Nearly 21 percent of all digital ad dollars goes to Facebook, which translates into $17.4 billion, opened Philip Alberstat, chief operating officer, Contend, at “The Evolution of Brands, Content and Marketing” session at the Future of Television portion of the NY Media Festival.

“I guess we are all kind of working for Facebook,” he joked, stressing the value of the digital experience.

The mission at Contend is to disrupt the traditional marketing, media and entertainment industries. And Facebook, of course, is a platform for content marketing, which is defined as creating a premium message and distributing it in an effective and targeted way.

As the rise of digital creates more opportunities, digital is also still very new to a lot of brands, hence the degree of uncertainty.

“Content is something that does not disrupt your experience; it is your experience and it creates value,” said Shannon Pruitt, president, The Story Lab, whose company mission is for innovation as a global investor, producer and distributor of premium entertainment content that attracts audiences, media owners and advertisers. “Value should be mapped to what you care about, why you care about it, when you care about it, and how you want to interact with it.”

“I think it is important to have a conversation with the brand partners,” she added. “What are you trying to accomplish? What is the message? What is the feeling you are trying to evoke? When someone is watching a piece of content, what are you trying to convey? It needs to be specific, particularly with so much available content at present.”

“When we are brainstorming things for brand clients, everyone is involved…the programmers, the marketers, the talent,” said Andrew Saunders, head of global brand strategy, Tastemade, which is a video network that offers food- and travel-related programming for online audiences. “Part of the reason why the brand content on Tastemade performs so well is because it is actually made by the original programming team.”

How Data Informs Content Decisions

Like any medium, content makers in the digital space have to think about data, specifically trends in entertainment and trends in culture, and how the end result will impact the targeted audience. But the proclamation by Mia Goldwyn, chief content officer, StyleHaul, of the way data should be applied to digital content was a surprise to many given the virtual absence in the press of the actual audience metrics.

“One of the beauties of digital media is that you have the ability to engage on a more personal basis with the content consumers,” she said. “But because there is not necessarily a consistency to it, when you try to make decisions and evaluate things based on the data, you also have to take a step back and realize there is more to the creative decision making that just the data. Date informs, but it does not define.”

Thinking Like a Content Programmer

“Part of what I like about the next generation of media companies is they are creating content, they are putting it on every platform, and they are figuring out how to find their audiences and build on them,” said Saunders. “It is a learning process. And then there are so many that are still stuck in the traditional mindset of bringing in inventory from other people that may not even resonate.”

“If we are calling it content and we are not calling it advertising it is just our responsibility to make it better,” added Story Lab’s Pruitt. “Thinking like a programmer to engage your audience is key. It is that simple, yet complicated at the same time.”


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