Over the past couple of days, there’s been many good panels taking place at the Spring Digital Hollywood conference in Marina del Rey. I believe I heard the conference’s organizer, Victor Harwood, mention that there were over 600 participants through around five or six concurrent program lines (such as the Variety Entertainment and Technology, Connected TV – Hollywood Alliance, Content, and Urban Media summits.) There are more than plenty of sessions that could be taken in over the course of four days. For the most part, I made it a point to check out the sessions on media/advertising – in gaming, online video and regular video inventory – and a couple of things became abundantly clear. The major point to me is that there are many people who are focusing on the mechanics of how to pull off campaigns and not enough people who are developing media rollouts for a holistic and strategic point of view. As more and more functions of the media business become automated, there will be a clearer delineation between those who get it and those who are just pushing buttons.
At these types of conferences, the best use of time is when there’s open discussion and even debate among the panelists. Those times have come up a bit – and they are interesting more often than not – but there’s been a greater amount of timidity (or too much manners) on many of the panels. In each case, the more excitement and engagement came when the audience (or strong-willed panelists) pushed the needle and added some spirit. It forced the panelists to get beyond their surface comments and dig deeper into the hows and whats about what they were describing. In those moments, you could begin to see the separation between the ideals and themes that will elevate further in the future and those that won’t.
Those who looked at issues of media from a holistic and strategic level that went beyond straight demos and display started to get into why a different way of thinking is required in order to excel in the digital space. The times of planners being able to do the status quo and/or think of media in terms of how it has been thought of for decades is becoming the past. Certainly, I’m not talking about a wholesale change. But, if you consider the fact that exchanges for the purchasing of inventory will be automated in such a way as to emulate the financial trading systems (or exchanges) currently on Wall St, then you’ll see that there will be much more reliance on smart and nimble executives than on the “plaster the world with RFPs” mentality that is currently so common. Roger Wood , of iCrossing, talked about this in a session yesterday and Cory Treffiletti focused a bit on it in his column today.
The people we are trying to reach and the platforms on which to reach them are fragmenting so quickly that its sometimes hard to get a handle on it – much less convey the intricacies to the C-level – with the benefits and drawbacks to that fragmentation sometimes showing itself on the same side of a coin. On top of that, you figure in elements relating to social - and the opportunities become exponential. It is those who are smart about the ways to reach and engage that will stand out. Those who rely on gross numbers alone might tread water, but those who understand that managing those gross numbers AND finding ways to expand reach through intelligent execution, innovation and sound strategy will be swimming laps around the competition.
Even the establishment for what constitutes a campaign’s success continues to grow in the way of measurement options and their varying forms. While the KPIs may have been simpler or more clearly defined and consistent across campaigns, there are many more nuances to take into consideration from one campaign to another. It will require a much more strategic mind to qualify and quantify the milestones you are looking for – as opposed to just setting an impression threshold. That in itself is what will separate the opportunities in digital from what was the norm in the past.
While the mechanics are an important part of any product – whether it be a media campaign or a gizmo sold in Walmart – the overall vision is what separates ho-hum from solid or even spectacular. Those who get that, either on the client or agency side will be the ones to excel while the others will be simply going though the motions – and the differentiation will be absolutely clear.
Posted in Core
Tagged Advertising, Business, Cory Treffiletti, Digital, Digital Hollywood, Digital Media, Exchanges, Holistic, Innovation, KPI, Media, Panels, Planning, RFP, Roger Wood, Strategy, Success, Systems, Technology, Victor Harwood
As part of an article about the possibility for networks co-opting event rights - like NBC’s Olympic coverage this Summer – without paying a penny, ESPN’s EVP of multimedia sales told Adweek, “We want to see ESPN as a second screen for all sports. We know we have a lot of companion [mobile] usage even when it’s not our event. We want to take co-viewing to the next level.” ESPN may be one of the brands that are best positioned to move beyond just the games they air when it comes to second-screen apps. I would even go one step further… They should expand their definition of second-screen to include all live sporting events – whether you are watching the show on their networks, other networks and, most importantly, if you are physically at the games. This would align with my feeling that the best branded solution for second-screen apps is to focus on affinity groups rather than broad networks or shows. By doing this, second-screen apps can best complement life and not just viewing habits.
I know this is a little “ideal” or “out there”, but imagine if ESPN was to focus on building that environment that extends the experience of “being there” to all viewers and building bonds in the real world between people who are all at the same event. What if there were special check-ins for people who are physically at the games – or if it automatically tracked whether users were at a venue or not and framed their comments in such a way that they could be found more easily. They can post bits about what they’re seeing in the venue and allow those at home to feel even more connected to the game. This can be done in association with ESPN’s already popular GameCast feature – building out a whole new feel for the game.
Courtesy of Adweek
Though the Adweek article was focused on television and rights, it did get me thinking about the possibilities for second-screen apps that deep dive into themes that matter to affinity groups. There are those brands that could work best to serve those affinity groups in all parts of life – as a second-screen. ESPN is obvious for sports, but could Bravo be the second-screen app for all things Arts – with check-ins and instant reviews from cultural facilities? Could Food Network be the same for both restaurants and grocery stores? How about E! or Style for nightlife. In all of these instances, there could be a great opportunity to enable connections in real-life that also feed into our digital lives.
To a certain degree, Facebook is a second-screen App to our lives. But I think it is too broad. Narrowing down our second-screen-life Apps to the affinity groups (Sports, Culture, Food, Partying, Outdoors, Crafts, etc.) and anchoring them to the large niche cable networks could be just the ticket. If a brand is already developing a companion app, and the cost of including some location-based functionality is incremental, doesn’t it make sense to reach for greater inclusion, interaction and engagement?
Maybe I’m thinking too much in the clouds, but I really don’t think this is too far off. Even from a sports perspective, there was a time when the new sports venues were installing systems to provide real-time stats at your seat. Obviously, that went by the wayside when mobile Apps came on the market that could do the same thing. There is obviously a demand for it in that engagement model.
If the right branding partners are leveraged, it could mean quicker and simpler access by people no matter where they are and what they are watching. Rather than a whole bunch of Apps that are specific to certain locations, requiring people to download a bunch of occasionally used Apps, those brands with the penetration should look to really run the gamut and make their Apps whole for the affinity groups that would most use them.
At that point, we’ll be talking about Second-Screens for our lives – whatever that life may be…
Posted in Ruminations
Tagged Affinity, Apps, Bravo, Connectivity, Culture, Digital, E!, Engagement, ESPN, Food Network, GameCast, Innovation, Networks, Olympics, Rights, Second-Screen, Sports, Strategy, Style, Technology, Television, Venues
Yet another iMedia Summit has come and gone and I think they did a really nice job. This one was the Video Summit and there was more than enough in the way of presentation and provocation to push the conversations along about media and digital video content. Shelley Palmer was the chief instigator as he pushed for people to think and make choices one way or the other about how this is all going to work – sometimes he pushed too hard, but his insights were welcome throughout. It seemed clear that the biggest hurdle for all players – traditional media planners, digital media planners, publishers, brands, technologists and developers – is the navigation from where we are in the way of monetizing digital video content to where we think it can be. What exacerbates the challenge is the never-ending search for the metric that clearly works for both television and digital distribution. With that search, the problem remains that powerful storytelling and true connections with consumers is oft skipped over by technologies and program mechanics – leaving everyone questioning what metric will rule them all.
Jen Dawson (TubeMogul), Felix Gomez (Pointroll), Jonathan Tavss (Scarlet Strategic)
iMedia tried something new this time by offering a track specifically for creatives and production companies to explore the tricks of the trade and, countered against the media-heavy elements of the rest of the summit, the creative samples were refreshing. Though there could have stood to be more creative attendees, it was a strong first-go. I do wish that there was more interplay between creatives and planners as way to extend the conversation about what the possibilities may be. It ended up feeling like the creatives were excluded at a certain point and that was a shame – especially as one of the presentations in the In-Focus track showcased a strong partnership between Moxie’s media and creative teams worked closely to produce a very compelling campaign for Verizon. Showcasing that stuff to everyone could have gotten the juices flowing about solutions other than what planners already know and the tendency to stick with that known commodity.
Both Palmer and Intel’s Futurist, Brian David Johnson beseeched everyone to envision a great future and make it happen. I agree whole-heartedly with what they said, but opportunities to get the imagination going could have been done through programming that led to more sharing and problem solving. Whether it was by way of presenting some of the In-Focus track sections to the entire community or programming round-table sessions –like what iMedia has done at their Breakthrough summits in the past — people could have been prodded more completely to be creative and then see where that lead us.
But, in the end, the fact that there is an environment where people can share thoughts and ideas without too much preening or jockeying within a social context, these iMedia Summits are invaluable. Hopefully, they will continue to grow and evolve. As this was the first Video-specific summit, I look forward to seeing the evolution of both the medium and its programming in the future. It can’t do anything but further itself into the conversation as the powers that be are pushing digital content further into the stratosphere that is usually reserved for television.
I’ve already conveyed my concerns about not staking digital as strong and specific, yet different beast and present it as such to the media community – and I brought it up at the conference as well. But, we can all hope that the similarities and differences are carefully and clearly communicated and understood by the influencers and the decision makers. Again, the type of interaction and communication that is offered at these summits can go a long way toward that becoming a reality.
Posted in Core
Tagged Brian David Johnson, Communication, Creative, Digital, Felix Gomez, Futurist, IMedia, iMedia Video Summit, Intel, Jen Dawson, Media, Metrics, Moxie, Pointroll, Shelly Palmer, Storytelling, Television, TubeMogul, Verizon, Video Content