Stefan Winners, Member of the Executive Board at Hubert Burda Media, spoke about digitization in Europe in light of the evolution of Hubert Burda Media from a classic printing media to a digitized and digitally active brand.
As starting point, Mr. Winners laid out the actual state of the digital media sector. According to statistics, the daily media and tech consumption per person has nearly reached its peak (12:28 hr per day in 2017) in the United States and will only rise by another 18 minutes until 2021.
From now on, all digital brands will compete for the same finite human attention span, which has reached its maximum. As the time people spend with digital media will not and cannot increase indefinitely, the market cannot continuously keep growing either. In addition to this first insight, the time spent by each individual on digital media is almost entirely devoted to Facebook and activities linked to Google. As a result, successfully establishing new media platforms seems very difficult in a market dominated by tech and media giants.
Nonetheless, Burda Media has managed to more than double their revenue in this highly competitive environment by effectively and successfully building up not one, but many digital brands. According to Mr. Winners, the success of Burda Media is rooted in several key insights they have developed throughout their long experience.
First, they discussed the great importance of focusing on a single in depth strategy concerning one market at a time, rather than spreading efforts thinly over many markets. While developing this strategy, it has to be clear that not every trend in digital media is sustainable and when in doubt, one should not hesitate to withdraw from a market and reorganize resources. It is equally crucial to anticipate possible changes in the global ecosystem and to foresee possible competition on a global scale in order to prepare for possible market changes.
Secondly, Mr. Winners emphasized the importance of well-composed management teams. He made clear that these teams needed experienced members, rather than the often uncontrollable ambition of younger candidates. This experience and expertise is fundamental because it allows them to rely on personal assessment rather than blindly trust consultants and bankers. To max-imize this expertise and the capability of management teams, it becomes necessary to connect experts within your company throughout the borders of different departments. At the same time, one can observe that many of the leading digital media companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix are run by engineers or have engineers in their management.
On another note, Mr. Winners recommended to put a bigger focus on the personalization of digital media products by augmenting the number of local and personal news and links, as have many providers such as Facebook. One should also try to rethink these products constantly and to connect them to one another by bundling them into premium products.
Most importantly, according to Mr. Winners, brands have to start taking customer needs, such as privacy and data security, more seriously.
Mr. Winners then tried to forecast the development of technologies and the digitalization in Europe in the next years.
Undoubtedly, the competition arising from the Asian tech giants will only augment, putting European tech companies at risk of being crushed between these new and growing entities and the established tech giants from the United States.
Dr. Uwe Goetker,McDermott Will & Emery