In the world today, thinking about being a media network isn’t just an interesting idea: it’s imperative.
The dramatic fragmentation of media consumption, the challenge of engaging consumers with meaningful paid media impressions, the ability to engage with consumers directly both in media and commerce, and the shortage of quality video GRPs all make having a direct media connection to consumers a highly desirable – if not crucial – business function. Add to that the desire on the part of complementary businesses to reach consumers of market-leading brands and developing a media business becomes an extraordinary profit center.
Successful media brands have gained the trust and confidence of consumers to deliver unique and compelling content consistently over time. (Think Disney and animated movies, or HBO and gritty dramas.) Similarly, the most successful non-media brands are ones that provide a compelling product or service and a level of expertise that is unrivaled. These brands are trusted by consumers for guidance and support beyond just the product at hand. (Consider Callaway and golf, or Best Buy and consumer electronics.)
Why a media network?
Brands can become thought leaders in their categories and own their narratives in a more expansive way by establishing a media network. A media network gives them the ability to distance their brands from competitors by delivering consumer value beyond perceptions that have been established through paid media, word of mouth or product use. If done well, it adds a layer of stickiness that keeps the brand top of mind during the life moments that the brand may drift in and out of during the purchase journey.
A media network can range from how-to videos, product reviews and expert advice to long-form content like The BMW Films. Curate, create or do both – it depends on how your consumers think of you and your brand. The trust consumers have in a brand and its resulting enterprise value will improve if your network is developed, launched and maintained correctly.
Key steps brands need to take to assess and act on the media network opportunity:
- Understand what your brand does better than anyone else. Do you have desirable knowledge and the trust and confidence of consumers in an area that is unique and compelling? Do you have consumer permission to share your knowledge or perspective, or do you have something that will give you that permission?
- Determine which mediums you should use to connect with consumers. Do you have an existing website, physical stores, apps or other ways in which you’re getting in front of lots of eyeballs?
- Decide what content you should have on your network. What topics, formats and treatments do you not only have permission from consumers to offer but which ones will help you extend your brand? Are you building, buying, curating? Which influencers should be involved, if any? Who personifies your thought leadership?
- Consider the mechanics. Who will produce the content most effectively and efficiently? What marketing do you need to do to help consumers find and sample your media?
- Monetization. Is your media vehicle attractive to advertisers? Which ones? What type of ad units are effective in your network and which are most attractive to advertisers? What kind of supporting information or data will set you apart from other advertising options?
- Activation. What is the appropriate launch plan to deepen your audience engagement and not alienate them? How will they discover your content and pull others into your ecosystem? Who are your most important consumers from a brand and advertiser viewpoint?
The ROI from building a media network can be phenomenal. While often unreported in financial statements, it is well understood that the ad networks for Best Buy, Amazon, and Cabela’s deliver net income contribution and growth rates that are higher than their company’s core businesses.
What will you do to take advantage of this brand building and monetization opportunity?