Recently someone asked me about my thoughts on AI and its impact on the future of news media. I provided my insight, but I realized that the general conversation on the concept and application of AI, even in my response, had primarily centered around journalism. During periods of innovation, particularly related to new media revenue, I approach each new development with eyes wide open and a glass half full. Everything is an opportunity, and every opportunity is a chance to build something enduring and expansive for the future. With that optimistic spirit in mind in examining AI, I couldn’t help but notice three discernable applications that the business side of news media may benefit from immediately.
The general subjective argument of AI producing ambiguous, simulated news content is easy to understand. However, sales collateral in emails, flyers and videos is repetitive by design and sometimes even needs more cohesion among sales team members. Compacting the control of messaging and leveraging AI to reproduce sales material at higher volumes helps sales departments mitigate the time required to create emails from scratch or receive sales collateral. For example, a practical application of AI could be restructuring a sales message for a special section tailored to different industries.
It’s no secret that there is typically a time lapse between the first meeting with a potential advertiser and receiving ad creative from the design team. AI could be a possible solution for instantaneous ad ideation or development. AI in no way eliminates the need for design team members. Instead, it helps solidify the value proposition by allowing the advertiser to envision their brand in your product sooner within the sales communication flow. Design is a crucial department within any news organization, but the strain of producing high volumes of ads for first-time presentations may curb attention from current advertisers. Leveraging AI for instant ad ideation is simple, enhances communication between sales and ad design, and can aid in closing ad campaign deals sooner and more often.
This is an extension of ad design, but AI may potentially yield entire ad campaign suggestions based on a set of input variables. I've built something similar to this in the past, although it still required manual design work and presentation building. The premise is an AI application leveraged immediately after a needs assessment conversation with a potential new advertiser. A general campaign suggestion can typically be created if the average transaction amount, geographical location and campaign purpose are known. This type of AI application in news media sales has tremendous potential due to its ability to eliminate the need to make design or research requests and manifest suggestions inclusive of all applicable ad campaign products, rationale, logos, ad design, rates and next steps.
Growth and innovation are rapidly accelerating with no apparent intention of slowing down. Not every new strategy is detrimental to another, nor is every invention groundbreaking. However, our current rapid-fire concept culture will require a distinct ability to identify and adapt to opportunities that yield the most bountiful futures. The only way to do that is to become comfortable exploring the unknown often and objectively. In my opinion, AI will be most beneficial to imaginative revenue leaders looking to produce growth by enhancing some of the sales processes through automation. The key is unlocking its full potential by exploring all possible applications and building a better future adapted to enduring generational news media economic conditions.
Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast. He is a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation and is the owner of RE Media Holdings, LLC. Richard is available for consulting and can be reached at www.richardebrown.co
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