The smart home industry is bursting at the seams as we begin the new year. Fueled by strong innovation and adoption, the smart home industry has penetrated 33.2% of US households and is projected to be in 53.9% by 2023 (Statista).
How Some Publishers are Approaching the Smart Home Market
The New York Times (NYT) recently launched several products tailored specifically for smart homes. While conducting research, the NYT established that there are three primary ‘modes’ of consumption. First, the ‘lean back, ambient’ mode, which is generally categorized with podcast and music usage; second, the ‘catch-up’ mode, when a user wants specific, digestible information, quickly; third, the ‘captive’ mode in which the user is less time sensitive and is willing to actively engage in the content.
Applying insights from their research, the NYT created the Daily Flash Briefing, produced for the ‘catch-up’ mode; the briefing offers users a customized three-minute news update. The third mode has higher willingness to engage so the NYT is experimenting with a weekly interactive news quiz related to their flash briefing content. The Daily, their twenty minute news podcast, is being reused to fulfill the needs of mode one users.
The NYT initially released the flash briefings and weekly interactive quizzes on the Amazon Echo (63% net share in the US) and intends to expand their products to the Google Assistant (17% net share) and Apple Homepod (4% net share).
Other publishers are following suit and adapting their content to more accurately fulfill the needs of smart home users. CNN and BBC have also created smart home specific daily news briefings and NPR’s News Now briefing is updated and released hourly to remain relevant and top of mind.
Points of Entry
There are a few routes publishers can take to enter the smart home market, one is by gaining ownership of generic skills, like financial news, the weather, and sports. For example, if Forbes owned the financial news skill, every time Siri was asked ‘what is the top financial news today?’ Forbes would own the response; or if ESPN owned all NBA news, when Alexa was asked, ‘what was the score from last night’s Lakers game?’ ESPN would send the response.
Branded skills are another entrance point for publishers. These skills are linked to specific brands and cannot be transferred, for example, if Alexa was asked to ‘play the latest TED Talk’ or ‘what is the breaking news from CNN?’ no source could initiate a response but TED Conference LLC and CNN. The challenge with branded skills is getting exposure, publishers must market their home pod specific content in hopes that users will request the information from their digital assistants.
Publishers Should Experiment with New Distribution Methods
Omry Aviry, Chief Product Officer at PubPlus, shared his thoughts on the evolving landscape: “Modern publishers must experiment with new distribution methods and find ways to monetize them. People are rarely willing to pay for information, people pay for the delivery method. For example, people don’t buy TV shows, they buy Netflix subscriptions and cable packages, out of convenience.”
With wavering revenue models, publishers may want to consider new opportunities and strategies for their user acquisition efforts. The more diversified the strategy, the better.