The LMA Digital Revenue Summit session, “Finding the ROI in new digital platforms” examined product and revenue potential from other emerging digital platforms, including NextGen TV, the new standard for broadcast television; new formats for content delivery across social platforms; and podcasting.

One prevailing question: How do you decide which new platform opportunities are worth investment of limited resources and mindshare? Joanie Tobin, senior producer, emerging platforms at GBH in Boston, described her team’s approach.

Joanie Tobin

“There’s a lot going on with emerging platforms,” she said. “We get around the chaos of ‘platforms’ by looking at ‘formats.’ What is the emerging format that maybe is starting on one platform and jumping from there to another to another.”

The Snapchat approach to telling stories, for example, started there but as it became more popular other social platforms adopted a version of it, Tobin said.

“We have a set of criteria for deciding what we’re going to do next,” she said. “One, have you tried it before. Two, is there an audience on that platform you are trying to reach, or are there opportunities to reach more diverse audiences. Three, are there opportunities for revenue.”

One opportunity uniquely available to TV broadcasters is ATSC 3.0, marketed as NextGen TV — a new standard for broadcast television that offers both better video and audio quality and engagement capabilities resembling today’s internet-based streaming platforms.

Ian MacSpadden

Ian MacSpadden, chief technology officer at Arizona Public Media, said those capabilities, including different forms of interactivity and addressability, should help make local broadcasters more competitive for audience and revenue with established streaming services.

“As content consumers are migrating to strictly IP based platforms, if broadcasters are available over-the-air or even in the partnerships with cable that are losing viewers on a steady basis, they need to be put into a format and a competing environment with all the rest of the streaming providers,” MacSpadden said.

Podcasting, on the other hand, does not exist purely in the domain of any one legacy media platform. Case in point: Tiloben Publishing Co., the Black-owned publisher of The Seattle Medium and other newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, has gained steam with its digital audio programs, according to Chris Bennett, chief executive officer.

Chris Bennett

“Smaller publications like ourselves, we don’t necessarily have the resources where we can just throw something over here and allocate resources over there,” Bennett said. “But we are looking at ways we can increase engagement with readers, get new readers, and expand our demographics. How can you make money from content and resources you already have?

“Podcasting is a low level of entry, we already have the content, we can generate revenue without having to give away a percentage of it,” he added. “And podcasts get to people in a way that they can really share with others, take with them and engage with.”

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