M&E Journal: Why a Platform Approach to Direct-to-Consumer is the Right One

By Mark Cokes, VP Marketing, Applicaster

“We apologize for the delay in responding to your call, but we are currently experiencing higher than usual call volumes.” How many times have you had this message when trying to get through to a call center of any type in the last few years? If you have had the same experience as me then it’s pretty much every single time you dial in. Again, if you are like me, your first thought might be that they should hire more staff because this “higher than usual” is too “usual” to be a true statement and points to other issues within the organization.

Now, transport yourself to the IT management world and imagine getting the same response when talking to your development team about a new app you want built. Not a great response, not in a world where if you aren’t ready to deliver content when and where your audience is ready to consume it, they’ll happily go elsewhere, and usually stay there.

Unfortunately, however, this is the exact situation that many IT teams find themselves in, according to the “2019 State of App Development” report from OutSystems, which states that 65 percent of IT pros report an app development backlog. Hardly surprising then when the same report finds that 34 percent of respondents state that delivering a new app can, on average, take three to four months, with 10 percent reporting longer than 12 months!

So, what’s the problem? Not enough developers? Perhaps. Poor development practices? Possibly. Too many apps in development (unlikely in audience-facing M&E, but if the same teams work on internal app development as well as external, then quite possibly).

For the most part, all of the above may be contributory factors but that is ignoring the most basic fact of app development and management: It’s hard!

Maybe from a coding perspective it’s no more demanding than regular coding, but how many other products do you know of that have to be developed across so many devices? Android, iOS, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, LG and Fire TV, just to name the major ones. That’s a lot of platforms, all with different code demands, different release schedules, even different feature sets to take advantage of.

React Native (from Facebook and a combination of native development and JavaScript libraries) promises to take care of some of these challenges, but not all.

And we are just talking about getting an app to launch … what about the oft forgotten but very real management and iteration demands once it’s launched? That’s “higher than usual call volumes’’ for you right there.

This is just one of the reasons why an app platform is the right approach when building out your direct-to-consumer strategy. App platforms (or rather the right app platforms) not only get you to market in weeks rather than months, but they keep you there by taking care of many of the management tasks such as SDK maintenance, store compliance and bug fixes, so your own developers don’t have to.

Imagine that: Developers actually working on developing and extending your presence rather than just maintaining it.

If that in itself is not enough to persuade you to at least look at an app platform (preferably Applicaster’s platform, Zapp), what about when you decide to rethink your monetization strategy, your data source, your authentication partner or any other critical component to stay relevant to the market and your audience?

To do this manually for a single platform could be arduous, but when you multiply it by all the platforms you have an app presence on, it can put a significant strain on your development team.

Speed time to market

Applicaster’s Zapp platform gives you complete control over your apps and offers easy ways to implement new data sources, payment programs and other core infrastructure.

With Zapp, regardless of whether it is a video player, identity verification tool or analytics service, companies can use a standardized API to plug in the homegrown or third-party solution of their choice. It’s as simple as swapping out one component from our marketplace of over 300 plugins with another: Minimal code, maximum return.

A great example of this is India’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises, an Applicaster customer. It found its monetization strategy evolving as it was rolling out a global video- on-demand service, Zee5. The company’s original plans for a single subscription-only service had to be altered when Netflix launched a low-cost mobile package in the country.

Zapp allowed the company to launch a dozen narrower language-based packages in India and distinct services globally, as it provided the flexibility to make changes as Zee’s strategy shifted.

Similarly, Funke Mediengruppe, Germany’s third-largest newspaper and media publisher, took advantage of the Zapp platform to consolidate the fragmented back-end technology it was using to manage the many standalone media apps related to its 500- plus publications in eight countries. Using Zapp, Funke has been able to roll out higher quality apps with a much quicker time to market — freeing up resources to invest in content and innovation.

So, when choosing your tech strategy to support your direct-to-consumer strategy there are essentially three choices available to you:

*Press 1 for custom coding the entire strategy.
*Press 2 to select a limited template approach that will save you time but significantly limit your options and ability to react.
*Press 3 and enjoy the best of both worlds with Applicaster Zapp.

We promise not to keep you on hold.


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