As Apple’s recent star-studded event for its new TV streaming service demonstrated, the worlds of entertainment and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined — a convergence Variety will explore during its inaugural Silicon Valleywood Summit on April 23 in Menlo Park. Entertainment leaders will join tech giants on the latter industry’s home turf to discuss how the sectors are transforming each other and, by extension, the lives of people around the globe.
Bringing the two sectors together “allows them to innovate and hear where are the problems, where are the pain points, how can we make this better, how can we make this more cost-efficient?” says Mark McCaffrey, the U.S. technology, media and telecommunications sector leader for multinational professional services network PwC, a presenting sponsor.
“We think of our role at Google now as not just selling [studios] spots on YouTube or little links on Google, but more [about] leveraging Google data in ad technology to understand how the ticket purchase gets made,” says Angie Barrick, head of industry, media and entertainment at Google, who will appear on the event’s panel titled This Time It’s Personal — The Future of Addressable Engagement. “We can then start to look at what are the things that a person saw, not just on YouTube and Google, but even other places on the web, [like] the first thing they saw before they bought a ticket, and maybe the last thing they saw, and how many times did they see messaging on average that helped get them to that. It’s pretty detailed stuff.”
Barrick says the key to processing the data is focusing on priorities and not getting lost in the weeds.
“I say to my team all the time, ‘What are the three things from all of this information you have that we should be doing differently when we walk out of the room?’ ” she says.
Engagement data has also been used to craft content for such cutting-edge mobile platforms as disappearing-message app Snapchat, which recently announced it was adding 10 shows to its lineup of original programming.
Early on, “we discovered that if you were telling a story in three or four minutes, you didn’t wait until the end of it to have some big reveal, you might put it in the first three to five seconds,” says Snap original content head Sean Mills, who will be appearing on the summit panel The Art & Science of Storytelling for the Inundated Audience. “We learned about how organic mobile storytelling was working, so that when partnered with media companies, we could bring a lot to the table in terms of how stories are told differently, then they could bring a lot to the table in terms of storytelling and just their creativity.”
The summit will also feature conversations with Jim Lanzone, CEO of CBS Interactive and CBS’ chief digital officer, and Wanda Sykes (both with Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein) and the panel The Blended Family — Hollywood + Tech, in which leaders navigating both worlds will discuss their views on their converging strategies and shared future.
“Ten years ago, I think there was a fairly wide chasm between Hollywood and Silicon Valley that few people could bridge, and I don’t think that’s the case any longer,” says Blended Family panelist Amy Banse, managing director of Comcast Ventures. “There are lots of conversations going on around partnerships and experimenting with new business models and new consumer experiences.
“I think there’s a mutual fascination there, and with good reason. Both places are places of big dreams, and Silicon Valley’s dreams are attractive to Hollywood and vice-versa.”
What: Variety’s first Silicon Valleywood Summit
When: April 23
Where: Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park, Calif.