Content Everywhere: Finding Loyal Fans in a Digital World

by Jennifer Cooper

posted on 12-12-2016

Without loyal audiences, even the best, most critically acclaimed content simply won’t matter — nor will the company producing it exist for long. The digital revolution has unleashed seismic shifts upon the media and entertainment (M&E) industry, and yet, finding viewers has never been both more difficult AND much easier at the same time. In fact, according to Activate, the average American spends more time engaged with technology and media than with work or sleep.

Let’s face it, audience acquisition is a complex topic. There are more viewers today than there were even 5 or 10 years ago, but there are exponentially more content and device choices too. Brand or channel loyalty are declining in a world where consumers can move from media source to media source — with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger — seeking and discovering content from aggregators and social networks. There is content virtually everywhere — from the televisions in our living rooms to the small screens on our wrists to the devices in our hands. And this will only become more complex. With the explosion of mobile, wearables, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, there will be more devices in more forms than ever before as well as more viewers ready to consume content.

Today’s Continuity Challenges
Supporting all those devices, while critical, also makes it more challenging to measure and market to the right audiences. The challenge today is to create a continuity of experience for consumers so that your content thrives and your audience is loyal to you — no matter how many other device or channel options they may have.

New research from Adobe Digital Insights recently showed that consumers now spend 42 percent of their TV time with Over-the-Top (OTT) services, effectively bypassing traditional television programming and the linear measurement systems of old. At the same time, TV Everywhere viewing has more than doubled in the past year. With all these additions to the content landscape, M&E companies need to keep pace with new measurement practices to remain current on their audience metrics across all channels.

Mastering These Challenges
In this new digital economy, M&E companies 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-hand content delivery, you must build digital metric systems that allow your companies to master these challenges.

At this year’s Adobe Summit, ESPN presented a compelling example of the changes taking place in television. During a high-profile, regular-season NBA game, TV ratings showed that nine million people watched the live game on linear television. In the past, this would have been all the audience data available. But, ESPN has made significant investments in digital content and platforms, being one of the first broadcasters to embrace streaming. They found that an additional 850,000 fans followed or watched this game on purely digital channels: 450,000 on computers, 200,000 on mobile phones, and another 320,000 via various OTT devices. That’s an additional two-million viewers they reached and, ultimately, could sell advertising to. While the consumption statistics are compelling from an engagement perspective, the fact that ESPN can measure and sell advertising to these large, incremental audiences across devices opens a new revenue-stream opportunity. This is definitely a view into the future.

We also saw leadership from Comedy Central who has realized that people look for the brand, not the channel, in this cross-device, content-anywhere atmosphere. By endeavoring to be “the favorite comedy brand for Millennials anywhere they want to laugh,” Comedy Central is reaping the rewards of this strategy. In a recent survey, Comedy Central Discovery was the second most popular channel in a poll of US-based Snapchat users — a valuable target market for sure.

Venturing Onward
Going forward, the key to nurturing loyal audiences will be consistency across all channels, including mobile, tablet, OTT, desktop, television, wearable, car, and more. In this context, consistency covers several areas: content delivery, digital measurement, and integration with audience systems. Together, these will allow media brands to recruit more valuable fans and expand their value to advertisers — a heady goal, but one that’s needed to navigate this new environment.

Planning through the lens of distinct revenue and marketing goals is also more important and expansive than it once was. Views, clicks, and click-through rates (CTRs) aren’t enough — you need activations and multiple 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 provide more ways to raise revenue per viewer. The key is to offer these “value add” products to audiences who are engaged and likely to purchase — while not alienating those who don’t (or who don’t right away).

The North Star is a true personalized experience across devices. The media companies that can craft content in context and deliver it to the devices we all use throughout the course of a day — without consumer intervention — will unlock massive value. This could be a sensor a viewer wears on her wrist that triggers content notification or availability based on location and the direction in which she is heading. Think about how powerful it would be to have a watch that could determine when you are out in the evening, provide you with a reminder that your favorite show will be on that night, suggest that you DVR it or set a reminder to watch it when it’s available via TVE, and recommend that you buy an extra snack on your way home to better enjoy that program with (a sponsored suggestion of course!). This is true “just in time personalization.” There will be high cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs) and revenue for those who crack the context challenge.

We invite you to dig deeper into these topics with us. Here is a recently released in-depth guide that presents six steps to conquering this changing media landscape. For M&E companies that want to thrive in the world of “content anywhere,” our guide provides strategies from brands that are already successful, giving us a blueprint for the future in which even more devices, more content, and hopefully, more loyal audiences are keys to media and entertainment success.

Topics: Trends & Research, Content Management, Media & Entertainment