As many of you know, Jack’s back -- and with his return I’m waxing nostalgic about my first time.
Binge-watching TV series, that is … what were you thinking?
With its re-launch earlier this month, 24, the original binge-watching series, re-enters a television ecosystem vastly changed by the growing tendency of viewers to consume their favorite shows how and when they choose.
The bingeing evolved to encompass Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It became de rigueur with House of Cards. Now, of course, ever-larger chunks of the viewing audience are watching sans advertising.
Mediums evolve to meet consumer preferences and, with that, the marketing industry responds.
NewFronts, the Upfronts, and Cannes around the corner -- these are the places that provide indications as to where media dollars are going.
It’s a perfect time to look at these forces from the perspective of our industry as well as society overall. My goal over the next few MediaLinked blogs is to explore how the changing of content consumption habits is altering our business models (and our lifestyles). Amongst other things, we’ll explore:
• Does product trump programming in digital? What are the implications for how content is consumed and distributed?
• The “new” media company: Why print isn’t print anymore and why journalism matters as much as ever.
• What are the implications for us as consumers? As citizens? As a society?
Let’s start with a recap of the NewFronts, which showcase so much of this evolution.
Yahoo provided probably the most interesting set of announcements of the week -- launching two TV-like comedy series from the likes of Paul Feig and Mike Tollin. What's most interesting about this is that they've fast-forwarded their strategy from the hits of the past like Burning Love into something that has the hallmarks of Netflix and Amazon. It will be interesting to see if they can generate similar consumer response.
Another noticeable trend (and one completely absent from the TV Upfronts) is the evolution of advertising products. Hulu debuted its new in-stream commerce ad in with Pizza Hut as the launch partner. I believe they are on to something smart here and you can imagine the directions this technology could lead.
Vevo wasn't far behind in announcing a partnership with Mirriad to place brand integrations through technology into its music videos. Clearly the players in this year’s New Fronts are pushing the boundaries of what consumers expect from these platforms.
As the NewFronts presentations so vividly demonstrated, content helps drive deeper and more fulfilling consumer engagement for brands, but one size definitely does not fit all. To be truly effective, that content must be authentic to the platform it’s being distributed on.
Today, as we know, native advertising (or content marketing, or whatever you choose to call it) is the hot button. It evolves offerings and deepens partnerships. Most importantly, when done right, it makes genuine connections with consumers.
Ah, but there’s the rub: doing it right is an art. That being said, there are many players who are doing content marketing well, many of them legacy organizations newly reorganized and re-energized as media companies: Think Dawn Ostroff and Conde Nast Entertainment, Time Inc.'s video offerings, as well as The Gray Lady herself, the New York Times. But new players and new partnerships are also learning how to harness the forces reverberating across our professional and business lives.
Many have opted to take the “platform” approach. We helped create the "upfront deal" between Omnicom and Maker Studios, the number one producer of online video for Millennials, which has more than 340 million subscribers. The partnership, signed just before maker’s NewFronts presentation, was described as a “coming-of-age signal for YouTube networks” by Ad Age. But I just call it good business because it gave the media agency’s clients a path to learning about online video, a platform we all know is going to be ever more vital to our marketing communication efforts.
Let’s look at an example of how other companies can learn new tricks: Demand Media. The content publisher has widened its platform presence from the web to mobile, social and experiential channels. Faced with challenges like Google changing its search algorithms and heat moving off of content companies to social networks, Demand evolved to create new content formats for today’s internet -- and it still reaches 80 million consumers every month on its own properties. Plus, Demand is unique in that it uses the learnings from its vast audience to inform content strategies for its brand partners.
We know that platforms will forever expand and brands cannot just focus on one medium, or a specific set of mediums. From Facebook to Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, even Oculus Rift, there is always something new on the horizon. (Read Jack Myers' coverage of New Media Tech.)
Many new companies along with existing creative agencies believe they have the skill set and expertise to flourish in this new marketing landscape. The truth is it’s rare to find true experts in the content areas they operate in. Brands that have access to a deep network of creative experts will be able to readily adapt as the marketing landscape evolves.
In the next blog, I’ll be back with a discussion about how to balance product and programming, and we’ll explore the insights that form the foundations of each subject.
Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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