Millennials Master the Market

Report from the Convergence Strand at the New York Film Festival, September 28–30 2013

“When it rains, do you want to be holding a single bucket or ten?” That was the kick-off question asked by Gary Delfiner, president, Digital Distribution, Screen Media Ventures.

Delfiner was one of five panelists taking part in the “Platform Agnostic, Brand Specific” panel at the New York Film Festival on September 29, 2013.

Buckets—or content platforms—and the methods used to deploy and measure them are as varied as the panelists were themselves, representing Bravo Digital Media, DailyCandy.com, digital distributors and creative and advertising producers in the digital world. All panelists are proven rain or money makers and all agreed on several points, perhaps the most important of which being the need to be in as many places as possible “to be part of the conversation.”

Boomgen Studio’s founder Mayhed Tousi pointed out: “In an environment where the culture of consumption is constantly changing, the challenge is to ensure that what you put out there is brilliant so that nothing hinders the experience. This is especially important among millennials, i.e., consumers who expect everything to be at their fingertips instantly, want it brilliantly and are commitment phobic.”

All panelists agreed on the strategy. Creating for millennials means other audience demographics including boomers will follow. Conclusion: 14-year-olds are leading the marketplace.

Panelists have learned this through various methods and mainly through data parsing. Delfiner, whose free ad-supported popcornflix.com venture offers more than 950 titles, claims he personally goes through the numbers every single day: “If you dig deep enough into the analytics, you can see the patterns.” And the patterns are as important to share with potential advertisers who are prepared to pay for the content, based on the demographics revealed in the data among other factors. In the US, it’s not just the data that is important to advertisers. Seasonal timing is just as important. According to Delfiner, advertising dollars are most prevalent in the fourth quarter, especially for digital.

Alexa Wilson, VP of Marketing for DailyCandy.com—focused on “fashion, food and fun”—put her millennial fact finding to a different test. In a focus group with millennials, she found they watched on average 2.4 hours of video per day. The finding was so surprising that the testers returned to the group to revalidate their results, which were found to be true.

Where or on which platforms millennials choose to watch video is just as important. They use their laptops and smartphones to watch them. Wilson emphasized the importance of mobile and shared growth estimates of up to 5% per year worldwide.

DailyCandy.com started as an email newsletter 13 years ago. It grew locally and now has apps and video as well as FacebookTwitter,PinterestInstagramFoursquareTumblrGoogle+ and YouTube communities. At a local level, it is present in various cities and communities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Wilson understands that “the consumer couldn’t care less about distribution” and actively seeks out collaborators who understand their local reality. She describes the brand as “celebrating the creative class and discovering up-and-coming talent.”

In line with that mandate, last September, Wilson and her team collaborated with what she describes as “the perfect partner,” Tribeca Enterprises—a global media company founded by Robert De Niro among others. The two companies jointly produced “Fashion in Film,” a multiday, multiplatform event and a day of screenings and discussions with fashion and film influencers. The one-of-a-kind free event included two original short films, an Instagram contest and a “Great Gatsby” costume display.

DailyCandy and Tribeca Enterprises used their social media channels, email databases and a wide media outreach to market the films. The material was available online and via mobile as well as at the festival theatres in Tribeca, New York. The event was sold out within one hour following the distribution of the invitations. According to Wilson, this proves that both brands have increasingly loyal and passionate fan bases.

Importantly, DailyCandy’s collaboration did not dilute the brand, but rather “struck a chord” with the DailyCandy.com demographic as a leading-edge brand that seeks out “the genuine, the unique and the next… the trend setters.”

Boomgen’s Tousi, himself a content creator, reinforced DailyCandy’s original approach to distribution on multiple platforms and in multiple forms. “Content creators are incredibly wasteful,” he stated, using a cow analogy to illustrate. “You can no longer kill the whole cow just for a filet mignon.” And YouTube is like the new Walmart. Tousi said to ensure engagement, you need to use every part—including the hamburger—and creators have to create for distribution on as many platforms as possible, from video to live streaming to VOD to audio to mobile and, whenever possible, for combined platforms such as streaming audio from a film on mobile. And you have to understand the platforms or hire those who do. Yes, a game but what kind of game? In his opinion, tweeting out for three weeks does not sustain the product or brand.

When asked how creators and brands can determine how long the content distributed on one platform will stay fresh while it is being reworked for other platforms, he shrugged and answered: “Your guess is as good as mine.”

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