Flipping the Script: A New Game Plan for Media and Entertainment Brands

Woman working on computer

by Michael Grier

posted on 06-16-2020

The way we watch, read, and listen to content has changed countless times in recent years — and media and entertainment brands have taken it all in stride. Streaming, smart devices, subscription services, and mega-acquisitions have put digital at the heart of the industry.

In light of the COVID-19 challenge, entertainment companies had to practice agility and rethink how they delivered content. Sports events, arts festivals, concerts, theaters, cinemas, and new TV and film productions weren’t operating with typical availability — which could be the case again in the future.

As the world continues to exercise caution, physically dependent organizations must meet people online. Streaming services all need to prove their worth to the rush of potential subscribers. Telco companies are balancing increased customer queries as they connect a growing number of people working, communicating, and streaming from home.

Media and entertainment is a broad church, and every corner of the industry has different challenges. Yet for all brands, a creative approach to digital keeps people tuned in.

Live, at home

Content is king to everyone in media and entertainment — but the kingdom is digital. If every company engages people with content, then the real test of relevance is in customer experience.

Online media and streaming services have a head start. Just think of the content recommendations that YouTube and TikTok algorithms curate, or the subscription trials that Spotify, Netflix, and many news outlets offer. But regardless of digital maturity, all media and entertainment brands can improve their customer outreach by forming new partnerships, experimenting with different platforms, and making content more accessible.

For the first time, live event producers, film studios, and arts venues are branching out into digital delivery. After SXSW cancelled its 2020 event, the group partnered with Amazon to host a free online film festival. Carnegie Hall and new streaming service Broadway on Demand have brought musical and theater performances to the home screen, and blockbusters such as Trolls 2 launched digitally, on demand.

Meanwhile, brands with subscription models have been putting more content in front of the paywall. Amazon Prime Video and Sling TV made broader selections of kids’ content available free, entertaining families while social distancing policies were in place. At the same time, news publications like the Financial Times and New York Magazine have made their COVID-19 coverage free for all to read.

Daring to try new things can impress existing followers and attract whole new audiences, especially considering that more people turn to the media for information and entertainment for comfort. Brands that explore partnerships and alternative channels will gain a fresh perspective, and be able to create seamless customer experiences that delight customers now and in the future.

A strong sequel

Many factors change how media and entertainment companies operate, including economic pressure and increased time spent at home. And while we might be consuming more content, ad revenues are down significantly across digital (19 to 25% per channel), broadcast (27%), and print (32%), according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

To build agility, media and entertainment companies should incorporate new technologies into their digital strategies. In the sports world, NASCAR has kept fans engaged and sponsorships intact by shifting to a VR-powered esports league. Meanwhile, the NBA has teamed up with Microsoft on a new streaming service that uses AI to give viewers personalized content.

Cultural organizations are also using VR technology. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Van Gogh Museum, sharing exhibits using 360° and 4K video. The British Museum is similarly offering virtual and audio tours of its exhibitions and galleries — and creating educational content on history and culture for its podcast and YouTube channel.

News outlets can delve further into spatial journalism, using augmented reality (AR) to tell immersive stories. The Los Angeles Times recently partnered with the Yahoo News app, immersive media company RYOT, and artist Micah 404 on a project that invites viewers to try on Oscar dresses from decades past. Time has created an AR experience that takes people inside the Amazon rainforest, and USA Today now publishes monthly AR pieces that go deeper into topical news items.

Content management systems can make these experiments successful, allowing companies to create dynamic content and media experiences in tune with the latest audience feedback. A clear understanding of what people want should underlie all activities, and a digital foundation with powerful analytics and personalization can bring that insight.

Knowing your audience

Understanding customer needs is key in every industry, and media and entertainment companies are no different. And like financial services and retail, brands in this category must learn to manage customer data, create sophisticated customer profiles, and target their audiences in even smarter ways.

Data management platforms and modeling can help brands gather and unify customer data from a variety of sources, including those that are shared by multiple users (think different profiles under one Disney+ or Netflix account). Tying together a person’s first-party data with demographic information and social media activity helps marketers get a clear view of each customer’s behavior and tastes.

As people spend more time on their phones, laptops, and TV, each medium needs to send the right message. With segment analytics, brands can get to know how different audience groups behave across devices and interaction points. Media companies should seek out solutions that allow them to create tailored campaigns fit for each segment’s interests, scaled to the screens they use, and easily adaptable between channels.

Cross-channel analytics aren’t limited to digital-first business models. Theme parks, theaters, and concert halls might now be closed, but marketers can learn plenty about their audience from digital interactions. Build hype for the big reopening with personalized communications and services, and factor customer preferences into future content programming decisions.

Investing in deeper personalization puts audiences first — and that will help media companies persevere through evolving times.

Keeping content vital

For those ready to try new technologies, partnerships, and customer initiatives, the next creative breakthrough isn’t far away. But content fatigue is an issue. According to Deloitte, 47% of consumers are frustrated by the growth in subscription services. As the supply chain for TV and film dries up, viewers are at real risk of burning out.

Streaming services, in particular, must get smarter with personalization. Many TV shows and films have passionate fan bases, and it’s worth exploring how friends and fans can connect over the content they love. Analyze people’s opinions and behavior to reach potential subscribers with better offers, deepen recommendations to current users, and make winning decisions about future content production and acquisition.

Hidden in uncertainty is a redemption story. When media and entertainment brands make their experiences fresh and new, people want to know what happens next.

Learn how we’re helping media and entertainment companies enhance their digital experiences.

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Topics: Personalization, Media & Entertainment

Products: Experience Manager