Media Future of Media World

Future of Media: Channel 4's tech mastery and stop calling it the metaverse


By John McCarthy | Media editor

September 16, 2021 | 9 min read

Welcome to your weekly Future of Media briefing from media editor John McCarthy. You can get a more comprehensive version sent to your inbox here - if you'd prefer.


Channel 4 and partnerships

During the exhausting culture-war talk around privatization (seriously, hands-off), Channel 4 has this week (perhaps not accidentally) shown how it can work with tech giants and carve its place in the modern world.

First, it secured the US Open final from Amazon to air for free. The UK broadcaster attracted a reported 9.2 million viewers to Emma Raducanu's triumph.

As friend of The Drum Shane O'Leary tweeted, it was a win-win for both companies. Even today, for mass reach Amazon needed the help of the broadcaster. It got a three-hour ad watched by millions and Channel 4 got perhaps one of the year's most important sporting events.

If Amazon's acquisition of sports rights is to drive awareness and traffic to its e-commerce interests, then it does no great harm in giving the odd fixture away. It's also a company that could do with the PR boost every now and then.

Read that here.

Then news came that it had rebooted GamesMaster as a social-first show with Facebook. Wow, I didn't think its studio was going to be quite so ambitious when I wrote up the launch.

Anyway, Facebook's going to use the nostalgic property to show off the Oculus kit, which we're all sort of wanting to see more of anyway. VR needs more penetration if it's going to take off, and, like Amazon, Facebook has gone for the legitimacy a TV partner can lend.

These two deals were brokered by separate teams, showing that the broadcaster is needed by – and willing to work with – the tech giants in a somewhat more symbiotic manner.

Social killed TV some (not very clever) people say. Then why's social buying TV from TV for social? It hurts your head if you think too hard about it.

The metaverse (don't call it that)

What is the metaverse? We use that word a lot at The Drum. It has two meanings.

The first and most common usage comes from agencies selling an old man at an FMCG brand a custom-made Minecraft level – or something. It's cool. People can visit, interact, do stuff.

And then there's the correct meaning, as explained by Zoe Scaman, founder of Bodacious (who gave us a heads up on last week's Bruce Willis deep fake ad). "What we're talking about now are immersive entertainment experiences. That is not the metaverse – the metaverse is so much bigger and more complex than that. It's about 10 years away."

So, want to read more about really good IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES? It's here.

Experience experiments at R/GA

When we write about immersive experiences, R/GA's work crops up a lot.

The agency is dedicated to separating the rads from the fads in ads. Michael Olaye, vice-president and managing director of its 'experience community', thinks the future looks a lot like 'Unstaged', a series of virtual gigs created by R/GA for American Express with a nifty NFT element.

You might as well get ahead of the curve and check out Olaye's thoughts now.

Other stuff

Giffgaff launches its first TV ad in British Sign Language [We like a TV first – more please]

How outdated attribution strategies harm ad performance on TikTok

Leading ad agencies unite behind IARD’s influencer alcohol standards

ICO fines We Buy Any Car, Sports Direct and Saga for ‘frustrating and intrusive’ comms [Think before you send that email, also... thanks for subscribing x]

Remembering 10 years of the OOH Awards: Looking back at the Grand Prix winners [Get inspired, I know you love a billboard as much as I do]

ISBA releases influencer marketing code of conduct for British advertisers [Rogue influencers, your days are numbered]

Bauer Media builds out Nordic presence with Soundcloud audio ad deal

Waste Creative and Supercell pay homage to retro gaming [Nice ad, simple as that]

DMA welcomes ‘common-sense’ UK GDPR reforms [We have a fan of the ICO's GDPR proposals]

Thinkbox TV masters course [I've heard a lot of great things about the latest Thinkbox course, and as a sponsor of this newsletter, it deserves a shout out, let me know if you pass]

Read the last briefing here.

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