TheGrill 2017: How Multimedia Company Execs Use Data to Sell Products, ‘Mitigate the Risk’

Data “allows us to take risk on shows and distribution partners and sponsors taking risks on shows,” Robert Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Fresno Inc. says

Multiple media executives gathered at TheWrap’s media conference, TheGrill, on Monday to discuss how important data is to distribute their products, and one even went so far as to say “it’s invaluable.”

Robert Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Fresno Inc., explained that his company uses data before a project is even green lit: “We model out what the show is going to do from an engagement standpoint. We go to distribution partners and say, ‘Here’s the audience for a show that’s never launched before, here’s the type of reach you’re going to get.’ To use data to minimize the failure rate, there’s never going to be an algorithm that’s going to create a hit show. If you start to minimize the failure rate, you improve the level of success by definition and that allows us to take risk on shows and distribution partners and sponsors taking risks on shows.”

He further explained that Fresno Inc. has a show geared specifically towards Facebook with Jimmy Kimmel titled “Cousin Sal’s Sure Thing,” where they figured out when to launch the show based on data that showed when the target audience stopped talking about the subject matter.

“Using data to create a more successful show by sending it out when people actually watch it is what we can use data for to mitigate the risk,” he added. “Tune in on Tuesday at 9 o’clock is outdated.”

President of First Look Media, Michael Bloom, chimed in, “We’re going to use Rob for First Look Media.”

Chris M. Williams, the CEO and Founder of pocket.watch, a multimedia platform geared specifically towards kids, added that even YouTube uses a “mass amount of data,” from their “retention rate, where people are dropping home videos or where they are watching again or rewinding… it’s invaluable.”

Kathleen Grace, the CEO of New Form, agreed that data is crucial in both the production and development stage of any content her company produces, depending on the demand.

“We ask, how big is the audience? Where is that audience? That’s just more ammunition for us to convince buyers: you want to buy this show,” Grace explained. “Not only is this person talented, they also have this many people that are engaged in this place at this rate. We also use data to test formats. We are testing formats on Facebook and YouTube — How does this work? Are they watching all the way through?”

She then elaborated on a recent discovery, where her team noticed that 80 percent of consumers are actively turning on the audio on Facebook, which, according to Grace, is “HUGE,” given that the show has no audio dialogue and is text-based. So the audiences turned on the audio just to hear the “Bloop” sound from iPhone text messages.

Alec Shankman, the SVP of Alternative Programming, Digital Media, Licensing and Branding at Abrams Artist Agency, also said data is important in his branch of media.

“Our clients leverage data to figure when they are posting, what’s working and what’s not working,” he said, adding that the agency in turn then uses data to sell to publishers, merchandisers and investors.

The panel, titled “Building a Next Stage Media Company – Many Platforms, Multiple Formats,” which took place at the Montage in Beverly Hills on Monday, closed with the following question from TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief, Sharon Waxman: What is the biggest challenge each company is facing?

“The audience doesn’t want to pay for content, and they don’t want to watch ads,” Grace said. Bloom chimed in, “finding great high-quality content — there isn’t enough of it.”

And Shankman laid the final tile: “The ever-changing algorithms of the various platforms, which really dictates the lives of our talent.”