Taylor Swift – How OTTs Can Copy Her Branding and Succeed

OTT. It continues to grow.Everyday you see companies entering the market to try and capitalize on their content.

Fortunately, a lot of them are using the exact tactics Taylor Swift uses to capture the market (here’s the link to the article – http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/27976/five-marketing-lessons-from-taylor-swift-brand-savant). I will be using the same title headings from Marketingprofs.com. Thank you Marketingprofs.com for the idea.

1) Be willing to reinvent yourself.
A perfect example? CBS. Even though it took the company a while to study the issue, when the company saw the rise of Netflix, Hulu etc, they decided to create their own OTT app after figuring out that there was going to be a demand from it. 

2) Lead the conversation.
Netflix. The company that started it all. And continues to lead by example. When content providers decide that they’ll gradually release their content to you or create their own OTT? Create your own content like Orange Is the New Black. When you realize that it’s possible to use several vendors to store and transmit your content via the Internet? Create your own cloud based content service. Anything that creates buzz and keeps you ahead of your competition.

3) Own your channel through branded content.
A lot of people only think of Amazon as a place to buy goods. Until Amazon decided to get into the content game by creating the Transparent series. Not only was this a serious challenge to Netflix but it allowed Amazon to take the lead from Hulu, which is floundering. 
Through it’s branded content, Amazon essentially told the world “[h]i….we’re here to play. And we can create the content to do this.” 

4) Humanize your brand
With Netflix, it’s through Ted Sarandos, who patiently explains to the analysts the reasons why they’re entering a particular market or creating exclusive content. Ted’s the human face behind Netflix. The person who makes it work.

5) “Think different”
A lot of OTT are thinking different. Unfortunately, all they’re doing is using the same cable marketing and hoping that it’ll carry over into the OTT world. Even though some people might buy into this hype, a lot of them will go “meh.” Perfect examples? In Canada, CraveTV and shomi. No buzz. No outstanding content. 

Netflix thinks differently. By creating different forms of content (and constantly measuring who’s watching or clicking it), it gives the audience a reason to tune in. And to customize their viewing habits. For instance, if one’s watching a drama, Netflix will suggest other pairings (similar to wine and food) to see what piques their interest.

As OTT continues to evolve, it’s up to the companies to tell their clients their “story” on why they’re unique in the marketplace. When they fail to do so, they only have themselves to blame.

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Grit

I really need to thank my friends Laurie and Kim for the idea. This blog post was based on several conversations I had with them recently/over the years. Ditto for the TEDX talk on this http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit?language=en
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First, I’m looking forward to sharing my new head shots and photos (thank you Laurie – you really should check out her work at http://www.lgh.photography/) with you very soon (finally!!! Funky profile pictures for my LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook page!). 

Second, we started discussing why people ended up giving up finding their dream job. Was it due to laziness? The process (omg, if I ever, ever find out that you’re spending a lot of your time job hunting online instead of flipping it around and making contacts….)? Then, we boiled it down to one thing. No, it wasn’t determination. Nor persistance. One word – GRIT.

A lot of people have this but aren’t tapping it to get what they want (dream job, relationship etc). Not only do they find the process hard (it’s suppose to be hard. If it was easy, you’d end up being bored) but they give up way too easily. Like the acquaintance who wanted to get into the environmental field. But ended up settling for something less. Or, someone you know who starts an exercise program and gives up when he/she is lagging behind. And stops going to exercise class because it’s too hard (at this point, their motivation is lagging. And their comparing themselves to everyone else. They should be focusing on their progress).
Listen, I get it. Change is hard. You don’t want to get hurt. You want to play it safe. You think it’s impossible to get your dream job (as I’m doing the same thing, I totally understand what you’re going through). I only have 1 question to ask you – if you don’t want to get hurt (eg: reaching out to managers via email to see if they’re hiring or developing the contacts you need to get into the industry), how are you going to grow? Develop your grit? 

Developing your grit gives you the ability to duck. And to weave around obstacles. It gives you the determination (in conjunction with your North Star (thanks for this Kim!!)) the guidance you need to succeed. Believe me, you’re going to be ducking and weaving a lot to get the changes you want. It’s not suppose to be easy. Nor should it be easy. 

Grit also gives you the ability to keep going. To look at your target and say “this is what I want. What am I going to do to get it?” It forces you to make the hard decisions. And it keeps you honest.

Grit – you keys to success. Without it, you won’t be successful. With it, the possibilities are endless

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It’s Not About You. It’s About Them

This blog post was born from a Twitter conversation I had with @Vincidia social media team; and Kris Nagel’s video on converting viewers to payers – http://snip.ly/n66c#http://www.vindicia.com/videos/kris-nagel-otttv-summit-converting-viewers-payers/. Thank you for the inspiration! Opinions are my own. 

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Some content creators think the content should stand on its own. 
Without any analysis to determine what works. Or doesn’t.

Unfortunately, they continue to live in a dream world or are denying reality. What they’ll soon realize is this. That they don’t have a choice in the matter.

Audiences around the world are fickle. They’re flipping through tv channels (or OTT shows) rapidly. Trying to find something that catches their eye. Something to binge watch for a few hours. It’s hard for anything in the cable/broadcasting/OTT world that catches their attention. Even by creating compelling content, there’s no guarantee that the viewer will tune in.

As a result, in the OTT world, it comes down to ease of use. The recommendations the algorithm spits out after you’ve watched a program. How easy it is to sign up for the service. 

But, what if I wrote that there’s a company who can solve these problems. Without having to sign up new viewers. Who already has a massive built in international audience? Someone who can give out the statistics when a viewer has engaged the content. Who can give the content providers the exact data they need? And, in short, is essentially an OTT?

The company? Facebook.

It’s becoming a video powerhouse. Showing other companies content like Amazon Prime (http://www.engadget.com/2015/06/13/amazon-catastrophe-facebook/) for short periods of time. 

Monetization problem? What monetization problem? Each time a person hits the subscribe button, it gives the company, content creator and advertiser crucial metrics to see who’s watching. And maybe allow the content creator enough time to adjust the plot in future episodes to target their demographic to maximize the affect on the audience.
Of course Facebook continues to add people at a rapid pace. So it does have an advantage when it comes to getting the biggest audience. And companies such as the Discovery Channel have figured out how to use it for short bursts of time (http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/discovery-facebook-president-obama-1201518830/) to promote their product or partner with it for social causes. Without compromising their own cable or OTT channels. 
But what happens when FB finally decides to produce its own programming? Shutting out others as they tweak their algorithm to favor their own content? Will organizations like the EU accuse it of anti-competitive practices? 

How will the dynamics of the industry change? The strongest (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) will survive. The others? Maybe. If they focus on their niche. And manage to grow their audience over time. 

FB? I predict it’ll do very well if it decides to produce its own programming/content. With its massive reach, the ability to determine who is viewing the content (and when), the company is virtually unstoppable. It can offer exactly what the advertiser needs, especially in the growing baby boomer and above demographics. The ones who have the money. And are continuing to log into the service and stay for hours at a time.

A possible solution to a content provider. Without having to go the OTT route.

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Information Is…..Sexy

In today’s world, tons of information is being generated every second. 

A lot of people hate finding it.

They think it’s boring sifting through the data.  To find the good stuff. 

Me? I love it.

Boolean searches? Swoon. 

Using online databases? Google? Duckduckgo? Bring it.

Reading the papers/magazines/email newsletters every day? And storing the information (either in a folder in my inbox or somewhere in my brain)? You might as well leave me alone. I won’t be paying attention to you for awhile. 

Using social media? Absolutely. It’s amazing what kind of results you get when you use hashtags on Twitter, do a search on Facebook (thank you open individual profiles! For goodness sake, secure your profiles people) or Instagram (Pinterest? What’s that? Are they still around?). Wait until I find a way to datamine Periscope, Snapchat and Meerkat feeds. Then I’ll be in heaven!

See?

Not only is information a set of facts and figures, but if you package this properly, someone (clients, friends etc) will be amazed.

Need proof? 

Here’s two personal examples:

I remember my former running group. Former because as a group leader, it became increasingly boring for me to follow the “plan” (by the way, I love breaking them. Knowing that there’s a more efficient way of doing things. Thank you CNBC, GE and Neutron (Jack) Welsh). We were sitting at the coffee house after the run on a winter’s day. One of them was going to be laid off. And he was trying to find a way to change careers. As I was listening, I was sifting through my mental folders. I know I had the solution (I read a lot). The information somewhere in my brain. All I had to do was access it. As I was doing this, someone else was observing me and say “wait a sec. I can see Nick’s thinking about it. He’ll have the answer for you in 3,2,1.” Yep. I had an answer for him. It blew his mind. 

Finally, I’m a director for a non-profit. We wanted to donate money. At first, the other directors wanted to target organizations but they found out that there was no transparency. Why not schools I asked? Underperforming elementary schools that could use the money to buy tech items? To improve their students marks. And the schools test scores. Prove it the directors said. It was easy to find the information. Unfortunately,  it was scattered all over the place. School data from one organization. Neighborhood data from another. Combining it into a report to get the complete picture? Priceless. Needless to say, the others were convinced. The money is flowing. The schools are pleasantly surprised that an organization is giving them money. Out of the blue. I’m positive some of them are wondering how we found out about their situation. 

These examples show the affect information has on a person or an organization. It prompts them to act.  

Remember, information isn’t boring. It’s sexy.

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Sports Broadcasting – Broadcasting via the Net, not TV

Sports is essential in the broadcasting world.

Where else would you pay a lot of money for an event that is broadcasted live, captures a certain demographic and, when recorded, diminishes it’s impact? 

On the other hand, leagues like the NFL realize that the audience is increasingly viewing their product online or via mobile devices.

Which makes this decision brave (and curious):

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/06/06/yahoo-deal-with-nfl-sign-things-come/y5SFp0TTL36DWdspVvM5nK/story.html

Signing with Yahoo (who paid a pittance of $20 million to the NFL IMHO) while gaining a potential audience of 1 billion (Yahoo) is a great sign that the NFL gets it. And that they want to exploit this audience. On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to see two things:

a) whether or not the vertically integrated telcos/cable (content and pipes) will start bidding even more to keep these rights or

b) if Yahoo et al combine with ‘a’ as a supplement  (eg: broadcasting games on a certain day/period).

Personally, I’d like to see another route -> an Internet company grabbing the entire rights. Then having the telcos/cable companies bid for certain parts. 

Not only will you get the best of both worlds (mobile audience) and linear TV/cable, but everyone would be happy (niche advertising, audience demographics).

The future – sooner, rather than later.

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Who’s the broadcaster now?

Picture this.

You’re at a fight. Ring side seats. You paid a lot of money. Nothing will ruin your mood.

Until you see people filming the fight via their smartphones. Transmitting short clips using Periscope or Meerkat. The picture? Grainy. Uneven. Short. But the idea is there – paid people “thinking” that they’re helping others by transmitting clips of the fight to others via social media.

How do would you feel? Some would feel that they were ripped off. Others, would feel good that they’re sharing the fight with others (free).

Now, pretend you’re HBO. A part of you would be peeved. You paid big money. Even though you got record PPV views, you want to monetize all the content (the live sporting events generates the biggest audience). Even though your social media team is monitoring Twitter (and notifying them and Meerkat) to shut down the feeds, it’s not enough. For every one that is caught, more pop up.

And that’s the problem:

Not only is everyone is becoming a broadcaster but the sticky issue of broadcasting rights comes into play, especially in the sports field (http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/05/18/periscope-meerkat-threaten-teams-hold-video-feeds-sports-arenas/W9qIdrhi5A5DhhAwjkMIKK/story.html). 

That’s the dilemma facing everyone. As a content creator (sports etc), you want to engage your fan in their medium. Not only to encourage interaction but to drive the eyeballs/sales to your product. As a fan, you’re showing your “love” of the product by sharing this with the world.

Is there a solution that will satisfy everyone? 

Probably not. 

The joys of M&E (media and entertainment) -> nothing stands still. And it’s constantly changing. 
P.S. I’d like to argue that before Meerkat and Periscope arrived, people were already broadcasting concerts etc via their smartphones or uploading them to YouTube a day later to share with everyone.

P.P.S. Even from a payments perspective, would it be hard to monetize the content (eg: smartphone user transmitting clips to his or her friend)? I don’t know. And that’s why I love this sector. So many challenges. Tons of solutions.

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Pipes? Without them, no content

I love reading this article. It proves that the pipes (cable, fibre optic) aren’t important. The content is. While the author has a point, some would argue that you need both to succeed in the marketplace (eg: Comcast-NBC Universal, BCE-Bell Media).  Or the deep pockets (i.e. money) you need to buy the content (an excellent example? Telus in Canada. It avoided becoming an integrated content and pipe company and focused on the thing it did best -> building the infrastructure (pipes)). 

Personally? I’ve always favored the companies who built the pipes (cable, fibre). And refrained from buying any studios. It showed discipline. Guts. They knew their clients will always find the content they need on the Internet. If they decided to buy a bundle from them (studios need to find outlets for their content) for convenience sake, even better. 

Pipes. The keys to delivering your content. Without them, there’s no content to see in the first place.
http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/tv-power-shifts-from-network-biz-to-content-ownership-1201499840/

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Why doesn’t TV Everywhere work?

Here’s the deal:

You’re a broadcasting or cable network trying to monetize the second screen experience.

Unfortunately, no-one’s buying as you haven’t promoted the product, even though it’s the younger demo who are interested (see link number 1).

The solution?

You could market the product a lot better but do you think people will be interested?

That’s the big question.

1) http://www.lightreading.com/mobile-tv/is-tv-everywhere-going-nowhere/240156643?f_src=lrcabledailynewsletter&elq=1d61335ebdfe46fc9acf4e90ccbb007a&elqCampaignId=

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Facebook and TV

First, if you want a very cool infographic on how Facebook makes money, click here (Aldo Baker did an excellent job on this. An excellent read):

http://www.business-management-degree.net/facebook/

TV shows use Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their audience and keep them engaged before, during and after the show.

The only problem from an ROI POV:
a) does this engagement boost the program’s ratings?
b) how much money could a network gain from this?

Fortunately, these questions could be answered once Neilsen and Facebook start tracking this; interesting times indeed:
http://time.com/2990409/nielsen-partners-up-with-facebook-to-track-television-viewing-habits/

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Everything is Changing

I love the media and entertainment industry. Often times, I’ll tweet about non-business/entertainment items so I can inspire everyone or make a difference in someone’s life, even it’s a tiny difference. Today, I want you to THINK BIG. DREAM BIG. Life’s not a dress rehersal. You only have one life. MAKE IT COUNT.  For me, it means shifting from being a marketing generalist to a specialist in M&E (media and entertainment) issues. My dream job? Becoming a research analyst/CI/product specialist/consultant to help them succeed in the marketplace. It could be helping them improve their back end processes (supply chain, customer service etc) or analyze how a new technology like Meerkat can help content creators or M&E market their product. What started all this? When I congratulated my best friend via social media who got a new job in the Big Easy. She indirectly demonstrated that by thinking big, following your passion and keeping your options open, anything can happen (it’s amazing how the Universe pays attention).

Are there going to be challenges? I won’t lie, of course there will be. What’s going to keep me going? Everytime I read an interesting social TV/technology/other article – I’ll keep thinking “how will this affect M&E?”

Plus these words from Dr.Seuss (thanks for the inspiring tweet @Lauralives20)

“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose!”

Carpe diem.