Over the past ten years, the marketing reality for television has changed dramatically due to the shift from Linear to VOD. Everybody knows this of course, but how many have thought about what the technological shift means from a Program Communication perspective?
Firstly: when Linear TV was dominating, it was the channel itself that was “sold”. Hence Marketing and Communication were focused on a few premium programmes that acted as the display windows, leading viewers to find the TV channels in the linear TV offering. There was a limited need to promote 2nd tier content, niche programming
Secondly: a traditional business model dominated: channels were sold to–and delivered by–distributors who bundled TV Channels into packages and sold them to end-users. It was the distributors who paid the Media Houses for their channels. Ad sales were also important of course but for a majority 2nd tier channels most revenue came from distribution deals.
Thirdly: with the traditional bundling and distributor setup, TV listings were mainly produced by 3rd party companies selling TV guides in physical or digital form. Listings was an activity that belonged to magazines and news publishers. With Media Houses’ revenues coming from distributors and not end-users, it was of less importance for TV channels to be in control of this marketing window.
Now, when everything has changed to VOD, what does that mean from a Marketing Perspective?
As most Media Houses now operate their own B2C VOD services–and in reality are their own bundlers–it is time to elevate metadata to the marketing and communication asset it really is: one of the key drivers of consumers of your content. But to make this happen, Media Houses must:
- Ensure there is a minimum viable set of correct and rich marketing material for EVERY program they have, not just for a few premium assets. With marketing material, we mean metadata/schedule data, images, trailers, previews and deep links. Programs that lack those supporting marketing assets will have serious problems being found and watched by consumers.
- Actively distribute rich metadata to more outlets. Helping consumers find the right content is no longer a business that belongs to a few generic news publishers. Today, there is an abundance of digital niche media, content recommendation services, and search engines guiding users to your programs. The media houses need to ensure that the marketing material not only is correct everywhere and has acceptable quality but also that it reaches all possible services driving consumers to their content.
- Manage local adaptations. Another problem that we see, especially when international media houses go local directly with their content offerings is that the material is not always ready for local use. Local stakeholders are increasingly demanding finished products to plug and play, and have fewer resources to tailor data and media themselves. Simultaneously, the bar for local tailoring is increasing due to more legal, technical and cultural differences. A few examples: a) parental ratings are locally set. b) in some countries there are requirements to send particular associated technical information, c) some local listings standards have titles on episode levels as a requirement to pass validation. It is complicated, which is why we at Clipsource help clients to clean, validate and relate central assets into a useful, “local” or tactical asset. By using fallbacks, conversions and similar we can turn metadata into a Minimum Viable Marketing Product.
- Streamline the distribution of media and metadata. Important partners (e.g. distributors) may have bespoke technical delivery demands that make it difficult to have a fully standardized process. But that does not mean that you must offer bespoke deliveries for everyone. Most 3rd parties will happily accept that you provide a standardized feed, as long as it means fast deliveries, lots of material, and a flexible structure. Last but not least, for 3rd parties it is a value to get the metadata directly from the source (you) because it means they get it faster and they save money otherwise spend on buying curated metadata from commercial middlemen.
For the above to happen a Media House needs an automated process for creating, collecting, relating, and distributing marketing material:
- When you go from highlighting a few premium programs to dealing with maybe hundreds of shows, you need to automate the process as much as possible: a) find out what information is already available internally in various systems, and b) create an automated process of collecting this into a Marketing DAM. In a proper marketing DAM, you can also add additional material that is not available in other systems.
- Create workflows that reuse your hard spent creative and administrative efforts for as many purposes as possible. It is surprising how many companies that have to manage the same material over and over again for the same purpose but for different platforms, for example.
- Use sharing technologies that make you independent of aggregators and 3rd parties: Nothing wrong with aggregators! but their main business is to repackage and resell your information. Not all services want–or even can–pay for such aggregator services. They expect to get it for free somehow, from the source or through scraping.
- Aggregators do things with your data. If there are errors, it is often very time consuming to find out how and where they appeared, and how they shall be remedied. Important changes can be stuck in the processes between source, aggregator and publisher. By having a standardized and structured way of sharing information, you will be the master of your own domain! Any changes can be communicated immediately, and you ensure that the right assets are used. This is btw also helpful for serving the aggregators. It might not solve all problems but when problems appear, you know exactly where to look, what you sent and who is responsible.
Checklist for future-proof program communications and marketing:
- Create a workflow that allows you to upload and change information only once, for many purposes. It will save eons of time and you will be in less of a rush to make things right
- Make sure you can work with linear and VOD content in one and the same workflow (linear is likely to be around for yet some time). It will make your media house look more comprehensive, and improve the program information offered to users.
- Add as much related media as possible, and not just images. Recommendation services, EPG:s and licensors are desperate for more associated assets such as Trailers and Deep Links (a link to a VOD service’s particular episode, and not just the start page).
- Make sure you have a plug-and-play metadata package that at least fulfils the local minimum requirements.
- Make sure you have the capability to deliver directly to 3rd parties, without middlemen. And verify that you can easily scale these deliveries without adding pressure on your already stretched tech teams or having to develop and maintain bespoke processes for each and every stakeholder. This can be solved with a standardized and well-documented API delivery that still provides enough flexibility and security.
Clipsource has been hired by some of the industry’s finest entertainment brands to enrich and streamline metadata distribution. Contact us today to learn more about how you can unleash the power of your programming.
Ola Scholander, Chief Revenue Officer, Clipsource