MIPTV: Advertisers, producers rethinking marketing strategies


RELATED: Programming trends around the globe
MIPTV's environmental initiative gets serious
Buzzworthy shows at this year's market
CHART: Prices paid by foreign terrestrial stations for U.S. TV shows
International buyers rethink pricey U.S. shows
MIPTV Listings

Once upon a time in medialand, broadcasters, content producers and advertisers were at the controls, and consumers, if they wanted to watch TV, were captive audiences. The word "prosumer" was a typo, and 360 degrees meant a circle.

Those days are over. Consumers are at the controls and speeding seamlessly across as many platforms and devices as they can get their hands on. At the same time, content producers and distributors, branding strategists as well as advertisers are tripping over themselves to keep up with consumers.

"Five years ago, only a dozen companies were thinking about producing and distributing content within a 360-degree strategy. Today, everyone has this concept on their radar," says Reed Midem's TV division director Paul Johnson. Companies attending MIPTV featuring MILIA 2008, such as Sony, Disney, Vuguru, Hulu, Joost, Ogilvy, Babelgum, Orange and Veoh, "are not only thinking about content across all platforms, but executing it beautifully," Johnson adds.

The 360-degree distribution strategy is the concept that content should be delivered to any platform or device at anytime and on the viewer's terms. It is platform-agnostic and taps TV, Internet, mobile and PVR -- taking the best each has to offer.

Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, the free-to-users online video joint venture from NBC Universal and News Corp., is a true believer when it comes to multiplatform. "The very notion of Hulu couldn't have occurred more than two years ago, because content owners were not making the content available online," he says.

Premium content for the site comes from across the globe and includes some of the biggest distributors in the business, including Warner Bros. and Lionsgate. Hulu launched officially March 12 in the U.S. after five months in a private beta phase. Kilar, who will give one of the market's Internet TV keynotes, says that during its soft launch Hulu "went from zero to 5 million viewers in just 30 days, and we were surprised to find that 80% of the content on Hulu, including its 400 TV and 100 movie titles, was being viewed every single week by our users."

Getting to multiplatform and 360, however, is a bit tricky coming from the production side. Leila Pirnia, DIC Entertaiment's vp global brand management, is one example of a new generation of executives who were practically born freethinkers when it comes to multiplatform branding.

"I grew up as a multiplatform thinker, and many in our target audiences are doing the same. They move from platform to platform seamlessly, and the platforms are only increasing with time," she notes. DIC's strategy includes 100% passport across a combination of TV, IPTV, Internet, mobile, gaming and film, depending on the content. DIC's biggest brands include boy-targeted "Dino Squad" and girl-targeted "Strawberry Shortcake."

Nevertheless, Pirnia notes, "the majority of eyeballs are still on TV," and 85% of DIC's content comes through the TV platform first. She cautions that although viewers might be going seamlessly from one platform to another, "they are doing it on the back of production. We can't just take the same content and push it out onto all the different platforms. There is thought and strategy that needs to go into that distribution to make it relevant and compelling."

Elsewhere, Mattel still spends most of its ad budget on TV. Mattel's Richard Dickson, senior vp worldwide marketing, media and entertainment, thinks it's the right call for now, considering Mattel's demographics.

That could change down the line, he says, noting Mattel has also invested in and created virtual worlds, DVDs, TV series and Web sites, such as Barbie.com, Hotwheels.com and Fisher-Price.com, all aimed at reaching multiplatform users.

"The lines are blurring as it relates to whether these concepts are advertising platforms or actually products that not only promote your brand but can be monetized," says Dickson, who will give the advertising keynote in Cannes.

Some $10 billion in content is being sold across the globe as a result of Reed Midem content events. During MIPTV, the organization will release a major survey of the globe's 500 biggest buyers and how they empty their pocketbooks. While the bread and butter of the industry is still TV, finding new funding for digital content is the new rallying cry of the industry.

The number of ad agencies and media placement agencies coming to content markets represents thousands of brands, and is clearly part of Reed Midem's game plan in terms of new funding. "We are trying to get people proactively together to start building new financial models," Johnson says. "The door is now starting to open and content producers/creators, TV broadcasters and brands/ad agency networks have to sit down and put the content and funding puzzle together to make it work for everyone."

Some content distributors are more experienced in cozying up to advertisers than others. For example, Coke, Apple, AT&T and Ford have huge brand integration on "American Idol." "The industry is getting better at working together when it comes to advertising, branding and content strategizing, but it has taken longer than it should for it to do so," says Keith Hindle, FremantleMedia's executive vp licensing.

Hindle says advertisers have been part of the learning curve as well. "Until very recently, it was common for advertisers to finalize even very large advertising buys around a show with the network first, before sitting down and discussing their integration with the show creators. They would essentially make a huge financial commitment without knowing what association they are really going to get with the content brand they are buying into."

In mid-2007, FremantleMedia inked a groundbreaking first-look development deal with Radical Media, originally one of the top producers of TV commercials in the business before it evolved into a multiplatform, award-winning marketing, branding and content company. FemantleMedia has worked with Radical Media before, distributing shows like the meeting-of-the-minds series "Iconoclasts" and the reality dating show "The Gamekillers," but the first-look deal has so far yielded two multiplatform shows that will launch at MIPTV: "Two Roads to Baja" and "Two Roads to the Taupo 1000."

Russell Jarman Price, a creative partner, branded content, for Ogilvy Group U.K. and one of the judges of the OgilvyInteractive-sponsored Content 360 competition, says some transitional problems stem from trying to join what are essentially two industries into one.

"Very few people who have worked in film and TV have worked in advertising and vice versa," Jarman Price says. "So everyone is learning; and unless you have been in all three industries, it can be a daunting experience."

He adds that the paranoia within the content industry about the integrity of the product and advertiser interference doesn't help. "It's based on a false premise that clients would want to damage their brand somehow by stepping over the line and pushing too hard. Clients are very sensitive when it comes to defining the value of their brand. Why would they do anything that would damage it?

"Advertisers are some of the few investors who will put money into a production and not say, 'I want my money back.' They just want exposure."

MoMedia CEO Lucas Bertrand has a laundry list of ways to make money in order to finance digital content, depending on the partner. "We raise money from the following sources: production companies, broadcasters, TV, mobile, Web, IPTV, VOD players, media-buying and ad agencies, and brands and content creators."

Inventing new financial models comes easy, says Bertrand, if your background is in mobile. "I didn't come from the 'old world' of getting content commissioned," he says, adding that if you can fund mobile, you can fund anything. Endemol is among MoMedia's lineup of more than 70 partners around the globe.

Reed Midem's Johnson says all signs for coming out with new funding for the industry look positive. "You have a content industry worth $100 billion and an ad industry worth $485 billion that are channeling their money into content creation, production and distribution across all platforms. To me, that means more money and more creativity for years to come."