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Virtual Reality Is Untapped Force and Other Lessons From Variety’s Massive Summit

What’s the key to an effective marketing strategy? Which combination of media platform foster the best results? How do these platforms approach storytelling differently? These were a few of the questions that were debated amongst the brand marketers, advertisers, and film, TV, digital media and video game execs who spoke Thursday at Massive, Variety‘s entertainment marketing summit, where distinguished speakers from media companies like Snapchat, Warner Bros., Samsung, Mattel, Yahoo and DreamWorks gathered to discuss strategy and brand awareness.

Here are some things we learned from the conference:

Virtual reality is a force to be reckoned with.

Though virtual reality platforms are still gaining traction, media leaders are already anticipating their purpose as marketing tools.

“If you’re going to follow the trends of marketing, you have to follow the trends of tech,” said Zappos.com’s Ryan Brunty.  “You can’t help but think about virtual reality. That’s a viable platform that we’re all going to be touching very, very soon.”

Though he categorized them under the umbrella of “needs people didn’t know they had,” Samsung’s CMO Marc Mathieu also discussed the future impact of virtual reality, as well as devices like 360-degree cameras.

“I truly believe that VR and 360 are going to radically change the way we interact or expect that we interact with the world,” said Mathieu.

Social media influencers aren’t restricted to a millennial audience.

Though it’s assumed that social media influencers who thrive among the platforms of YouTube, Snapchat and Vine are only relevant to younger audiences, CAA’s David Freeman believes otherwise.

“While I do think a lot of [the audience] is millennial and younger, I do think over the next two to three years you’re going to see a lot of these stars, not all of them, transition into some traditional places that’s going to allow an older audience to respect them on a different level,” said Freeman. Though he’s certain that these influencers will never abandon the digital audiences that brought their social media careers to fruition, he foresees them dabbling in television or film acting.

Customization is key.

When questioned about the specifics of their business strategies, Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope and Bob Berney admitted that they don’t follow a set business plan.

“Unlike some of our competitors, everything we do is custom fit around the movie,” said Hope, who heads the studio’s motion picture production. “We have a variety of strategies that are based around each of those movies.”

Social media self-promotion.

Leaders from Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios and DreamWorks Animation agreed that celebrities play a significant role in promoting the projects they star in, depending on the nature of that promotion.

While Warner Bros.’ Blair Rich agreed that self-promotion can be massively effective, she stressed that organic content generates the best results.

“When you try and force someone to do it or say, ‘You really need to do this to reach people,’ and you can tell it’s either the studio voice behind it or they have a company that they hire to do it, it’s not clever [and] it doesn’t echo their persona in the social media space,” said Rich, who’s the EVP of worldwide marketing.

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