Media consumption has seen large-scale shifts in recent years, but not typically as rapid as the patterns created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Closed stores, theaters and businesses drove many consumers to streaming in unprecedented levels, and technology has increasingly allowed for targeted advertising. Panelists joined the “Breakthrough Marketing Elite Roundtable” episode of Variety‘s “Rebooting the Entertainment Industry” series, sponsored by PwC and the Ad Council, on Tuesday to discuss strategies for marketing and maintaining interest in new shows and platforms as technology and world events affect the industry.
Linda Ong, the chief culture officer at Civic Entertainment, moderated the conversation, which included Puja Vohra, Showtime’s external vice president of marketing and strategy; Kathy Kayse, Ad Council’s chief media strategy and partnerships officer; Domenic Dimeglio, ViacomCBS Digital’s external vice president, head of operations and chief marketing officer; Andrea Fishman, a PwC Partner for TMT tech-enabled experience transformation; and Tim Natividad, Roku’s head of performance advertising.
“There is more data for marketers to use than ever before,” Natividad said. “Data is like raw oil. What marketers need or want are insights for refined or processed data that gives fuel to the marketing plans that they execute and with that comes the conversation of privacy.”
One major marketing shift has been the increasing division of potential audiences into smaller, more niche groups. Television commercials used to broadcast to all viewers in a certain region who were tuned into the same show, but that reality is becoming increasingly segmented.
Now, the influx of data coming from users’ search and viewing activity allows for targeted ads. Fishman noted that data collected by PwC indicates over 70% of today’s consumers are open to sharing their data despite privacy risks. The trade-off is that these consumers now get a more personalized experience — one that media companies can work with platforms and analysts to reach.
“I think we’ve hit that tipping point where audiences are willing to share in turn for a valuable experience,” she said. “I think it’s less about trend data, but more about, how do you drive personalization across the channel? Knowing your audience, knowing where they are right now and how they’re consuming becomes more and more important.”
Ad Council, a nonprofit organization that creates and promotes public service announcements for sponsors, has capitalized on these targeted ads during critical moments when audiences are open to reception, Kayse said. They’ve increasingly worked with the media company partners, as well, to quickly and efficiently share urgent messages with members of the public.
“I think what we’ve learned a lot at Ad Council, and not that we hadn’t been leaning into that, but there’s no such thing as one message for all,” Kayse added. “There are so many different communities and different audiences. There’s so many platforms with which you can work with to ensure that you’re getting the right message to the right people.”
But rapid changes shaped by the coronavirus pandemic have also given a more empathetic and teamwork-based mindset to many companies in the entertainment industry. The increased focus on humanity also comes at a time that businesses are being expected to take part in social justice movements or make clear where they stand on today’s issues.
Though the panelists expressed their desire for the pandemic to pass, a few noted that employees and companies have reprioritized what’s deemed important.
“Moving the noise is something that can be done and when done successfully, it brings you back to your core,” Fishman said. “My hope is that as we move forward, we don’t forget those lessons of balance and prioritizing things maybe outside of work and bubbling up what really matters.”
Watch the full conversation below.