Complexity of a Changing Digital Landscape (then and now).

I wrote a series of articles back in 2007/2008 about what was then the start of a rapidly changing marketing and business landscape and my own observations, thoughts and influences around what was happening then and how marketers and businesses could, should or might manage change at that time.

This first article was about Reaching Generation D (digital)……the blurring of distribution and marketing channels and the opportunity to craft new ways to reach audiences through emerging ‘digital’ routes to market, at that time……fast forward to today (2016) and we can see how much has changed and how quickly.

How much has changed! (FB, Snapchat, Instagram, Programmatic, Netflix, Smartphone, Uber, Fintech, Periscope and much more……

Some of my observations still resonate, some others I was way off the mark!

Here is the article (2007).

The future of marketing in the entertainment sector will depend on the abilities of content owners and creators to adopt a cross‐platform approach to the distribution of their content says former Universal Pictures UK film marketing chief Gavin Miller.

Back in 1998, marketing guru and author Peter Doyle wrote: “What satisfies customers today will not satisfy them tomorrow… nothing is more certain than a firm’s current products, technology, distribution channels and market position will become obsolete”. So it is with marketing the entertainment sector today where businesses and individuals will need to focus on four key points to operate successfully.

First, they will have to appreciate what’s happening in the whole entertainment and wider marketplace and not just the specific market or ‘discipline’ in which they operate.

Secondly, they must make understanding the consumer the No. 1 priority and use that understanding to shape distribution and marketing strategies.

Thirdly, they must challenge creative convention in developing innovative and relevant communications to both engage consumers and drive sales.

And fourthly, they must reconsider the structure of the industry to establish a new, non‐linear business model that shapes the creation, distribution and marketing strategy of content (in any format) across platforms and, importantly, at the moment content is conceived.

Know your customer: The rapid and radical change and growth in new channels means that understanding the consumer has never been more important for entertainment companies. These changes will put traditional marketing and distribution methods under threat but will also provide an opportunity for the sector as a whole. To meet those threats and opportunities, a fundamental shift in approach to marketing and distribution, as well as the overall business strategy, has to be the key priority.

At the core is the need to keep abreast of how new digital platforms — how they affect traditional routes to market and the entire new ones they create — and importantly, how consumer behaviour changes as a result. Interestingly, the line between marketing and distribution will become increasingly blurred. There is now an opportunity for entertainment companies of any size, to leverage both the marketing and distribution of content at the same time and across multiple platforms.

As a result, the rights model will need to change in terms of both definition and ownership. The opportunity for some content creators is to retain the rights they are currently giving away across all platforms and for all content creators to create content pieces to support the marketing of the product which can be used to leverage distribution.

So for example, for some, why not retain the rights to distribute across digital platforms such as BT Vision, Lovefilm, AOL and Vizumi amongst others, but make the sell a more attractive proposition to these channels (and their consumers) by providing exclusive content for the purpose of marketing the product within that specific channel and making it relevant for their audiences.

Know your options. A broader view of what’s happening in the wider marketplace will benefit everyone working in the entertainment industry. Executives tend to operate in their particular silos but there has been an explosion of entertainment choices in the everyday lives of consumers. Film, restaurants, music, sport, TV programmes, computer games, books, magazines, holidays, the internet, gardening… the list is endless and not enough hours in the day to experience, or indeed pay for, it all.

And it is not just what they choose to do but how they choose to consume it that has changed, particularly in entertainment. The last five years has seen Freeview, Sky +, iTunes, podcasting, Video On Demand, DVD rental by post and subscription TV to name but a few. For example, over the summer consumers could at any one time watch “Hot Fuzz” on DVD, “Pirates” at the cinema, “Casino Royale” on Sky, read the latest “Harry Potter” book, wallow in a weekend at Glastonbury or indulge any number of other cross‐ platform choices, such as online communities.

The impending launch of IPTV services such as Joost (from the founders of Skype) and, especially, the BBC’s iPlayer will also pose a fundamental threat to the commercial entertainment sector. They will not just be an additional choice for consumers to engage with, but will also be competitive from a time perspective.

The entertainment sector must come to terms with not just what content consumers can access but when and how they access it and it needs to think about developing content to fit those new channels.

We’re moving from a content push model to content pull and that will begin to have an impact on the type of content the sector as a whole. Why? Because control is now in the hands of the consumer and in environments that we’re only now beginning to notice which includes the phenomenon of social networking.

This has been building for a while and evident in the significant numbers of people who access and engage with communities such as Facebook, Myspace (which recently announced reaching 10 million users in the UK alone), Second Life and Last FM.

To operate successfully in today’s market, entertainment businesses need to develop a cohesive and collaborative content creation, distribution and marketing strategy which acknowledges the wider entertainment choices available. To that end, they need to look at a vertical model that matches consumer behaviour — competition for consumers now lies across platforms and not within specific categories such as DVD. The opportunity for all players in the market is to re‐shape content and to make it accessible and relevant across any number of platforms.

How you say it. So what’s the future for marketing from a creative perspective? In essence it’s not just what we say to consumers, but how we say it. We only have to look outside our own industry to observe some examples of fundamental creative changes in category behaviour: Honda and its focus on innovation and ideas; Foxtons ‘sexing up’ estate agents; Dyson, not a carpet in sight; Dove attacking beauty industry conventions and Doritos’ placement of a user‐ generated ad into the prime TV ad spot for America’s Superbowl final back in January of this year.

In the film sector, the trailer is dead. It offers little stand out in a fragmented communications landscape and it doesn’t fit into new channels of communication and distribution. The entertainment sector has to look at new ways of communicating and showing content, whether through traditional channels encompassing digital interaction, such as interactive TV and posters, or wholly new digital channels, such as mobile and online social communities. In part it’s happening already but not fast enough to keep up with the behaviour of consumers, who increasingly expect to sample content before purchasing.

Again, in the film sector, the small and nimble are likely to succeed where the big studios will struggle as long as the trailer remains the norm.

Structural change. To create a platform where all of the above can work, entertainment firms should reconsider their structures and establish a new non‐linear content exploitation model that shapes the creation, distribution and marketing strategy of content — in any format — across multiple platforms right at the start of content conception and creation.

Marketing to, and distributing to, consumers in the digital age will become one and the same. By thinking about consumers up front and how to market to consumers and ways to distribute content to them at the start of the creative process, businesses will be in a better shape to offer innovative and compelling content either directly to consumers or via third parties throughout the whole product lifecycle and across multiple platforms.

So much change since then and it just seems to be getting faster……but, the principles for navigating an ever complex landscape remain the same: know your customer, not just what you say but how you say it and integrate don’t silo your business and teams.