Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz on the Future of Digital Media
Paid vs. Earned Media is the third and final video of our Rebooting Media think-tank series. This time we asked:
What are the implications (and opportunities) of social web distribution eclipsing paid impressions?
See our thought leaders tackle this question and read conversation highlights below.
You pay for earned media, too.
There is no earned media without paid media. Social network distribution hinges on quality content at the outset, which means that investing in your content before you publish it in the social feed is crucial.
“People loved the Old Spice ads. They were great and funny and they blew up on YouTube, and there was a lot of earned media behind that. And none of it would have existed if there wasn’t a TV spot that was made and bought and placed and that was very, very good.” —Greg Clayman, The Daily
“A lot of the ‘earned’ arguments came from viral sensations wearing as a badge of honor: ‘we spent no money on traditional marketing.’ People forget the impact that print, radio, and television have on online traffic. When I was at MTV Networks, I used to joke that the channels were only there to promote the websites.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined
Social is better than search for brand building.
Search advertising lacks the brand-building potential of TV and print. Social, on the other hand, is ideal for brand-building. Advertisers have been slow to embrace this, and we need to provide them with a compelling return story before they’ll be willing to make the leap.
“On the advertising side, there’s an argument that social has the potential to be a vehicle for brand advertising in a way that search can’t be. But what should be the metric for brand? Brand impressions are so much further up the funnel before you have an action. I think people are trying to find some metric between CPM and CPA.” —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch
It’s time to find the magic metric.
Even though social has been around for a while, most people don’t know how to measure success. At Wetpaint we’ve made huge strides in this area, and other people in the room were clearly ready to make this a priority.
“There’s a tremendous amount of money being spent by the film studios specifically on television advertising, and it’s a very inefficient spend; it’s carpet bombing. Virality and targeted advertising are a much more efficient spend, but so far digital media hasn’t been able to show the lift those properties need; they don’t see the payback. They know it’s happening, but they don’t know how to quantify it.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined
“We don’t have a choice. We’re either going to figure this out, or we’re going to live another ridiculous couple of decades without understanding why money is spent. Have I seen a magic metric? Not yet.” —Wenda Harris Millard, Media Link
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS
I hope you enjoyed our Rebooting Media think-tank series, and most importantly I hope it pushes you to join the conversation.
What does the next decade look like? One thing is for sure: it will look nothing like the last one.
Search vs. social, curated vs. created, owned vs. earned – these are not binary outcomes. How do we combine them in a way that meets the needs of the audience?
These are early days still, and there’s a huge opportunity for media players with the imagination, the brains and the courage to get there first.
Want more? Download a PDF of the full published collection of perspectives prepared by these participants and others at Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.
And if you missed part 1 or part 2, you can find them here:
In the last several years, “social” has gone from a college fad to become the fabric that connects the internet. And yet, even as it has taken over the wiring of the web, there is no established blueprint for what media companies should do with it. When my company Wetpaint began reinventing media for the social web last year, I went looking for the people who had all the answers. And I found out there aren’t any.
But there are a lot of bright, inquisitive people who have been running their own experiments and trying to find the way forward. Wouldn’t it be great to get them all together to make a new think tank for the social web?
In conjunction with the release of our new series Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web, Wetpaint and Digitas convened a group of leaders and journalists with a live audience to attack the question: “How do you retool media for a social world?”
The conversation featured five leading executives:
And who better to prompt the tough questions than three leading digital media journalists? Our conversation included Jeff Bercovici (Mixed Media writer for Forbes); Jessi Hempel (Senior Writer covering tech at Fortune); and Erick Schonfeld (Editor of TechCrunch).
The conversation, hosted by Digitas SVP Entertainment and Content John McCarus and me, covered three themes. We will be releasing the videos in three parts, listed below. I also encourage everyone to download the full published collection of perspectives prepared by these participants and others, available via PDF at wetpaint.com/page/thought-leadership.
Event videos are available at:
This piece from Wenda Harris Millard is the seventh in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.
I’m not sure that Facebook is media. But Facebook has changed everything. I see it as a platform for connection. The challenge for marketers is in connecting effectively with audiences in these kinds of social environments. I think advertising by its very nature is often intrusive, but it tends currently to cross the line and be disruptive in social media. It may violate trust with audiences. So, how are advertisers going to reach people most efficiently and effectively in a social environment? Advertising or commercial messaging is going to be like nothing we know today.
Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?
If you’re a brand marketer, you can no longer interrupt the discussion. You have to be part of the discussion. This has a lot of implications. And you have to ask yourself whether people come to you, or do you look at social platforms as a way to build and distribute content and your own messaging. The economic models have changed. In the past, in a siloed world, you had your own site, and you went about the business of attracting an audience and monetizing that site. That’s a simple formula, and it’s not nearly as relevant anymore. We are now living in a world where you have to find your audience where it aggregates. You have to find the audience on someone else’s platform, and then figure out how to make money. This throws everything we’ve known in traditional marketing on its head.
Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?
We’ve learned so much about the value of recommendations from friends and colleagues. Now, with the continued advance of the Web as a social environment, what’s going to happen is that, instead of typing certain things into the search box, there will be an increasing tendency to go to your social circle for input. If you need an address, you’ll go to the search engine; but if you need a great back doctor, you’ll ask friends or colleagues. This is the personal recommendation engine, and it will be part of our lives. Think of it as personal optimizations – how do you get the best information from your social circle?
Q: How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?
Publishers are worried about the abundance of user-generated content in the whole social media experience right now. The plethora of choice for consumers is almost overwhelming. Yet I believe that consumers are still looking for a trustmark. Of course, you’ll be able to read your friends’ recommendations, and you’ll share on whatever platform you’re using, but when you’re looking for information, I still believe that brands represent a level of trust or a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. That said, when you’re growing a brand today, you can no longer just build it and expect that they will come. Building and enhancing your brand as a .com online is only one element in all this. You need to be where people are – that’s the Facebook phenomenon.
Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?
New media, digital media and social media – it will all be called media. And the winners will be those who find a way not to define themselves by their tried-and-true or historical practices, or by their distribution channels. You can’t define yourself as a magazine publisher; you’re a content provider. You need to step out of the channel you live in and understand how each of the pieces fits together. How does TV fit with Facebook, for example? Or search engines or print with anything in social media? The key is knowing where commerce is – online and offline. What is the relationship among all media channels? The winners will grasp these interrelationships.
Wenda Harris Millard is President & COO of Media Link LLC, a leading advisory firm that provides critical counsel to clients in the marketing, media, entertainment, and technology industries. Prior to this, Millard was Co-Chief Executive Officer and President of Media, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Chief Sales Officer of Yahoo. She has also served as the Chief Internet Officer at Ziff Davis Media, President at Ziff Davis Internet, and Executive Vice President at DoubleClick.
To download the complete report, please click here: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web
This is the first in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.
As Don Graham, Chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company, recently remarked on-stage at a conference of leading CEO’s, the media industry as we have known it for the last 100 years is collapsing. The basic structure of our industry – content creation, packaging, distribution, and monetization – have shifted so substantially that the rug has literally been pulled out from underneath media’s business model.
A new model must be created – and the DNA of the medium itself has been irreversibly altered so that it is now innately social.
And yet, in the midst of this upheaval, I’ve found that even the brightest and most well informed strategies are able to tap only part of media’s new nature and capture just a slice of the industry’s remaking.
At a time like this, to get a complete picture of the territory ahead, there is nothing wiser than integrating perspective from the best and brightest people in the publishing world. And, over the course of the last several years, I’ve been immensely grateful for those leaders’ intelligence and vision.
So, I thought it was only fitting to help create the ultimate social network – one that will enable our industry to share the smartest ideas as it remakes digital media.
That’s what this compendium is all about.
Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web brings together eight of the most thoughtful influencers and offers their most cogent assessment of the new online relationship-building that is helping to connect people in absolutely unprecedented ways.
Together, these eight contributors reinforce three dominant themes:
Building a media brand on the new social Web means that publishers have to meet consumers where, when and how they want. It’s all about user-driven pull, and publishers need to offer experiences and establish relationships that may not be on their own terms.
Facebook is a transformative platform driving new personalization and connectivity across the upstart social Web. We are still waiting to see all of what Facebook ultimately becomes, but we know it represents a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift.
Any way you look at it, search (as we know it) is declining. The open sharing of social networks, and the power of social endorsement, are seriously altering what consumers look for on the Web, and how we’re engaging with content. The search algorithm has lost out – big time – to the will of the audience.
But the most powerful insights are in the essays that follow from each of our eight contributors.
Wenda Harris Millard, President of Media Link LLC, advances the notion of a new personal recommendation engine on today’s Web.
I have already learned a lot from each of these people and their pieces, and I hope you do, too – not only to build your own ideas, but to help our industry move forward. To that end, I invite further conversation with me, and with our contributors.
The digital dialogue is so essential as we all work to re- invent publishing for 21st century audiences.
To download the complete report, please click here: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web