Content No Longer King, It's Omnipotent

The phrase “content is king” should be retired. Not because it is trite and hackneyed, but it is inaccurate. It no longer characterizes the media ecosystem properly. Presumably, kings have limits to their power. “Content is omnipotent” now is a more appropriate description.

Be it Apple or Twitter, as exquisite and beloved as their offerings may be, neither reaches their current status without TV shows and Web sites and user-generated stuff. The distribution mechanism simply is in the back seat, a plush one in a Bentley for some, but still not the driver.    

It’s hard to find a more germane example than a discussion Monday about the “living room of the future,” which included leading executives at Google, Samsung and Microsoft. Yes, Samsung’s Eric Anderson plugged the company’s refrigerator with an 8” screen – presumably not in the living room, unless as a massive beer distributor -- and Microsoft’s Natasha Hritzuk touted the superb versatility of the Xbox Kinect.



Impressively, one stat Anderson cited has Pandora feeding two hours of music a day into the kitchen via the fridge. And, Kinect gives a user a virtual cockpit with options to watch ESPN, use Skype, tweet and play games. And, there’s voice searching: “You say it, Xbox finds it.”

The trio was speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual conference, so researchers didn’t show up to hear about how Samsung smart TVs launch content with a voice, but also with gestures and face recognition. But, the preeminence of content – and the advertising opportunities therein -- was the principal message delivered by all three, who work at discovery an distribution giants.

Clearly, all had done a lot of thinking about the varied experiences that come with different screens – something researchers can seemingly overlook with the interest in measuring cross-platform consumption.

The pipes offered by the TV, the PC and smartphone are developing separately as people appreciate what each offers, but there is an overriding similarity. “The thing that unifies them is content,” said Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google.

As far as marketing and programming, he said “we could do a lot better if things are coordinated, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen” and “I think people have sort of given up on the converged world in some sense.” Google has a TV product that is looking to link over-the-top and traditional TV delivery, but has had bumps.

Hritzuk, who works in insights and analytics in the advertising group at Microsoft, has plenty of knowledge about hardware and software, and she laid out how users view different devices and their content experience in fascinating language.

TV: a “jester,” a passive experience generating emotion.

PC: a “Confucian or Yoda character that you turn to for information.”

Mobile: “seen as the lover,” always in arm’s reach with the opportunity to text and call.

Tablet: “seen as the wizard,” providing “anything you want to be at any moment in time.”

Of course, she would hope consumers would turn to the Xbox for all of those experiences, but she did say: “I think people are going to be more content-driven than screen-driven.”  

“You’re going to want that content on multiple types of things,” said Anderson, a Samsung vice president.

For marketers, Hritzuk said it is critical to be “thoughtful with how consumers interact and use each device (which) should inform how the content is delivered.” People don’t want “redundancy” – hopefully she was saying don’t run the same 30-second spot on all of them – but there is opportunity to run integrated, tailored, intelligent campaigns.

More specifically, hinting at how smart TVs might offer bespoke advertising opportunities, Anderson said people are warming to the bells and whistle of the devices, getting comfortable with the content scavenger hunt. In that vein, besides content, he said “experience” is important.

But that primo “experience” is based on content, which is almighty.

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