Continual Convergence of Media and Tech –
What it Means for Marketers

By: Kim Stokes, Managing Director, Digital Engagement


2016 MMC at SXSWAuthenticity, data-driven, real-time, #GenZ, scarcity, brand ambassadors, value, mobile, virtual… If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably used at least 3 of these buzzwords today. But these terms are all the new realities of what it takes for successful marketing in an increasingly multi-media, multi-channel and tech-evolved landscape.

At SXSW Interactive this year, Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable, stated that “branded content is valuable because it’s scarce.” It takes tremendous effort to scale and earn viewers, and requires the use of data. Mashable is launching a TV series with Bravo through its Mashable Studios, which is the fasting growing part of their business for impactful storytelling. Algorithmic data informs their video content, with an emphasis on “de-risking whether it’s going to be a hit” through understanding consumer preference and relevance. He further stated that the “great thing about video is that it is both tactile and multi-platform, traveling across platforms” to enable more choices on where and how to consume.

Each channel behaves differently and provides different value in the engagement experience. Snapchat is a current darling, particularly among Gen Z. According to Cashmore, to succeed on Snapchat you need to “make it very tactile and very personal, one to one.” Stacy Martinet, CMO of Mashable, stated separately, “Snapchat’s premise is to share, not broadcast. Every snap has to mean something – you storyboard your program.” Additionally, Billy Parks of Fullscreen Strategic Content Group, and Joanna Franco, travel youtuber (@damonandjo) and co-star of “Dare to Travel” recommended three best practices: Extensive storytelling, trial and error, and quick cadence.

For creators and influencers, the landscape is increasingly complex and a consumer-first mentality is paramount. According to Franco, TV for creators isn’t ideal, as TV channels are limited while digital channels are endless and allow creators to be themselves. And “the days of influencers shouting at audiences is over, as brands need to provide additive value and an elegant role to play,” Parks added. A question that was debated is whether “brand” is a dirty word for creators; Franco explained that as an influencer “you have to please your audience, yourself and your brand. But in the end, you need to favor your audience as they are your friends.”

Marketers who are truly being innovative are taking a more data-driven approach in understanding their audiences to build relationships with them. Gail Horwood, VP WW Digital Strategy for Johnson & Johnson’s consumer products, pointed out in another SXSW session, “historically marketers have focused on big campaigns. Now we listen and build relationships. It’s a value exchange. The platform shouldn’t dictate what you do in social storytelling, rather you need to think consumer first.” What’s more, in the real-time world of social media, “brands need flexible production to create content in the moment and across platforms. But it is hard to generate good consumer experiences with big data. You need to look at small data.”

Even though Periscope and Meerkat had a roaring introduction to the world last year, marketers are still exploring this type of mobile broadcasting. GE executed a campaign on Periscope to showcase its broad portfolio of businesses in a highly visual and compelling way by rigging an iphone to a drone for an episodic series called #Droneweek. The campaign will go live again in June as a precursor to the Olympics to illustrate how GE technology is supporting the ecosystem in Rio. Sam Olstein, Global Director of Innovation at GE advises that “spontaneity and being raw real-time is what works in live streaming. You need to embrace it. The viewer is in the driver seat. They influence what they watch, not your brand.”

Marketers need to understand how to reach their audiences in meaningful ways based on the target’s behavior. Peter Cashmore said it best when asked what is the difference between millennials and Gen Z. His answer: “Gen Z are vaping on their hover board with VR headsets.” Enough said.

Kim oversees digital and social media strategy and execution at MMC. She draws on her background in public relations, advertising, direct marketing and branded content marketing to advise brands on social media strategy, including development and management of owned assets, brand reputation, thought leadership, product innovation, online partnerships and influencer engagement.

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