By Juan Bruce, CEO at Epoxy.tv
While “mainstream media” is alive, the new digital universe will make us all think twice before we call it “well.” With the rise of the digital medium proving to be a serious draw for audience viewership, it is no secret that multi-platform content creators are quickly establishing themselves as the hottest tickets in the entertainment industry. With established media properties in film and television now crafting projects with social media awareness in mind, creators and digital natives have a distinct advantage in pulling focus, as they have helped create the very environment in which they thrive. To this end, multi-platform creators may actually be bigger than the current media landscape assumes them to be.
There is no question that the reach of some of the digital platform’s top-tier talent is staggering. When a single individual’s subscriber base on Vine can reach an audience quadruple the viewership of a television network’s highest rated primetime show, there is considerable insight to be gleaned from this advantage. Looking at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” as a prime example, we can see this multiple-platform edge at work.
Fallon is Multi-Platform FTW
According to a recent article in Variety, the ratings performance of “The Tonight Show” has increased to be a leader among its competition. Just prior to the February 2014 debut of Fallon’s program, AdAge predicted it would engage a smaller viewership than some of its competitors. But by leveraging and crafting the show’s content for presentation on multi-platforms, Fallon and his team accrued a unique audience that became the cornerstone of their success. There is little doubt that Fallon’s digital media engagement is what lead to the show’s inevitable pull ahead in the traditional space. By spreading the wealth across multiple venues, “The Tonight Show” is no longer relegated to a single, late evening viewing experience. Now, it appears in multiple formats, consumable to eager viewers over the course of their day. “The Tonight Show,” once a single hour of nighttime television, is now available to fans around the clock.
Consider this: Jimmy Fallon’s 25.7 million Twitter followers are the biggest in the late night game
Fallon’s Twitter follower count is 9 million more than his closest competitor, Conan O’Brien, at 16.7 million followers.
Fallon’s cleverly-crafted digital “plan of attack” showcases a considerable awareness of the advantages digital content creators possess in gaining an audience. Studying what makes their online counterparts so successful and applying it to their business model, “The Tonight Show” team is already one step ahead of many of their contemporaries.
Speaking in (Native) Tongues
The need for multi-platform audience engagement is only going to increase as viewers’ expectations create more of a demand. The ability to traverse between mediums and deliver content in a manner befitting each is a precious skill for the new era of entertainment. Not only does it show creators are adapting to bring their unique visions to as broad an audience as possible, but it also portrays an understanding of building strength in brand. To that end, successful multi-platform creators are not only some of the most versatile developers of fresh content out there, but also some of the most powerful marketers in the new industry.
In that respect, digital native creators not only have the advantage, but are also showing us the model. By working across multiple digital platforms, creators are delivering varying styles of content, each being consumed by viewers with different needs. These digital-savvy artists are crafting output that appeals to different aspects of their audience’s lives, hitting their “wants” from all sides. An individual who tunes in for a Snapchat is expecting something different than what they get on YouTube, but a multi-platform creator who delivers to both mediums can capture the attention of each audience in one fell swoop.
By understanding how to connect with the audience of each particular medium, multi-platform creators are aware of the distinct psychology of each. This gives creators incredibly keen insight on how to best deliver information to their viewership. In the instant world of social media, commercial breaks and skippable ad space no longer have the selling power of years past. Now, the best way to get a message to an audience is by embedding it into the very content they desire to watch. We’ve seen this successfully occur in the YouTube space, with content creators integrating brands they are passionate about into their videos via partnerships or sponsorships.
In truth, creators in the digital space are not just artists or performers, they are also entrepreneurs. More so than in any other medium, these creators developed their content organically, utilizing their own awareness of the various platforms available to them to build a brand. In this respect, multi-platform online personalities are steamrolling traditional media personalities (Jimmy Fallon notwithstanding), because they are pulling in the viewing numbers, and generally doing it without the aid of major studio or label backing.
However, that is not to say we should be placing traditional personalities in competition with their digital counterparts. Rather, we should use this opportunity to grow and hone our understanding of delivery. There is a greater marketing strategy to be learned from the digital landscape. While these creators are most certainly (as the descriptor implies) creatives first, there is no denying that they serve as some of the greatest integrated marketing voices in the industry today. Based on this fact alone, it should stand to reason that we have a lot to learn from the multi-platform model and its ability to reach audiences for entertainment and profit.
The digital creator proves that one does not need to sacrifice quality of content to push a product, but rather find a way to integrate the message with the medium and the brand. If the audience’s expectations of platform are met, they are less likely to consider the marketing intrusive. It’s a fact of which many digital creators are already well aware, and it’s time the rest of us sat up and took note.
Juan Bruce is the co-founder and CEO at Epoxy.tv, a technology company for creators to distribute videos, engage with fans and measure the true reach of their content across the social web.