There’s a secret that few know: I used to work in television. Before the glittering LCDs of digital marketing lured me away, I worked in Hollywood as a producer and assistant to a talent agent.Sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll call friends and talk about the old days.
Only lately, the conversation tables have turned: Rather than gossip about the latest J.J.Abrams pilot, we talk about original network content. Audience data. Direct-to-consumer distribution models. Suddenly, the move to digital marketing seems fortuitous. Digital is the key to connecting producers directly with their viewers. Data is becoming incredibly cool.
The multibillion dollar television industry is experiencing colossal change as consumers take programming decisions into their own hands. In this environment, digital marketers are best positioned to distill Web streaming traffic into patterns, identify consumer preferences, and help networks and producers activate individual viewers at scale.
The beginning of a beautiful friendship
The democratization of online content and evolution of low-cost access to programming allows viewers to choose what they watch and when. Their loyalties have always rested with the shows they love. In the past, the only way to enjoy them was with a cable subscription or rabbit-ear antennas and soda cans. Thanks to online streaming, that barrier no longer exists.
This is forcing companies to rethink their business models.
Cable providers are focusing on broadband offerings, telecommunications companies are experimenting with OTT services, and premium programming and sports networks are bringing content directly to consumers. These changes are creating a complex ecosystem of viewing options where entire categories invent themselves – and disappear just as fast.
A People's Court
A major factor driving the shift toward on-demand and streaming is changing demographics.
Millennials born between 1980-2000 are highly digital and now command the greatest purchasing power in the U.S. This group, comprised of approximately 83.1 million individuals, are more likely to use online streaming services than their elders.
Viewing Habits and Expectations
The way consumers engage with programming is also changing. Today’s consumers want more control over what they watch and when. They’re also binge watching solo, rather than with friends and family, and relying more on recommendation engines and peer reviews. These viewing habits are driving an increase in digital expectations.
If we know viewing habits and demographics are changing, the question is: What can we do about it?
As digital marketers, the answer is A LOT. Here are 3 key ways digital marketers can drive viewership and subscription across a streaming society:
1. Shift to a Consumer-driven mind-set. As digital platforms disrupt television tune-in curves and advertising response behaviors, buyers and sellers throughout the industry need to develop a deep understanding of viewers. Digital marketers are well positioned to offer this understanding via data asset and customer value analyses.
2. Identify and target consumers in a relevant way. This can happen by connecting online and offline data and matching anonymous user profiles to identified profiles.
3. Personalize the User Experience across devices. Nothing motivates consumers to engage more than relevancy. By leveraging data, technology and analytics, you can build effective, personalized, cross-device media plans that maximize subscriptions, tune-in, site visits and social engagement on every viewing device.
When I examine my old career, I can’t help but smile. Shows take us away from the trials of our lives for 40 minutes of commercial-free streaming. With data, we can reach TV audiences in personally-relevant ways like never before, something digital marketers have been doing for a while.
And so, to my old Hollywood friends, my feelings are best expressed by John Locke’s final line on ABC’s hit television series Lost: “We’ve been waiting for you.”
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