Artificial intelligence is becoming the hot additive to many aspects of media, from content curation to measurement. Jacopo Bracco, former president of DIRECTV PanAmerica, is currently focused on transforming the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry, as convergence across these businesses brings significant disruption.
Charlene Weisler: What is your definition of AI, and how do you see it impacting media, entertainment, content, data, and strategic insights?
Jacopo Bracco: At its core, AI is a technological tool that people can use to increase their productivity.
AI is already in use in a number of applications. A great example is automatic captioning and metadata generation. In the past, scores of editors, linguists and technicians were tasked with manually filling databases of textual information that would be used for creating content libraries. Today, this process is greatly assisted by AI tools.
Weisler: Do you see AI replacing creatives or salespeople?
Bracco: Not in the short term. AI will make creative and salespeople more productive. Think about speech recognition. Perhaps writers will grow accustomed to dictating their scripts or books and complete them faster.
But will the finished product be any better? Where I see opportunity is in assisting creative people in their research and organization of thought to produce increasingly rich and complex content. Think about a journalist writing a piece about a company and using AI to identify relevant references about this company on the web.
Weisler: Netflix is an entrenched global platform. What do you see as the opportunities for competitive service for companies looking to launch similar streaming platforms?
Bracco: Netflix is global but consumer interest tends to be inherently local. Opportunities exist in speaking to local audiences. The global battle will be between Netflix and the traditional global media companies such as Disney.
Weisler: Major media conglomerates are impacting up-and-coming startups. What are the major media trends, and do they impact established networks and up and coming startups differently?
Bracco: The major trends are the proliferation of media and the resulting fragmentation of the audience. There are thousands more sources of content now than 20 years ago. This is a challenge to the major media companies who bet vast sums of money on the content they produce. The fragmentation results in less audience even for the biggest hits.
As a result of this, large companies are consolidating, which I see as the third big trend in media. A perfect example of this is Disney's deal to acquire Fox, a deal that would not be seen as possible just a few years back.
These trends impact not only the networks but also the up and coming startups. In fact, startups have an opportunity to establish themselves strongly with specific audiences. If they do so and do it well, they will be interesting acquisition targets by the large media companies that must consolidate to remain relevant.
If one thinks about it, Netflix was a originally a product targeting the movie fan. At first it was a niche but large enough and with the opportunity to grow into the mass market.
Weisler: How do you sell these audiences to advertisers who are used to buying and selling off legacy demographics?
Bracco: Data is a fundamental part of the business model in media. But there is still a chasm between the potential of data and its actual effectiveness. Think about the complexities: not only must you try to gather as much information as possible from your customer. but also you must be sure it is the actual customer and not, for say, her or his family member. Then you need processes to maintain the data up to date.
As with AI, there is a lot of hype with data, which is not to say there isn't a shift or a need to tackle it. Eventually someone will get it right and the cascading effects will be major. As a result, media companies must develop their data strategies and organizations.
My philosophy: by all means consider your data strategy, but use to give value to your customers first. If you only are focused on your company's benefit, you are bound to get in trouble just like Facebook did.
Think about Global Entry: I signed up and agreed to give a bunch of my personal information to the government. In return, I got the right to zip through immigration every time I come back to the country.
By all means, have my data. It's so valuable to me that I will make it a point to update the data in your systems myself whenever there is a change in my status. It's that valuable and that is a great data strategy.