Managing Major Changes within the Media Landscape

From publishing houses to cable companies to niche websites, the media industry has typically led the charge in the business world’s accelerating digital evolution.  Even these companies, despite their immersion in technology, are challenged as they leverage digitally enabled media and entertainment in bold new ways.

Measurement and Profit Enablement

The traditional value chain of content creation, funded by advertising sales and informed by Nielsen and ComScore measurement, has never been closer to being overturned than it is now.  Cable providers are exploring the power of putting their over-the-top (OTT) data to work, developing innovative new products like the Comcast internet plus TV packages and deciding to invest in new content streams and new value propositions for advertisers. Non-traditional content developers like Netflix and Amazon are finding impressive success in areas where they once functioned only as distribution conduits. Last year Facebook paid $400 million for LiveRail in order to leverage their Private Exchange (VPX) to create automated deals directly with advertisers and Hulu has just announced that they will be launching an invitation-only ad-buying marketplace powered by Facebook’s LiveRail. This in addition to their use of Oracle’s data management platform, which affords campaigns customized to a desired target audience.  These new business models are transforming the marketplace and the metrics and mechanisms by which content is monetized.

While predicting the new models is a constantly moving target for media, preparing for those changes is a straightforward exercise for which media companies can and should be preparing.

Getting a handle on big data and devising systems to draw useful and meaningful conclusions has never been more important.  Not only do advertisers want to know more than the traditional demographic information, they want to see performance across multiple platforms.  Content of new provenance and new delivery channels are threatening the standard value chain, which once carried revenue from the sale of physical goods and services to the content creation industries.  Most organizations have collection methods in place but do not know how to identify the right quantitative data to get answers to the right qualitative questions.

With the recent emphasis on Big Data, the go-to solution has become out-of-the box data visualization tools to help add order to the chaos of information.  Unfortunately, pretty pictures derived programmatically from metrics are not always the fastest way to useful insights.  While data visualization can be invaluable to an organization’s success, it is limited at best if the data or interpretation isn’t tied back to actionable business objectives.

Rather than simply collecting metrics, companies need to think strategically in terms of “Measures.” Measures are accessible terms given for a set of compound metrics (multiple metrics under a single category or label.) Businesses need to be sure they know what their Measures are (or get help defining them) and then give thoughtful consideration to what aspects of their data should be examined and in what way to determine their health.  Devising these Measures is the most effective way to understand progress towards a business objective and how data can support decision-making and reduce risk.  Businesses must move away from canned reporting and old fashioned KPIs, instead develop a layered, or hierarchical, approach to understanding data via Scorecards, Dashboards & Drill-Down Analyses.

Product Development Agility

Media companies spend millions of dollars implementing systems to create, house and manipulate content specific to the format of a distribution destination.  For instance, video that lives on a website is encoded differently than digital film which goes on a screen in a theater or is transmitted over cable.  The metadata and taxonomies necessary to organize and maintain relationships between all the various incarnations of a piece of content is where media companies can gain efficiency and agility by reexamining their efforts.

There is a direct correlation between the profitability of a media company and its ability to manipulate its content through discovery, conversion and reinvention for delivery as a new product to a new channel.  By conceptualizing the content in its purest form, companies will be able to better leverage their intellectual property.

Integrating Digital in to the “Non-Creative” Side of the Business

Even though Media and Entertainment businesses have a leg up on others in that they are accustomed to regarding digital content as a “product,” they share a risk with non-media companies in how they run the “business” side of their businesses.  The risk to these companies, immersed as they are in content, is in failing to recognize that digital is not just their product but also integral to the way they will conduct business going forward.  Understanding how digital technology can enable your business, and knowing how to overcome issues as your company moves through this transformation is key.

In many organizations, upper management still operates under the assumption that digital channels and activities are strictly add-on rather than integral to the productivity and success of their business objectives.  What is critical to understand is that digital transformation is not a corollary activity but has become innate to the way businesses function and achieve success.

A universal content strategy is imperative not just to the creative side of the business, but it should also inform activities on the business side.  For example, digital teams should not be separated out but instead woven through every aspect of business activities.  Careful thought should be applied to organizational questions such as what functional area should own responsibility for systems to manage content and business data.  Traditional IT departments typically fall short of the necessary business or creative acumen needed to devise the best solutions and marketing or other creative departments may lack technical expertise and cross-organizational optics.

By creating a universal content strategy for your business, organizations can:

  • Increase brand affinity
  • Become more agile
  • Create more relevant and personalized experiences
  • Unify messaging and customer experience across channels and interactions
  • Reuse and reinvent content
  • Have more efficient publishing processes – reducing the costs of production and distribution
  • Reduce duplicate content and redundancies
  • Decrease cost of IT infrastructure and administration (repository consolidation)
  • Reduce administrative overhead (compliance reviews/approvals)
  • Reduce time to market
  • Improve content decision-making

Additionally, there is a universe of usage rights and regulations to be tracked through a veritable forest of legal requirements.  Contract tracking and talent compensation were the data most lamentably exposed to the public after the Sony hack.  Security precautions aside, the systems for storing, tracking and understanding this information have become encumbered even as the pace of content creation has sped up. Finally governmental and tax regulations are close on the heels of this increasingly lucrative industry whose revenue creation points seem to undergo mitosis every few months.

 Tagging both the content that is the product of media companies, and the content that fuels the business side of their activities are areas of untapped and critical importance.  Metadata is the single most mandatory component for solving the information retrieval problems of the future. The right metadata methods applied to all forms of content will create the right set of semi-structured content where currently there is no structure.

To learn more implementing digital transformation across your organization, download our whitepaper, “Getting from Zero to Digital: How to Future-Proof Your Bottom Line Through Digital Transformation.”

Marko HurstThis article was co-authored by Marko Hurst.  Marko is the Content Strategy Master Practitioner for the North and UK region of North Highland and leads the Content Strategy Offering for the NY Office with Shara Zoll.  Over the past 20 years, Marko has developed methodologies and teams to manage digital measurement, user experience and content strategy for clients including the U.S. Government and some of the largest Automotive, Financial Services, Media, Technology, Mobile and CPG companies in the world.  Marko is a recognized thought leader, author and international keynote speaker in the fields of Measurement, Content Strategy and Content Analytics.

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