This SXSW session delivered by Benji Lerer made me recall the Eagles’ lyrics, “Everything. All the time.” It wasn’t anything he said specifically. It just occurred to me that it’s the ultimate ending for media.
As marketers, we are always trying to determine the most effective way to connect with customers. As their media consumption habits change, we try to move in the changing direction. But what we’ve learned is that the Internet didn’t replace cable TV. And social media networks didn’t replace the web. And the mobile web didn’t replace the Internet. And print isn’t dead. People use all of these channels to consume content.
Brands are learning that if they want to compete, they have to connect with their customers through a wider collection of media channels. And when success means adapting to the customer’s preferences, winning brands are the ones that are integrating their brand with everything. All the time.
This wasn’t exactly the message that Lerer delivered in his session, “Back to the Future of Media.” Lerer was explaining how marketers need to own the media channel and the content and use that control to monetize the customer relationship. For example, an apparel retailer should develop lifestyle content in an entertaining media property (think Esquire Magazine) and then use that entertainment property to sell products and services every time the customer touches it. And not through advertising space (the old model) but, instead through the content itself.
The thinking is that marketers are paying too much for media in a format (banner ads) that’s easy to ignore. And media that isn’t delivering exactly their customers but instead, customers that represent a much broader set of interests and values. On the flip side, media companies are producing a ton of content that is not contributing to the monetization of the customer relationship. Lerer’s experience has him suggesting that these two things need to be merged together into one.
It reminded me of the old interactive television idea: What if you could watch Friends on TV and buy the shirt that Chandler is wearing just by clicking on it? Or buy the couch in the girls’ apartment? This is what Lerer is talking about. But his idea would probably be to have Anthropologie be the producer of the show.
By the way, the key to making this whole strategy work is in the quality of the content. People will watch a show like Friends or read a magazine like Esquire because of the quality. There will be a ton of marketers that embrace this content/media merger strategy and fail because they try to cut corners on the quality of the content. That’s the high price of being cheap.
Lerer was enthusiastic about this “content/media as one” approach. And he coined a term that illustrates the creative strategy to a “T”. Storyselling. I love this term. Smart content marketers today are talking a lot about being effective storytellers. Storyselling is the handle that they should adopt to remind them to stay on strategy when they tell their stories and sell more. Everything. All the time.
Here are my notes from the session:
- Obviously media has changed a lot over the years.
- Old traditional media was sweet.
- The Internet was invented and spoiled the party.
- Scale was the name of the game for early movers in online media.
- Now the democratization of media.
- New publishing tools.
- More content created then ever before.
- Social media and content distribution.
- Data. Access.
- How to win today?
- The new media playbook.
- Funny or die. Buzz post. Gawker. See slide
- Dollars are moving into programmatic media.
- Great for advertisers. Challenging for media companies.
- The future media company monetizes its audience.
- Commerce is the key.
- The distance between inspiration and point of purchase has come together.
- Customer relationship is core asset.
- Be the media company that’s closest to the customers wallet because they are a retailer and a media company.
- Content in the funnel. Sell them a movie ticket when they are Purchasing.
- Not building awareness. Building intent.
- Turning readers into buyers.
- Competition is gearing up in this space.
- ESPN should have their own apparel business.
- NOTE. The future is “everything all the time”. Think Louis CK.
End of notes.
One last comment about Lerer’s session. He had a whiteboard artist drawing an info graphic representation of his session while his session was in progress. It was an entertaining and fun thing to do. Quality content keeps people engaged. Smart.
Next up? I’ll be checking out A Frank Lloyd Wright Approach to Digital Design followed by the Art of War Visualized. Stay with me.