Reflecting over our work for the past seven years at Levels Beyond, and my entire career, I’ve honed our focus to two very basic ideas: how to communicate and how to connect with consumers. Whether it’s a news element, produced television programs or feature films, advertising or a mix of any of the above, the ultimate endgame has always been the same. We want to connect to a person with interest.

Assimilating what we know is a challenge for most organizations: media companies, brands, product manufacturers or institutions that depend on sharing a quality message. You never want to miss a trend because the result can be catastrophic whether you’re new to this market or if you’re legacy.

Creative content that is well made tends to work and bring value. Seriously, a great TV series, an informative native program or element of news that’s well made rarely fails.

Platform and device trends have forever changed how we connect to our consumers bringing us to four major marketing and distribution paths:

  1. Generalized major media distribution to diverse audiences. These would be like the commercials on Super Bowl 50 that millions of us watched.
  2. Large Segments – targeting content toward high affinity and consumer interest has longevity. The closer you are to what your customer likes, the more accepting your content becomes. Cable channels and sports networks have evolved to segment specialization.
  3. Small segments – continuing the drive towards audience awareness and affinity. Bon Appetit magazine is a great example of a super tight-segmented audience.
  4. Real-time content marketing creates awareness. Meeting your customer as close to real-time with content, context and advertising is the Holy Grail.

So the evolution is always towards greater understanding of the consumer, and delivering to that consumer as directly and efficiently as possible. What’s exciting is the conversation around how to best do this with the tools on the market. Without question, the most consumer aware and knowledgeable platforms are new era digital: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

Moving past platform, we also have to consider device and context. If I’m on my phone – what is my context, as opposed to my tablet (usually more focused and sedentary), my desktop (usually very focused and centered), or my TV (usually semi-focused and relaxed.) Here’s the eMarketer (4/15 Coatue analysis) data on our daily electronic usage:

  • 2.8 hours for mobile devices
  • 2.4 hours for desktops and tablets
  • 2.6 hours for television
  • 30 minutes for all other electronic devices

Faced with these trends, smart companies are working to define what the next stage of platform and consumer usage will be. To drive my point:

  • Facebook just released Sports Stadium, an app that marries live feed video with consumer experience and data at sporting events. (Advertising Age, Jan. 2016) They clearly recognize the power of a focused sports audience (usually broad and large) combined with the knowledge of who the person is (aka Facebook data.)
  • Google is expanding to offer similar products and services through YouTube, all aimed at moving through the time continuum of platforms and connection points to consumers.

This year, I hope to address questions in our fast-paced industry and point out the wins and losses we’re experiencing in the media landscape. Not only will I use the experiences of Levels Beyond, I will discuss the practices of other companies in this space along with the ideas of thought leaders who are working through many of the same issues. Media is working in all different ways – with grass root digital campaigns delivering targeted audiences as effectively as a Super Bowl ad. Our goal is to explore markets, media, audiences, and provide some insight, ask a lot of questions and generate some discussion.

ART RAYMOND / CEO – For the past five years he’s focused on client strategy across most segments in the media space: networks, studios, sports, brands and agencies. Looking across the mix has been enlightening and challenging and as he loves to say, “we’re only about 30% into this media transition.”

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