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Adapting to Disruption while Moving Media Insights Forward

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The media insights and media entertainment industry are undergoing significant disruption driven by technological advancements, shifting consumer behaviors, and evolving business models.

“I think 2023 was a difficult year for research in the media industry. I don’t expect we’re going to have another wave as large this year. The contraction to a large degree has already happened. I don’t know that we’re adding more uncertainty here. 2024 is more the year of figuring out what we do with this uncertainty because I don’t think it’s going away. It’s the new status quo. We must find the best ways of working within this new reality,” says Tamar Rimmon, Vice President, Research and Analytics Strategy, Fandom.

The Digital Reality

The rise of streaming services has disrupted traditional television and cable models. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have changed the way audiences consume content, leading to cord-cutting and impacting advertising revenues for traditional TV networks. Media companies are embracing digital transformation to stay relevant. This includes the adoption of digital platforms, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to optimize content creation, distribution, and audience engagement. The move to digital, however, also challenges traditional revenue models.

“Leaders within the media research landscape today, more so than ever, are charged with translating across a variety of different platforms and media,” observes Sara Grimaldi, Vice President, Data Strategy & Analytics, Paramount. “And thus, the measurement approaches are equally fragmented. That’s something that certainly, compared to even five years ago, I think the landscape is quite different. Consumers are in control of their media journey, how they consume Paramount content and media at large.”

Augmenting Social Media Channels

The popularity of user-generated content on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram has shifted the power dynamics in media creation. Social media has become a primary source for content discovery, and influencers play a crucial role in shaping audience preferences, challenging traditional advertising and content creation methods.

Even the advent of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies is transforming the media entertainment experience. Companies are exploring immersive storytelling and interactive content, impacting traditional film and television production methods. Increasing concerns about data privacy and regulatory changes are influencing how media companies collect, handle, and use consumer data. This is reshaping targeted advertising practices and requiring media entities to adapt to new compliance standards.

The Changing Consumer

Changing consumer habits, particularly among younger audiences, are driving the demand for on-the-go, personalized, and bite-sized content. Podcasts, short-form videos, and mobile-friendly content are gaining popularity, challenging traditional long-form content models. Even the way audiences consume live events, including sports, is shifting towards digital platforms. Streaming services are securing exclusive rights to live sports events, impacting traditional broadcasters and advertisers.

“On a basic level, we need to understand what is the right type of content to serve the needs of different generations across key occasions,” says Natasha Hritzuk, Vice President, Global Consumer Insights, Warner Bros. Discovery. “This isn’t about upending everything we do, but it is about being open to new technologies and different content formats including short form. Embracing new formats doesn’t mean going down the path of YouTube, but as a baseline we should explore how we can leverage short form to drive more awareness and engagement with long form. Further out, we need to identify opportunities to leverage our IP to create stories in shorter “bites” that satisfy the more omnivorous appetites of younger generations.”

Media companies are increasingly partnering with technology giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook to reach wider audiences, leverage their technological infrastructure, and explore new distribution channels. These collaborations influence content discovery, delivery, and monetization strategies. The proliferation of subscription-based services has led to subscription fatigue among consumers. Media companies are reevaluating their pricing models and bundling strategies to retain subscribers while maintaining profitability.

Embracing Challenges & Changes

“We’re going through a time of immense challenges and changes as a media entertainment industry right now, which is very concerning. The industry is challenged and changing and so are our roles as media insights leaders. We’re also getting more data than we ever have before. We also have less support than we’ve ever had before. As margins are going down, companies are contracting, so we don’t have quite the same resources as we’ve had in the past. Yet we’re still getting more data and more challenges to face,” says James Petretti, SVP, North America Distribution Research, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Media measurement, too, seems to be a moving target in today’s environment. “The way we evaluate media engagement success isn’t healthy,” says Edwin Wong, SVP Insights, Research & Innovation, Vox Media. “We focus on engagement. We talk about scale. We talk about reach. All from the vantage point of monetization. Should we consider pairing that up with media that produces community inclusion, context and telling the stories that move us forward? That actually feels even more important, especially in a year where we’re moving into an election cycle. What is the role of media and are we going be responsible as insights professionals and as media companies to promote these virtues?”

Placing Insights in a Central Role

Still, despite challenges, many of these insights leaders remain committed to the media and entertainment space—and the key role that market research can position itself in for the future.

“It’s hard for me to think of a time when there wasn’t more of a need for quality data and insights that lead to the creation of innovative solutions,” says Suzanne Persechino, Senior Vice President, Revenue Research, A+E Networks. “Despite what some may believe, disruption has been a part of the media ecosystem since nearly its inception. Technology is a huge driver of the shifts that we are seeing today, and of course the pandemic accelerated the pace of change. No matter, many of us are swimming in a sea of options in terms of what types of information we can harness, and instead the evaluation is centered on what will deliver the biggest impact or provide a clear ROI.”

Renata Policicio, Senior Vice President of Global Streaming and HBO Research, Warner Bros. Discovery, notes, “We are at the core of the disruption in the media space—it’s a transformation driven by consumers. They constantly tell us what they want to consume, how, where, and how much they are willing to pay. They have much more flexibility to pick and choose their services. As an insights leader, it’s a great place to be, connected with the source of the transformation, but we have to be nimble and able to adapt and adjust very quickly. It cannot take a year to change, we must be agile to be at the front.”

Download the Media Insights Perspectives 2024 Report

Video courtesy of Salesforce

Contributor

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

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