As the media industry fights to stay on top, the need to investigate alternative business models and evaluating emerging technologies becomes increasingly self-evident. Media companies seeking to innovate in these disruptive surroundings will have to pay close attention to emerging innovation areas and the startups that are driving this disruptive digitalization. 50% of all spending in media will be dedicated to digital affairs by 2019, a clear indicator that digitalization is the single most important innovation area actively shaping the media industry.

As innovation is our business, cutting-edge startups are the focus of our attention. At StartUs Insights, our unit dedicated to Innovation Scouting and Open Innovation, we conducted a detailed analysis of 30.000+ European startups and consequently discovered several innovation areas which will alter the media ecosystem in the years to come. To shed light on the application and potential of the most disruptive of these technologies, we decided to outline the six most dominant innovation areas that influence the entire industry. As our focus lies on emerging startups, we provide one as an example for each innovation area in order to engender a better understanding and highlight existing cooperation potential.

Natural Language Generation (NLG)

NLG can be explained as a subfield of natural language processing, dealing with the translation of data into natural, human language. The technology that draws on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at its core is already being used to compose weather or simple sport reports and to assist journalists in more complex tasks as well. The future impact of this technology becomes apparent with a prediction of Kris Hammond (Narrative Science) who states that “a machine will win a Pulitzer one day”.

Madrid-based Narrativa is just one example of a European startup that is driving NLG technology forward successfully. The solution developed by this company, GabrieleAI, is capable of enriching context in order to provide a point of view. Furthermore, the product has the capacity to process more data than an entire team of experts while highlighting all relevant details and creating full-context reports.

Natural Language Generation (NLG)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Personalized Content

Delivering suitable content to the appropriate individual at the right time has a significant impact on the effectiveness of content as well as ads, resulting in a higher probability of converting targeted individuals into consumers. 67% of European- and US-based marketing executives already make use of behavior-based user data to generate content, according to leading consulting agency Forrester (2016).

Reaching their audience has become increasingly difficult for media companies as a result of the massive amount of content users are confronted with every day. Israeli startup Jinni, which specializes in personalized solutions aimed at targeted digital advertising including video content, has found a solution. Their Entertainment Genome is qualified to detect “the most subtle (sic!) differences in TV and movie entertainment content but also understands each individual’s unique entertainment tastes, thereby providing the perfect match between individuals and content titles”.

Personalized Content

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)

Using ACR, media companies are able to discern what content a device is playing, or even determine what is stored on that device. While Shazam, which has achieved tremendous popularity, is one of the best-known examples in this field, ACR can also deliver important insights from image or video content. The technology is currently undergoing a transition of being upgraded to a new generation of hardware and software, which is expected to immensely increase the potential of TV and along with it Second Screen. Immersive interactivity, real-time TV commerce, and syncing tablets with a TV will be just a few of the consequences for the 2.5 billion devices ACR will reach this year alone.

One Dutch startup already offering as much as three distinct ACR solutions is Beatgrid Media: (1) Panel Sync, which helps broadcasters raise awareness of the level of effectiveness of their TV and radio campaigns, (2) Media Monitor, which provides real-time overview of one’s TV and radio spots along with those of competitors, and (3) Mobile Sync which allows the audience to “identify and engage with their favorite shows”.

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Mixed Reality

A combination of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality is an innovation area predicted to have a significant impact on the media industry. The technology works by scanning a user’s surroundings, of which it then constructs a 3D map to locate an individual before optimally placing digital content according to the information detected. By involving users and their surroundings directly into the content created for them, new frontiers within the media industry are being set.

360° videos are the first step toward this progress, having experienced a hype on Facebook and YouTube, while Snap’s Spectacle’s proves VR has already reached the mainstream. AR’s future is anticipated to be a disruptive one, with the likes of Tim Cook believing that it eventually will become even more vital than VR as it keeps users grounded in reality rather than fully immersed in a virtual one.

Vienna-based Stereosense is one startup focused on bringing 360° VR video to media content. Their service can be used to create 360° video and image libraries, allowing users to stream or download the videos. It’s compatible with all headsets and available for desktop – all without any coding skills necessary.

Mixed Reality

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Live Streaming

As social platforms were quick to implement it, live streaming is not new to the media industry. However, due to its early introduction to millions of users along with its highly interactive nature and entertainment factor, live streaming is expected to dominate social media in 2017. As consumers spend more time watching live video it is up to media companies to make their time worthwhile.

Live streaming service Twitch was introduced in 2011, reaching a staggering 45 million unique users within its first two years. The content on the site varies from video gaming, creative content to, more recently, music broadcasts and is either available via live streaming or video on demand.

Live Streaming

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Programmatic Advertising

Creating a bridge between advertisers and publishers, this innovation area refers to the automatization of buying and selling ad inventory. With this tool at hand, companies are equipped to target the right audience at the right time. Due to programmatic advertising’s use of AI, it progressively becomes more simple to analyze user behavior, thereby targeting them with ads that allow to be optimized in real-time. Not only does this approach stand for amplified effectiveness compared to traditional methods, it also ensures (marketing) budget is used precisely without overspending.

PulsePoint is one example for a startup pioneering in programmatic advertising to automate buying and selling decisions across a global platform. Claiming to “redefine digital advertising” the company specializes in programmatic advertising, programmatic video, programmatic mobile, and ad exchange among others, making their platform attractive for advertisers, publishers, and even tech partners that offer standard or branded ads.

Programmatic Advertising

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

The six innovation areas outlined above are all part of the greater direction that is disrupting the media industry, namely digitalization. As it expands further and alters the ecosystem, media companies across Europe are well counseled to rapidly identify the fitting innovation areas for their business and use the potential of evolving, disruptive and innovative startups to collaborate and achieve a lasting competitive advantage. StartUs Insights supports this process by providing actionable innovation intelligence on startup driven innovation, enabling collaboration with these disruptors.


StartUs Insights provides actionable intelligence on startup driven innovation.
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Author Andra Cataniciu|Design Eugen Stoicov|Executive Editor Susi Wallner|Copy Editor David Prasser, Iryna Bursuk, Glenn Leaper|Web Development Reza Rastgoo