Keeping TV Marketers Apace With Change

As PromaxBDA CEO Steve Kazanjian gets ready for his group's annual conference this week and then the PromaxBDA Station Summit in two weeks, he reflects on what his members must do to keep pace with the rapid pace of developments in television and new media and how PromaxBDA can help them.

Steve Kazanjian has been president and CEO of PromaxBDA since last December, but his formal debut comes tomorrow when he presides at the opening session of the TV marketing organization’s three-day annual conference in Los Angeles.

Kazanjian should have no trouble fitting in. He spent 15 years in entertainment, marketing and promotions, although more recently he was creative head for MWV, a leader in consumer packaged goods (CPG) branding and marketing.

The annual conference wraps up this Thursday, but Kazanjian won’t get much of a break. In two weeks (June 23-26), he is due in Las Vegas for the PromaxBDA Station Summit, where network and syndication executives gather with station creative services directors to go over promotion plans for the 2015-16 TV season.

Despite the demanding schedule, Kazanjian took time last Friday to speak with TVNewsCheck Editor Harry A. Jessell. In addition to previewing the two conferences, he talks about how PromaxPDA plans to keep members up to speed on the rapid-fire developments in TV in addition to conferences and how marketing TV may soon have much in common with marketing packaged goods.

An edited transcript:

How is the annual conference shaping up?


It’s three days just jam-packed with really amazing content. At last count, it was 54 sessions and, I think, 126 speakers. The tag line for the conference is “Create What’s Next.” The reason why is we used to say “in five years” or “in three years” or “in two years,” right? The reality is that the industry is transforming now. And it’s not even that it’s transforming now. It’s always just transformed. Every week, there’s another announcement that is significant. And it’s not, oh, that’s an interesting curiosity, but, wow, that’s really going to change the way that we actually market our programs to our audiences.

So how is that idea going to be manifest in the conference?

We have sessions on really understanding the role of apps in an OTT environment. What are those new best practices? We have sessions on future-proofing your next re-brand in an environment where your consumers’ first point of entry to your brand might be on a tablet or a phone. How do you design a network package accordingly? We will talk not just about responsive design, but responsive logo. We have sessions on binge viewing. What are the new best practices there? Think about the concept of binge watching. It’s really difficult to create episodic promotions because you don’t want to give anything away.

Kevin Knight, the head of brand at Pinterest, is doing a session, and a year ago there was no reason why he would have. But last week, they announced the buy feature on Pinterest. The week before, they announced the cinematic feature on Pinterest. So now it becomes a really powerful marketing platform for us. It’s not just a crafting platform anymore.

How are registration and attendance shaping up?

They’re tracking incredibly well. Given the fact that this year we’ve seen a lot of downsizing within the industry as the big players start to adjust their strategies to deal with the shift from linear to digital, we’re tracking on par with the last couple years.

What about the station Summit in Vegas? That’s a more practical, narrowly focused show. Anything new and improved about the Station Summit?

The Station Summit has shown double-digit attendance growth every year — not in numbers, but obviously in percentages. And so as we enter this year, once again, all the major networks and syndicators are there. It’s chock full of media, and it really has become an amazing conference.

Tuesday (June 23) is the networks’ side, Wednesday is the syndicators’ side and Thursday is the Promax day. On Thursday, we have an innovation session on the future of local TV. We have another on breakthrough local marketing — what’s working and what’s not. We have sessions that are focusing on how do you develop the best creative, given the fact that budgets are constraining.

There’s also a session on the interesting dynamics between the news director and the promotions director, and how do you facilitate dialogue and discussion.

What are the particular marketing challenges facing local broadcasters?

Obviously news and weather are key. Staying relevant within that space becomes increasingly difficult in a highly competitive space. One of the things I think is really interesting—and I don’t think it’s been unpacked well enough for our industry — is hyperlocal media.

I live in Hancock Park, which is a small neighborhood just south of Hollywood. And we have a small, local paper called The Larchmont Chronicle. And when I say small, I mean, I can’t imagine that the distribution is significant at all. It’s a real, light-touch social newspaper. Who’s doing what. What people are doing for the summer, and all that kind of stuff. But I’ve got to tell you, when that paper comes out, everyone reads it. It’s got a huge open rate and huge pass-through rate. And so what I think is interesting is that hyperlocal is becoming more and more relevant.

So what does that means for local broadcasters?

Well, that’s the big question, right? I mean, the big question is, if it’s 10 at night, and I hear a police helicopter overhead, the first thing I’m doing is I’m going to go to Twitter and #LAbasin or #HancockPark and see if someone has some information. I would be going to the most current, topical and immediate source to find out what is going on.

And of course, if the stations are doing their jobs, they’ll be there.

Exactly right. You talk about how do you build a value proposition, and you understand it’s that intersection between understanding the marketplace, understanding the brand proposition and understanding those unmet needs that your viewers or consumers happen to have.

Other than the conferences, what is Promax doing to keep its members up to speed?

We’re at some type of inflection point where the speed at which we can communicate to our viewers and our audiences is so quick. And if you don’t understand it quickly, immediately, and put it into action, you can’t wait another year until a conference comes around and start talking about best practices.

So over the back half of this year you’ll start seeing start developing more robust content on demand, more robust master classes on really understanding how to leverage technologies and current trends more successfully.

How do you do that? Webinars?

Yes. You do it through webinars, and you do it through content on demand, and you do it through the new website we’ll launch.

We need to become the premier destination for understanding all the new dynamics that are happening in the world of entertainment marketing, whether it’s in person or it’s online.

There’s more content than ever before. So, therefore, there’s more of a need for entertainment marketers than ever before, right, because there’s so much noise out there.

That sounds great. But who’s going to pay for it all? Your resources are limited. You can’t do everything.

Fortunately, we have 10,000-plus members globally who are the experts. Our obligation is to engage with them, and to leverage their expertise.

Has Promax been able to attract marketers from the OTT services and other new media?

In years past, Promax was saying, oh, let’s go into this space, or let’s go into this space. Now, we’re seeing our members organically move into those spaces. So our job is to actually follow and build out resources and inspiration and content around those new spaces.

A lot of the people who are going on board those companies are current or past members of our organization.

Of course. They’re coming from the same pool of talent.

Yes. If I’m a new digital platform in the space and I’m hiring, I’m looking for the best entertainment marketers in the world. And where are you going to find them? You’re going to find them through our membership.

You come out of the packaged goods industry. You were working for a company that helped brand and market packaged goods. What were the lessons there that you can bring to television?

I started in entertainment marketing for about 15 years, and then I moved into CPG and social media. Now, in moving back into entertainment, I see entertainment is performing more like a consumer product than ever before. So the question becomes, how do we bring more rigor, more thoughtfulness, and more traditional marketing strategy into a space that has always been over-indexed for creativity?

Part of the answer is analytics. In CPG, they have analytics for understanding consumer behavior and understanding those trends and unmet needs and those pain points to be able to develop products accordingly.

And so in a lot of ways, we’re finally getting those data points in traditional entertainment. So it’s not just abstract Nielsen numbers. It’s actually hard-core empirical data and we’re getting tighter and tighter understanding on a daily basis. And it’s not just how to mine it, but how to interpret it and how to pull the insight from it.

We can tie that back into what promo they watched, what was the creative of the promo they watched and how that actually drove tune-in. So as we start understanding those behaviors, we can start developing content that’s appropriate to that audience.

Do you see any other major trend shaping entertainment marketing?

E-commerce. When you go to Amazon, or you go to iTunes, or you go to some online store to buy something, there are three things that you use to decide whether you’re going to purchase it. Those are the star rating, the number of people who rated it and a review or two. Right? We all do that. We do that every single day. The point being is that all of that is marketing, but none of that is generated from the brand.

What that means for TV people — as we move into a digital space and a streaming space — is the value of user-generated marketing becomes critical.

So it’s up to the sophisticated marketer to influence this user-generated marketing?

It’s to understand how to use it as part of the overall marketing mix, without a shadow of a doubt. And if you don’t understand that, you’re missing out on the entire concept of the long-tail theory, and how to take a master brand that has a high level of emotional value, and how to start breaking down the subsets, the specific demos and the fragmented audiences, and engage with your fan base and your user base to help push out that content and push out that marketing.

I get what you’re saying. Some people are shopping for the next thing they watch just as they shop online for a lawnmower. But TV is still a business mostly of linear tV and passive viewing.

Yes. Without a doubt, there’s still going to be passive engagement. So people are still going to want to turn something on and veg out. But at the same time, what we have to remember is that those behaviors are established generationally. So as the millennials move through, gen Xers moves through, post-millennials move through, their behaviors, their routines, their rituals, their regimens all come through with them. It’s like a millennial is not going to wake up one day and say, oh, now I’m going to buy a DVD player and going to start renting DVDS. Right?

My daughters are 10 and 7. I would call them post-millennials. But what’s interesting is they’ve never not known e-commerce.

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