Just because Gen Z is spending their time on TikTok and not on MTV doesn’t mean TV is dead, said Thursday’s panelists on Promax’s latest virtual session titled “Agencies in Action: The Evolving Creative Strategy.”
“When I was at MTV in 2009, every article in Adweek and other trades was on how millennials were going to kill TV,” said Jake Katz, senior vice president of strategy and insight at Hollywood-based Trailer Park. “But any generation has timely needs based on the developmental phases they are going through. Now, millennials spend more time watching long-form content than any generation in history.”
Still, what that means is that marketers need to seek out new platforms and strategies to reach young people, as well as find new ways to engage them. During the nationwide quarantine induced by the coronavirus pandemic, this has meant a rise of virtual events and a turn toward TikTok. Among the more successful of these has been a virtual concert by rapper Travis Scott on the gaming platform Fortnite, during which he teased a new single.
“Travis Easter-egged his new song with Kid Cudi in there and he found a way to not throw that in the audience’s face,” Katz said. “According to research, GenZers say ‘62% of things in my feed send me down a rabbit hole,’ and that’s the kind of content they are looking for.”
“The idea of virtual events, of creating must-attend, must-see, FOMO-driven things in the virtual world is being perfected right now,” said David Getson, CEO and partner at Los Angeles-based gnet. “That’s relevant and timely at a time when we can’t gather in real life.”
Moreover, Getson said, gaming and other influencers were unintentionally perfectly prepared to keep operating during a pandemic: “During quarantine, influencers already had all of that production set up at home and they knew how to leverage it.”
When it comes to marketing new entertainment products—whether that’s short- or long-form TV content or new video games—smart marketers take a close look at those influencers before launching a new product, the panel said.
“When we’re looking at social, we consider four groups: traditional talent with a social following, social-born celebrities, social personalities, and communities with leaders,” said Katz. “When we look at a property, we start by asking ourselves ‘is there influence in the casted talent, influence in the brand’ and then we start to spec out channels accordingly.”
“We always consider reach, relevance and resonance,” said Allan Gungormez, senior vice president, strategy at Los Angeles-based Mocean, “and we’re always trying to find the perfect cross section of all three of those Rs, which allows us to put together the best possible recommendation for overall reception and awareness of a product.”
Gnet, which does a lot of work with gaming brands, has also found that micro-influencers—people who perhaps have less reach than standard influencers but who are still creating good content—can play a macro role in the marketing of a new game product.
And these influencers’ ability to create content on the fly makes a huge difference: “The creation of content is easier than ever before,” said Gungormez. “On TikTok, it’s so easy to overlay a track and do a dance. I think it’s showing that people have a willingness to make things. If someone wants to create content around a brand or a marketing campaign … that’s a true test of whether a product or a show can really break into culture.”
That type of user-generated content is common and encouraged among videogame publishers.
“In the game world, the power of an engaged world is really important. No matter how good our advertising is, if the community isn’t talking about it, the products will have problems breaking out,” said Getson.
Moreover, many, many people—boys and young men, yes, but also moms, dads, grandmothers, single women and more—consider themselves gamers.
“Gamers can be so misunderstood,” said Katz. “People imagine guys in hoodies eating microwavable burritos and drinking Mountain Dew. But that couldn’t be further from what gaming culture is today. Participation in contact team sports is declining, while gaming is going up. The sheer numbers of gamers makes that a powerful media channel to reach big groups of consumers. Traditional entertainment marketers should consider it more.”
In fact, gaming and entertainment marketers each have something to learn from the other, Getson said: “Non-gaming clients covet that engagement, while gaming clients covet entertainment companies’ ability to rise up in the conversation in the mainstream way.”