This article is part of CMO.com’s September series on the state of media and entertainment. Click here for more.
It is hard to think of an industry that has faced greater disruption than media and entertainment. Traditional business models are having to be reimagined as consumers shift attention to digital channels, requiring new distribution routes and revenue streams to be devised in an increasingly fragmented media landscape.
According to the “2017 Digital Trends In Media And Entertainment” report by Econsultancy and Adobe, digital leaders are establishing four key areas where they can delight their audiences and differentiate their brands.
1. Focus On The Customer
Digital leaders focus on the customer. It is that simple. To show how important this is, there is even a new member of the C-suite at many publishers. The New York Times, the Telegraph Media Group, and News U.K. have all recently created the role of chief customer officer.
Brands are realising that as print sales and ad revenues decline, they need to find new ways of appealing to the public that will come to them through digital channels. Leading companies realise they can only do this by rearranging their entire organisation to focus on the customer.
The research is very clear. Though it’s important to have a C-suite executive representing customers, this devotion to anticipating and delivering what customers are seeking should be present at every level of the organisation.
2. Design-Led, Not Just Digital-Led
Design should not be an afterthought, it should be at the very forefront of how media and entertainment brands connect with their audiences.
Consistency across all touch points is key here to ensure cross-platform, cross-device audiences enjoy a familiar experience of a brand. The defining point is that design can be used to bring audiences innovative ways of consuming content that can help a media and entertainment brand achieve its prime aim—standing out in a cluttered digital landscape.
In fact, the Econsultancy and Adobe research found that digital leaders are nearly twice as likely as laggards—34% versus 18%—to use design to differentiate their brand.
3. Mobile First
Digital leaders are embracing the mobile-first nature of content consumption as their second top priority, right behind focusing on the customer. This applies to two in three digital leaders, compared to an average of less than half—48%—of companies in other sectors.
This not only means brands are opening up their own apps and mobile websites, but they are also taking advantage of other popular mobile services. Snapchat currently offers more than a million search news stories, for example.
Such channels are helping brands reach existing and new audiences through the device they cherish the most. Research shows that, in the U.S, consumers spend 87 hours per month browsing on their mobile phones, while the U.K. is in second place with 66 hours per month.
The Econsultancy research also found that digital leaders with a mobile-first approach also get the benefit of tracking their marketing spend far more accurately. In fact, they are 80% more likely to work out the ROI on mobile ad spending than laggards.
4. Embrace Innovation
Creating new customer-centric services requires media and entertainment brands to experiment by embracing innovation. Just as being customer-centric has to be embedded throughout an organisation, so, too, does innovation. It is important because digital leaders are more than a fifth more likely than laggards to see innovation as a means to differentiate their brands.
For example, Sky recently bought Diagonal View to get a stronger and more diverse foothold in social media. The Guardian has set up a Mobile Innovation Lab in New York to devise new ways of bringing content to audiences on the small screen. One of its notable achievements was taking over the lock screen on users’ mobile phones to display rolling results for last year’s U.S. presidential election.
End Game: Content + Data = Personal
Ultimately, then, media and entertainment brands must focus on customers and embrace mobile and innovation while using design to help them stand out.
The key ingredient that can make all this happen is data. The Econsultancy and Adobe research pinpoints that savvy brands will increasingly get to know their customers better through a deeper understanding and application of data, which will lead to personalised experiences.
Just as Netflix can predict what its subscribers will enjoy based on their history compared with the history of similar users, media brands must learn to offer distinct, personalised digital experiences for their audiences.
But just as media and entertainment brands get used to today’s technology, a new wave of disruption is approaching, and opinions about what will change the industry the most vary on region.
In the U.S., respondents believe AR and VR are the biggest opportunities, while, in Asia-Pacific, all eyes are on the Internet of Things to open new personalised channels for consumers. In Europe, the focus is more on artificial intelligence to better understand audiences, deliver tailored experiences, and drive better-performing digital marketing campaigns.