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How Premium Brands Can Better Leverage Live Event Streams

What are some of the most effective ways that video advertisers can navigate the ever-evolving media ecosystem? Steve Nathans-Kelly, VP and Editor-in-Chief of Streaming Media and Video Publishing Director at Information Today Inc. discusses this topic with John Petrocelli, CEO/Founder, Bulldog DM, and Corey Smith, Sr. Director, Advanced Production Technology, CBS Sports Digital, Paramount.

Nathans-Kelly starts the conversation by mentioning the unconventional and freewheeling Streaming Media Connect 2023 keynote by deadmau5, DJ & musician, equity partner, Stream Voodoo. “That guy is so knowledgeable,” Nathans-Kelly says. “One of the things that he brought up was that when you're in the streaming audience for an event that is happening live somewhere else, there's a little bit of an element to it where these people on site are having this experience and the folks in the streaming audience are just kind of peeking in through the blinds. There's that element where you're just not where it's happening.”

Nathans-Kelly says to Petrocelli, “You're working for high-level premium brands, and your job is to deliver an experience that will meet all of their expectations and will be more than just peeking in on something that's happening somewhere else. What are the objectives for brand marketers in presenting live streams of tentpole events to a target audience, and how do you meet those expectations?”

Petrocelli emphasizes that advertising has been one of the most disrupted industries in the last twenty years due to many factors, including the emergence of the internet, cord-cutting, ad-blocking, and brand safety. Additionally, he says that the average attention span of viewers has been cut in half over the last twenty years, and probably even more so for the youngest generation.

“The big thing that has emerged is watch time,” Petrocelli says. “If you can help us solve that challenge [to] open up an engagement with somebody for beyond that small micro bucket of time that's of interest to us far more than the size of the audience or even the total concurrence for brands. We have found if they do this the right way and present something, they can unlock 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 minutes of watch time. And then it becomes, what do you as a brand marketer want to do? And we have pretty big clients who are some of the best brand marketers on the face of the earth, and it's up to them. Is it customer acquisition or customer retention? Do they want you just to do brand awareness? In some cases, it may be they want to introduce a new product. And the successful outcome of that is watch time. And I think they've concluded that the consumers that they want to reach today are not watching Law & Order on NBC on Thursday night and sitting through a State Farm commercial. That's not how they will connect and reach these individuals.”

Petrocelli highlights that an entire industry has grown around cultivating watch time based on experiential marketing and maximizing engagement, especially for remote audiences. “If you do this right, they're going to be engaged for an extended period,” he says. “And some of the data that comes from that is pretty compelling: where people are, how long they're watching, what device they're on, even what operating system they're on, that's pretty compelling marketing data. We've worked with AT&T; I think we've done 20-plus shows for them over the last few years. That [information] becomes valuable. Now they can remarket, take some of those learnings from the watch time and the reporting metrics and build strategies around that. And I'm seeing that that's a far better spend than traditional [approaches], especially if you're trying to reach a Gen Z or a younger millennial consumer.”

CBS Sports Digital's Corey Smith breaks the present situation down to a question of purpose for events or programming as either platforms to serve as marketing vehicles or to work in tandem with an already sustainable business. “You look at like the Netflixes of the world, those guys are running at hyperscale across the globe in VOD, and now they’re starting to get into live streaming,” he says. “It's going to be interesting to see how that business model kind of sustains [with] some of these folks that are moving from more of a VOD [approach] but are also just having events that are based around the marketing of a product, let alone a concert series.”

Smith elaborates further on these distinctions. “Universal Music Group would do a concert series for all their jazz artists on their label, and they would bring it in as some kind of business to generate money for putting on these live shows,” he says. “But they're probably not thinking about it [as], ‘I'm just going to do this for marketing to sell records.' It’s fascinating to see where the market could be two years from now as either sustainable businesses fold and it becomes more of a marketing vehicle again, or [if] marketing can drive a sustainable business.”

Learn more about leveraging live event streams at Streaming Media East 2023.

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