Al Jazeera is a business news corporation that is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Since its establishment in 1996, the company has become a major news broadcast presentation in the Middle East and the world at large, which include many channels and various bureaus around the globe. Al Jazeera began its activities during a time when there were very few non-state run news broadcasts in Middle East. During that time, cable options in Middle East were limited to CNN and BBC World Service; however, the two broadcast houses were having trouble operating in Middle East due to state censorship. It was a good time for Al Jazeera to fill the existing gaps in both regional and international news that is free from government influences’ and propaganda especially from countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. News channel Al Jazeera in 2011 was legally restructured to become Al Jazeera Media Network. The move was reportedly intended to give the news broadcaster more flexibility and to guarantee a faster decision-making process. It played a key role in shaping the future of the Al-Jazeera newswires as a global media outlet (Forester, 2011).
The following paper examine how new trends are affecting Al-Jazeera as a media house. In its paper on “Media and Entertainment” PWC (2015) that new trends are emerging in the media industry that are changing the way things used to operate. In the past there was a known approach of success route that media used, this include increasing revenue streams, limiting distribution outlets and having a distinct exploitation avenue. However, to succeed in the present and future environment media companies such as Al-Jazeera have to be innovative and efficient in their operations. More so, they have to embrace new ways of content development, content distribution, technological application, operations as well as monetization. In generally, Al-Jazeera and the group have to change their strategies, capabilities as well as their operating approaches to address and overcome the outlines new trends.
Reduced Content structure
PWC (2015) points out that consumer time and use is changing towards digital. However, the capacity of media companies to monetize consumer involvement in this digital environment is lower compared to utilization in the analog media. Owing to this Al-Jazeera needs to substantially lower the cost of its content that it offers to the consumers. To achieve this, the Al-Jazeera will have to introduce more variable costs but still maintain the same number of employees, editors as well as content producers. This will certainly reduce the cost of contents, which can finally be offered to the consumers at a lower price. In addition, as pointed out by Davies (2009) Al-Jazeera needs to focus on enhancing the external contributors’ networks to create more content, develop high standards and consistency in ways of content production and use of technology. The operation of Al-Jazeera will be affected in relation that the company will be forced to reduce fixed costs such as salaries by outsourcing, centralization of their activities and offshoring some activities that can be carried out in remote places. One of the competitive advantages of Al-Jazeera has been its ability to give a “native” coverage, however, going forward as the world continues to shrink, it would be best for the company to try and streamline its content towards a global audience approach. This will not only reduce the costs in content production, but as well portray Al-Jazeera as a truly global media house (Gear and Johansen, 2010).
Increased accountability, relevance and interactivity by advertisers
Advertisers who use the traditional paid media are putting these mediums under pressure as they change to digital, event marketing, database marketing, loyalty programs and place-based media. PWC (2015) points out that these changes means that media companies will have to be more innovative and focus more on return on investment (ROI) when the develop advertising solutions. Though this seems like a challenge to media houses, it as well presents an opportunity to develop new businesses coming from lead generation, marketing services as well as custom media.
In order to remain attractive to advertiser, Al-Jazeera would have to more creative, and this will require the company to take up responsibilities that in the past belonged to agencies. Accordingly, Al-Jazeera will need to work directly with advertiser to create and distribute tailored advertising programs, and this will lower the costs and increase accountability that is being demanded.
Al-Jazeera already is also adapting to new technology by reallocating and optimizing marketing budgets. This is being done by using advanced customer data collection tools and using advanced analytical tools that help in targeting customers. As mentioned by Murdoch, Tuma & Vernocchi (2013) this ends the guess work used in traditional advertising concepts. Accordingly, Al-Jazeera is able to cut down costs, while at the same time being more accurate and effective in its advertisements. In addition, Al-Jazeera will create a creative team that will as well work with the advertisers in creating adverts that are relevant to different targeted segments as a way of increasing audience numbers and their by reducing costs and increasing success of advertising being carried out.
Today, consumers need more; they are not satisfied with merely print, voice, video or other types of entertainment and information that is given in a passive manner (PWC, 2015). The search-driven trend of today has driven consumers to be on search, interact and look for community. Therefore, media companies need to create vigorous digital toolkit to develop high quality inventory. This could be targeted, e-newsletters or application that require membership.
The objective of media houses would be moving from creation of impression to developing relationships with their customers (Venturini, 2014). Indeed, Al-Jazeera is already doing so by developing customers’ relationship through new media. For example, Al-Jazeera and a twitter account and a Facebook page that are used to develop personalized relationships with its customers.
According to www.ey.com (2015) technological advancement that is being observed in the television industry for example introduction of “Smart television” that can learn viewer preferences will as well affect the operations of media companies since their content distribution and delivery will have to match these smart devices. Accordingly, Al-Jazeera will need to develop “content discovery optimization” that is similar to present to present day’s search engine optimization that will allow its content to be continuously tuned to enable it be discovered by the largest possible audience and at the correct time. This will require Al-Jazeera to go beyond the normal descriptive show and into parameters like viewers’ sentiments, optimum watching time among other things. However, this will call for high level of innovation and creativity.
New technologies in media and entertainment means that Al-Jazeera has to adapt successfully and this will have to be done through trying various methods concurrently. In addition, Al-Jazeera will have to operate hybrid business concepts and continuously reexamine its position in the media value system. Al-Jazeera is as well planning for innovative and fundamentally new media delivery platform.
Online video, social media and mobile media are expanding rapidly
According to PWC (2015) there is rapid growth of social media, mobile media and online videos such as “Youtube”. Owing to this, media and entertainment companies like Al-Jazeera have to make sure that they take a front seat in the future growth platforms. However, for the media companies to achieve this, they will have to acquire a new set of competencies and technology (Murdoch Tuma & Vernocchi, 2013). In addition, these companies would need to create a successful organizational culture of creativity and innovation as key drives of the future.
For Al-Jazeera to achieve it will have to be greatly receptive of innovation process and be more willing to adapt a culture of “test and learn” , that would allow it to try many different things but only implement that that prove to be successful.
According to Gear and Johansen (2010) the trend with consumers in the media and entertainment is towards sharing experiences, and this explains the high growth of social media sites. Accordingly, it to succeed in this landscape, Al-Jazeera would need to provide new innovations such as “event” window where its customers can share their social experiences and feel as part of the larger social group. Indeed, part of how to create successful content would be in building enough social experience surrounding a program that viewers would feel as part of event experience for example when airing a football match. Indeed, if Al-Jazeera can manage this, the social media will not be a threat to its operations.
Emerging markets are offering long-term growth opportunities
Growth in global media and entertainment industry is expected to be high among the emerging markets such as Middle East, Russia, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Within these markets, multimedia landscape is growing at a high rate and traditional barriers such as government regulations are being removed as these markets become more liberalized. PWC (2015) affirms that media companies that seek growth have to start assessing partnerships and acquisitions in readiness of entering these regions.
Al-Jazeera is well placed bearing in mind that it has become a regional media power house in Middle East and thereby as the advantage of easily expanding its roots in the regions and creating a big barrier to potential entrants. This can be achieved by Al-Jazeera strengthening its strategy of being a global media through its global team that operates in 50 countries (Gear and Johansen, 2010). For example, to access the Russian market, Al-Jazeera would need to employ news reports and anchors from Russia or at least those who know Russian language to reach these markets. In terms of operations, this may increase the operations costs, but this will be upset with the additional revenue that the company will gain from the Russian market.
Indeed, the most important step that has made Al-Jazeera to become a global media house was the introduction of English-language channel, a channel that was managed and staffed by western staff. The success of this initiative indicates that to succeed in penetrating the emerging markets, Al-Jazeera has to continue employing a global staff to help it access the global market.
At the present moment, Al-Jazeera is already facing competition not only from global established media houses like CNN and BBC, but also at the local level from Al-Arabiya. This implies that emerging markets would be very important for the expansion of Al-Jazeera as a way of increasing its market presence in the regions and markets that are not traditional for the company. Still, as already stated, this will require a diverse, global and innovative team, that can create content that will resonate with customers in these foreign new markets.
As noted in this paper, Al-Jazeera has become a global media house and continues to grow in terms of audience number. However, as pointed by PWC (2015) there are five trends that are shaping the media and entertainment industry, which will affect the operations of Al-Jazeera. These trends include reduced content structure, increased accountability, relevance and interactivity by advertisers, technology changes, online video, social media and mobile media are expanding rapidly and emerging markets are offering long-term growth opportunities. For Al-Jazeera to continue its success story, it needs to formulate strategies and ways to mitigate the any negative effects brought by these trends. For example, Al-Jazeera has invest a lot in technology, adopt organizational culture that promote innovation and creativity, have a highly motivated staff and that is creative and more importantly lean and agile. If this is achieved by Al-Jazeera, it will certainly continue on its upward trajectory.
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