Monday, March 2, 2009

Moving Beyond the TV, Part 2

Here is the second half of my interview with Kirstin Knezevich...

Are you excited about any particular emerging technology?

I think mobile is going to be a big opportunity for media companies as usage grows and mobile phones are becoming smarter. Though I am kind of old school and don’t have an iPhone, I still feel that as the quality of the video becomes better more people will engage with it on mobile devices.

So, even though it wasn’t the career you originally imagined for yourself, are you happy working in the digital space?

There are a lot of interesting things about it – content is moving online and people are experimenting in the space. Content is taking on a whole new meaning – TV, mobile device, internet, etc.). Digital is an interesting area that is really the place to be. It is hard to know every little thing going on in new media, and there is always something new coming up. Gen Y particularly is so engaged in so many places (online, texting, etc.) – it is amazing. I think I’ll probably end up staying within the industry.

Do you ever worry about all the noise?

I think that is the biggest challenge in the space. How do you get people’s attention? We are fortunate that we have a really strong brand. It would be much harder with a new brand. But once you have people’s attention how do you keep it? How do you keep them coming back for deeper engagement? Specifically trying to challenge that generation [Y] is hard across the board.

What is the coolest thing about your job?

Working with new partners. I have mostly worked with internal stakeholders, affiliates or ad agencies. Now I am working with new partners that are excited about our content being on their platforms as well. They are always asking what kind of content is coming down the pipe and are interested in promoting it. Working on the content side, it is now interesting to see how things work on the platform side. I’m also learning so much about what they are trying to do.

Any technology or company that you’d like to learn more about?

I love anything Apple related. I think they are so interesting as a company and so forward-thinking. There are a million small companies that are emerging that would also be great to learn more about, but it is so hard to keep up with them all. I’m also interested in seeing how Facebook meets the challenge of monetizing their product. Oh, and I can’t wait to see what the “next Facebook” will be.

Any last thoughts?

I think the danger that a lot of companies face is that they sit down and say, “So what is our Facebook strategy?” or “What is our MySpace or Twitter strategy?” when they really should be saying “What is our brand strategy?” It really is the most important element, and a lot of brands are missing it in trying to compete in so many spaces.

Moving Beyond the TV, Part 1

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirstin Knezevich, a manager in branded digital platforms at the premium cable channel where I work. Kirstin, a California native, graduated from USC where she focused on business marketing. Intending to work in advertising and print, she found her way to new media when she first came to our company, starting first with its On Demand offering. She then branched out to brand strategy before moving to her current role.

So what exactly are branded digital platforms?

My group is charged with getting the brand out on various platforms, trying to reach non-subscribers and engage people making them more familiar with the brand. We differ from program promotions in that we aren’t advertising premieres or selling full length shows (though we will release full length shows occasionally if it makes sense as a sampling strategy). Instead, the platforms leverage clips from shows, buzz segments and other extra content.

What do you work on primarily?

I have been working specifically on creating a hub on MySpace which recently launched.

Tell me more about the other areas that your group focuses on.

My team is divided into three areas: internet video (You Tube, podcast and other potential opportunities), social networking (MySpace, Facebook and other partners) and mobile. Social networking is my area, and I find it to be such an interesting way to communicate with fans and subscribers in a relatively inexpensive way. It is a vehicle that everyone is playing with and one that will help us to get the brand out.

Do you use social networking sites?

I have both Facebook and MySpace personal pages, but prefer Facebook because of its template structure. It is a more organized way of communicating with people. They are also great about opening up the applications and making them adaptable to your needs.

MySpace is still a force in music especially, but You Tube is also huge for video and iTunes is a driver for entertainment – people are getting content now from lots of places. MySpace is more for entertainment and Facebook is for connecting with friends.

What do you think about brands on these platforms?

Brands are doing well on Facebook, but no one has really hit it out of the park, and it is very hard to measure success in social networking. The question I hear at every conference I go to is, “How do you measure ROI in social media?” You can say that a page has 100,000 friends or a video had this many views, but if it is really just brand engagement, I don’t know if you can measure it in any monetary way. You can get a sense of success from word-of-mouth; there was quite a bit of buzz on one of my brand strategy campaigns. Still, there is no real way to relate dollars spent to word-of-mouth.

Do you Twitter?

I signed up for a Twitter account, but don’t really use it.

Do you think our company should be on Twitter?

As it is right now, brands are using it more as a customer service tool. Twitter blurs the lines between marketing and PR. It would be great for a production blog or as a tool for a huge star to engage the audience. With every platform we have to evaluate what makes sense for the brand.

More to come...