There is a huge paradox at the very heart of the entertainment industry. As consumers, we demand more moving, emotional, entertaining, gripping, dramatic, show stopping content than ever before - demanding that it be free, and free of ads.
Consumers have been in a stand-off (or arms race, whichever your perspective) with media owners since the great Napster debacle of the early noughties. We download, stream, or ad-block (OnAudience.com says 39% of the UK is running an ad blocker) your ads, because we want the content without the hassle.
Sure, piracy is bad. But so is not being able to get what you want as a consumer – needs must and all that. I’ve always tried to look beyond the inherent right or wrong of piracy, and look at what that sort of behaviour is trying to tell us. Consumers want what they want, when they want it and media owners oftentimes go out of their way to make it difficult for people to get what they want.
The internet just levelled the playing field: some brands got on board and some tried to uneven the ground by getting consumers to go back to their old ways. But Pandora’s box is open, and we aren’t going to close it back up.
The traditional media owners are the most screwed by their legacy business. They are still living in a world where they are trying to make money with specially managed rights and distribution deals. But the internet means that everyone is connected, and geo-specific rights are a hindrance, not a moneymaker – if the latest season of Game of Thrones isn’t available in your market, you can get it easily.
Brands like Netflix and Spotify are the huge winners because they were first to market with a scalable option between “free” and “easy.” They charge a modest fee for access to a trove of content, and all of the sudden paying for Netflix is easier than downloading torrents or wandering over to watchseries.eu.
Consumer centric thinking
Netflix and Spotify are winning because they’re the consumer-centric brands in the entertainment category.
Consumer centric brands prioritise the needs of their customer ahead of their own. They add value, reach consumers where and how they want to be reached, they give more than they take, and above all, they entertain over advertise.
Adopting a consumer-centric mindset means switching your approach from ‘I am dying to tell you our brand story’ or ‘I really want my consumer to…’ to a place where you think ‘I am dying to offer you value, for time’ and ‘my consumers really want to…’
How to put the consumer back into the entertainment mix
Unfortunately, most traditional media brands are stuck on “I want you to buy my stuff on my terms.” This is why in 2018, we still have a divide between services in certain markets, such as the US and UK. Take iTunes for example, you can rent or buy movies on the US store that are only just coming out in the UK cinemas, the same can be said for popular TV series – seriously when will brands get over this archaic thinking?
The consumer centric brands try to help consumers get what they want, when they want it – and then add value on top.
Gaming companies such as Nintendo, Xbox and Sony understand this intimately. They try to remove any friction around consumer journey, to encourage customers to purchase as much as possible. You can buy a disc or download. You can buy from a big studio, or you can download a game from an indie developer.
Netflix and Spotify are consumer centric to the extreme. They have huge amounts of content to draw in and engage consumers.
Live venues are incredibly interesting because the artists and the venue can collaborate to create amazing consumer experiences. One of our long standing clients, The O2 Arena, has a laser focus on the delivering the best possible experiences and it’s for this reason that people pay the money and regularly flock to their venue.
Publishers need to get onboard. Geographic rights are insane in the internet age. If you aren’t live everywhere at once, people are going to pirate your content, simple as that. You should also be looking into translation as standard – more people consuming more content means that we’re all watching more foreign content than before (I thank the Scandi noir for that).
Content creators are in a hard place with this new normal. On one hand, if you’re a content creator, you can get in front of more people than ever. But exposure doesn’t pay the bills, right? You need income to make art.
Are you a content creator? Take your art to the consumer centric extreme. Find new ways to create new offers, exclusives, new formats, or new experiences that can give fans more than they ever dreamed of.
This article originally appeared in The Drum Network Entertainment special
Daniel Deeks-Osburn, strategy director, Impero