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Digital Hollywood Coverage


The Internet has given everyone in America a voice and evidently everyone in America has chosen to use that voice to bitch about movies.

Holden McNeil-- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

How do you reach all of the online entertainment industry with one event? Digital Hollywood.

Last week, the Director’s Guild of America Building in West Hollywood, California played host to a big player roundup for interactive entertainment, a subject near and dear to my heart. The three-day show packed in some of the biggest names in the industry with sponsors and speakers from the likes of Google, Intel, and IBM.

Nearly all of the show’s content would somehow impact online marketers, but the primary focus was more on the technical side of digital entertainment. However, key players in the online marketing industry were in attendance discussing everything from search marketing to broadband advertising. Here’s a summary of the movers and shakers at the event.

Meeting Eliza Doolittle Online; Day One

The show opened with the Super Sessions format with top executives from entertainment and advertising discussing the convergence of entertainment and marketing. This is a hot topic today considering nearly 27% of American homes are wired for broadband.

As Steve Martin’s little joke that opened last year’s Academy Awards about HDTV penetration (three guys from Circuit City watching) so succinctly pointed out, the consuming public has yet to embrace the world of true High Definition Television. Afternoon sessions included topics on Digital Cable and Satellite Television with key players from DIRECTV and Comcast. These executives provided a clear idea of where the technology is headed. While the true direction of this space is as of yet undefined, one thing is certain; integrated technologies will change the face of what we see and hear, and how we market our goods.

Rounding out the day and by far the biggest draw for me was a keynote roundtable on the state of music, technology and film industries as executives from IMAX and Cisco offered opinions on the subject of “How did we get here?” Not to be forgotten is the all-too-critical subject of piracy and security, seemingly stuck in everyone’s craw, and the subject of a day-long Monday workshop on digital rights management featuring perspectives from industry leaders Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures.

Ruby Golightly, UCLA Grad Student, had this to say about the sessions and the show in general: “[The seminars] were informative and well attended but were not packed. I was delighted that most speakers refrained from gratuitous self promotion.” I spoke with several attendees who had similar comments. To that I can only say, hats off to show personnel and moderators!

Frankly Scarlett, These People Actually Give a Damn; Day Two

The second day of Digital Hollywood kicked off “The Seminars” and lead sessions included perspectives on the future of online music and digital downloads, the impact of set-top devices and, you guessed it, the omni-present search marketing.

Not surprisingly, the stated focus of the panel on search was analyzing results and performance. Since everyone already holds online, and most specifically search marketing, to higher standard, why not perpetuate the double standard? Panel members included senior players at Yahoo!, Google, and Lycos.

Entertainment is not always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about search so I caught up with Google’s Head of Entertainment Marketing, Justin McCarthy, to get some additional perspective on practical applications for marketers in the space.

“Some of the most popular searches on Google are music and celebrity related. The top five gaining keyword searches (2001- 2002) fell in the entertainment category and paid search offers the ability to reach consumers much faster than traditional search marketing.”

McCarthy makes some very good points here. For example, traditional search marketing is notorious for taking too much time in seeing changes in rankings. Hypothetically speaking, if E.T. were released this year, Spielberg and the Reeses Pieces people could buy both keywords and send all kinds of traffic into movie-specific micro-sites in a matter of days as opposed the possible multiple weeks or months it could take to direct consumers with traditional search.

The afternoon included no less than a dozen sessions on multiple hard-hitting topics like maintaining the integrity of one’s brand as crossover marketing opportunities are created with games, CDs and DVDs. Also included were two sponsored sessions from the likes of Google and Avid Technology, a world leader in digital nonlinear media creation. Other notable panels focused on the future of subscription-based services in the entertainment sector, an expansion of the HDTV discussion, and a powerhouse panel on home entertainment delivery strategies.

Say Hello to My Little Friend; Third Day Activities

Day three wound down without so much as a peep on the DVD re-release of my all-time favorite film, “Scarface”. Highlighting morning sessions was a fresh perspective on the future of delivering rich media content, wireless style. Later, industry gurus at Electronic Arts and AOL Games offered thoughts on the development of Internet Gaming.

Heading into the afternoon and rounding out the show for most of the attending online marketers was a session on branded media marketing and broadband advertising. Big names in online advertising included agencies BBDO and iDeutsch alongside providers Electronic Arts and MSN.

Panel moderator, Josh Rose, senior VP and director of iDeutsch, offered this assessment of the panel: "The group did a good job of touching on the main issues that face advertisers as consumers -- and their toys -- grow more advanced. Still on the top of everyone's minds is how to quantify the benefits of new media channels: from banner ads to advergames we tried to dimensionalize all of the new marketing opportunities."

Rose also offered his take as a leading interactive marketer on the show as a whole. I think he summarized the event best: "I thought the crew did a good job of pointing out what I've believed to be true for a while -- that television is not going away, but it is changing. That advertising agencies are not going away, but they are changing. That the Internet as a viable content medium is also not going away -- but it is changing."

About the author: iMedia search marketing columnist, Kevin Ryan, clearly needs to find himself a life. In addition to bringing iMedia readers the world of search, he spends his free time at industry events in case you can’t. Kevin is currently Director, Market Development at IPG’s Wahlstrom Interactive where he provides guidance in directional online marketing to Wahlstrom’s prestigious list of clients and sister agency brands.

Ad visibility: It's 10 o'clock, do you know where your ad is?
The advent of efficient ad delivery systems has, for the most part, not yet accounted for ad placement and visibility. If a marketer invests money in an ad campaign, they should account for any waste associated with the investment (i.e., ads that are never seen).  Over the past year, we've seen the rise of a cottage industry of companies, including RealVu and EyeWonder, specifically start to shed light on the dirty little secret of unseen but counted ad delivery, which currently, according to RealVu, can account for 5 to 95 percent of all display impressions.

In the future, we expect the major ad measurement and ratings companies to buy, build, or partner with companies like those referenced above to provide marketers with measurement of real audience reach multiplied by visibly and verified frequency. It will be a long time before traditional media will see the opportunity afforded by traditional gross rating points (GRP), but armed with the knowledge of true visibility, marketers can begin to look at discount rates across all media. (Full disclosure: At Lotame, we measure InView time as a way to quantify attention GRPs and use time to optimize delivery for time spent with ad experiences.)

Managing your own cookie pool: Sweet, now what?
In theory, it sounds like a great concept. After all, imagine the possibilities if marketers could manage and maintain anonymous consumer behavior, and then pick and choose who, how, and when to send custom advertising message to those consumers. However, no matter what the perceived or actual solution in the marketplace may be today, marketers will still be faced with the tasks of verifying and validating source data. And even if marketers are presented with the appropriate tools to manage data, chances are they are ill equipped to do so. Quantitative analyses that include but are not limited to linear regression, p-tests, t-tests, and k-means clustering are all necessary in order to intelligently use and manage the "cookie pool," and as such, the idea of owning and managing a cookie pool might quickly become an "on second thought" idea.

Optimization, optimization, optimization
Optimization is only as good as the levers and variables made available to change a certain performance outcome. Therefore, marketers need to make sure that an end-to-end solution has the appropriate levers and input variables available so that they can change the destiny of an ad campaign. In addition to clicks, conversions, and time, marketers should be equipped with the ability to manipulate campaign outcomes based on brand performance metrics like awareness, recall, and favorability. After all, these metrics moved billions and billions of ad dollars over the past five decades in other media, and in the November 2009 release of an IAB/Bain study of the metrics that matter most to brand marketers, clicks were the distant cousin of higher-order brand equity measures.

Marketers need to throw away their buckets and classifications of solution providers and instead adopt an object-oriented problem solving approach. Instead of asking, "What DSP should we work with?" marketers should ask, "What are my goals and objectives, and which partners can help me best achieve those goals?" At the end of the day, marketers may realize that ad networks are the new data providers, ad optimizers are the new ad networks, ad exchanges are the new DSPs, and demand-side platforms are the new ad networks.

Dan Reich is director of new business development for Lotame Solutions Inc.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Like communication, your customers are eager for content. Content can include news announcements, tweets, posts, interviews, videos, images, spec sheets, tips and tricks, apps and widgets, polls, and anything else that your customers would consider valuable in their relationship with your brand.

If communication serves to engage your social media audience, think of content as a way to entertain and/or educate your social media audience. This said, content doesn't just belong to the sellers of entertainment products like film studios, record labels, and video game publishers. I've experienced some pretty engaging social-media-driven content from the likes of Tide, Best Buy, Schwepps, and even B2B brands like Cisco and Symantec. Your customers probably love your brand more than you think they do. You might be surprised by what they find entertaining about you.

From a practical perspective, consider setting up an editorial calendar of sorts. Understand what your customers want to experience and create a schedule for content that addresses those wants. And don't worry about getting it 100 percent right the first few times. You will quickly see what truly resonates with your customers -- and what does not -- by the number of views, replies, and shares you see from the messages you are distributing. If you look at a piece of content as if it were one of your products, you'll be on the right track toward understanding what moves your audience to interact and share.

This is the final component of your social media strategy. Fortunately, it's the easiest one to manage. Unfortunately, it's the one piece of the puzzle brands try to solve first, and in some cases, it represents their entire social media strategy. While you may be able to build a social media audience very quickly without one or more of the first three components, you cannot sustain it unless you have all of these components woking together.

The common misperception about social media is that is a "free" or "low cost" media channel. Nothing could be further from reality. Social media costs time, internal and external resources, and, in many cases, cold hard cash. While the end result is a very cost-efficient marketing channel, getting there takes time and money. Don't let anyone fool you on this.    

Before you rush out and spend $250,000 on a Facebook campaign to grow the number of fans of your page, take a look at how you are merchandising your social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc.) via your owned digital assets, such as your website and newsletter. Often times, you can see a serious lift in followers, fans, and subscribers by way of simple banner and link placements from areas where your customers are already interacting with you. When I see a major national consumer brand with billions in sales that has a Twitter page with fewer followers than my Twitter page, the first thing I do is go to its owned online channels. Sure enough, I am always hard pressed to find any reference to its Twitter page.  

After you have maximized the impact of awareness via your owned channels, and you are distributing content that is being shared (which is the most effective way to grow the base), then you might consider a paid media buy to generate awareness and stimulate growth of the audience. If you do go the paid media route, be sure to focus on placements at destinations where you are most likely to hit your existing customer. If you want to grow the fan base at Facebook, be sure to target the campaign accordingly.    

There is a lot more that can be done to bring your social media audience counts up. Be sure to check in next week when I will devote an entire article to defining ways you can maximize the size of your audience at Facebook.

If you want to reap the benefits of this sizeable and relatively cost-effective channel for years to come, you have to be willing to invest in these four critical steps. Every brand that has enjoyed success in social media has put these four Cs at the front end of their strategy. 

Scott Meldrum is head of integrated marketing at TiVo

On Twitter? Follow Scott at @ScottMeldrum. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. 

Kevin Ryan founded the strategic consulting firm Motivity Marketing in April 2007. Ryan is known throughout the world as an interactive marketing thought leader, particularly in the search marketing arena. Today's Motivity is a group of...

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