Anne Hubert of Viacom: Getting the Attention of Millennials

By 1stFive Archives
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Anne Hubert, Senior Vice President of Viacom's Scratch, is a polymath whose interests span from acting and the arts to the interdisciplinary study of symbolic systems (computer science, philosophy, psychology and linguistics). Hubert, who studied at both Stanford and Harvard, currently heads up Scratch, a division of Viacom that behaves like a consultancy.

In this exclusive interview, Hubert shares Millennial insights, offers advice for the next generation and makes some predictions as to what the media landscape will look like three to five years from now. Please Note: Hubert will be a guest speaker at MyersBizNet's second annual 1stFive intern reception in New York City on July 23. Go here for further details.

Charlene Weisler: Can you tell me about Scratch? What is it? How does it fit into the Viacom family?

Anne Hubert: Scratch is a creative swat team that channels the power of Viacom in new ways. If you look at Viacom overall, it has properties in about 160 countries around the world. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our fans invite our content into their homes, onto their phones and into their lives. We study them obsessively, receiving massive amounts of audience feedback that we use to engage passionate fans. Scratch is a group that brings our experience reaching and engaging audiences and cultural insights out into the world.

CW: How do you use Scratch to connect to brands and communities?

AH: There is so much information coursing through the organization about who our audiences are, what is driving them, what is connecting with them, what is breaking through the clutter and really reaching and engaging them. There is a lot of value in that for our partners. Scratch takes all of that expertise and uses it to help partners deeply understand their consumers and develop strategies for where to take their business next, from the products they make to the brands they build to the kinds of organizations they build and the talent they attract. Our work is essentially a cross between a management consultancy, a creative agency and a research firm all within the wrapper of the global media and cultural force that is Viacom.

CW: Looking ahead to the next three to five years, can you give me some predictions on the media landscape?

AH: One of the biggest things shifting in media right now is how we all think about the business we’re all really in. Right now eyeballs are eyeballs, impressions are impressions, but from my perspective, what we are really operating in is an economy of attention. Attention is a topic that my team is very actively studying now. We are developing a much deeper understanding of what attention looks like, where it is valuable and how context matters. It will be about moving beyond tune in, click though and the approximations that we are used to. I think it is something that is a core idea and a core priority not for just this company, but also for the industry. (Watch Hubert's TEDxEast presentation on The Question of Attention below.) 



CW: Anne, I would love for you to articulate your advice to the next generation -- those who are in college today.

AH: I got some good advice early in my career which was, number one, figure out how to be useful in any job. I also think, for me, my process on this long and winding road is to tune into what really lights me up, what I really get excited about. I think so often it’s easy for people to say that “I want to end up in this place” or “my goal is to be” or “to have this title at this company.” Those things are fine to have in mind but I have found that it is much more useful to start with “what do I really find myself thinking about morning, noon and night?” Figure out how to lean into that and make that the meat of your job. Figure out what makes you come alive and go after that.

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