Two info-packed sessions provided great insights on original digital content and sports marketing in a mobile tech world
New York City's in a good mood--- the Yankees won and are headed for post-season drama, predicted thunder storms never appeared, and mobs of Advertising Week attendees continued their relentless pursuit of marketing magic in scads of venues around Times Square.
Highlights below from two great presentations.
Premium Digital Content: Reality or Myth? And the answer is … reality. The question in the Advertising Week session title was answered emphatically by a panel featuring the leading creative, marketing and business minds behind the digital motion picture Cybergeddon, which was launched last week on Yahoo! in 25 countries and 10 languages, with a website and app to boot.
Cybergeddon creator Anthony Zuiker, who also created the global television hit program CSI and all its many spinoffs, repeatedly said that producing this online cyber crime thriller with partners Yahoo! (distribution and promotion) and Norton Symantec (brand sponsor who's featured in the story) offered many benefits over working in TV—specifically, more creative control and less bureaucracy ("bull----"was the word). Plus, he has a crusader's belief in the future of premium digital content.
"I think that five years from now, motion pictures and TV are going to be a novelty," said Zuiker. "The main source of entertainment consumption is shifting to digital devices. One of our main goals with Cybergeddon was to create a blueprint for how to tell stories in that digital future."
Norton Symantec, best known for anti-virus software that protects PCs, was looking for a unique and powerful way to show consumers that they also protect other devices using the Web, said Rhonda Shantz, VP of Marketing for Norton Symantec. A story about the growing threat of cyber crime was a perfect content fit, she said, and Norton dove into it, providing expert advice to Zuiker to ensure the language, situations and story were authentic. The brand wound up being prominently displayed in several scenes.
Yahoo! also saw the project as a perfect fit for its aggressive video strategy, said Erin McPherson, Yahoo! VP and Head of Original Programming. "Consumers are watching video on every device, when they want it and where they want it," she said. "Our audience is starving for great video experiences."
Yahoo! went all out to promote the movie to its 700 million global viewers and build an "immersive environment that enhances the viewer's experience, she said. That includes a Cybergeddon website filled with special video content that drives deeper into the story and characters, along with photo galleries and special ad formats designed to blend in and enhance viewer enagement.
The site's capabilities sound almost cyber-spooky. "It works on all devices, she said. We incorporated a user-responsive design, which intuits which device the consumer is using and adjust the content presentation accordingly.
Zuiker says advertisers as well as filmmakers should be flocking to online content, pointing out that producing and playing two 30-second spots on primetime TV costs about the same as sponsoring a project like Cybergeddon. "The TV spot comes and goes and is dead forever," he said. "For the same kind of money put into a film like this, advertisers not only tap 700 million people on Yahoo!, they're part of something that lives on Netflix and other digital sources in the cyber ether for the next 20 to 30 years. This is night and day in terms of what advertising can be."
Millennials and Digital Natives as Sports Fans: This Advertising Week panel focused on sports-minded millennials (ages 16-34), called "digital natives" because they grew up with high tech and demand a lot from it---especially in their sports event experiences. Why should marketers care? Because there are 79 million millennials who wield an estimated $70 billion in spending power.
Millennials are big into mobile content: 68% of smart phone owners and 70% of tablet owners use devices while they're watching sports events. They're also receptive to mobile ads--194% more likely to be influenced by mobile ads than the general population.
Our three panelists were marketers from the PGA, Pepsi and the NBA's Detroit Pistons. All agreed that the millennials love of mobile and social were offering new opportunities for engagement and advertising. Here are a few examples:
The Pistons are leveraging mobile and social to reach millennial fans inside the arena, with twitter boards and by reprogramming paper programs into digital forms that can be downloaded with QR codes or simply texted. Outside the arena, the Pistons have set up an entire online programming network offering personalized "insider's" content on the team that can't be found anywhere else.
"We like to say that if content is king, customization is queen," says Charlie Metzger, the Pistons' CMO. "We want to give our fans killer content, understand who they are and how they want to receive it, and deliver it to them in exactly that way."
The tradition-bound PGA is turning to mobile and social in a big way to court millennials—finally allowing fans to use mobile phones during an event just last year. "Mobile is incredibly important to spectators at something like the Ryder Cup, where you can only see what's happening right in front of you and there are matches going on all over a 10-acre course," said Lee Bushkell, VP of Media Sales, PGA Tour Sales.
The PGA is using digital mobile broadcasts of events bringing the game closer to fans who can't tune into their TVs to watch the early Thursday and Friday rounds of major events. "It's critical to us to be able to connect more frequently with fans," says Bushkell. The PGA now pushes free simulcasts of events directly to PCs, mobile devices and tablets. "We think fans will follow the best screen available," he says. "We want to make sure we're pushing our product to wherever a PGA fan might want to consume it."
Pepsi sees the millennials love of high-tech as a perfect match for its brand positioning strategy to compete against Coke. "We're not selling nostalgia," she says. "We're selling experience and want to be part of what's happening now."
Over the last few years, she says, digital has evolved from a silo or distribution channel to an invaluable source of consumer behavior. "You can't have a marketing program that isn't digital and social," she said. "No longer can you just put a TV spot on YouTube and call that your digital strategy. "