Media and entertainment loyalty was once born from limitation. With just a few device choices and many barriers to switching, loyal fans were forged from—and sometimes fused to—the couches in their living rooms. Channels, choice, and content were sequestered in their own spaces, with little sharing or cross-border interchange.
Today, that’s all changed. Content is as portable as our hand-held devices, and consumers can curate their own media experience across devices, times, and modalities. We’re living through a revolution in media consumption that’s having far reaching consequences for the media and entertainment industry. We’re all digital citizens now, and the borders of yesterday don’t apply.
Loyal audiences are still the heart of what makes media and entertainment companies succeed—no matter the era. In fact, it’s never been easier to find viewers, with the average American spending more time on technology and media than work or sleep.1 But it’s never been more difficult to engage those people effectively and entice them to stay—or to measure and monetize their media consumption. A television show or article started in the living room may be continued on the bus. In fact, nine out of ten media consumers use 2 to 3 devices per day.2
This will only get more complex. With the explosion of mobile, wearables, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, there will be more devices than ever, in more forms, and also more viewers ready to consume content.
We are living in a media Pangaea. Today’s M&E professionals find themselves in a world without borders where consumers can move from media source to source with the click (or swipe) of a finger. The challenge today is to create a continuity of experience for M&E consumers from the living room to the stadium to the car, so your content thrives and your audience is loyal to you, no matter their device or channel options.
“Consumers now expect their favorite brands to be anywhere they are,” says Walter Levitt, CMO of Comedy Central, a brand on the forefront of the digital revolution. Early in the era of cord cutting and multi-devices, Comedy Central recognized the importance of M&E brands, understanding that consumers look for the brand, not the channel.
“There’s a lot of fragmentation in the way people are consuming video, and I think as a marketer, you can see that either as a challenge or as a huge opportunity. The truth is video content is more popular now than it’s ever been,” says Levitt.3 Comedy Central has made it their mission to be anywhere Millennials want to laugh. And this mindset shift is paying dividends. In a recent survey, Comedy Central Discovery was the second most popular channel in a poll of US-based Snapchat users.4
As Jennifer Cooper, director of Adobe’s Media and Entertainment Industry Strategy group says, “Content is everywhere, but even the environment we view content in is ever-pervasive. You used to have to ‘opt in’ by sitting down to watch TV or computer to consume content. Now I get content alerts on my phone or watch that’s always connected in my hand or to my wrist. Content is delivered everywhere I am.”5
It’s clear that personalized, relevant experiences across devices are needed to garner the most results—even in the face of the massive disruption taking place in the distribution, creation and delivery of content.
The living room has traditionally been the bastion of entertainment and broadcast media, and in many ways it was the first to get disrupted. Deloitte’s recent analysis of the future of home entertainment paints a clear picture—in 2015 consumers under 25 watched more content on their mobiles devices than on their TVs. 6
A collection of shifts over the last few years has changed the landscape considerably:
of TV time spent on OTT services
increase in TV Everywhere viewing
start watching on one screen and end on another
New research from the Adobe Digital Index recently showed that consumers now spend 42 percent of their TV time with Over the Top (OTT) services, effectively bypassing traditional television sources and the measurement systems of old. There has also been a 102 percent increase in TV Everywhere viewing in the last year.7 This direct-to-consumer cable unbundling means the past methods of tracking viewers is incomplete. Consumers want choice and don’t want to be tethered to their living rooms. In fact, 40 percent of users surveyed start a content journey on one screen and finish on another.8
Recently, ESPN presented a compelling example of the changes taking place in television. During a Golden State Warriors versus Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game, nine million people watched the game on linear television. In the past, this would be all the audience data available. But ESPN has made significant investments in their digital content and platforms, being one of the first broadcasters to embrace streaming. For this game, they found an additional 850,000 fans followed or watched the game on their tablets, 450,000 on their computers, 200,000 on mobile phones and another 320,000 via various OTT devices. That’s an additional 2 million viewers they have reached and ultimately can sell advertising to.9 Not only are the consumption statistics compelling, but also the fact that ESPN can measure and sell advertising to these large audiences across devices. This is definitely a view into the future.
In 2015, the Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder NBA game was televised on ESPN and streamed live on Watch ESPN, enabling the broadcaster to engage audiences across devices.
But it’s not just TV. Game consoles consume a large part of the entertainment market (and stream a great deal of OTT content). Time spent in gaming is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 12% through 2017.10 Virtual reality is sure to make this even more complex for M&E executives as the opportunities are staggering, yet VR brings new platforms and more complex tracking. Just recently, for instance, the augmented reality game Pokémon Go has caught fire, surpassing the daily active users of Tinder and Twitter on mobile in just a few days.11 VR and AR are the wild west of M&E, but those who grab land now will be richly rewarded.
In publishing, new devices and more time in front of them has been a boon for content consumption, yet the technical challenges are acute. Publishers now must manage multiple platforms, and be aware of the context of those device usage patterns. For instance, what drives more views: email or push notifications? But which channel drives more people to unsubscribe from their subscriptions? How can media companies reduce churn? Testing, measurement, and analysis are more important than ever.
As traditional media has become more fragmented, live events have become ever more important. Successful M&E companies are adding content around the “game within the game” to enhance live events and extend their own reach, even if they aren’t broadcasting the sport itself.
As Kim Weller, senior director digital analytics and data strategy at ESPN says, “The game around the game is essential for us because while we have an amazing compilation of sports rights, we don’t have everything.”12 So while ESPN may not broadcast all NFL games, they reach millions of fans with fantasy football content and application experiences. They are able to create loyal fans with these applications, not just of the NFL games they do have rights to, but of their entire brand experience around the NFL.
The living room was once the foundation of television sports, and certainly still commands a great deal of attention and viewership, but that’s changing. For instance for sports specifically, Millennials are 30 percent less likely than other age groups to watch a live sporting event on traditional TV.13 If M&E companies don’t make the investment to broadcast and measure sports on these other platforms, they will be missing out soon on a majority of viewers who may not even have traditional ways of viewing this content. Cord cutting is already in full bloom and only stands to increase as these generations age.
Audiences are on the move and their content is as well. While mobile has certainly disrupted all forms of media from television to publishing, it’s not the only portable platform. New car infotainment systems are now an extension of mobile devices and thus important platforms for M&E companies. This will exponentially increase, as more automation takes over automobiles and drivers have more time and attention for connected content. But even today CarPlay and similar in-dash experiences can safely serve content that is aware of the context: it may know what entertainment you are consuming (Spotify streaming through Bluetooth), and where you are via location services, and suggest specific promotions from advertisers in your area (that may correlate with your media consumption). Now many cars have their own Wi-Fi hotspots, which brings better streaming capabilities for native entertainment systems or portable devices. Again, imagine the advertising and content subscription possibilities if your media and advertising systems know the location and context of your viewers.
But cars aren’t the only devices “on the move” that can have an impact today or in the near future for M&E companies. Wearables present another platform for content. The interactions may be different: push versus in-depth articles for instance—but the reach on these devices is immense and also many times more qualified. Fitness wearables for instance are obviously a good target for fitness content, but they also correlate well with higher incomes and education.14 And while most experts agree that these devices won’t replace mobile phones, smart M&E companies will use them to trigger alerts and activations on mobile. CNN for instance offers an app that can be personalized across twelve news categories: if a headline or breaking news alert grabs your interest, you can launch live coverage on your iPhone.
The Internet of Things space has the potential to give M&E companies even more chances to engage audiences at the right time. Imagine a connected home where your appliances can stream contextually aware content as you move through the house. The mirrors in your bathrooms may be replaced in the future with screens (one way only please!) that offer news, content, and offers matched with your daily habits. For instance as the system knows your calendar, it can alert you to traffic on your daily commute, complete with television coverage and time estimates. The complexities will certainly grow, but as more devices are connected and talking to one another, the ability to reach, inform or entertain—and sell advertising that is also contextually aware—increases substantially.
The invention of new modes of transportation affected our ideas of borders—from villages when we were on foot, to continents in the age of the jumbo jet. The world has gotten smaller as it’s become easier for us to travel greater and greater distances. The disruption of new devices in the media and entertainment world has similarly affected the consumption landscape, yet introduced new rules and cultures. M&E companies must build a different foundation to navigate this world successfully.
Like most modern seismic disruptions, technology is at the core of adaption strategies. Much as we moved from using the sun for navigation to today’s GPS systems, M&E companies must make data core to their content planning and marketing, and must have the tools to follow their consumers as they flit from device to device, platform to platform.
M&E companies operating in this environment require more disciplined measurement, analytics, and data-driven marketing—with a focus on audience intelligence, engagement, and revenue optimization. To prepare for today’s always-on, always in-your-hand media environment, companies must build digital platforms that allow them to master these challenges.
NBC Universal has spent years mastering this new reality, but they also keep a focus on what’s vital. “We are a content company first. TV is storytelling,” said Blandon Casenave, vice president of Digital Media Research at NBC Universal. But NBC also realizes they are dealing with a new reality. “We have to build a seamless experience across any platform our viewers use. My job is to measure those views, because you can’t monetize what you don’t measure and that’s how we support our business.”15
It has never been more important than now to have a multi-channel, multi-device strategy. “Previously, if viewers were not at home in front of their flat-screen TVs, then it was really difficult for them to get a completely satisfying viewing experience,” says Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Group. “But now, with the advent of mobile phones and tablets, people want a rich experience engaging with their favorite sports live on NBC, whether they are at a daughter’s dance recital or taking the subway home from work.”16
Unsurprisingly, the pioneers in multi-device broadcasting have come from the world of sports. NBC started streaming sports in 2008 on a single bitrate with a single camera angle. Shortly after, they streamed the entire NHL playoffs on multiple devices. The results were impressive: On weekends and at night, video consumption reached 50% on mobile devices when compared to desktops and television. NBC subsequently saw record numbers across the board for the Stanley Cup Finals and additional hockey playoffs.17
ESPN is another trailblazer when it comes to streaming to multiple devices. “At ESPN, our mission is to serve the sports fan anytime, anywhere and increasingly that means being on any device,” says Weller. But it’s not just about delivering content across devices, it’s also about how you interact with and measure those fans. “I make sure that we’ve got great data collection across all of these devices—each one of them is different—but we are trying to be consistent enough that we can get great data out of every individual device, but also are able to bring that data together and look at a fan across their devices.”18 So ESPN not only serves up content and makes sure it’s optimized for that device, but they ensure their tracking, measurement, and ad services see that viewer as a single fan, not as a series of viewers across different devices.
They key is consistency across mobile, tablet, OTT, computer, television, wearable, car and more—consistency in content delivery and measurement, and integration with audience systems. A heady goal, but one that’s needed to navigate this new environment.
Capture, consolidate and manage online and offline audience data. You can’t personalize or optimize revenue without data, and in our cross-device world it’s not as easy as it once was. First you must have a platform that can handle the aggregation of viewer IDs into one canonical ID. So that means if a viewer uses her mobile phone to start a show that’s finished on her tablet, you can measure her as one person, and not as two separate users. And the more granular you can get on behavioral activities the better. Viewing isn’t enough in this new world. To really engage and retain fans, companies must measure all interactions and have a platform that can drive them to activations. For instance, downloading an application from an app store or signing up for a newsletter for their favorite team.
Pac 12 Networks is a new media company that delivers experiences of all kinds for fans of the Pac 12 conference. David Aufhauser runs their digital business, which means he’s responsible for everything from social media, to their websites to their mobile apps. Or as he puts it, “Pretty much anything that touches our fans from a digital perspective.” Since Pac 12 Network is only four years old, they were one of the first companies to launch both a television network and a digital network, including TV Everywhere, at the same time. They were born in the media Pangaea era, so it’s not surprising they see data at the center of the business. They’ve recently focused on a comprehensive data project to get a 360 view of their fan—and drive engagement. “It is so important to understand who our customers are—without that we aren’t be able to market to them, or get them to buy the next ticket, or upgrade someone from an individual ticket to a season ticketholder, or a season ticketholder to a donor,” says Aufhauser.19 Data helps them move the viewer along that journey.
Turner Broadcasting is another example of how to combine data into a data cloud that drives every aspect of the business, not just marketing and not just ad sales. “Our goal is to get a 360 degree feedback loop to whatever we are doing: content, programming, marketing and placement,” says Tom Cattapan, VP Consumer Insights, Research and Analytics, Turner Broadcasting.20 Having a full view into what a viewer watches, sees and does is so important to determine their true value to a media organization. Having a few bits of demographic information, for instance, or behavioral traits like subscriptions or purchases can make all the difference in how to talk with them, the content you deliver and the CPMs you earn.
Deliver personalized experiences across all touch points at the right time. Media and entertainment may be a supercontinent where we’re all connected, but we’ve never been more individualistic, with expectations greater than ever before for personalized content, alerts, and services from the brands we trust. Companies must coordinate the message and cadence across all online and offline channels, ensuring they have the right message at the right time.
One example of this is fan engagement with sports. To reach a fan watching a game on TV you would probably think the best way is to send a push notification to her smartphone or smart TV–otherwise it won’t be seen. But media companies have found that email is actually the best way to reach people during a game and drive them to a related app or a website form. It’s unobtrusive (who wants to interrupt a touchdown?) but also effective, as a high number of people check email during television sports viewing. (Maybe during all those beer commercials.)
Smart entertainment and media outlets are sending personalized alerts when new episodes are available or when there are “similar episodes” that a viewer may like. For instance, if a viewer has signed up for the “White is the New Red” drama from her favorite content provider, an audience management system can alert her when new seasons are available or suggest she try a similar show in that genre. Creating loyal fans through personalization can create the greatest returns, and by marrying it to an audience management system, your marketing professionals can use it to drill into the most valuable audiences.
Manage the customer journey from anonymous prospect to loyal advocate with personalized campaigns and many options to engage your audiences.
Navigation with a goal in mind is more important than ever. Always remember your revenue goals to plot your journey and that views aren’t enough—you need activations and many ways to engage the audience. For instance, companies should offer applications that very loyal fans will download to be even more connected to content. Or live events that give the media companies more ways to raise revenue per viewer. The key is offering these add-ons to the right audiences who are engaged and likely to purchase—and not alienating and losing those who won’t. Audience management technology can make this possible by aggregating data (both internal and external) into one profile so you can understand your audience segments in-depth and make decisions according to metrics that matter.
Predictive modeling can also help you understand where you’re going on your path to greatest revenue optimization. Start with understanding consumption across platforms and analyzing the attributes of what drives success. For instance, are demographic (like age) or behavior attributes (like app downloads) most important? Once patterns are established, it’s possible to predict what will drive greater success next time. For instance, by looking at where the valuable fans were found by your marketing department, it’s possible to predict where to find more of that high-value audience or what offers to provide. One example is after someone registers to see a free preview of a new season, they are much more likely to purchase a subscription. Sounds simple, yet technology can make or break the ability to manage this within the noise of millions of viewers. Finding the signal of the most valuable and engaged audiences is the key to success.
Be creative—yet consistent—in what you track, where you sell and how you charge for it. In the past few years, M&E companies have had to be creative. Past measurement tools don’t track viewers across all touch points. And what isn’t tracked, can’t be sold. Today’s smart M&E companies are using new digital technologies, as well as marketing platforms that allow them to maximize revenue.
“Increasingly some data points, for example click-through rates on banner ads, are becoming less relevant over time and other engagement metrics are becoming more relevant—seeing how people are consuming our content and the flow of people between our content is hugely important to us,” said Walter Levitt, CMO of Comedy Central. The coin of the realm in marketing for years—click-through rates—is shifting to be more engagement oriented. Engagement of the right audiences is what advertisers are demanding now, and they demand the data to back up the story.
Successful M&E companies are also investigating new places to sell their wares. For instance, programmatic advertising, where supply and demand is matched by computer algorithms on exchanges, has the potential to augment traditional selling models. But only if the technology platforms are there and speak to each other in the right language. And as we’ve seen with the move from city-states to countries, the need for a new, standardized currency is becoming acute for media. Content providers need to charge the right amount for content no matter the platform. Today that’s not the case, since broadcast is the only channel with a well defined and understood rate system. As our new media Pangaea evolves, this will be a defining moment.
Earn loyalty by producing great content and experiences. It may be the last step, but it’s the most important. The best technology or marketing in the world won’t matter if the content isn’t quality and alluring. Yet if the technology platform isn’t there, the best content may be stranded in a small island all its own.
Capture customers’ interest and draw them in. Your content needs to look beautiful, be dynamic, and display perfectly across devices. Obviously for media and entertainment, it all starts and ends with the quality of your content.
Understand who the customer is, where they are and what they like. Do you know she’s a loyal fan of a certain NBA team, for instance? If so, delight her with content you know she’ll appreciate.
Help your customers get things done faster, wherever they are, so they can move to the next thing. In the new borderless world, consumers want content that is meaningful and can have immediate impact. And if it’s entertainment, don’t waste time up front—explore new formats, sometimes but not always shorter, that fit better in today’s borderless, mobile world.
Be where your customers are working, reading, watching, and wanting to engage with your content. If the viewer has time in a waiting room to watch their favorite show, you want to be on their mobile phone. If it’s augmenting a stadium in-person experience, you want selective push notifications to their wearable device.
The new borderless media world has arrived, and M&E companies who can offer personalized experiences across devices will win in it. The disruptions to how and when we consume content—and the rate of those disruptions—will only increase. We certainly aren’t working in geologic time in this industry. But there are positives for media and entertainment companies who master the shifting land beneath their feet.
Time spent on major digital activities like video, audio, social media, and gaming will continue to rise.22 And as television viewing becomes more granular—with everyone getting his or her own screen—the number of advertising opportunities will grow. For instance, if a whole family is watching one show, the advertising isn’t very targeted to the demographics of those individuals. A thirteen-year-old will value different ads than a 44-year-old, and the fragmentation of screens can allow that individual targeting.
M&E companies must be prepared for more continental shifts. A great piece of insurance against these aftershocks is creating a data cloud that is the center of operations. You’ll also want to ensure that all decisions for revenue, content, and device support go through that 360 view of your customer. But it must be an analytics and digital marketing platform with a future that will grow as the industry changes. Soon your toaster may talk to your refrigerator, or your car may talk to your social media accounts. As a media company, it’s essential to be part of those interactions and have a future-proof platform that will keep adapting with the times.
The North Star is true personalized experience across devices. Those media companies who can craft content in context and deliver it to the devices we have everyday—without our intervention—will unlock massive value. This may be a sensor a viewer wears on her wrist that triggers content experiences based on location and the direction she is looking. Think how powerful it would be if the watch knows the viewer is shopping for a car and content related to that purchase pops up with ads for a competing car company. There will be high CPMs for those who crack the context challenge.
But there will also be challenges—using the technology in respectful and appropriate ways to avoid alienating your fans, and certainly combating the threats to privacy and data security. Early returns indicate, however, that the usefulness and convenience of these services is vast, as are the opportunities.
Just as in any massive shift, some species adapt and thrive, while others become extinct. By mastering personalization and data optimization with the right technology, smart media and entertainment companies will rule our new borderless world.
In this world without borders, you need the right technology to deliver content in the way your audience wants to consume it. Adobe offers a robust suite of solutions that help you understand your audience expectations, deliver content across platforms, and monetize your media, broadcasting, and entertainment efforts.Learn more