Every media organization has its own work culture. They have their own processes, terminologies, and style of working. Over the last 20 years, they have been using many proprietary / SAAS platforms available in the market that have a substantial market share. However today, there is a big shift in the mindset. Instead of using a proprietary or SAAS platform they are more inclined to bespoke solutions that fit their style of working and uses open source platforms that free them from paying heavy licensing prices.
Characteristics and Challenges
• Multiple Web Properties: Through our experience of working with media companies, we have found that most media clients have 20 to 150 web properties, which are difficult to maintain. Many of these properties come from partnerships/mergers/acquisitions or are built overtimes in different technologies. These properties work in silos which makes them difficult to manage and maintain. Other than working in silos, each of the properties needs a different solution which makes it impossible for the media company to standardize operations.
• Diverse Content Types: People think that posting content as a story and the presence of image/video libraries makes a highly interactive media website—which is not true. Truly speaking, a media website demands a variety of content types, templates for all content types, and on top of that a powerful admin UX with excellent authoring tools and workflows.
• Huge Number of Taxonomy Terms: Taxonomies like sections, categories, and tags are at the heart of any media platform. With the number of taxonomy terms easily growing over millions, it is difficult to manage them and provide a management interface.
• High Content Volume and Massive Traffic: Most of the media websites have a high volume of content as well as traffic coming on a daily basis. In that case, the performance of the website and the integration of caches and Content Distribution Network (CDN) are important. But because caching and CDN needs right integrations, it is messy to maintain the freshness of the content along with the performance.
• Real-time Content: Other than the data bandwidth, higher Internet speed, and powerful mobile devices; media organizations demand real-time content especially during elections, natural calamities, and other important events that need to be handled carefully and intelligently. These events can bring the whole system down because of low cache time.
• Unique Work Style and Culture: Every media organization has a different work culture and style of working—how the desk should be managed in daytime vs. the night time, general approval hierarchy vs. hierarchy on sensitive topics, ideation processes in case of magazines etc. Their editors and sales department want things to work in a particular manner. However, the companies focus is on productivity. In order to achieve productivity, they need a simple but powerful admin UX.
• Different Types of Media Event Coverage: Events are an integral part of the media business model as they generate more news. All media companies organize events and invite thought leaders, politicians, and celebrities to share their views. These events are multi-day events and require a different type of handling at the admin as well as the user end. Therefore they require bigger and faster system to handle the crowd.
• Digital Asset Management (DAM): One of the biggest challenges for a media organization is managing the digital assets like images, videos, pdf documents etc. Organizations spend a lot of money on licensing of a DAM solution and the same DAM solutions do not fit their requirements. After the cloud storage services like AWS S3 etc. became popular, the organizations now want their DAM system to be a part of their online portal with custom requirements.
• Multichannel Content Delivery: With the wide adoption of mobile technologies, people have started using smart devices, social media, and other content delivery channels such as desktop web, mobile web/PWA, mobile apps, news feeds, ticker and billboards, Internet TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. in their day-to-day lives. Therefore the media companies must adopt “create once and publish anywhere” policy to be visible to the entire world.
• Content as a service and Monetization of Content: Many of the media agencies sell their content to other media and non-media organizations as a service and monetize it. For example, news and entertainment agencies provide their content to the telecom operators for their value-added services. In this case, they need a monitoring and accounting engine for their media platform.
• Continuous Customization: As change is the only constant, media companies need customizations to their existing platform. To accomplish this, they either pay more fees to the platform vendor or look for some other vendor that can support their existing systems. Many times it becomes very difficult to customize these paid platforms and the companies have to live with the limitations of the existing platform.
Looking at all these challenges, I feel Drupal 8 is the obvious choice for the media companies. Drupal fulfills most of these requirements with a certain degree of customization. Organizations are free to use the right Drupal 8 distribution as per their need. Headless Drupal 8 distribution such as Contenta and Reservoir are ideal for multi-channel delivery and content as a service.