By Jake Winett, Microsoft Communications Sector M&E Industry Director
Forest. Trees. Digital. These are three words that I would use to describe many of the discussions I sat in on last week at the Media Innovations Summit conference held at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. The two-day event was a symposium on the business of digital media distribution and consumption, focusing on the key areas of user experience, new business relationships and emerging monetization and business models. Notable speakers included Mark Cuban, chairman of HDNet and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Albert Cheng, EVP of Digital Media at Disney and Mitch Singer, CTO of Sony Entertainment and President of the Digital Entertainment Consumer Ecosystem (DECE) which has been recently branded as Ultraviolet; the digital evolution of Blu-Ray.
It is clear that the velocity of disruption in the digital media space is both a hope and consternation among content creators, as well as solution providers hoping to have some silver bullets to offer the industry. In almost every panel discussion and keynote, the words “Apple,” “iPad,” “iPhone,” or “Google” were mentioned at least once (if not 10x or more). I think content owners have begun to feel almost reluctantly beholden to these technology companies who are carving up the digital media marketplace and dictating business models faster than the content owners can say “HTML 5.” However, there was one speaker whom I felt had a good finger on the pulse of digital reality, and whom I think was able to eloquently elevate the discussion out of the weeds and above the trees.
This short keynote was made by Joanne Burns, EVP of Marketing, Research & New Media at 20th Century Fox Television. Joanne shared some thoughts driven by her research and experiences at Fox Television on how to successfully engage with the “digital audience.” Her points supported the notion that delivering digital content is much more than just making broadcast or theatrical content available to the next consumer device – it’s about creating unique and interactive experiences for consumers to bring them more into the “conversation” around that content. To make her points, Joanne focused on several key tenets:
I found these remarks to be pretty much right on the money when it comes to incorporating “digital” into an overall content delivery strategy. There was one more remark that Joanne made that I found pertinent: She said that through research and analytics, media companies can also get much smarter and strategic about who their digital audience is and what they’re watching on non-television devices. That is to say, not every piece of content needs to be made available on EVERY screen due to subtle differences in audience consumption behavior. By understanding how different audience groups engage with your content, you can be much more effective and cost-efficient in delivering the RIGHT experience to the RIGHT audience, and therefore provide more value to your advertising partners.