The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

“The Russians are doing it. Cambridge Analytica is doing it. Why haven’t newsrooms seen this as an opportunity?”

If I had to build a publishing startup today, I’d build it around the targeting capabilities of social platforms. I’d start there. I’d ask: How do I create content that I know I can target to specific people to address specific needs?

Changing consumer habits wasn’t the big trigger that ended the mass media age; it was the scarcity of attention (fixed) at a time of surging content (exponential). We simply don’t have the time to consume it all.

The debate over Russian “meddling” in the U.S. presidential election appears to hide an important prospect about the role of personalized content in media today: the same technology, executed strategically and tactically, could allow media companies to address gaps in public knowledge, or solve specific informational needs.

The Russians are doing it. Cambridge Analytica is doing it. Why haven’t newsrooms seen this as an opportunity?

The ads we see today are a proxy of what’s possible. On Facebook alone, you can create audience segments around people who were just married, having their first child, needing their first cars. There are a bunch of great stories you could write about that specific life phase. Or how about reaching people who care about human rights in specific emerging markets? Imagine the impact you could achieve as a media company that informs a specific community.

The combinations are endless, as are the stories that can be created to service the needs of each individual.

There are several important benefits for the industry in the shift to micro-targeting. We’d actually seek out problems to solve; we’ll be rewarded by engagement and, therefore, revenue. We’ll also reduce wastage in output — costly operations of content teams that churn out content that never gets seen or read.

The social media age was framed by one question for publishers: How do I reach an audience on social platforms? The defining questions for every journalist in the age of micro-targeting will be: Who is this piece of content for? How do I make sure it reaches them?

I believe this shift to psychographic, micro-targeted media will be the biggest evolution for publishers in the next 3 to 5 years. Every content generated will be targeted to specific needs and profiles, instead of a mass audience.

Alan Soon is cofounder of The Splice Newsroom, a business intelligence service covering the transformation of media in Asia.

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Paul Ford   Go global

Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Burt Herman   Things get real

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Jake Levine   The return to now

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Juleyka Lantigua   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Errin Haines   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Richard Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc