Is Content King? Then Distribution Is Crown Prince

Great Content Does Not Mean It Will Find An Audience

In the next decade, we will see significant changes to the way that content is created, monetized and experienced. During the next few years, existing media players will begin to increasingly face the realities and challenges that those of us online have always dealt with — an audience with a short attention span and a whole slew of viewing options.

Sumner Redstone famously called content “king.” Rupert Murdoch recently upgraded that to “Emperor.” While there is certainly some truth to that when looking at online content — see Hulu’s rapid growth as an example — there are far more cases where great content does not seem to matter at all. At the very least, I think it is fair to say that even if content is king online, then distribution and marketing are the “crown princes.” Good content or not, understanding and embracing digital distribution and marketing will prove critical to everyone in the entertainment industry.

Historically, marketing content to drive audience has been an art much more than a science. Trailers, posters and commercials are all about making you feel something through sight, sound and motion. While that art remains critical today, there is now a science to it as well. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is your content optimized for search? If not, it does not matter how good your content is — no one will ever find it. Even worse, they will find it on a torrent or other pirated content
  • Do you understand and embrace social media? Can you get the word out for your content when you want to in order to make your impression when you want to do so? Thursday nights are valuable in television because of the timing of the impression. You need to understand how to make that timely impression in social media as well.
  • Can you design creative that speaks to online audiences? The internet viewer tends to be much more active than the passive TV viewer and the competition for their attention has never been higher. Is your creative ready for the millennial generation?

The good news is that the internet provides amazing opportunities to distribute content and reach an audience. The bad news is that you are competing with millions of other content creators for the attention of that audience and their barrier to entry into the online medium is almost non-existent. In this environment more than any, distribution matters significantly. Unfortunately, there is no “Mastering Online Distribution for Dummies,” and no easy way to achieve it for most creators. The reality is that those who control online video and editorial opportunities know the value of the infrastructure, and have built it from the ground up.

Having said that, every distributor needs content to fill those pipelines and you can certainly give yourself a leg up if you meet their specific needs. Here are some “musts” for content developers:

  • Your content needs to appeal to a specific user or advertiser segment. This might not provide you the opportunity to make the internet version of the blockbuster movie hit “The Hangover,” but it might help you build a business.
  • Make your content efficiently and at a high quality. Most distributors can make content and even have in house content groups. Your content needs to be at the same or higher quality and at a lower cost point.
  • Set aside some of your budget to pay for distribution. It would seem silly to start a business without a marketing budget, so why create content without a plan for distribution? There are countless examples of high quality and vastly entertaining digital content that people just never saw because they either couldn’t find it or it didn’t live in a place where anyone was looking in the first place.

Brands understand more than ever that they need to engage the audience with quality content, and they have the opportunity to do so online. The challenge for them is to understand where the large audiences are ingesting the content and then go about reaching those audiences. The bottom line is that you need to think long and hard about how you want to take content to market. Creating great content is only the first step; if you want those eyeballs and audience, be prepared to invest in distribution and marketing.

Written by Keith Richman, CEO of Break Media.

Ad Age

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