Tag Archives: IMedia

Finally, A Summit That Almost Reaches The Top

Yesterday, iMedia presented the newest Entertainment Marketing Summit under the header – For Entertainment Marketers by Entertainment Marketers and the difference was palpable. At many summits or conferences; the subjects often blend into each other, the same buzzwords are said too many times, the presentations seem too much like lectures and not the sharing of ideas or conversations, and there seems to be too much company marketing and no real takeaways from presentations.  Perhaps it was iMedia’s format of having members of the community host the entire day that made the difference – making the whole day seem more familial and interesting. For the most part, the sharpened model worked in bubbling this conference up near the top.

iMedia had done something similar for the Video Content Summit in March during the In-Focus breakout – with AJ Vernet hosting and setting the tone for sharing and growing together – but the presentations seemed more like company demonstrations and not data or best-practices sharing. Also at the Video Summit, Shelly Palmer came across as more adversarial as a host. In this case, Bettina Sherick and Kevin Doohan tag-teamed a warm and engaging set of transitions from one session to the next.

It was probably by accident, but the fact that the Keynote Fireside Chat featured two people who don’t just work together – they grew up as close childhood friends – helped establish the familial feel further.  Those friends were Jake Zim and Elias Plishner of Sony Pictures, and you couldn’t find a more respected person to leaf the chat in Gordon Paddison. Jake and Elias did provide insight into some specifics of how Sony works in ways that other studios might not, their challenges were not unique. They provided a sound basics for anyone who did not know them and because of their comfort with each other, Jake’s straight-shooting style was right at home.  He rightfully stated that “people only need one reason not to go to the movies these days.” While it doesn’t make sense to go through everything here, the retweeted quotes from Jake’s mouth cover a lot:

“Fish stinks from the head”
“We have to provide an experience that’s better than free”
“Two commas or spare me the drama”
“No movie sells itself”

I leave it to you to have fun with trying to assign context to the quote…

Brad Berens did his usual solid job with an engaging presentation of the state of entertainment, and more specifically, where the audience is. Between the way viewership has changed in the last 5 or 6 decades and the forms in which entertainment is now available, there is so much change and we still have room for so much more of it to happen. His bit of prescience at the end was his stated belief that XBOX 360 is going to continue to grow and be an even larger property.

Peter Stouggard Presenting – All Pictures Courtesy of iMedia

Peter Stouggard should be applauded for actually using technology for full effect by building an app to house his presentation. His compelling review of what he sees as the “best of” was refreshing just because of his willingness to not only laud the achievements but also look at some of the “what could have beens” to make those even stronger.  He didn’t present it as a negative for what was already done, but as a celebration (or challenge) relating to what opportunities could be advanced in the future.

This year’s visionary  Marketer Award went to Doug Neil of Universal. it was the first Powerpoint/Keynote acceptance speech that I’ve seen. But other than not being able to play a piece from Les Miserables, it was a successful turn of technology.  Or, it at least embraced the spirit of sharing and community in how he used the forum to discuss what he sees the keys to success are.

Unfortunately, after lunch, the programming fell into the same traps we’ve seen at lesser forums and conferences.  It turned into much more presentations of case studies that felt more like business pitches than sharing of best practices.  I won’t go into specifics here out of respect for the presenters and iMedia, but there was far too much general commenting and ideas with no real metrics that can help us determine which way to move forward (or, at least sell the concepts upwards.) It seems that the biggest hiccup that arises all the time is measurement understanding or strategies. Many of those items are nice, but not truly helpful without placing them in context of some clear metrics.

When the day grew later and started veering far off-schedule, the presentations and panels just seemed to grow longer and without as fine a point as those in the first half of the day. Mark Silva brought up some interesting concepts about the collaboration with startups in Silicon Valley. Yet he even acknowledged that he needed to spend more time in Los Angeles to understand how things work to see if it would make any sense to engage on such partnerships.

The day closed out with Lori H. Schwartz interviewing Dane Boedigheimer of Annoying Orange fame. It was presented almost as if it were the highlight of the day in terms of how complete it was and how long it was, but half the attendees had left by then. I was glad I stuck around for a couple of reasons: First, it was good to see Dane still laugh at the humor of an old episode – often creators don’t seem to enjoy their own product as much in public; Second, Dane was able to provide some bits of insight into a group that is ordinarily quite challenging to reach socially – boys 6-11. He named his engagement at his site in the hours after posting new videos was key in building his base. From that, he was able to leverage the deep base to do other UGC and contest mechanics to more deeply involve them in the brand. After a line-up of seasoned vets, it was truly refreshing to see someone who is talented and, perhaps, has a less jaded view on things.

Bettina Sherick stated that “the playing field keeps changing” during her opening remarks and it certainly seems true that we cannot afford to work alone within our silos.  There’s just too much information and development to afford to do such a thing. In entertainment, we are all in this together and, while we are a competitive bunch, what’s good for one is good for all.  In as much a way as it is impossible to have a film that doesn’t need marketing, it is not possible for one studio or another to beat the odds and have huge successes every year.  A few years ago, it was Fox with AVATAR and this year it’s all about Paramount/Disney/Marvel with THE AVENGERS. As such, it is important for everyone to be familial and friendly – along with the competitive.

Just like anything else, there is constant tweaking and development to be found in forums and conferences. iMedia is doing a solid job of not resting on their laurels and getting stronger with each event.

Some Quick Bites: Media and Entertainment



As more and more people are surfing the internet through their smartphones or tablets, the optimal serving of assets specific to that platform becomes more important.  There are some who default to a mobile version and some who just provide the website as you would see it through a computer browser.  Others provide the option of viewing through a web browser or an App. What should be done is predicated on what type of content you are providing.  In many cases, the best solution could be a mixture of solutions.

What should definitely NOT be done is try to make the media come through as if the user was viewing the content on their desktop. Unfortunately, some publishers try to push pop-overs or pop-unders to the mobile device – which causes latency issues and frustration.

Perhaps the worst offender I come across is from my beloved hometown newspaper, the Miami Herald.  To provide context of how much of a bad predicament it has become, here’s some back story… Before the internet, I had to go to a specific news stand in Los Angeles to get the Sunday edition of the newspaper a few days after it was published.  Sometimes I was lucky if I could read about Miami Sports teams’ games before they played their next one.  Obviously, I was happy when I was then able to read articles online from 3000 miles away before the physical newspaper was placed on my parent’s doorstep.

Sadly, The Herald has worked themselves into a bad situation both on computers and mobile.  Below, you can see a recent page with MANY different advertisers on one page – and this doesn’t even show the pop-unders that are so annoying with every page load.

Forgetting that all of the ads being served and the pop-under makes the load time on my mobile longer than any other website, the Herald sales team would probably do better by booking multiple units on a page to one advertiser to have a stronger impact.  Their multiple units are so cluttered and disparate that I would feel that I am wasting client’s money if I were to book their advertising on such a site.

The Herald has come up with some decent solutions for providing inventory above the fold, but the lack of consistency makes the media too disruptive and annoying. That annoying factor has gotten so great on the mobile web that I am contemplating the move entirely away from the Herald and to their competitors.  Mind you, this is the newspaper brand that I grew up on and read every day leading to a huge love and affinity to a product. For me to be ready to leave the writers I enjoy reading because their inventory causes such a problem is a bad sign.


The editors of iMedia published a nice survey about social marketing by a number of entertainment entities in advance of their entertainment summit later this month. It’s a good quick read if you are not up to speed on some of the successful campaigns and tools of recent film and television campaigns.

They do tip their hat to the vendors in a couple of examples.  It would be interesting to see a more detailed accounting of how pieces came together because it is always a solid mix of brand and vendor integration that brings along success.

Consumers Connections as the Metric To Rule Them All – But What Is It?

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.

Wanted: Strong Guidance In Slicing the Digital Video Pie

The first night of iMedia’s Video Everywhere Summit was a mess – and that’s not because of the organizers.  The mess was actually a welcome change to the norm at these types of things.  The problem was the “norm” that the mess was illustrating.  Vindico’s President, Matt Timothy, got everyone in the room to simultaneously throw “stress cubes” toward the front of the room near the beginning of his presentation.  He didn’t have to ask twice and the amount of cubes that missed the garbage cans signified what the video model is for television advertising.  In that model there’s not a real way to evaluate how many impressions were wasted (the many cubes on the floor) and how many hit their target (the few in the cans.)  He then asked everyone to do the repeat the exercise, but this time the attendees were asked to throw them randomly around the room.  This version exemplified what online video advertising impressions are like – with a lot of information going back and forth in two-way communication.  The key is tapping into that information and formulating better ways to connect with people.  All in, the example illustrated that there is so many ways we can slice the digital video distribution data pie, but there are too many people who are still looking for the cutter to slice it with.

Even with the additional data that can be culled from video campaigns – and the optimization that can come from that – the “norm” referred to above is that there is still a lot that is left on the table.  Perhaps it’s because there is too much confusion about the data, or that clients and planners just don’t have the vision to see what’s possible.  In many instances, we’re running into an issue of the chicken or the egg.  We’re not trying things because the client or their agency doesn’t deliver creative executions that would effectively enable the research, or the vendors aren’t presenting examples of solutions to the challenges the clients might not even know they have.

Many brands or advertisers are still looking for the click-through as signifiers as success, but that doesn’t work completely in the realm of video.  When you look at what companies like Vindico can do with the data, those who only look at click-through are just drinking the punch and not getting all they could be through digital video media.  In the image above, the slide is showcasing the point that those who click-through the video (represented by gray blocks) are not interacting with the brand/content as strongly as those who visit the site within 30 days of viewing a banner (red blocks.)  It’s not to say that click-throughs are bad, but they are only part of the picture. The straight click-through that might have really been an errant click while trying to close the unit result in much less interaction on the back-end. Again, this requires more knowledge on the client side and more education from the media agencies (and vendors) who are booking these media solutions.

Vindico is one of numerous video ad serving companies and they offer the support and knowledge to be able to optimize not only impressions and interaction but creative. In reality, the ad serving companies really need to become the de-facto educators for marketers and media planners about what the possibilities are. Whether through partnerships with creative vendors or just visionaries who can clearly convey what is possible, they need to be actively presenting solutions because we can’t just rely on clients or planners to package it the right way for success on their own.

The last slide of Matt’s deck had a few things of importance regarding buying video media.  The one that stuck out to me was Storytelling Innovation.  It makes perfect sense to me.  Video is the strongest storytelling format. The digital platforms only increase those storytelling mechanics through interaction. I also see huge opportunities innovation, but am frustrated because we go back to the chicken or the egg conundrum.  When I asked Matt in front of everyone to elaborate on those wonderful buzzwords – Storytelling Innovation – he did a little dance.  I understand the dancing a bit because of client sensitivities in presenting specific examples. In the end, he squeezed out a little bit of the essence by talking about branching opportunities, iterative messaging and interactivity.

After the presentation, somebody came up to me and intimated that it isn’t the job of someone like Matt to provide the examples of Storytelling Innovation – that it was up to creative agencies or media planners or the clients themselves to do that.  I whole-heartedly disagree.  Even if there were some mapped out samples with fictitious products to prove some past successes or even dreamed ones, the examples have to be drawn out.  Sadly, media planners are not built to envision those types of things and I would argue that even creatives and marketing executives don’t have a strong enough vision for matching technical capabilities with innovative storytelling.

With all of the successes that I have had in the past, I was only able to get them launched because the providers talked about possible solutions that led me to believe they could pull it off in partnership with my vendors.  I was able to crystallize the stories (and the mechanics behind them) and sell them within the company because of that shared knowledge.  If the providers don’t do a good enough job of laying the kernels of imagination and innovation in digital video media — hell, even just the basics of what can be tracked — we’ll all be destined to forever be collectively looking for that thing to slice the video pie with.

The True Zen of Social Media

As “Social Media” is becoming the ubiquitous catch-all flashpoint of digital marketing – and perhaps all marketing – it is becoming more apparent that the speed of development and change increases the challenge of just keeping up. The true Zen of Social Media is understanding that you don’t know all the answers and can only really develop the resources to continue gaining the knowledge.

Many companies are just scratching the surface when they decide to “have a Facebook or a Twitter” and the breadth of possibilities in the space could be overwhelming beyond that.  As such, its a good thing that there are more and more “specialists” coming to the forefront who can help guide the way through Social Media. But, I am of the belief that it is almost silly to call anyone a Social Media Expert as there are so many ways to skin this cat and it really comes down to someone who can marry what your product or brand needs and what are the best solutions at the time. 

Certainly, you can set a course for social and start down that path, but it is imperative to constantly tighten and refine based on available resources, outlets, environments, audiences and audience response.  But from the individual level through the organizational level, it must become part of the culture that Social Media is a constantly evolving and therefore; learning environment.  To set a course, communicate that course and then just follow it exactly to the letter in the Social Media realm will probably do more damage in the long run.  And, the person who intimates that they have all the answers is pure folly.

The beauty is that there are enough people sharing ideology online to enable anyone to do some research – if they have the time.  Even with a specialist on staff, I would suggest having the drive to get some of the basics. The three main components are Owned, Earned and Bought.

In this case, Josh Dreller covers some of the main ways to execute the Bought  component of Social Marketing in his iMedia entry. He provides a few basics, but is certainly not giving a full overview as he does not include some of the other options and suppliers.  I also think his posit that these pieces are overlooked is either not true or off the point.  What is overlooked is the machanics of how you can effectively use Bought to move people to Owned and Earned. But, ultimately, by reading this blog, you can gain a stronger basic understanding of what is available and what is needed.

The adage that the journey is the important part is a necessity when talking about Social Media as it seems that we are never going to be able to keep up with the incredible pace of development to be able to master the field and call ourselves experts. Those with the drive to experiment, experience and expand their knowledge will be the ones who just find themselves ahead of the others in that quest.

Are We Giving Away The Opportunity to Truly Broaden Our Base?

Sort of following along the lines of yesterday’s post – have recent trends and technological advances caused us to become less effective in marketing and the opportunities or choices available?

It used to be that a commercial could run during a Broadcast Television Primetime Show and you knew the basic demos.  Not every commerical would be relevant or extremely tareted, but you saw the ones that did not occur while you were running to the bathroom or grabbing another drink and you might have been turned on to another product or experience that you never knew about before.  The advent of digital media and the targeting that came with that led to the drive to optimize spends for as little wasted impressions as possible.  Unfortunately, I see a huge negative effect in that.  Certainly its something we’ve got to be aware of and look to diminish any downside.

To get deeper into what I’m talking about, let’s look at some of the realities in online and mobile media:

Narrowcasting: When cable came into play and there were many more channels to choose from, the consensus was that people would have a much broader view of the world – when in fact, most people watch the same 15-20 channels all the time.  In the same way, When the internet planted its flag in the ground, everyone talked about how people would have access to everything – anytime, anywhere.  While the anytime. anywhere is becoming more and more true, the “everything” is just not possible.  Instead of reading through a paper to get to my team’s news, political information or local events and stumbling across bits of information about other things, I am able to go directly to my team app or specific local events feeds with little chance of broadening my knowledge or perspective.  It happens in both cable and online/mobile.  people can go their whole day, month, year or decade consuming media that is absolutely targetted to them  and people exactly like them.  not much chances for new experiences there.

Targeting: Cookies have been around as long as we’ve been connection to the internet.  They, and other techonological nuggets are in place to help us in many ways – including keeping track of our preferences and the places we’ve been to.  I do believe that it is the collateral damage of our privacy that I am willing to give up to be able to enjoy my online/mobile experience – to an extent.  What happens though, is that the information is used in a way that can be offputting and not really advantageous to us or the advertisers that are trying to reach us.   Until now, the emphasis has been on where we’ve been and what we’ve seen.  Even with targeted ads, we see many ads that are no longer relevant to us – we’ve brought the product or our interest was just in an article, not a movement. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but the debate about targeting is certainly in the air based on two other posts today – one by Adam Kleinberg on iMedia and the other by David Morgan on MediaPost. Both are good reads that delve a little deeper into the targetting.  They are from different perspectives, but still get to the point, I believe, of question how targeted do we want to be and what that could mean.

Privacy: There is certainly a growing concern about privacy and it all reminds me of the first 3 episodes of the Star Wars saga (forgive me for referencing episodes 1-3) when everyone voted to give power to what would become the Empire.  Sure, most people would say they want privacy, as long as its not inconvenient. Wendy Davis reports about those numbers – 81% of respondents want an anti-track mechanism – in her post on the Daily Online Examiner for MediaPost.  Her article and a reader’s comment at its bottom already reinforce what I’ve written above if you want to read more.  People already have the power to control their privacy, but its too much to actually do something about.

So, unless there is a mechanism to get into people’s minds and serve them with something pertaining to their wants or needs, there’s going to be a lot of waste with targeting and the opportunity to stumble upon something by accident and broaden minds will diminish.

Even without the rise in DVR usage, it would be harder and harder to have any brand or business reach so many people so easily as to create the water-cooler conversation we might have had about those cheesy Mentos ads, Where’s the Beef, or Mean Joe Green.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be as dire as that. 

Of course, it is not as simple to pull a trigger on one execution to reach gazillions of people – as it was just 10-15 years ago.  But, with a good strategy, that could be mitigated.  It’s tough because technology, society and diversity will make it harder and harder to reach larger masses of people and create a zeitgeist – and those who come up with the models to reach the most people in the right way will continue to grow.  Hopefully, they’ll bring the rest of the world with them.