Blockchain — Saving Media Industry?

09/04/2019

Blockchain!

Chances are that you have at some point heard that word (think technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies). What is less heard of, is what the other real-world applications are.

Most likely, you also know that the media industry is facing a long list of challenges — from difficulties to track and monetize content, to technology giants disrupting the market, and fake news epidemics. What you may not know yet, is if and how, Blockchain could help media companies with these challenges.

Unite to progress.

This is exactly what Ringier AG, a major media group based in Switzerland, set out to explore together with Spark Works, providing expertise and guidance in human-centered innovation.

During a two-day Design Thinking workshop that brought together an eclectic group of 20 editorial, business and technology team members from Ringier, Blockchain experts from Berlin and Zurich; participants were led to imagine and conceptualize new business models leveraging Blockchain technology to create value for Ringier and its customers.

What is a Blockchain, and why is it important for media companies?

Simply put, a Blockchain is “a database of transactions, or any other information, that is shared and continually updated on a network of computers around the globe, this decentralized data is by design incorruptible” explained Blockchain expert Scott Beckmeyer from the b2lab of the ETHZ. The technology allows for trust, transparency, automation of business processes (smart contracts), and has the potential to disrupt business models relying on central authorities and intermediaries for authentication.

This is important for media houses often acting as third-party platforms for journalists, readers and brands, that could for example benefit from simplified transactions, or transparent performance tracking and reporting on brand placements managed by advertising agencies.

From a problem to a solution.

With a clear understanding of the problem sphere and concepts related to Blockchain technology, participant teams were able to identify use cases relevant to the media industry. They brainstormed, exchanged feedback, sometimes failed (Blockchain is not all hype, it has to add value), but were eventually all able to reach a first concept detailing their Blockchain solution to address a prevailing issue in the media industry.

All teams drafted the outlines of a business model, and a roadmap for next steps at Ringier. Solutions ranged from improving and simplifying revenue streams related to advertising, to fighting back against aggregators, creating better matches between readers, freelancers, publishers and advertisers, and rebuilding trust in journalism.

Where do we go from here?

“The process of implementing a Blockchain solution is long and complicated,” concluded Scott who has experience in setting up projects for the technology at large companies. „In some cases, multiple years of hard work are needed in order to launch a pilot.“

The very first step, however, is always the same. Bringing people with various experiences together to start a discussion. Ringier AG was eager to take this first step. Will it save the media industry? Nobody knows yet, but Ringier AG is open to welcome the possibility!

by Dorian Burkhalter, Intern

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