More questions than answers: fighting for the future of digital broadcast in Mediatel’s playground

Mediatel_playground yesterday Mediatel held their annual Media Playground and Mediation popped along for the afternoon seminar discussing Digital Broadcast.  it's a broad topic area, covering emerging technologies, content, changing consumer behaviours and rapidly evolving business models.  one thing is clear – we have a lot more questions than we have answers.

it was apparent that we're entering an age of complexity in how content is created, deployed and consumed.  no one solution will predominate.  Bruce Daisley – Agency Leader at YouTube – observed that it's less about the platform, and referred to a 'long tail' of competitors.  that content rules, was echoed by the panel…

Rhys McLachlan – head of implementational TV at MediaCom – noted that this is, ultimately, what consumers will resolutely follow.  this was echoed by Jon Mitchell of Spotify who suggested that Hulu – recently down 3% – is plateauing.  they have (as opposed to Spotify) a limited amount of content, to thrive in a digital content economy you need ubiquity of supply.

and where eyeballs go commercial impacts follow right?  not necessarily.  McLachlan, in one of several soap-box moments, commented that "clients are increasingly risk adverse" and that "it's hard to invest in channels that are unproven.  there's an absence of valid metrics out there … we are retreating to rather than flighting to quality.  people who want a share of my broadcast budget aren't making a strong enough case for their platforms"

McLachlan went on to comment that "we're complicit in perpetuating a trading model that was created in the 1950s … we need to move on from this legacy model, a model that's been broken for some time".

it occurred to me that it's not the only model that's broken.  what so often get's lost in the maelstrom of how to aggregate and commercialise impacts in the new world of digital broadcast are the opportunities to engage audiences beyond the spot.  the spot is important and will not vanish into history anytime soon, indeed Daisley noted that YouTube's best performing ad (Gorilla of course) out-viewed their best performing piece of longer-form content (Wallace and Gromit if you're interested) by a ratio of forty toone "YouTube", he said, "is empirical evidence that great ads work".

but the spot ad no longer sits alone in the communications toolbox, and to approach commercialising long-form on-demand content by interrupting with ads really does defy belief.  interruption in a on-demand world is at best a contradiction in terms and at worst a failure to grasp the brilliant opportunities that on-demand offers the brands (and for that matter agencies) willing to embrace it…

because if anything is true as we negotiate the future of media and communications it is this; that brands and brand communications have – like everything else – to be in demand.

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