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.