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  • January 29, 2024
  • By Albert Lai Director, Media & Entertainment, Google Cloud , Anil Jain Global Managing Director, Strategic Consumer Industries, Google Cloud
  • Blog

Navigating the Future of AI for Media & Entertainment: Self-disrupt or Self-destruct?

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Media and entertainment companies of all sizes are struggling to attract and retain audiences who are eager to find and consume content that interests them. Because content is abundant with too many options to navigate and pay for—and switching costs are low—profitability has eluded many providers.

How can media and entertainment companies respond? Many are turning to a new ally: AI.

Historically, M&E companies focused on creating great content or distributing that content to mass audiences. Over time, many of the biggest media companies vertically integrated and did both.  In recent times, with the advent of streaming, many media companies have gone “all-in” on the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, determined to capture loyalty and revenue by owning the end-to-end customer experience. As a result, they now bear the full cost of not only producing and distributing their own content but also often are responsible for developing and maintaining significant  technology platforms, and  face the need to deliver enough content—through engaging experiences on all screens—to satisfy increasingly fragmented, global subscriber audiences. Meanwhile, entertainment alternatives, such as immersive video games and short-form social videos, are gaining attention and share of wallet, increasing competitive pressures.

Media companies can avoid the dreaded “I’m not interested, <click>” phenomenon by giving consumers the content they want, when they want it, and how they want it. And the best way to mass produce content, customize it, then deliver it on demand, is to become an AI company.

To thrive, every media and entertainment company must become an AI company

For some media companies, transformation was a long-term vision when the pandemic suddenly accelerated their investments in cloud infrastructure, workforce upskilling, and digital business models.

Today, these “media-tech” companies are evolving into “media-AI” companies because they recognize that generative AI can augment, optimize, and transform their entire enterprise in three core areas to increase monetization:

  • content creation, production, and management
  • personalization of consumer experiences
  • business productivity

These companies know that consumers are spending more and more time with the services that offer dynamic and personalized experiences—whether consumed as small bursts of infotainment or as immersive, persistent interactions. They need efficient and cost effective ways to create these experiences, at scale. With AI, the potential to do so is endless.

Imagine the following scenarios: 

  • Val, whose job is to discover, shape, and land great new content, shares a script with a collaborative technology assistant that consults the company’s style guide, values, and tone to help her create a summary and rating, assess the story and characters, extract plot elements, and search for similar plots already in her studio’s pipeline.
  • Using a natural language interface, Stefan searches content archives spanning decades of video, images, audio, and text to find creative content for a nearly completed project, then quickly searches for usage rights information across numerous contract systems to avoid potential copyright issues.
  • To create a global, cross-channel marketing campaign, Neha feeds an AI assistant information on campaign objectives, the target audience, brand guidelines, and tonality, then gets back dozens of promotional images and copy blocks, instantly translated so her international team can evaluate the best options for their local markets.
  • Jose hears about a great foreign movie but doesn’t catch the title. He tells his connected television about a compelling scene or a catchy line of dialogue, finds the movie within seconds, and watches it dubbed in English with AI-generated lip synchronization.
  • Lucille doesn’t have the 15 minutes required to read an entire article before hitting the road, so she asks her favorite news service to transform that article into a podcast or a three-minute audio summary and tack on a description of how last night’s game ended, which she missed because it went into overtime.
  • Gwen can’t get a video application to work on her new device. A conversational chatbot connects her to troubleshooting information on the service’s website. Unable to fix the problem herself, she engages with a customer service rep, who uses AI tools to search historical consumer interactions for similar issues and guide Gwen to a resolution.

As these examples illustrate, AI won’t replace humans, but it will augment people and processes so that companies can deliver more of what their audiences want, faster. C-suite leaders who understand this are already modernizing their data platforms and adding AI offices to their executive teams.

Getting started with AI now

When it comes to adopting AI, we’ve heard two diametrically opposed perspectives from global media and entertainment companies: wait-and-see or self-disrupt before industry peers do it for you.

When putting AI at the heart of your business can put you five years ahead in five months, it doesn’t make sense to wait. Evolutionary steps, such as using AI to automate, augment, and accelerate common tasks—including software development—can have an immediate and huge impact.

As you experiment in the short-term, build a long-term revolutionary strategy to accelerate content creation, to transform customer experiences through hyper-personalization, and to deliver innovative content globally at scale.

  • Establish the AI principles that will govern the use of AI across your business.
  • Experiment with generative AI across your organization.
  • Prioritize use cases by evaluating the costs and benefits of relevant AI solutions.
  • Build a solid AI foundation by bringing disjointed data sets together.
  • Assess your organization’s AI readiness.
  • Identify what will work best for your business by implementing proofs of concept designed to fail fast.
  • Share what works best with the rest of your organization.

AI can and will transform the economics of the media and entertainment industry. M&E companies have a critical choice to make: either ride the AI wave or risk self-destruction. The choice isn't between progress and stagnation, it's between evolution and extinction.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Google Cloud. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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