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Zimbabwe digital media is highly competitive and split. Traditional media houses are going head-to-head with newer digital outlets and all news outlets, new and old, are competing with citizen journalism who take to social media. Nearly half of Zimbabweans use social networks as their source for news, with Facebook being the most significant platform for this.
In 2016, the biggest problem facing the well-being of digital news media was the failure of to generate advertising revenue. Most publishers in Zimbabwe are facing unprecedented levels of disruption to business models and formats from a mixture of the rise of social platforms, the move to mobile and growing consumer rejection of online advertising.
During a breakfast meeting organized by Techzim and TBWA in preparation for the Digital Future Conference to be held on 11-12 May 2017. AMH Group Managing Director Vincent Kahiya shared some interesting insights about the digital world and how it’s disrupting traditional media.
Anyone who wants to understand today’s news environment faces a lot challenges, How to distinguish the shades of digital news habits when Zimbabwe’s attention spans are fractured, human memory is naturally limited and news comes at them every other way.
“Your publics are on facebook, twitter, snapchat…every executive needs to be on those platforms listening to the conversation surrounding your brand. There is so much being said about your brand that you will never know if you’re not out there” Vincent Kahiya said
While there are a number of pathways Zimbabweans use to get news online, two stand out as the most common: social media and direct visits to news organizations’ websites.
“The digital future is being determined by the public and not the media houses- they are no longer the custodians of information. Exclusive information no longer exists in the context of newspapers” Added Mr Kahiya.
The dependence on digital advertising as a driving revenue source isn’t working, and the rising prominence of ad blockers has thrown a huge twist into this business model. In 2015, publishers lost $22 billion to ad blockers. That number only grew in 2016.
According to AMH Group Managing Director, “Many businesses are afraid of advertising on digital platforms simply because they are afraid of interaction with their clients…. Digital has allowed print media to acquire new clients, interact better with them, and also get instant feedback about activities. However, the money is still in print. All in all digital and print must be integrated rather than dump print”
Then there’s the added problem of Google and Facebook. Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP have stolen away clicks and ad impressions from news websites. Readers don’t have to leave either platform to get their news.
Another critical issue facing the industry is identifying which news experiences tend to inspire follow-up actions such as sharing, searching for more information or talking about it with others.
Pardon has been a technology enthusiast his entire life and has spent the better part of last decades in information technology and security, and he writes with an aim to remove some of the "mysticism" from the cyber world. He’s the Editor at Techunzipped. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him playing with the latest gadgets or the latest Game.