Viewpoint: an experience to remember

Cesar-Suero,-RawnetCesar Suero, account and business development director at creative digital specialist Rawnet NY on why a ‘digital experiential’ approach is critical to engaging buyers away from the screening room.

Creating a winning format for a TV show, which has the potential of being a global money spinner, has always been increasingly important to broadcasters, but in recent years competition has accelerated the desire for the next big idea. You don’t need to look far now to see how prominent they are in our schedules. Aside from the growing number of talent and celebrity driven programmes, there is an increasing amount of innovation emerging in TV land.

However, whilst producers are upping the stakes in terms of creativity, the way in which shows are sold and marketed to potential buyers remains relatively unchanged.

So how do you ensure that the innovations in your new programme content are easily communicated, and more importantly how can you encourage others to buy from you in a new and exciting way?

MIPTV and MIPCOM, which are arguably the most anticipated global markets for entertainment content across all platforms, provide a perfect opportunity for new programmes to be showcased. That said, with the ability for formats to go global very quickly, The MIP events are a hotbed for competition.

The trouble is, the shows are commonly the only distinction between distributor stands. The buyer experience is not immersive enough and doesn’t utilise any real modernised digital marketing techniques. You’ll always have big ad displays, TV screens playing clips, screening room sessions, late night parties and a wealth of people on hand to talk about the programme, but that’s it. There is a baffling lack of digital. Everyone looks the same, and for those that regularly attend, it can become tedious.

Despite a wealth of TV specific content, digital is often forgotten about in offline environments such as these, but if it’s applied in the right way, it can have a profound impact on engagement levels. It is unexpected, for one. A large part of events like MIP, are still part of the “marketing old guard”; there’s little innovation and creativity in the way things are showcased or sold. In essence there is real lack of an experiential approach.

I have often walked around stands and been impressed by their visual presence, but perplexed at how they are not immersive or engaging worlds. I’m obviously not in the programme buying market, but even if I were, there is typically little to entice me on a deep or personal level. Digital changes that. It enables you to bridge the gap and connect with attendees in a more direct and fun way, which sometimes even overrides the huge media spend for better ROI, which has been present there for years.

Ultimately, if you can create meaningful digital experiences that producers and partners can become truly immersed in, you can communicate the values and credentials of the show in a far more powerful way. If you only have a small budget it becomes even more paramount.

ITV Studios is setting the benchmark for both creativity and innovation not only in its programming, but in the way it is selling it at these offline events. By investing in technology, which allows potential buyers far greater access to their content, it is increasingly able to build far more meaningful and memorable experiences.

For ITV Studios format The Secret Life of Students, we worked together to develop a multi-platform campaign. It was not only distinctive, and a later talking point of the whole event, but a way to sell and promote the uniqueness of the format at the same time. In this case it was critical that the campaign allowed those involved to truly experience the world of the show, in a way that a print advertising campaign or screening room presentation simply couldn’t: innovation communicated through innovation.

By skipping the mass-marketing approach, ITV was able to target influential people directly, thus creating a real-world version of the show at MIPCOM, where targeted buyers and executives were equipped with a smart phone and secret identity. The network of 46 phones, created a ‘mini D-RIG’ experience – billed ‘The Secret Life of MIPCOM’, and generated over 800 Whatsapp messages, 175 tweets and saw in excess of 100 images and videos in just four days.

Campaigns such as these are a prime example of the power digital plays in the offline world. But just because the digital industry’s bread and butter is creating carefully considered digital user experiences online, that are mapped out with a clear journey or path for the user to take, it doesn’t mean the offline world shouldn’t benefit from similar treatment of campaigns and experiences.

So what does this tell us? Well for starters having a clear vision and plan in place can immediately transform the way you interact with customers’ offline and open up a wealth of new opportunities. But to do that, you need to think about the bigger picture: what is your ultimate goal? Sure it will vary market to market, but bottom line you have to ask yourself whether or not what you are creating will establish a ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) mentality amongst attendees and a sense of buzz? If it does, is it actually worthwhile? Does your campaign compliment your aims and objectives as a business? Is it sharable? Is it scalable? Is there a clear user journey for people to travel through?

These are all important questions you need to ask yourself before embracing a digital solution to ensure you have identified the best way to communicate your messages, but at the same time understand how the people you are trying to engage might want to receive them. At events like MIPCOM, we need to see more of this, and I suspect many more will start to follow ITV’s lead.

Those that do need to be mindful of the end user experience and the associated journey. They need to remain focused on creating experiences which complement the essence of the event, the market, the buyer and, most importantly, the programme.