|Matthias Puschmann: “A 360-degree view of what the global entertainment industry is doing online”|
BROADCASTERS and producers are no longer in any doubt that digital brand extensions are crucial to engaging with younger audiences.
What they may still question, however, is how best to connect with those pesky digital natives; what works online, with which properties and to what measurable effect; and how much time, effort and money should be invested in dark arts of social TV, second-screen solutions, multiplatform storytelling, exclusive online content, apps for smartphones and tablets, play-along games and branded content.
Fortunately help is at hand in the form of the Berlin-based start-up VAST MEDIA, which specialises in providing market analysis in social TV and whose tracking service already counts the likes of ProSiebenSat.1, Canal+ and ITV Studios among its 20-odd broadcaster, production, brand and agency clients.
“We constantly monitor how international broadcasters and producers promote TV shows online and extend their brands digitally in order to drive engagement across various platforms,” says VAST MEDIA managing director Matthias Puschmann, who co-founded the company with Henner Herwig Jürgens in 2010. That information is presented to clients via a 40-page monthly TV@WEB REPORT, chronicling the international broadcast community’s recent digital activities, from social-TV campaigns to play-along games; and the TV@WEB DATABASE, which contains around 1,400 examples of social-TV examples and best practice. All entries in the B2B platform, which is updated daily, can be filtered and grouped by TV show, broadcaster, platform, market or genre. In other words, as Puschmann puts it: “We offer a 360-degree view of what the global entertainment industry is doing online, from the smallest Twitter-based voting initiative to huge competitions built around mega-formats like The Voice or social-media campaigns for global TV franchises like The Walking Dead.”
|A TV@WEB REPORT showing hashtag voting for The Voice|
Puschmann claims his service is unique, saying that VAST MEDIA’s rival tracking agencies are more focused on the numbers behind shows than the creative ideas driving the hits, page views, viral buzz and social-media trends. Indeed, he says that one of the take-away points from VAST MEDIA’s first couple of years of operation is just how much creativity broadcasters and producers are throwing at the digital world. He professes himself “constantly amazed” by the variety, audacity and ingenuity of the online initiatives that are being employed to add value, create emotions, spark reactions and generate world-of-mouth.
And there’s no question that brand extensions work. Puschmann cites the Halloween Special of ABC Family’s teen drama Pretty Little Liars, which generated 1.1 million tweets in just 50 minutes. And then there was the French launch of post-apocalyptic thriller The Walking Dead, which saw French network NT1 run a guerrilla social-media campaign devised by Darewin, which resulted in disobedient fans being stalked by zombies on Twitter. “That created huge buzz and made people laugh,” Puschmann adds. “But it didn’t take much to stage in terms of investment — just a lot of imagination.”
A growing number of VAST MEDIA’s clients are active in the formats industry, where shows such as The X Factor and The Voice are setting the gold standard in terms of digital deployment. Sky Italia, for example, recently launched a series of digital extensions to migrate The X Factor across multiple screens before, during and after airing. A mix of social voting, exclusive online content, apps and community games resulted in more than 750,000 votes cast — astonishingly, almost the entirety of any given episode’s audience on Sky.
Puschmann is not surprised. The X Factor example, he says, only serves to underline a new reality: that today’s young viewers expect to engage with their favourite TV brands on multiple platforms and that broadcasters and producers will lose “the battle for attention” if they fail to deliver.
He adds: “Digital extensions may not make you money immediately. But the end of the day, audiences that fully engage with your content are the best ambassadors for your show. And that can certainly be monetised.”