HITS Conference: ‘Embrace Digital or Die’27 Sep, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — If Devendra Mishra had his way, everyone in the home entertainment industry would call themselves a “nerd,” and proudly so.
An industry that’s often shown resistance to new technology in the past is quickly embracing change, said Mishra, chief strategist for the Media and Entertainment Services Alliance, and chair of the Sept. 27 HITS Digital Marketing and Analytics Summit.
And for good reason: Offering more to digital consumers not only opens up new revenue streams for content owners, but also offers new insights into their customers.
“We’re seeing a shift toward actionability [with real-time data],” said Jennifer Cooper, director of media and entertainment strategy for Adobe. “It’s now at your fingertips, on your iPad, when you as an executive [need it].”
It’s a digital world, and the signs are clear. Netflix just won an Emmy. Google’s ChromeCast digital streaming adapter sold out a day after it was released. Nearly every content consumer has a ready-to-monetize screen in his or her pocket. Studios are offering new theatrical releases via digital weeks before disc.
“The message is succinct: Embrace digital or die,” Mishra said.
And the studios have embraced it.
“When it first started, it was this sideline thing,” Michael Tritter, SVP of interactive marketing for Warner Bros., said of the early days of digital content. “[Today] it’s just [always] part of the conversation. It is definitely a cultural shift.”
Go back a few years and tell a studio executive you want to run a half-dozen trailers — anywhere and everywhere — for just one film, and see how quickly you’re kicked off the lot. It’s an entirely different world today, Tritter said.
“There’s more weight placed on [teasers] but there’s also more challenges to be creative,” he said. “You’re still only showing three to four minutes of a 90-minute movie.”
Content marketing used to equal print ads, billboards and TV spots. Now a three-second shot of Leonardo DiCaprio for The Great Gatsby on Tumblr can get you 150,000 consumer impressions in 24 hours.
And if you’re a regular on Internet movie forums, making your feelings known about Ben Affleck as Batman (or Heath Ledger as the Joker, or Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man), don’t think your concerns are going unnoticed by the studios, Tritter said. Those angry opinions actually weigh on the minds of studio executives.
“We talk about things people are concerned about,” he said.
Thanks to the digital world, studios are pulling in more consumer info than previously imaginable.
“We have more sources of information and greater volume of information [from consumers],” said James Brennan, executive director for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TV marketing business. “[And we] make sure all [our] assets are available digitally.”
Michele Edelman, VP of direct to consumer marketing for Warner Bros. Digital, said the sheer amount of consumer data her studio pulls in — both personal and regarding content usage — is overwhelming. And Warner wouldn’t have it any other way, she said.
“It’s great to know how old they are, where they live, what the household income is,” Edelman said.
But that’s all secondary to knowing how consumers use the content itself, she said.
“If [used] the right way, the outcome is very lucrative,” Edelman said. “[The data] is stuff we can ultimately use.”