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.