Mobile internet use, online video and utilising social media are the key trends in digital media for the near future, according to the 2013 Global Media Trends Book, published yesterday by the European Publisher's Council.
The report, authored by the World Newsmedia Network (WNMN), compiles original research and more than 500 published datasets to inform media companies of "major trends in the digital media world" on a global basis, said Martha Stone, chief executive of the World Newsmedia Network.
"We look at the digital media trends in the areas of usage and revenue in digital media of all kinds," Stone told Journalism.co.uk, "including video across platform, social media, smartphones, tablets, gaming, anything internet, anything digital media, you name it.
The rising tide of global mobile internet access permeates the report, as large parts of the world have higher mobile than desktop penetration. And plans to purchase smartphones outstrip other devices, according to data included in the book.
Global internet and mobile penetrations. Image provided by World Newsmedia Network
"If you look at Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, what you see is hotspots for mobile but not broadband, this is because mobile internet is leapfrogging broadband and desktop and will do so for the foreseeable future," said Stone.
Online video is expected to constitute a third of all internet traffic by 2015 and, in digitally mature countries such as the US, UK and Germany, news content is an important factor for viewers, especially among the young, the report states.
The rise of smartphones is a particular driver for online video, said Stone, and this will continue to rise in Western countries and China, following the example of media companies in Japan.
"The whole idea of growing a platform like smartphones is that you need co-operation or a symbiotic relationship among three players," Stone said, picking out the audience, advertisers and publishers as the main agents of change.
"You need the audience to buy the smartphones, to have the platform to watch the video. You also need the advertisers to monetise it, because without monetisation the publishers are not as likely to develop more content for it. But the publishers also have to create the video content."
The effects of social media on publishers is also a major factor, especially given that social media is the most popular gateway to news in many countries, says the report.
"Mobile, video and social are the hot buttons," Stone said, "but e-commerce is also a huge opportunity for publishers going forward."
Many publishers are experimenting with both their own services, like a wine or book club, or partnering with third parties, a strategy that could be more effective for fashion or sports publishers, said Stone.
"E-commerce is really big and we're just at the beginning of the curve on that," Stone said, "we're riding the wave of internet advertising and just starting to ride the wave of mobile advertising.
"But what we're finding through this research is that it is not traditional media companies who are benefiting from these opportunities as much as the likes of Google and Facebook that tend to be there at the head of the curve and start building the infrastructure to take advantage of the revenue opportunities and we're not as good at that in the traditional media world."
The report looks at global media and digital media advertising landscapes; media usage trends; mobile, tablet and apps; the impact of trends on the magazine, newspaper and broadcast industries; and original data sourced from a survey of publishers on strategy, innovations and big data use.
This is the eighth year WNMN have published their Global Media Trends Book, supported by research partners FIPP, the European Publisher's Council and Vislink.