TVN'S FRONT OFFICE BY MARY COLLINS

Digital Monetization Needs Robust Asset Mgt.

Adopting a content-driven business strategy for reaching today’s nomadic viewers and monetizing your programming investments requires an integrated approach toward media asset management.

It’s been nearly 20 since Bill Gates’ published his “Content is King” article in which he declared “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

Going on to explain his vision, Gates said: “The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.”

These observations are proving increasingly true with the passage of time. Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) anticipates video content will account for 80% of the more than two “zettabytes” of all IP traffic in 2019, up from 67% in 2014.  

Smartphones and other portable media devices will represent a large part of that consumption. Cisco projects mobile connections will make up 72% of monthly IP traffic within the next five years.

Another driver for Internet bandwidth will be demand for high-definition formats. Cisco expects 63% of consumer traffic will be composed of HD and Ultra HD Internet video by 2019.

If you see yourself as being in the entertainment and information business, Cisco’s VMI data certainly reinforces the notion that “It’s good to be the king” (with apologies to Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I).  

BRAND CONNECTIONS

It‘s also one more reminder that consumer behavior is shifting. While broadcasting is still making “real money,” the business of television has changed quite a bit since 1996, when Gates wrote that article.

Interestingly, his reason for writing it was to announce the launch of MSNBC. It was heralded as both “a cable news network and an interactive news service on the Internet,” a cross-platform approach that has become fundamental to financial success in today’s digital world.

Reaching Today’s ‘Nomadic’ Viewers

Gates’ “Content is King” viewpoint was echoed during a presentation by Arvato Systems’ Eivind Sandstrand at last month’s Media Finance Focus 2015, the 55th annual conference for MFM and its BCCA subsidiary. Sandstrand, who is the company’s senior manager of business development, led a discussion concerning the need for broadcast stations and other media providers to develop an integrated approach toward their digital monetization strategies.       

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“Content is king. Your digital road map needs to follow a content-driven workflow.” In addressing what he described as the “nomadic” nature of today’s television viewer, Sandstrand pointed out that “linear (content delivery) still drives non-linear. Monetization follows the audience, not the platform.”

He went on to discuss the importance of rights management software in today’s “TV Everywhere” world, where broadcasters are distributing and aggregating content across multiple platforms as part of delivering an audience to advertisers. “Rights and placement (of content) deliver the audience; audience and measurement deliver the revenues.”

Rights issues and audience measurement data are just two examples of the content management complexities facing stations adopting a content-driven business strategy. As Cisco’s VNI analysis points out, video content is being viewed in a variety of media formats and optimized for a wide range of content delivery platforms and viewing devices.

Consider the ways stations use the raw footage shot in the field, serving it up in real time via online and mobile media platforms as well as using it on various newscasts and promotional outlets, including social media platforms. Studies have shown there can be dozens of derivative assets created from a single piece of native content.

DAM Versus ‘DAS’

The importance of developing an integrated solution for managing all of these media assets was the focus of a conference session led by Dan McGraw, managing director of North America for Celum, a leading provider of asset management solutions for a variety of industry groups.

McGraw, who was formerly VP of asset management at Walt Disney Studios, talked about the importance of moving away from making digital assert storage (DAS) decisions and adopting a company-wide approach toward digital asset management (DAM). This, he says, creates a centralized platform for managing an organization’s digital assets.

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With DAS, the focus is on building or buying more storage to accommodate the growing number of digital assets that the organization is creating. But storage alone won’t address other asset management needs, including finding a simple way to locate an individual asset.

McGraw pointed out that, “Having assets stored in multiple places without a centralized management solution increases both the time spent looking for a video asset as well as the likelihood the company will end up re-creating the same asset when the original isn’t found.”

Ironically, cost is a factor that drives some companies toward a storage-driven versus asset-driven content management strategy. Storage can typically be purchased out of department-level budgets whereas the decision to invest in a DAM solution is companywide and much more expensive initially. However, department-level spending, as McGraw observes, “keeps the world round, while with a corporate budget the world becomes flat.”

This becomes evident when a different department or location is looking for an asset in that round world. “Instead of having a consistent approach for how assets are managed, it becomes a science-naming project.” McGraw went on to illustrate how one major brand realized more than $14 million in new revenue and savings in the first two years of moving to a DAM solution.

DAM It

Control issues represent another challenge in the shift toward a comprehensive approach for digital asset management. While storage decisions can be limited to the IT department and the department that created or acquired the content, adopting a DAM solution will involve virtually all departments at both the corporate and local levels and follow the same pattern as other strategic management decisions.

When this happens, members of the organization must move from thinking of it as “my” content to realizing it really is “our” content. This underscores the importance of collaboration across departments, business units and regional organization structures.

This collaborative process will also require agreeing on items such as governance decisions and how to standardize the metadata used for tracking digital media assets. Companies will also need to look at the big picture financial decisions including whether to buy and maintain a DAM solution internally or outsource it to an entity that can support it as a cloud-based function.

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Mergers and acquisitions are also going to influence DAM decisions. There may be times when the station or station group being acquired has already discovered the DAM solution that is best suited for the acquiring company’s content-driven workflow.

We’ve Come A Long Way

If you have been in the industry a while, or are an old movie buff, you may recall a funny scene from the 1987 movie Broadcast News where the assistant news director, played by Joan Cusack, races to get a finished tape to the control booth in time for broadcast. Along the way, she runs into a garbage can and a file cart, slips on papers under an opened file drawer, jumps over a toddler and her mother and slams into a hallway water fountain.  

Thanks to the adoption of digital technology for creating and editing video content, stations have already come a long way from those days of working with physical media assets. And as experts like Arvato Systems’ Sandstrand and media management analyst Dan McGraw remind us, the file-based technologies used to move content around the station and around the globe also provide the opportunity to more fully monetize every investment made in creating and repurposing a digital media asset.

If we agree will Bill Gates’ observation that content is king, making content-driven business decisions is fundamental to the growth of the kingdom. Double meaning intended: I look forward to hearing your thought on the subject(s).

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary. She can be reached at [email protected]. Her column appears in TVNewsCheck every other week. You can read her earlier columns here.


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