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Panels Focus on Changing Digital World; New Video Association Launches

18 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

CENTURY CITY, Calif. — Jennifer Prince, head of media and entertainment for Twitter, said Feb. 18 that theatrical, TV and content campaigns have taken advantage of marketing with Twitter.

“The studios and entertainment brands have been the first to embrace Twitter, and have been at the forefront of taking advantage of the platform, providing access and giving consumers what they want,” she said, speaking at the inaugural Digital Entertainment World event. She pointed to the official Twitter page for Warner Bros.’ The Lego Movie, which has earned $143 million and counting at the domestic box office since its Feb. 7 release. That page is filled with constant updates, videos, fan photos and links, all pushing consumers to theaters.

“It’s a whole new way to approach people, a tremendous new way to access communities,” said Thomas Gewecke, chief digital officer for Warner Bros. Entertainment.

He said that his studio is regularly finding new ways to get its content out there, outside of traditional channels, and taking advantage of places like Kickstarter, something that would have been unheard of not long ago. Gewecke made note of the 91,500-plus “Veronica Mars” fans who contributed a total of $5.7 million to fund a movie of the series (in theaters in mid-March). Those who contributed $50 or more automatically get the DVD when it streets, along with other gifts.

“We’ve never done anything like that before,” Gewecke said. “And Twitter was pretty much the single-most important marketing component.” Everyone involved with the film used Twitter to constantly promote the Kickstarter project and the film itself, he said. “The entire rollout is very different from what we normally do.” He said social media also offers unique discovery tools for content owners.

Courtney Holt, COO of next-generation media company Maker Studios, said that social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook can also be a place to package short-form content, instead of just promoting it.

“We can think about it as a component for content, an interesting platform for storytelling, look at ways to experiment with the narrative form,” he said. He and other panelists also made note of how they can easily see feedback from consumers viewing content on these platforms.

Still, for all the social media metrics content creators have at their fingers, Doug Scott, president of Ogilvy Entertainment — which creates multiplatform programs — wonders whether they mean anything. What exactly does a Facebook “like” for a piece of programming actually mean, he asked.

“It’s not about big data, it’s about smart data,” he said. And he also cautioned that for short-form content on social media sites, there’s a lot less patience among viewers for ads. “The challenge is to not turn off the audience, where they feel like they’re just being sold to,” Scott said.

Also at Digital Entertainment World, a new coalition of digital media and entertainment companies was formed, with the intent of accelerating the growth of the online video industry.

The Global Online Video Association’s (GOVA’s) stated, long-term vision is to advance companies that produce and monetize original, digital content, including those that own and operate YouTube content networks. The founding companies include Big Frame, BroadbandTV, Collective Digital Studios (CDS), DECA, Discovery Digital Networks/Revision3, Fullscreen, Maker Studios, Magnet Media and MiTu Networks.

Paul Kontonis, SVP of strategy and sales at Collective Digital Studios, will serve as executive director of the group.

“Online video is a fundamentally different media for advertisers with strong online communities in which the creators themselves exert huge influence upon paid and earned media,” said Ezra Cooperstein, COO of FullScreen. “GOVA will provide a bridge for creating value for advertisers by helping to inform, educate, and reinforce the best practices for working with the new breed of video companies and brands."

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