘whenever’. Your car, watch, glasses and even your fridge will all become devices that provide interactivity and their own functionality. All will become channels for content.

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