About a 5 min. read.
The 2024 Media Insights & Engagement conference in Miami brought together insights industry leaders to discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the media landscape. Featuring keynote presentations from data-driven leaders at TikTok, Snap, Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Paramount, ESPN, Nickelodeon, EA Games, Starz, and more. In a time where change and disruption are the norm, connection was in many ways therapeutic for the researchers at the forefront of navigating these tidal shifts.
It is no secret that most big names in media and entertainment are making massive shifts in their business strategies. Or, as Andrew Wallenstein from Variety’s Intelligence Platform said, “We are moving past the days of studios spending like drunken sailors.” Media companies have been vocal about pivoting to focus on prioritization (being more selective about what gets created) and profitability (protecting, optimizing, and growing revenue streams).
These shifts in strategies starting to take shape in many ways: AR/VR technologies being implemented into the viewer landscape, opening new engagement and revenue doorways; businesses exploring new profit levers through content distribution strategies and partnerships. Short-form, social video formats are reshaping the landscape, with ongoing brand consolidation making the inner dynamics of the category a (stressful) challenge to keep up with.
With more content options than ever before, audiences are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to find what they want to watch. The overloaded attention economy presents a big problem for consumers and a thorn for media companies recognizing the unsustainability of the current ecosystem.
The media landscape is more complex and fragmented than ever, and audience and viewer measurement strategies can feel impossible for insights teams to execute. With so many streaming services, social media platforms, and other sources of entertainment (including games) vying for our attention, it is becoming harder to get the eyeballs, and in turn, get the dollars.
A clear call to action emerged throughout the week: get smarter about your strategies for integrating short-form social content into the discovery and viewing experiences. The insights team from TikTok and Snap shared their transformative work in social media and short-form content in the entertainment and ad experience landscape. The session, “The TikTok Takeover,” particularly inspired other leaders, and was mentioned throughout every presentation in the conference. ESPN and the NBA have been successful with their strategies: ESPN is the “most-followed brand on TikTok” according to their VP of Research, Flora Kelly. Melissa M. Proctor from the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks also shared how the franchise managed to transform their fan engagement strategy by making social and short-form videos an integrated part of the fan and broadcast experience. Adapting and integrating these new consumption habits into the ecosystem is critical or risk being left behind.
Paramount and Warner Brothers Discovery (WBD) shared generational trends of Gen Z (Born 1997-2012, ages 12-27) and Gen Alpha (born early 2010s – 2024, 0 to 12 years old). Vera Chien from WBD reminded us of a favorite trope: “Gen Z is the first generation who learned how to swipe before they learned how to wipe.” However, this figure of speech no longer feels relevant as this group gets older (many Gen-Z consumers are now 18+). While we catch up with Gen Z, we must start paying attention to the new wave of Gen Alpha consumers and the impact they will have. Paramount’s Alex Cammy and Sophia Ingram Ross shared results from their Cultural Insights team’s annual flagship research study, the Rise of Alpha, highlighting the changing parent/child relationship dynamics, a confidence and compassion-forward cohort who now influences 9 out of 10 household purchases. And while Gen-Z may be digital natives, Gen Alpha will be the first AI-native generation.
Vicki Dobbs Beck’s keynote speech, “Storytelling Reimagined: Step Inside the Mosaic,” focused on the potential of immersive technologies, such as AR/ VR, to change the way we consume media. These technologies have the potential to create more engaging and interactive experiences that could rekindle people’s interest in experiencing media in new ways. Many media companies are ready for this next wave of experiential engagement, but are waiting for the technology enablement to catch up: will Apple and Meta’s next generation of wearable devices open new paradigms for AR/VR to become mainstream?
With so much trepidation around reorganizations and shifting business strategies, insights teams should lean into the change and make themselves a central part of helping our business partners execute the shifting strategies. Are some of these topics and approaches on your research roadmap? If not, they should be!
The fast pace of media entertainment and culture is rapidly changing – need some help keeping up? Please reach out to me if you would like to talk more about the state of the media and entertainment industry. Otherwise, let’s get to work!