Technology occasionally makes weird jumps back in time and reinvents different channels or mediums. This has happened recently with the trend of Conversational Commerce. What is it? Basically, conversational commerce tries not to build a business through a storefront, webshop or homepage. Instead, you build a business through a chat-interface – this means apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or just the SMS application on your phone.
Another point to make is that the person on the other side of the message doesn’t have to be human. It could be anything from a program, robot, to a full-fledge AI. The most important aspect here is the chat. There are already a couple of news organizations that are using chat as a way of reaching their readers.
Quartz is an iPhone app in which users can receive news via a pre-programmed course of messages, which are sent to the reader. After every new message, the reader gets two possible answers to choose from – more details or trigger the next topic to be sent. The app also includes pictures, gifts and emojis!
The New York Times has an election slack-bot that posts links to NYT articles about the election into a designated channel. You may think that this is just a cheap try of the NYT to get more clicks inside your slack team. However, the command “/asknytelection” allows you to send a question about the lection into the NYT newsroom. Thus, you can talk directly to a NYT journalist from inside your Slack team.
There has recently been some big news around WhatApp including they have 1 billion monthly active users and that it would stay free. This works out well because BBC covered the biggest democratic process in the world on WhatsApp and Wechat by distributing short text messages, pictures, audio and video clips. They even asked for feedback in the form of an emoticon.
Thus, I think that AI and platforms are going to be the two biggest trends for news media. Facebook announced a “business for messenger” and a secret API for developers and WhatsApp has similar plans.
The second trend—AI—is harder to really nail down. We won’t see an intelligent, news-serving AI explaining to the news in the near future, but we will see programs and bots supporting the work of journalists.
Maybe a robot, that automatically answers questions that a journalist has answered before? Or automatically serving us news, which an algorithm deemed relevant, based on our location data and likes?