A commonplace talking point over the past several years has been how social media seems increasingly poised to take down traditional content providers such as TV as the preferred diversion of the masses around the world. But what if there’s another path, one in which social media doesn’t compete with the global television market but actually boosts its reach and builds its audience?
That’s been the thinking at Twitter for the past year, since Kay Madati became the platform’s global vice president and head of content partnerships after stints in both traditional media companies and the high-tech trailblazers. He’s held key strategic digital positions at Viacom’s BET Networks and at CNN, as well as headed Facebook’s global entertainment and media global marketing division.
“I think the content world and the tech world are on a collision path to the future,” says Madati, a year into developing a string of successful partnerships between the ubiquitous social media giant and television and video partners from around the globe. “I know that the media and the narrative around this is either the disrupters or the ones being disrupted, but I actually think the future looks like some version of these two universes.”
With a singular perspective on how the two media forms can not only coexist, but successfully commingle, Madati is a keynote speaker at this year’s Mipcom, where he plans to showcase Twitter’s thriving approach to bolstering its partners’ content via its instantly engaged, of-the-moment platform. He sees new businesses and technology-driven platforms ultimately uniting to service the center, “an audience consumption experience that’s increasingly device-lead, mobile and multi- platform.”
Whereas several major social-media networks and tech powerhouses have been racing to develop their own original content in a bid to attract and retain an audience, Twitter has taken a different tack: partnering with pre-existing content providers in the global television market to build huge awareness and exposure for the kinds of things about which Twitter users are actively buzzing.
When, for example, the World Cup is trending, Twitter delivers a plethora of video content from its international sports broadcast partners that enlivens the audience engagement and provides exposure and monetization opportunities for the partners.
“When I sat on the other side of the fence at Viacom, at my previous job, it was easy to see how Twitter’s strategies and value proposition were unique amongst its competitor set,” Madati says. “I know the lane that we’re swimming in.”
Madati suggests that the immediacy of Twitter is perfectly designed to be complemented by content providers’ product, making them ideal partners rather than competitors. “We are not foes to the television or media industry, we are friends. And we back it up by putting data behind that around how the deals come together, what the opportunity is and how we all can make money together,” he says.
“The content world and the tech world are on a collision to the future.”
While Madati notes that Twitter has been involved in video for many years, the partnership infrastructure of the company is newer, and “the market is still only … beginning to understand what the opportunity is.” His goal at Mipcom, therefore, is to further build Twitter as a “viable distribution partner” in the minds of many content producers, intellectual property holders and rights holders.
“The days when Mipcom might have been about buying or selling a television show to a linear television network are still there, but I think it’s evolved,” he says, “and so I’m really interested in actually hearing from some of the biggest concept people in the world how they are thinking about multi-platform distribution and audience engagement, of which we have a compelling opportunity and a valuable proposition to consider.”
It’s the kind of back-and-forth conversation that Madati thinks will ultimately lead to his dreamed-of fusion of content and tech, user and platform.
“Having worked on both sides of the fence, I think I have had the opportunity — and the privilege, actually — to understand it from both sides and begin to craft that future, which I think is already happening in some cases,” he says. “When you look at some of our best partnership fields, we are bringing together those two universes and structuring business deals and audience strategies around it in new and creative ways that are adding value to everyone in the food chain — to our users, to our partners and to our business partners as well.”