Content Strategy amid Multichannel, Multiscreen, Content Consuming Craziness

Do we fight or join the media madness?

I admit it… I am a social media voyeur. I enjoy watching how people react to the latest news and bombshell scandals. While sometimes it is fun to snark the political debates but lately I’m more interested in how people respond to each other via the media (what they say, how they interpret, and the opinions they form). I consider my voyeurism as part of my ongoing training as a content writer.

I was browsing LinkedIn a while back and discovered this gem of an article by Erin Everhart, blogging for Search Engine Land. She focuses on the complexity of marketing in a multichannel, and multiscreen content market. While she dispenses useful tips about SEO and social media stuff – there were a few surprising revelations.

Everhart mentions a Nielsen study of more than 30,000 respondents. In the study, about 58% said that they browse the internet while watching video programming. Another 47% said they engage with friends on social media.

To be honest, I expected the latter. We are a bit voyeuristic – we just gotta know what Rick said about Julie after she reacted to the last scene. In that way, our entertainment habits have always been a bit… complicated. With social media, it’s like having all your friends together in one room. It’s also kinda fun to ‘watch-and-snark’ while viewing Fox News or Keeping Up With The Kardashians (see what I just did there?). But what surprises me is this revelation: 58% of viewers are also engaged in browsing websites! So, if we can’t find something to snark about, we browse Bing?? For what? Shoes? Games? Tchotchke?

Apparently, we content consumers don’t know how to be entertained by only one thing at a time anymore. We’ve become habitual content eaters. Streaming video ain’t enough. Now we have to glob it down with insipid cute kitty memes.

In any case, it’s never been easy for entertainment show producers. Ever since the advent of the remote control, content creators have been fighting the urge to channel surf during commercials or slow points in the plot. As for advertisers and promoters, it’s even more of a challenge to keep a lock on viewer attention. Funny little observation – marketers have always better ways to measure audience behavior patterns. Along comes the Internet (and ever increasing power of unlimited bandwidth) and now I’m sure they feel like a dog at the end of a firehose. My main point here: our world is a lot more complicated than anyone imagines. It is especially so for content development and placement.

Content creators (be they producers of shows, news, or a 30 second ad) are not only competing with other content creators. It’s like a cage fight between things that have never historically been in competition – video games, Google, streaming news, email, text messaging, Snapchats, on demand movies, on demand porno – all pounding on each other for a little piece of audience attention.

Imagine this – while our target audience is waiting for the next big plot twist in S.H.I.E.LD. or The Flash – any small screen distraction (vis-à-vis the latest Donald Trump tweet) can instantly pull us away during a commercial break. Or if it’s big enough, the “off screen” event could overshadow the show completely. While people sit and stare at their 50-inch video wall god, they’re also mobile surfing IMDB to see if Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) has appeared in other movies or television shows. They might even Google down some movie previews for the next Avengers film and peruse social media reviews for their next content consuming opportunity. And while they’re at it, they’ll spot a link for an incredible flying pet or selfies that had tragic outcomes.

Clearly, the only way that we – as marketers and content creators – will fight the ‘multi-content’ war is by engaging in a little bit of this behavior ourselves. We should be aware of popular programming should they skew search behavior. We ought to be already with content that anticipates search doglegs that may attract our audience. We probably ought also look at how our content may compliment a sci-fi television show, movie, or even a reality show.

Short attention span is the bane of all teachers. But in marketing, it’s a godsend. Never again will markers shun the primetime show, they’ll just position themselves to take advantage of viewers’ tendency to multitask in their multichannel, multiscreen world. But alas, positioning has become a heck of a lot more complicated hasn’t it? Good luck, out there.

About: Ray Wyman, Jr is a content creator, communications professional, and author with more than 30 years of experience. Visit LinkedIN or for more information.

2 responses to “Content Strategy amid Multichannel, Multiscreen, Content Consuming Craziness”

  1. LinkPr says:

    So true about the complications of positioning. Now its Pokemon Go that is competing in popularity. I thought it was only teenage kids playing Pokemon Go then I was at an alumni dinner and some late 30 somethings were playing trying to find these Pokemon characters at the restaurant we were at! Might be a good time to place an ad in the Pokemon Go game if supported.

    A new trend I love is the live streaming videos with running commentary. I also especially love reading comments on controversial topics on social media like Facebook, but prefer reading ones on reputable news sites like the NY Times. People really get into the debate. I personally don’t ever participate, but I like listening and feeling like I have a pulse on things.

    As a trained journalist who became a marketer, I sometimes wonder though if some of these articles these days intentionally leave out key important details just to fuel the discussion or whether journalism has just gotten lazy. Or perhaps its so immediate that there’s no time to get all the details (or facts straight). I’m talking about HuffPo & Slate, etc. Either way, those stories seem to have more comments than the really long articles no one has time to read anymore. Content has to be front and center and headline writing is more important than ever or people tune out.

    One thing I think is true, is that things will continue to be mobile, virtual and interactive. We really don’t know how to focus on just one thing anymore. Events, movie/tv product placement, live videos, push notifications, and strategic articles like how to articles still seem relevant. We simply have limited time each day to spend and we filter out ads, tv commercials and screen phone calls so we have to be almost unaware we are being marketed to. If marketers embraces the latest technologies like 4D experiential marketing, etc. people pay attention. It’s all about the buzz….

  2. ray_wyman says:

    Just to focus on one point you made about journalists. Yes. I totally agree that outlets are breaking stories up into smaller bits. One event can create dozens of ancillary stories, dribbled out over the course of a week or more. As for headlines, yup – that’s the magic isn’t it? That’s the nature of click bait. And often times, the link you click takes you to a page with a very different headline.

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