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Traditional media still has brand power in the digital world, says BBC, CNN and Discovery


By Benjamin Cher, Reporter

May 8, 2017 | 5 min read

In today’s digital world, it would be easy to dismiss traditional media brands as clunker, even as they move online, compared to digital media darlings with sleek new platforms.

TV news

Traditional media brand power still unrivalled in digital world

However, speakers from BBC, CNN and Discovery on the panel “Traditional Media in a Digital World” would disagree, claiming that traditional media’s brand power is still unrivalled.

“CNN’s extension into the digital age is keeping the promise of factual storytelling. I’ll say the value proposition coming into the digital age is that we can guarantee brands the same value, same integrity, same quality of reporting, something the audience will be focused on,” said David Collet, senior director, APAC, CNN International.

“For the BBC, it has a huge amount of heritage, from BBC World Service Radio before we even had print or had TV, we have made that transition and [are] able to tell story across platform[s],” said Nicola Eliot, head of content solutions, BBC.

Windradit Kolasastraseni, senior vice president of innovation, Discovery Networks APAC notes that despite Discovery’s brand power in Asia, markets with low penetration struggle to name a current show.

“Effective brand power and reach need engagement, traditionally linear [TV] services does not add to an engagement factor. Traditional media like newspapers have not done well, because it hasn’t engaged the readers,” said Kolasatraseni.

The engagement factor

While it might seem like good business sense to publish or show what readers want to read all the time, the BBC begs to differ.

“We think the style and truth of our content is what readers want to see, regardless of the personal interest of each individual, it’s really our brand and our style, we don’t really want to change that on the individual level. The engagement is what we already do; what we are continuing to do is listen to feedback,” said Eliot.

As for Discovery, Kolastraseni states that engagement differs from market to market with no overarching strategy, and that differs from its sports content as well.

“What we are trying to do is bring in like-minded publishers and extract insights from various social media platforms, aggregate those into a table and find the fastest way to a Discovery brand,” said Kolastraseni.

“Content engagement will be different, super fans [of sports] may not necessarily want to watch other sports,” he added.

Video is the core of CNN, according to Collet, and is what it does best, and engagement has come from adopting it to the popular medium of mobile.

“It’s the number one growing and popular channel on digital. We cannot ignore the new balance between TV and digital, we accept that news start with mobile, we make sure that content programming and proposition reflects that user journey,” said Collet.

“We keep the same stories for commonality, we execute and program differently depending on the platform,” he added.

Brands striking out, to come back

While publishers might point to Pepsi as the potential disaster of brands striking out into content, BBC’s Eliot notes that brands ultimately come back into the publisher fold due to skillsets and “understanding the publisher platform.”

“Branded content impact is now more measurable, from things like facial recognition technology, the value of putting a video on Facebook, associating that with your reputation, putting it out to more people, looking at how it impacts brands, it’s about looking at new models and charging for services."

Discovery’s Kolasatraseni believes that TV is still relevant and remains measurable to brands looking for ROI.

“Advertising wants reach and measurability, the fact that TV is still relevant in most markets, especially in Asia. My take is that we step up our game in order to be measurable and that’s how you serve campaigns both ways,” he said.

For CNN’s Collet, it’s about the element of conversation for the mobile or digital generation, and being on the platform where it happens.

“Take something that they have passion in and make sure the conversations happens across the different platforms and content, and that’s the challenge to be where it happens, that’s where we rely on data to segment topics and be right where the conversation is evolving,” he said.

BBC InnovFestUnBound Discovery Communications

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