Millennials, Gen X To Rule Our Digital Future

Business Insider's Henry Blodget
Business Insider’s Henry Blodget

What better way to lead into a post on my adventures at this year’s Business Insider Ignition: Future of Digital conference than with a Bloomberg News story suggesting that BI’s new Berlin-based owners, Axel Springer, is considering putting the digitally native news site behind a paywall. It’s part of a larger push by the German newspaper publisher to re-invent itself through U.S. investments in digital media:

“The changes are part of a wider plan by Chief Executive Officer Mathias Doepfner to spend aggressively on digital media, mainly in the English-speaking world. Axel Springer on Tuesday said it raised its stake in New York-based social video producer NowThis Media Inc. to 14.6 percent from 4.3 percent, after leading a $16 million funding round. It’s also backing Thrillist Media Group, a lifestyle portal targeting male readers.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

Of course, the themes of media reinvention and revolution dominated the dialog at this year’s gathering, which drew a veritable who’s who of media makers and shakers including Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Buzzfeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood, and the list goes on.

Given Business Insider’s tech-centric beginnings as Silicon Alley Insider, the event also featured a strong dose of media and tech disrupting companies like Maker Studios, Niche, Vine, Glide, Jet, Blue Apron, Kik, Vimeo, BroadbandTV, Vevo, and naturally execs/pundits waxing on the empires that hold the fates of many of these startups in their hands, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Blodget 2Like previous years, Business Insider co-founder/publisher Henry Blodget open with an overview of the changing media landscape, culling data from eMarketer and his own research team. Here are handful of the factoids Mr. Blodget cited that resonated enough for me to tweet in real-time and paraphrase below. Audio of his overview here (RT: 19:23):

  • “Digital will inherit the earth (‘a generational shift’)”
  • “Millennials and Gen X will take over – first native digital generations”
  • “Millennials check their mobile phones every 10 mins. 15 years from now: 80% digital”
  • “Subscriptions are doing great, e.g., video, music, even in print. Paywalls rule.” (a hint at the Axel-Springer news?)
  • “Native” digital ads will continue to thrive, in light of ad blocking ‘crisis'”
  • “In digital, 30-second videos ads are an eternity. Ad-blocking adoption varies by vertical”
  • “Ad blocking will lead to improvements in user experience, i.e., ad & edit content quality”
  • “The next big platform? Glasses, watches, cars, VR (promising)… No! Messaging apps? Yes!”
  • “Netflix has 70M subs, Hulu 10M, Amazon 45M, Apple TV 35M.”
  • “Traditional TV networks will soon go through many years of pain, like newspapers.”
  • “Today TV still dominates viewing time., BUT digital viewing has doubled in last few years.”
  • “YouTube’s ad revenue is almost as big as CBS’s ad revenue.”

I will be back with more highlights from the conference in subsequent posts.