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The Alpha Group 2020 Predictions: The Damage of Deepfakes + More Tech and Media Predictions

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Mike Donoghue and David Cohn, The Alpha Group

The Damage of Deepfakes + More Tech and Media Predictions

The media and tech industries are constantly transforming, and 2020 will be no different. Companies in each of these sectors will work to expand their offerings in order to keep younger generations informed and engaged. With the upcoming presidential election, deepfakes will dominate media sites, forcing them to combat the spread of disinformation.

A few predictions for 2020:

Deepfakes Will Find New Ways to Spread Disinformation and Cause Major Damage

As machine learning and AI tools become more sophisticated in 2020, and the lines become blurred between reality and fiction, there will be a rise in the use of deepfakes to spread disinformation and cause chaos. In 2019, we saw the widespread use of deepfakes to target political leaders and influence mass groups of people towards a specific opinion. In 2020, this technology will be used to target mass groups of people during times of great importance, such as the upcoming election, and bring upon a major wave of disinformation on social media. Social media companies will step up to combat the spread of deepfakes on their platforms by developing advanced technology that prevents users from uploading this type of content. The dominance of this technology will force major social media companies to cross-collaborate in an effort to combat the spread of disinformation. Large teams will be put in place within social media organizations to solely detect and take down deepfakes in real-time. 

Although deepfakes have been traditionally used in politics, this type of content will be used in 2020 to undermine or ruin the reputation of important figures in business. For example, a potential use case can include a released video of an executive who runs a publicly held company where he or she is viewed as saying something damaging about the company's financial status. This could potentially lead to investors selling their stocks, the spread of disinformation on media sites, and ultimately, lead to the downfall of the organization.   

Media Consolidation Will Continue in 2020 to Address Audience Gaps 

Within the past year, over five major mergers and acquisitions have occurred in the media market, totaling to over $810 million in estimated revenue from stock and cash exchanges. Within a two month time frame, VICE Media acquired Refinery29, PopSugar was acquired by Group Nine, and Vox Media acquired New York Media, for an overall reported value of $805 million. In 2020, media consolidation will continue, but on an even larger scale.  Publishers and media companies will face increasing pressure to close audience gaps and scale their businesses to remain competitive. With further market consolidation, media companies will look to expand their offerings beyond traditional news reporting and explore other forms of content including video series and live pop-up experiences. Media companies will also be diversifying content offerings as a way to grow audiences, capture new revenue streams and capitalize on different advertising opportunities. In 2020, media mergers and acquisitions will not reach valuations as seen with recent tech M&A activity because buyers are looking to pay high valuations for companies that can show exponential growth percentages, as seen in the tech market. 

The New Era of Voice-Enabled News Consumption in 2020 

Voice-enabled platforms like Amazon Alexa are becoming more widely adopted among consumers. According to research from, one in four consumers have access to a smart speaker today, meaning a 26.2% adoption rate across the U.S. alone. Within the next year, younger generations, including millennials and Gen Z, will turn to their smart speakers in greater numbers to get critical news updates. As AI technology becomes more advanced, users will be able to ask voice-enabled platforms specific questions about the news of the day and receive contextual responses in real-time. 

In 2020, beyond offering access to news outlets like Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, Newsy, and NPR, voice-enabled smart speakers like Amazon Alexa will create broader access to news stories from other reputable outlets as well as niche news sites that cover particular topics such as sports, beauty, and or fashion. The expansion of niche markets, similar to the expansion of print lifestyle magazines, will increase the number of people in the United States that own a voice-enabled platform and the format in which they use it. More people will use voice search in their cars to listen to news stories and more news outlets will offer an option for readers to listen to the story instead of solely reading it on the site.  

The $37B Streaming Wars & The New Era of Storytelling

Popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO are making waves by signing contracts with major TV shows to usher in new subscribers and capture the interest of audiences across the globe. Beyond adding the most popular content to a platform in 2020, major streaming services will heavily invest in experimentation to develop innovative storytelling techniques such as voice-enabled news, live streams of interesting events, and interactive-dependent comedy and drama. Interactive comedy and drama, in particular, will become commonplace in platforms like Hulu and HBO where users can actively participate in the narrative by selecting paths for specific characters. 

With the shift in news consumption and the ongoing competition to increase the number of subscribers on streaming platforms in 2020, these organizations will also begin to adopt more video content from reputable news organizations. In turn, more news organizations will heavily invest in video production and publish short clips of the day that feature the top news items to keep younger generations informed and engaged by using a simple format. This shift, similar to the pivot from the popularity in broadcast news to online news, will maximize profits for news organizations and major streaming platforms. 


About the Authors

Mike Donoghue, Founder & CEO, The Alpha Group

Mike Donoghue 

Mike is a highly respected entrepreneur and an expert in developing and establishing innovative media and technology companies. In 2015, Mike founded The Alpha Group, an in-house tech and media incubator for Advance Local. Advance Local is a media company that specializes in the creation of informational web and local news sites. Mike is responsible for leading The Alpha Group on its mission to develop, accelerate and release innovative tech and media products to help forge deeper connections with audiences. Subtext represents The Alpha Group's fourth and latest venture, after the successful development and release of Pigeon, The Tylt and Elsewhere. Mike holds a degree in Sociology and Criminal Law from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

David Cohn, Senior Director, The Alpha Group

David Cohn 

David Cohn is a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Subtext, a text-based communication platform that allows journalists and other content publishers to communicate with their subscribers directly, share news updates in real time and monetize content creating a new revenue stream. In 2015, David joined The Alpha Group, an in-house tech and media incubator for Advance Local, and served as a senior director overseeing content strategy. Subtext represents The Alpha Group's fourth and latest venture, after the successful development and release of Pigeon, The Tylt and Elsewhere. David holds a B.A. in Rhetoric and Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley and a master's degree in New Media from Columbia University.
Published Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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