The King Is Dead. Long Live The Marketer.

As the dust settles on another upfront season, the old adage "content is king" risks being overthrown by a new one: "audience as kingdom." Many new programs are fairing reasonably well in the content arena, but our ability to market that content -- and to aggregate and creatively monetize an audience -- is the critical measure of success in today's entertainment industry. In short, when it comes to driving the business of entertainment, the marketer has dethroned content as king.

With the proliferation of broadband connectivity, access to free, high-quality content has become ubiquitous. From no-budget, unexpected viral sensations to the premium production values of "Lost," the public is now in control of what they consider "quality content." They watch it when and where they want.

More than ever, success in entertainment is a function of effective marketing. As marketers, we identify and aggregate like-minded people around our content -- and then devise new, creative ways to monetize it. This is the lifeblood of our business and increasingly, the responsibility of marketing executives to drive.



Deciding how to effectively monetize content across multiple new media platforms is not easy, but the traditional model of ad-supported content is clearly going to need a makeover as the media landscape shifts.

For this reason, advertisers are shunning antiquated network sales departments that desperately hold onto the status quo, looking to hock the next scattered 30. Advertisers identify with marketers; they share a lexicon and, like them, fundamentally understand audiences. Marketers know what makes their audiences tick. They know how to connect with them, how to speak them and how to engage them across myriad media platforms.

Media has always been the mother tongue of marketing. That's why we're seeing marketing executives transition into roles of genuine leadership throughout the entertainment business.

While it used to be that sales or programming were the paths to the top job, the number of powerful CEOs and heads of companies who came up through the marketing ranks is increasing. Take Judy McGrath, MTV Networks' chief executive, who got her start writing on-air promo. Under her leadership, MTV has led the charge to shape young people's consumption habits, rather than simply reacting to trends and trying to catch up.

Rob Friedman climbed the ladder at Warner Bros. from the mailroom to president of worldwide advertising and publicity. In that role, he was directly responsible for the release of over 180 movies, including studio cash cows "Batman," "Batman Returns" and "Ace Ventura." He currently holds the Chairman and CEO position at Summit Entertainment, which has turned out such blockbusters as "Twilight" and "Babel."

Other notable leaders offer further proof that a marketing background pays off. Evan Shapiro, who currently heads IFC and Sundance Channel, launched some of IFC's largest and most successful marketing campaigns as the company's senior vice president of marketing. Jason Klarman earned his stripes reaching a female audience as Bravo's executive vice president of marketing, and was later promoted to GM of Oxygen. The network has become the fastest-growing network among women 18-to-34 and is actually posting revenue gains while other networks are seeing major losses.

Both Klarman and Shapiro will be addressing attendees at this year's Promax|BDA Conference (June 16-18) along with a heavy-hitting slate of top-tier entertainment executives. All will discuss the conference theme: "Leading the New Economy of Marketing and Design."

These executives have parlayed marketing savvy into success for their companies and stellar careers for themselves. As they, and everyone else in the industry, grapple with changing economic realities and a shifting media landscape, I suspect more companies will turn to top marketers for the next wave of leadership. Content was once king, and may again be.

In this golden age of marketing, I will concede that content remains royally important. But without a kingdom to rule, even the king gets canceled.

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