Catering To New Appetites In Media And Entertainment

Catering To New Appetites In Media And Entertainment

Catering To New Appetites In Media and Entertainment

Few industries tap into the power of choice — or test willpower — quite like the media and entertainment business. Consumers have strong opinions about where and how their time is spent. The more personalization they’re given, the more they expect. This trend is even starting to influence programming, like Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which lets viewers determine the protagonist’s fate.

Shifting viewing habits are comparable to the latest in eating and dieting. Often, it’s not about eating less, but eating smarter. Focusing on food quality can actually lead to your desired outcome — and media and entertainment (M&E) consumers are mirroring this behavior.

Other trends like the movement to declutter our digital lives may sound threatening to advertisers, but viewers are actually reading and watching more than ever. Thanks to streaming services, series are even starting to see viewership increase between seasons. This might be because there are so many options to choose from, causing viewers to become pickier about and more dedicated to which ones they select.

Advertisers need to cut through the competition and differentiate their offerings to attract viewers. That’s no easy task.

Building a balanced diet.

For the M&E industry, the advertising landscape of late has reflected a lack of variety — similar to someone on a restrictive, single-source diet. Instead of considering a variety of channels in moderation, they’re gorging themselves on Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

With 47 percent of 22–45-year-olds watching absolutely no content on traditional cable channels, mainstays like Facebook and Google may seem like an obvious choice for advertisers seeking to find their footing in the shifting landscape of media consumption. But advertisers need to be careful about relying too heavily on these channels. Instead, they need to find out where those viewers are spending their time and build targeted interactions to meet them there. For example, by understanding which prior TV audiences now subscribe to related podcasts, advertisers can prioritize media budgets more strategically.

According to eMarketer’s “Demanding a Better Ad Experience,” over a quarter of U.S. consumers used online ad blockers in 2018, a figure spurred by cynicism toward advertising at large, and it’s predicted to steadily increase in the coming years. For M&E advertisers, this reiterates the fact that it’s all about providing audiences with the right options for their unique appetites. It may be obvious that the latest slasher tentpole is a poor recommendation for a docudrama fanatic, but advertisers need to dive deeper.

Turn to technology.

As consumers spend more time with the content of their choice, M&E advertisers need to get their attention early on in the selection process. Embrace the newest tools to provide consumers with the exact menu items they’re craving.


Personalization and hyper-segmentation, already considered table stakes across industry sectors, are the top priorities for M&E brands. “Now that viewers have a seemingly infinite amount of video at their disposal, marketers need to focus on using viewership behavior to make better recommendations. The experiences need to feel handcrafted to consumers in the same personalized way it would from friends in social media or around the water cooler,” explains Michael Goldstein, our head of digital strategy for M&E. Targeting ads based on a specific audience segment’s viewing history becomes an even greater challenge as creators take part in an arms race of acquisitions and content spending. Research firm Ampere Analysis reports that Disney spent an estimated $22 billion on original and acquired content, while Variety projects that Netflix will spend $15 billion on content in 2019. When you only have a small number of shows on offer, blanket advertising that targets a wide range of viewers makes sense. When that number increases exponentially, it no longer works.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has given advertisers a huge leg up on personalization. Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube all use algorithms based on user activity to suggest in-app targeted content, allowing consumers to make new discoveries that align with their preferences. AI also powers Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and the technology is beginning to provide suitable recommendations based on user behavior. If you ask Alexa to show you a comedy, she’ll surface a list of funny movies and shows. This functionality is set to deepen as media brands scale and acquire more content. Britcher says that AI development will allow publishers and broadcasters to “build a technology spine to deliver solutions built on first-party data — enabling data processing and data science at much greater scale for audience profiling and segmentation, campaign optimization, and performance attribution in the programmatic advertising space.” Armed with this data, advertisers can provide specific, targeted ads that are based on what a viewer segment is already watching in order to serve highly personalized ad content.


Fad diets often rely on the credibility of a spokesperson or influencer who consumers trust. And if that influencer peddles a bogus fad diet, it can leave consumers wary and less likely to try the next thing. Similarly, users give their trust when they let advertisers access their data. If it’s abused, it will be difficult to regain their trust in the future. Advertisers need to use consumer information cautiously, adhering to both formal regulations and consumer expectations when using data for targeting purposes.

Everything from the GDPR and ePrivacy to the California Consumer Privacy Act can impact how media companies understand and target their audiences. Some brands are taking steps to more clearly communicate their data-sharing practices through pop-up boxes and information pages. Others are turning their backs on third-party data and cookies altogether, instead relying on consumers to share information through first-party behavior and consumption. Either way, it’s key to respect consumer data. Let your customers know how you use their data and give them the option to provide consent or opt out, as is required. If they know data collection creates better recommendations, they’re more likely to opt in.

The M&E sector has been iterating at breakneck speeds. And nothing — including consumer demands — indicates this will slow down. Going forward, these companies will also have to create new cross-device experiences to capture audience interest. PwC’s “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2018–2022” predicts that sales from VR games, apps, and video will increase five times between 2017 and 2022, and many M&E brands have already started incorporating this tech. The Guardian , for instance, paired a free, downloadable VR app with click-through opportunities to buy Google Cardboard headsets, which consumers can use to take part in immersive, VR experiences. Elsewhere, NetVR and the NBA have partnered to provide VR experiences to subscribers of NBA’s LeaguePass, while the success of Pokémon Go has influenced Apple and Google to develop their own mobile AR technology. Not to mention our very own Project Aero offers tools for designers to build immersive AR experiences.

Mobile and headset AR are quickly catching up to VR technology. Devices like the HoloLens and MagicLeap are breaking down the barriers between the two, providing additional channels for advertisers to capitalize on new touchpoints, like voice and gesture. Creating trailers, launching first-of-breed experiences, and offering pop-up events that use this new technology are all great ways to prime audiences for traditional content. Sony did exactly that with their Suicide Squad VR experience, which premiered at Comic-Con to drive fans to see the movie. If you’re considering these emerging channels, have a plan to track technology and market progress as you consider them for your marketing strategy, and plan in advance to avoid creating new data silos.

Don’t let consumers go hungry.

When consumers declutter their digital lives, whether canceling unused subscriptions or trimming down social media apps, it’s done in an effort to keep only what truly nourishes them. That means that, for advertisers, intention is more important than ever — from intelligent, in-app content recommendations to the acquisition messages you serve before users ever enter your platform.

As consumers become pickier, advertisers needs to follow suit. High-quality, innovative interactions are critical for brands who want to rise to the top. By adopting the latest technology, M&E brands can ensure their advertising strategies are evolving as fast as their industry and provide a true gourmand experience, for binge-consumers and grazers alike.

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