Stream Market is one of the more interesting conferences that comes through Los Angeles each year. The two-day event is produced by Brunico Communications – a Canadian company that defines itself as “trusted, edgy, thought-provoking and innovative” – and it definitely has a different flavor than most of the conferences on similar topics. Typically, it precedes its sister conference – Realscreen West Summit – that fills up the rest of this week-long invasion of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
Day One opened with a keynote presentation by Laura Martin, Senior Analyst at Needham & Company. Having earned degrees from both Stanford and Harvard Business School, Martin offered a concise analysis of the ways that content reacts to the ways that technology accelerates the complexity of media.
Martin suggests that companies with global reach are being valued upward, while companies that focus on the US alone are being valued downward. In regard to new forms of distribution, she suggests that content companies let somebody else build the new platforms so they can just follow the audience after they adopt the platform.
Defy Media President Keith Richman explained how their 7 brands have created 72 weekly shows that launch the same day and time of day every week. The combination distribution on YouTube with an old school broadcast schedule manages to aggregate 125 million monthly views.
Richman attributes this to the fact that Defy pays attention to the story that the audience wants to hear, rather than imposing on them the story that a creator may want to tell. He has cultivated an environment that begins with understanding the audience and then reverse engineers the story to suit the audience. “You can trick someone into starting to watch something, but you can’t trick them into sticking around and sitting through the whole thing,” he suggests, noting that time is one of the most important indicators of success in streaming media.
A number of panels discussed the growing importance of eSports as a viable market for content that can wrap around the worlds of gaming. The genre has gained the attention of venture capital firms who see an opportunity to expand on the combination of live arena competitions with documentaries, supplemental behind the scenes content hosted by an assortment of video stars that provide color commentary while taking the viewers inside a new and exciting world. The primary venues are Twitch and Machinima, but others are beginning to emerge in Asia. China does not have either Twitch or YouTube, but they still have 70 million users who play League of Legends every month.
Branded Content has also established an emerging footprint in the current digital space. CAA has taken a leadership role by representing some of the top online talent and combining them with brand sponsors. Jae Goodman, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Head of CAA Marketing explained that his division of the agency bears a striking resemblance to an advertising agency. They are set up to create ideas that attract an audience rather than distract it. He explained that advertising has become inefficient, but that “the beauty of this moment is that we all get to define it.” Their ideas are born as multi-platform opportunities and if they can only conceive of a project living on one platform they pull it out of the mix. Ultimately, the guideline is that you cannot interrupt the content with a brand message.
Some of the most exciting branded content that has come along in recent years is “Carmilla” – a web series that is sponsored by Kimberly-Clark. A modern twist on the vampire story, Carmilla has enjoyed more than 45 million views. The focus is more than 90% about story and less than 10% marketing message. The product? Tampons.
The series has been so successful that many viewers were purchasing the product in special collector boxes and not opening the box for fear of spoiling the value of the box. Kimberly-Clark believes that once one of these viewers has been “acquired” through engagement with the series, they will continue to be a customer for many years to come. Another indication of success can be found in the fact that there is an enormous amount of fan art being generated around the characters in Carmilla. You are cordially invited to investigate, experience and/or immerse yourself in the adventures of Carmilla.
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