En route to the Discoverability Summit:
Content in the Age of Abundance
Tuesday, December 1, 2015/Le mardi 1er décembre 2015
8:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time)
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Ms. Nora Young Moderator
Mr. Jean-Pierre Blais Chairman and CEO, CRTC
Mr. Claude Joli-Coeur Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson, NFB
Mr. Tony Chapman Keynote Speaker
Ms. Sara Diamond President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University
Ms. Tessa Sproule CEO and co-founder, Vubble
Ms. Ling Lin Head of YouTube Content, Partnerships, Canada
Mr. Nathan Wiszniak Label Relations, Spotify Canada
Mr. Ashkan Karbasfrooshan CEO and Editor-in-Chief, WatchMojo
Ms. Moyra Rodger Founder and CEO of Magnify Digital and Out to See Entertainment Inc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vancouver, British Columbia
— Upon commencing on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 9:00/
Welcoming Remarks by Moderator
La séance débute le mardi 1er décembre 2015 à 9h00
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. I’m Nora Young and the host and creator of Spark on CBC Radio, a show all about technology and culture.
Welcome to you in the audience, to our panellists, to our keynote speaker and to everyone following this on the live stream via discoverability.ca or the CRTC YouTube channel.
The subtitle today is “Content in the Age of Abundance”, as you just saw. So that comprises two things: how, as consumers of culture, we discover content in this diverse, explosive digital context and, as creators, how we make content discoverable. So we’re going to be talking about both of those today.
So just to give you a rundown of the morning, we’re going to have remarks from Jean-Pierre Blais from the CRTC and Claude Joli-Coeur from the NFB. We’ll hear keynote speaker Tony Chapman, and then we’re going to take a little break, and after that we’ll have the roundtable discussion with experts from a variety of fields to learn more about the challenge of discoverability and to spark some initial ideas and some solutions. And throughout the event we’re going to have lots of opportunities for discussion between the experts and the audience. So while we proceed, just kind of keep that burbling in the back of your mind.
Our hashtag for today is – surprise – discoverability, and I encourage people in the room and watching the live stream to share your thoughts during the event on social media. And we’re going to try as much as possible to incorporate some of the interactions that happen on social media into the discussions here at this fabulous venue, the Chan Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver.
And for those of you in the room, there’s complimentary Wi-Fi. It is ubc_visitor. No password is required.
So to kick things off, I’d like to introduce Jean-Pierre Blais and Claude Joli-Coeur. Jean-Pierre Blais is the Chairman of the CRTC. Claude Joli-Coeur is the Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board. Won’t you please welcome them.
Opening Remarks by Jean-Pierre Blais and Claude Joli-Coeur
MR. BLAIS: Thank you very much, Nora.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to this first event, En route to the Discoverability Summit event: Content in the Age of Abundance.
Before we begin, I would like to invite you to look at the screen behind me. We have a message for you from someone who could not be here today but wanted to participate.
So please roll the video.
MINISTER JOLY: As Minister of Canadian Heritage, I know that excellent content is produced here in Canada. Through their talent, creativity and skill, our creators make us laugh, cry and experience all kinds of emotions. In this digital era, we are overwhelmed with content on multiple platforms and our stories risk not to be heard. Being able to find this content, whether it is a book, a film, a TV show or a piece of music, is a challenge, not just here but around the world.
I am pleased to see innovators and industry leaders like you gathered to discuss the paradigm shifts that are taking place and the opportunities they afford. I can’t be with you today and participate in your discussions, but I wish you a productive session. I will follow you on Twitter and Instagram to see the ideas and images that come out of your meetings. I look forward to the Discoverability Summit in the spring and to further our discussions.
Have a great day.
MR. BLAIS: So I want to thank Minister Joly who took the time to participate through that video in this event, and I can assure you she is very plugged into Twitter and all the new platforms. So she will, I know, be following this, and we thank her for taking the time to do this. It’s extremely busy, as you know, in Ottawa these days with the return of Parliament in just a few days. So I thank her for having participated.
I would like to also acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish People. I thank them and pay tribute to their Elders.
You are here today, people in this room, because you have something new to contribute to the conversation on discoverability through your research, professions and innovative projects. So thank you very much for being here.
I would also like to acknowledge those who are following us on the webcast. And I apologize to them. The conversation was so intense just outside the room before we started, we started a bit late, but I know I’m looking forward to a very productive day.
Those of you outside this room can participate, as Nora mentioned, using social media, by using the hashtag “discoverability”.
Last year, we held a major hearing on the future of television called Let’s Talk TV. During that process, I asked interveners whether or not they agreed with some of the CRTC’s working hypotheses concerning how the audiovisual landscape was evolving. There was broad consensus. Everyone acknowledged the fundamental shift in now in how content is being distributed and watched in Canada and around the world.
Television broadcasters, through their program schedules, used to be the curators, or the main curators of content. We had to adjust our schedules so as not to miss our favourite shows. Nowadays, we can watch content wherever and whenever we want.
We have heard much about indeed about this notion of disintermediation of traditional television broadcasters due to the disruptive impact of technology, but not just technology, also how viewers choose to interact with this new technology. However, in my view, we have not quite entered the age where there is total absence of some mediation. Instead, others have emerged to, in a sense, re-mediate. This is often done through SVODs, apps or other online services. It is in that context that discoverability is particularly important.
It is increasingly all about broadband. And in this environment, content must be widely available and visible.
So over the next 10 years, viewers will continue to migrate from scheduled to on-demand content. They will want greater control over the content they watch and will be seeking new and innovative ways to do so. This shift in consumer behaviour has already begun here in Canada and elsewhere. Canadians are watching more content online and on mobile devices, binge-watching their favourite shows, using different ways to find content and discovering new platforms and programs from here and across the globe.
That being said, Canadians are still watching a great deal of traditional television, and no one expects that to change any time soon. The existing ways to promote content are still indeed very valid, such as creating buzz, newspaper and magazine articles and talk show appearances, along with billboards and other forms of marketing and promotion.
But the new challenge of discoverability is to provide more opportunities for viewers to discover content on multiple platforms. How can they discover content that interests them and is relevant to them? How can quality programs find an audience in a sea of digital content and streaming services? How can you adapt, be successful, in that global market?
This, in a sense, is your challenge. It’s not solved by working in isolation. You need to think collectively and make a concerted effort to find a solution because you own the outcome.
Let’s be clear about the goals of today’s discussions. This is not a regulatory hearing. Neither the pre-events nor the Summit are part of a regulatory proceeding leading to new regulations or regulatory policies.
Instead, the CRTC has used its convening power to gather you here today. We are starting the conversation that will explore new ideas, new tools and new business models to enhance discoverability for viewers.
Our conversation today will focus on the English-language market. Then we will hold a similar event in a couple of days, on Thursday, to discuss the same things in Montreal, but from the perspective of the French-language markets, both in its majority and minority realities. As you probably know, markets vary greatly from one language to another, and in the context of this discussion it is important to acknowledge those differences.
Lastly, I wanted to add that we are extremely pleased to work with the National Film Board on these events. The NFB is recognized the world over for its innovative content as well as the various means it uses to make content available. They have been on the cutting edge of audiovisual innovation for over 75 years. It is fitting and proper that they continue to accompany us as we explore the future of audiovisual content.
On that note, I will give my colleague, Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB, the floor.
But to all of you here in the room, I hope you all enlighten us as the day goes on with your innovative ideas and experiences. Remember that you own the outcome and that Canadians will be the beneficiaries of your collaboration.
Thank you very much.
M. JOLI-COEUR: Merci, Jean-Pierre.
Good morning. I’m very pleased to be with you today.
Although the concept of discoverability is relatively new – that word is as difficult to pronounce in French as in English, at least for me – who among us has not been facing that difficulty and thinking about what the major issues consumers and public, as well as in the industry, is facing?
For that reason, I want to thank you for being here with us today. I also want to applaud the CRTC and its Chairman, Jean-Pierre Blais, for taking the initiative to call for these meetings and discussions, discussions that are crucial not only for our industry and for Canada but for the audiovisual sector the world over.
I’m honoured to be associated with this Summit as co-presenter since these issues concern all players in the private, as well as the public sector.
The overabundance or information overload has adverse effects. People have a hard time making sense of it all or, worse, they get stuck in a filter bubble.
The question that arises for distributors, producers and creators is how to reach the desired audiences, how to present content to these audiences and create links that direct them toward the content they want to see, both in Canada and abroad.
For the NFB, discoverability is an issue that directly relates to its mandate, because why produce if, when all is said and done, our productions are buried or remain invisible to our communities?
In the documentary sector alone, a recent study made last year by Canada’s biggest documentary festival Hot Docs showed that of the 60 percent of respondents interested in viewing documentaries online, only 7 percent found the content they were looking for.
Despite our digital shift and the 70 million views recorded on nfb.ca and other platforms carrying our content, people are still asking us how they can find NFB productions.
Content discoverability issues are linked to technological issues, but they are also linked to content access and, therefore, access to knowledge, access to the arts and access to culture. The landscape has changed, and since change is here to stay, we must take action.
At this stage, we don’t claim to have all the solutions. To me, it’s obvious that we must work and move forward together because discoverability is a national and international issue.
Over the next few hours we’ll be talking a lot about platforms, technology, search engines and algorithms, but let’s not forget that it’s content that is at the heart of discoverability issues and it’s content that is relevant to our audiences.
Therefore, we need to challenge ourselves when it comes to innovative qualities of the works that are produced and made available. It is becoming even more imperative to produce distinctive works that the public will want to select and view. That implies a greater understanding of audiences and their consumptions habits. It also implies producing differently and in new ways, taking audiences and platforms into consideration, and it implies more partnerships to amplify the impact and visibility of works and productions because, let’s face it, it’s becoming more and more costly to be everywhere at the precise moment and on the precise platform that the consumer chooses.
We all have a role to play and a responsibility in addressing major challenges posed by discoverability.
Distributors, producers, creators, designers, programmers, thinkers, I am happy to see you here today because the challenges that await us go beyond the challenges of the audiovisual industry. They are challenges that face the entire society. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and explore how we move forward.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you to Claude and Jean-Pierre.
I would like now to introduce our keynote speaker, Tony Chapman. He’s the founder and CEO of Tony Chapman Reactions. He’s a frequent contributor to television, radio, in print and on social media. He’s a top-ranked keynote speaker, moderator and communications strategist who has spoken all over the world.
Tony is one of the youngest people ever inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends. He’s founded and successfully sold two communication agencies and a research firm. He’s an active investor and mentor to entrepreneurs and he’s on the Board of Directors for the Global Poverty Project and the Board of Advisors for the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus.
So won’t you please welcome Tony Chapman.
Keynote Speaker, Mr. Tony Chapman
MR. CHAPMAN: Thank you.
If you asked my daughters about me, they’d probably say I was a dork, an ATM machine and a chauffeur.
I was deeply honoured to be asked to be the keynote today, and I quickly became very overwhelmed. I mean, how, in 30 minutes, can we talk about a subject like content discoverability and to an audience that comes at it from so many different paths?
So what I thought I would do is try to connect all of us by posing three questions that I think need to be answered. The first one: Is our industry under siege or is it underdeveloped? Are we in a world where there’s too much content or too little of the right content? Is our content trapped and imprisoned or is it free to travel without boundaries or bureaucracy?
So I began to look for those answers by looking at my own life. I started to say, these questions, how would we answer them? So I started in the content business when I was in university. I put myself through school, selling and writing radio ads for a station in Montreal called CFOX. And I remember one of my first campaigns was for a restaurant, Rib Ticklers, St. John Street in Beaconsfield. I remember showing up on opening night and there was a lineup. I stood in line and I asked, “How did you hear about it?” And a couple of the people said, “We heard about it on the radio.” And I was hooked.
I was hooked at the idea that content could connect a buyer and seller, could change the way people thought, felt and behaved. And I think we’re all in this industry with that addiction of finding something that moves people.
My next business out of university, I started an agency called “Communiqué”. We produced big sales meetings. Our job was to inspire and educate and motivate people. And very often we started with this slide show. These were the days where 18 and 36 projector slideshows, and they set the stage for the CEO. And I looked and I said they’re very similar messages, but people had so little money and we used this content once, so we came up with the idea of off-the-shelf. We created these beautiful — we had Christopher Plumber narrating on Vision, talked about Laurie Skreslet, first Canadian to climb Everest. And Pepsi Cola would come in and we’d take 80 slides and drop in their logos, their product to the people, and next week we’d repurpose the content over and over.
We ended up distributing around the world, and I fell in love with the fact the content – great content when it’s discovered – should be able to be monetized time and time again.
My final agency, which I sold two years ago, was Capital C. We had an appetite to work for the big brands on the consumer front, but most of them had big contractual relationships with multinational advertising agencies.
So we came up with an idea that maybe instead of coming at it from advertising, what if we could create ideas that could travel so effortlessly they would work on television; they would work in radio; they would work in social media but, mostly importantly, they would work in retail?
We created Kraft Hockeyville 12 years ago. Kraft is still running it in North America. They’ve sold over a billion dollars’ worth of groceries.
Corus ran Dove Sleepover for Self-Esteem on their networks, teaching moms and daughters about the beauty of feeling good about their beauty, but you could go to Walmart and get your pajamas with purchases of Dove.
And I realized that platforms were going to become very important, collaborative platforms. But when I started 30 years ago, this industry was quite simple. It was about he who shouts loudest wins. You just simply dominated. It was command and control. There was a handful of networks. They dictated everything, the schedule, what content you would watch, when you would watch it. The viewer was captive, and we invented things like TV trays and TV dinners because if I didn’t get home and see the show at 8 o’clock at night, I had no relevance and purpose at the office cooler the next morning and I had to wait until the summer to see the program they were talking about.
And brands use that as their Trojan horse, the scale that’s reached, and they cozy it up with their advertising. And we created billions and billions of net worth. The golden age of brand building, they could command an incredible premium.
But any time a model is that simple, capitalism tends to go on steroids. And over the next 30 years, tens of thousands of brands wanted to pony up and get a premium for their logo.
You go to a Superstore now, there’s 40,000 brands. There’s 41 kinds of Oreo cookies in the market.
But it wasn’t just the brands that went on steroids; media did. Cable, technology, we got more and more niche with what we wanted. And what happened is this connection, this magic relationship between a handful of brands and a handful of networks that created such wealth changed.
What we are now in the marketplace, especially in packaged goods, where price has become the tie-breaker, price is the things that brands are using to be discovered. And if you’re ever doing business with packaged goods and you’re wondering where is that money gone, 61 percent of marketing dollars are now used to fund pricing initiatives in store. Twenty-seven (27) billion dollars that used to be put in advertising and content and media is now going into funding pricing in store.
While this track was happening, another track happened, and that was digital. And almost overnight we traded the power baton. It went from the networks and the brands, in some cases the retailers, to the consumer, and they grabbed this thing faster than anybody ever imagined.
And with it we’ve put a magic wand in their hand, this mobile device. The content they coveted, the games they wanted to play, the connections they wanted to make, the like-minded people they wanted to find all over the world was within arm’s reach of desire, and for the first time we gave humans the power to not only create but to publish. They are the ones now dictating – they could vote; they could comment; they could vote a brand in or vote a brand out. And what’s happened in terms of human behaviour has been profound.
And any time we get things out of whack like supply and demand – first lesson in economics – where right now we have so many brands and so many networks and so much content, and literally, it’s so much supply and not enough consumer demand, what happens is the world turns upside down.
And we’re all in a business where some days it feels like we’re drinking from a fire hose. Change is happening so quickly.
So what I see, though, is a great divide happening. The middle has disappeared. On one side, you have a lot of very good networks and a lot of very good content and a lot of very good brands, but they’re kind of not standing out. They’re kind of “me too”, very similar. And we’re seeing that as sort of a flag to price, a race to zero without an airbag. And a lot of networks are saying, “I’m starving for eyeballs. I’m starving for ad dollars.” Now brands are going, “I’m starving for the kind of engagement where I used to get such a premium for my product.” And content people are saying, “Where are the opportunities I can monetize?”
But on the other side of the great divide, which I want to spend the rest of the time talking about, it could be the greatest opportunity that any industrial sector has ever seen, and that’s when we become enablers. When we start enabling life, when we start enabling livelihood, when you start impacting how people think and feel, what they do, it changes everything. And the companies that are doing that are hitting our industry like a tsunami. Within sometimes less than a decade, they’re creating market capitalizations greater than the General Motors and the IBMs.
And they’re doing it because they’re finding a new way to engage and connect. They’re putting new value in what they do for that consumer. And more often than not, they’re doing it through access versus ownership, because that’s what the consumer is looking for in this world. “I want to access. I don’t want to own.”
So where’s the opportunity for us? No matter what field we’re in, where is the opportunity? Well, the first one we’ve got to look at is the fact we’re no longer living a 24-hour day because in multi-tasking, people are now getting 30 hours in their 24-hour day. And the media and technology takes up 11 hours. More than what we work, sleep or any other household chores, it’s our passion obsession for connectivity, communication and content.
And we’re looking at a half a trillion dollars of growth in the next five years. This industry is going to be $2.2 trillion, the media content and technology, not the hardware but the platforms.
Television is still going to play an incredible role in this thing because it’s a way — the family; it’s the campfire. The blockbusters, the live news, the sports, it’s going to have an extraordinary impact on our lives.
But when you introduce streaming into that home, very quickly we see behaviours change from broadcast to binging. The beauty of a smartphone and the speed of the networks and how Wi-Fi is so available is making short content so readily available on their magic wand.
And you look at what’s happening in terms of the disruption, when you look at the top-down approach, whether I’m producing live television or I’m streaming big broadcasts, and the bottom corner, where my second screen and I’m commenting, contributing and sort of watching, and this is going on over here, where it’s consumer-generated content. And we’re seeing the tension that’s happening in the marketplace.
But it’s not just television. It’s not just watching videos five or six hours a day that’s creating it. The fastest growing online behaviour: messaging. Three point three (3.3) million people will be connected on messaging. And if you’re in the content creation or you’re in the app business, you’re seeing a whole new Trojan horse to build your platform, to build your product on.
Music, $10 billion by 2020, an industry everybody thought was on the way out is coming back, half of it right now based on streaming. And the beauty of the content industry is that you no longer need to have a hit day one. You can use all sorts of different channels and platforms and ideas. You can have long-tail content that takes a year to develop before it’s suddenly embraced by the population, or you can do things like Drake did, which is put out a piece of content that he knew would be parody, after parody after parody, and make it a star. Twenty (20) billion hours will be listened to in podcasts by 2020 in the U.S. alone.
Gaming, 2 billion of the highest connected, most engaged individuals; 74 billion in revenue. You know something about gaming? It fires the same chemistry in our behaviour that are human instincts. When they’re out doing shooter games in Call of Duty, the same chemical reaction 200 years when you were hoping to catch protein so that your village could survive. This business is just touching on it. Four hundred and fifty (450) million viewers are now watching content just about how to game, and we’re just at the beginning of that because what’s hitting now is e-sports and waging is a $423 billion market to touch on.
And these consumers, do they need Las Vegas? No. NHL, NFL? No. They’re creating crowd-sourced tournaments. They’re hijacking this thing and creating such an appetite to compete in this world.
And finally, 25 billion machines will be connected by 2020. So the opportunity is profound because every one of these platforms, there’s going to be such an insatiable appetite for great content. And you can have less than one minute of an average viewer’s time and create a multibillion dollar industry.
So how do you create that content? How do you have your content stand out when there’s so much supply and not enough demand?
First and foremost, talent and genius will always matter most. A talented genius doesn’t have to be $100 million Marvel comic movie. It could be what seems like the silliest video but it taps into a human insight. Whether you’re doing blockbusters or you’re going to the finest nuances, you’re tapping into a culture. You’re tapping into a passion, a long-tail passion. As long as it deals with what that consumer is looking to do and enable, it’s going to matter because great content does so much. You know, it taps into the hierarchy of needs. Does it make me feel safe or scared, love and belong, or abandoned? Does it give me purpose in life? Does it allow self-actualization? Because great content does something that makes it so addictive. It feeds our desire to think differently, feel differently and, most importantly, to behave differently.
But now we get to the whole concept of discovery. How in this world, this fire hose, this content, this exponential increase can we find a way to get ourselves discovered?
Well, I truly believe in human insights. I do believe when you tap into that nerve, when you’re enabling my life or a business’ livelihood, when you’re helping me get to where I want to go, when you’re providing me a step or a platform to stand on, you will be discovered.
And I look at what’s happening in this world, and one of the most important insights is the human desire to get more life from life. Now, that’s different from a millennial to a boomer. A millennial, more life might be more partying, might be more time to have fun. It might be doing more for the planet. They’re highly passionate about wanting to do more, be more, get more. A boomer might be just forever young. I want to live longer. I want to live healthier.
But these insights, the fascination that people have with it, the concept of content to create experiences that are so unique and immersive, probably like the first time somebody went and saw coloured television or a coloured film, what’s happening now with technology and allowing for content to come in and say, “I can create an experience. You can be the man who walked on the moon when you try this for the first time.”
Or the fact that technology is going to be so good to replace tasks that we’re going to have more and more free time to watch it.
And the other thing that I think we’ve got to come to terms with is our legacy industries. We need to be the ones disrupting a lot of them. Grade 4, first day of class, thump, the history book goes down on your desk. We’re going to learn about Canadian history. Are you kidding? Why aren’t we using our talent as game creators, our talent as storytellers and immerse people in our history, what it meant to build a railway across the country, to paddle the rapids, to survive their first winter in Newfoundland?
Why aren’t we using gamification and content that we use to get kids coming out of school so passionate about the kind of tasks and jobs that they’re going to need and we’re going to need as an economy going forward?
What kind of content are we going to create knowing that just about every individual on the planet is going to have their own publishing empire? And they’re not only going to want to take content and post it; they’re going to want to take your content and transform it, add to it, mash it, collaborate it.
In terms of the other thing that’s going to help us going forward in this world of discovery is the fact that markets have collapsed. These days of command and control, regulations and bureaucracy, is getting away to a public market. Business to business is going business to consumer and consumer to consumer. It’s becoming an open market. We can no longer protect
— we, the North, with our 49th parallel, we have to realize that people are coming after our viewers and we’ve got to go after their viewers.
And we’ve got to realize that one of the guiding posts for us is that in this creative community, we’re going to have to introduce math. Big data and algorithms are going to play such an incredible role. They’re going to tell us where to fish and what bait do we have to put on our hook so that viewer grabs onto it. They’re going to teach us when to place our content, what platform does our content belong on and how we need to be repurposed to suit as these things become more intuitive. We’re going to have to look at what partners we need to collaborate with as Trojan horses like brands used to do with television to find a way to get our content discovered.
And we won’t just stop there. A $2.2 trillion industry is going to create a wealth of new algorithms. We’re going to have algorithms that are going to take your content as it goes along. Who viewed it? What happened to it? Do they dismiss it? Sure. Post it, deep-dive it, ask for more, contribute it, transform it? Did it change something that they thought, felt? Did they purchase something? We’ll know each step along the way so we can add proper value to content. It won’t be about impressions. It won’t be about eyeballs. It will be what did our content do to change the head, heart and hands of that viewer, how they think, how they felt, how they behave?
And I’ll give you an example in terms of new platforms. Five years ago, I was cast as a judge on this show called Recipe to Riches. And if anybody — the show is very simple. Not everybody can sing, not everybody can dance, but everybody has a recipe. Temple Street came up with this idea to go get people with a home recipe. They go through the gauntlet that every reality show does, elimination, elimination; you’re declared a winner. The difference is, Glow, lemon pie, the lady in the centre, not only did she win the reality show, but two days later her product was available nationally in Loblaws across the country.
If we had data in those days the way we will have data in the future, imagine what we could have done.
PR, what did that show do to change the consumers’ feelings about Galen Weston and Loblaws? Did they buy more loyalty cards? Did they make it their primary destination?
Digital, could we have used this vehicle to create a 365-day content creation where people are publicizing their recipes?
Television, who was watching the show? I don’t care if there was 250,000. Who are those 250,000? Are they the people that have gatherings in their home? Are they people that buy premium brands because their friends and families are coming over? Are they the people that outfit their kitchens with $40,000 gas ranges, buy great wine and, in turn, in their driveways have Audis and BMWs? What is the value of those consumers?
And finally, retail, not only how many products did Loblaws sell and the profit on the profit, how many shoppers that went to Loblaws that hadn’t been in Loblaws in 10 years that shopped at Overwaitea or Metro and went in because they fell in love with Glow’s lemon pie? And how many of those shoppers did Loblaws keep?
If we knew that information, we might have a number like Loblaws realized $30 million of value for their $3 million investment. And if we did that, we would have the information to create platforms that Kroeger in the States could not make 30 million but make 300 million on our platform and Tesco in England could make 200 billion pounds on our platform — 200 million. Two hundred (200) billion would be wonderful.
But the reality is that we’ve got to think about the fact that data is going to enable us to connect the dots and maybe to knock down the silos that have prevented true collaboration, and to realize that great ideas and great content that has to be discovered has to travel, like Coca-Cola said so eloquently five years ago, like liquid across all the consumer touchpoints.
So I started my keynote today with three questions: Is this market under siege or underdeveloped? Do we have too much content or too little of the right content? Is our content trapped and imprisoned or is it free to travel without boundaries and without bureaucracy?
So I look at our country, the storytellers, the gamers, the coders, the networks, the DNA of a country that’s always had to do a lot more for a lot less compared to American budgets. I look at a $2.2 trillion marketplace and 1 percent would be a $22 billion industry, but I think we can go for 10 percent. I think this industry can be the engine we so desperately need in Canada to revitalize our economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think this is simply content in the age of abundance. I think this is Canadian content in the age of opportunity. And I notice so because I believe in a quote that Plato once said: “Those that tell the stories rule society.”
Question and Answer Period
THE MODERATOR: Thanks so much, Tony.
Now, we do have some time for Q & A. I know there’s a lot of expertise in the room and we want to make sure that people can hear your questions, both who are watching the live stream and in the room. So I have a hand-held over here and there’s a microphone over here if anyone wants to start off with a question. I’ll give you a second to think that over.
I have a question —
MR. CHAPMAN: Sure.
THE MODERATOR: — since I am the Moderator. You mentioned something about messaging apps being kind of a Trojan horse, and I wonder if you could expand on that a little bit because I know there’s a tonne of activity going on in that space right now.
MR. CHAPMAN: Well, messaging will pass traditional social media in terms of time spent. The power of messaging, the ability to do Snapchat, video, the sharing, connectivity, the friends, “look at what I’m doing; look at this interesting thing I’m doing at this very moment”, the concept to having that immediate connectivity, and what we’re seeing now is that a lot of apps and a lot of content creators, if I can bring that into a WhatsApp or WeChat – and we’re seeing a lot of incredible stuff over in China – if I can bring that into play, people will never leave my messaging site. I’ll become the new platform.
It’s no coincidence that Facebook owns both Facebook Messaging and WhatsApp, two that will probably become the global messaging place.
MR. MAAVARA: Hi. Gary Maavara, Corus Entertainment.
And, Mr. Chairman, this is not a regulatory proceeding, but I will tell you that I learned a new phrase today that I really love, “convening power”. I love that.
MR. MAAVARA: Anyway, moving on to the question. You can tell just by looking at me that I’m involved with traditional media. My colleague here, Ronnie Stanton, is our National Brand Director for our radio groups.
What’s your advice to companies like ours that are big in traditional media and where do we go from here?
MR. CHAPMAN: I would take — if I ran a network, I would take one hour of prime time – prime time – I would say it’s up for grabs 18 months from now. You have an 8, 10, 12-week window. I would put the same amount of money you paid to buy that American content on the table. I’d invite my top three production companies in and I’d say, “We want to create content. We want to create content where brands are part of the storyline, enabled. They’re not that jarring product placement.” Bring them to the table, and when you bring them to the table, get them to bring their retail partners together. So I’d create a show that was targeting women on the W Network. I’d have great insight. I’d bring in Proctor & Gamble. I’d have Proctor & Gamble bring in Walmart. I’d put it all together and make sure social, digital are all working collaboratively. I would build — I would create a petri dish for the world. I’d create this platform. I’d put on this content. I would measure everything, including how did that do in terms of driving brand equity for Proctor & Gamble because they’re an enabler in the storyline – they don’t just suddenly pop in – and what it did in terms of sales. I’d put all our skin in the game, and if it worked, and I know it would work, I would watch Proctor & Gamble and Walmart take that around the world faster than you can imagine.
And it would be a Canadian platform. Instead of always importing American platforms because they’ve worked in other markets, I would rather see us as a petri dish and use your networks and monetize that so you’re not just making money in terms of 8 or 10 weeks on Canadian TV and re-running it on your specialty channels. You’re making money because every time that platform is used around the world, every time Proctor and Walmart said, “My God, in Canada, it cost us X and we delivered this” we’d be sitting there and making money that came back to the Canadian economy. That’s what I would do.
THE MODERATOR: More questions?
Claude, did you have a question that you wanted to ask?
MR. JOLI-COEUR: Yes. Thanks. Very interesting, Tony.
Where do you see live — you were referring to live television with sports news. How do you see that remaining sustainable in that shift of where the content is basically going all over the place and will there be still enough economic bases to keep those points of gathering?
MR. CHAPMAN: Television has got to look at being the number one amplifier for telling a story, but that story also has to get told in retail and social media, as opposed to going, “Well, it’s just television. Oh, we’ll do a little bit of social media to bring eyeballs to it.” It has to intrigue the whole ecosystem, number one.
Two, blockbusters and news and live television will always have a domain. The one thing we’ve got to look out for, two weeks from now, the NFL deal on Thursday night, does Netflix step up and bid for it? That’s the one thing we’ve got to worry about. If the streaming services start deciding they want to get into live television, that thing is going to spin out of control faster than we ever imagined. They have — they’re spending $5.5 billion in content this year.
As long as that remains the domain of live television, I mean, the reality is 72 percent of the time, they still watch cable. We’re still watching it. The reality is now we’re watching it at our time slots.
The greatest content out there right now is being produced in television. We’ve never seen better content and more of it. But I think the problem is we keep it in isolation. We think this is a television show, and what it has to be, it has to be an idea that wherever I shop, live, play, work, that I can consume the basic insights and ideas. That’s what I would do with it.
THE MODERATOR: More questions? Yes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: First of all, I love your three questions. I think my answer would be that all of them are happening at the same time and we’re in a state of transition. It seems to me our traditional business models have been very much based on creating scarcity. That’s what the scale of big companies have been doing.
How do you find the value proposition going forward beyond scarcity? Is it engagement? You know, what would be the thing that you say the value is?
MR. CHAPMAN: Absolutely. We’ve got to move from impressions and eyeballs, which is archaic, and really talk about how it changed the way people think, felt and behaved and how can we monetize that?
I’ll give you a great example. I think long-tail content — you know, when I grew up, there was kind of like — I hung around with nine people, you know, and a couple of them I really didn’t like, but we needed them to play ball hockey, you know. But you just kind of hung around those people and we all had to have kind of very similar interests. But now, because of the internet and digital, people can pursue the passions they like. They can find likeminded people.
And so somebody might be going, “I just love Australian football,” well, you can create content for that long tail because you also can collect a scale. You can be relevant to a very large group of people. The question that you’ve got to figure is “How can I monetize that?”
Because right now we monetize based on Proctor & Gamble in Canada going, “Am I reaching Canadian consumers?” and “Over here am I reaching American consumers?” But I think when these silos disappear, what these global brands, which we depend on for funding, are going to look and say, “If I’m in the business of speed” — you know, look at Red Bull. I was with an incredible Vancouver company yesterday, Active Media, which is creating these LED systems in subways that you take off on your subway and all of a sudden in the window you’ve got an ad, but the ad is moving like the subway. Well, I’m Red Bull and I own the DNA of speed; I want to be in every subway station that they’re in, right?
So the concept is long-tail content is not about geography anymore. It’s not about owning the 8 o’clock segment, taking over a railway station with this intrusive advertising. It’s enabling the individual’s desire to do more, be more, see more.
You know, we want to laugh, we want to cry. We’re humans. We want to connect. We want to socialize. We want things to run — campfires — we’ve had campfires our entire life. Remember I said social media just came out. From the beginning of time there was social media. If I was a young farmer wanting to learn about farming, I walked across the street and I socialized with the older farmer. It was television that cut that interaction off because it was just one-way communication. But it’s come back in full force, but because of the internet, I don’t have to walk across the street to the farmer. I can find them online.
And this is why I think that no matter what you’re passionate in, in content creation, there will always be mass audiences and mass television. There will always be big gatherings and big events, but I think the opportunity in long-tail, in seeding things and watching them grow, and fostering and letting people take it and transform it and massage it, as long as we can track what happens to it and monetize it, I think that $2.2 trillion is going to come at us like a firestorm. It’s going to be a massive opportunity.
If we don’t, if we just surrender the content in the world, it’s going to be very difficult to prove what its value was.
So it’s not eyeballs; it’s not impressions; it’s how immersed that individual is.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for that question and answer.
I wanted to mention that our discoverability hashtag is currently trending. So it’s great to see the conversation happening.
MR. CHAPMAN: That’s great.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, thoughts, comments?
MR. REGALADO: Hello. My name is John Regalado. I’m here on behalf of the National Campus and Community Radio Association.
For our industry, our content creators are often also the content consumers, being like volunteer-driven in community radio and media.
I notice you talked a lot about how industry can partner with business to create content and you touched a little bit on the desire of consumers now to create their own media. I’m wondering if you could speak more to the role that could play with other organizations in this room and how they can harness that in terms of making things more discoverable?
MR. CHAPMAN: I’m not sure I followed the question. So you’re in the community radio — college radio business?
MR. REGALADO: M’hm.
MR. CHAPMAN: And you’re looking at how to monetize that or you’re looking at…
MR. REGALADO: No, not necessarily, but I mean, if we’re here to talk about discoverability, I feel like maybe the consumer — like the idea of the consumer is left out of this conversation a little bit because in our industry they drive so much of our own discoverability.
MR. CHAPMAN: Yeah.
MR. REGALADO: So I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the role of the people who are consuming and how they can be a part of making this media?
MR. CHAPMAN: Well, first of all, I’ll go back and say I think talent and genius will always find a home. The difference is that the home is no longer mass; it’s becoming much more about my life or, if I’m the business to business, my livelihood. What’s keeping me up at night? What’s exciting me? Where’s my purpose? Where’s my self-actualization?
So understanding the insights of those consumers is inherently important in terms of creating content that’s worthy of being discovered, not in just “I produce this thing.” That’s the first thing.
The second thing, you know, I did a — for $3,000 for Sunsilk, eight years ago I had a — it’s called Bridezilla. A woman cuts off her hair just before she gets married. Well, the insight was women hated bad hair days. And every time you talked to a woman about a bad hair day, “Oh my God, I ran into my old boyfriend after work. I ran into my old boyfriend’s new girlfriend.” They always had stories. That’s an insight. They had stories. So we created this video. Look at it, it’s like — Norm Jewison weighed in and thought it was real. Oprah talked about it. Jay Leno had it. Good Morning America had it. This thing took over pop culture for three weeks. And why? Because the insight was so powerful.
So yes, algorithms are going to allow you to feed and know this is where the pool of likeminded people are. These are the passion points. It’s going to tell you what bait is working, what headline, what copy, what creative is working to get people noticed. That stuff’s all going to happen. Technology is going to play a massive role in it, but if you don’t create content that’s about enabling versus just providing, no matter what you do, no matter what data, no matter what media money, it’s going to fall in the wayside because there’s somebody that’s going to take your place because that someone is going to have a lot more value.
Does that answer it?
MR. REGALADO: Yes, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions or comments? Yes?
GAIL: Hi. I’m Gail from Creative B.C.
And one of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about — I’ve been in the broadcasting world and content for the last 20 years — is I’d love to hear you kind of speak to the role of more diverse voices in the storytelling and how that can possibly excel or grow faster than we’ve kind of seen it in our industries for the last 20 years.
MR. CHAPMAN: Great question.
So the command and control area kind of wanted to be — I call it the Boston Bib Lettuce in a buffet table. You know, you wanted it to be something and you didn’t offend anybody, but really with the Boston bib lettuce, when you go to a buffet table, you never fill up your plate with that. But we kind of just want to do that to be safe.
As we get into much more niche content, you know, as we talk about content for culture, content for education, content for passion points, you’re dealing with likeminded people. You need to diversify. You can’t go in there. You’re going to be a foreign object going in there if you’re kind of that sort of white/red personality that we grew up with.
So the opportunity is immense, but it’s the intelligence of the content creators saying, “This is the audience I want. This is the insights that matter. This is how we can enable them.” Of course I’m going to present — the person that’s presenting that content or the Trojan horse that’s delivering the content is going to be something that’s very palatable to them.
And so I think that the concept of diversity is going to disappear because with a $2.2 trillion market, smart people will figure that out very quickly and put the right faith, the right conversation, the right dialogue, the right headlines in front of the right people versus just sort of being one size fits all. I mean, that’s what television was, a big driftnet, a beautiful big driftnet. We had no choice, though. We went home, everybody — you know, the only thing I fought over in my family is if I got home first, I got to watch Hogan’s Heroes. If my sisters got home first, they got to watch Petticoat Junction. I mean, that was our choices, right.
So nowadays, the beauty is it’s no longer a driftnet. It’s fly fishing. And the beauty of fly fishing is you put the bail on the — or the fly on the hook that’s going to attract the viewer, the most interested.
I hope I answered that question.
THE MODERATOR: We have time for one more question or comment.
MS. DINSMORE: This is Pam Dinsmore from Rogers.
And I thought your presentation was great.
MR. CHAPMAN: Thank you.
MS. DINSMORE: You talked about immersing our kids in math and learning how to use algorithms, and I want to get your view on whether today algorithms are working or can work in favour of versus against Canadian content and what can be done in future to ensure that Canadian content is discovered through these sorts of methods?
MR. CHAPMAN: So you could have a couple of experts that just — I mean, Dr. Diamond has just done her doctorate in it, so I’m going to let her take the heavy lifting on this, but first things stem in schools in general. I’m going to go off-path a bit. We need to bring gamification and content creation in schools so that kids jump on the kind of learning we need them to learn. We’re teaching the wrong stuff. We’re teaching them to memorize stuff. We’ve got to teach them cognitive learning. We’ve got to get them passionate about subjects the way they’re passionate about their games and the way they’re passionate about their social networks and their messaging.
The second question is that on the great divide between the providers and the enablers, algorithms are going to destroy the providers. They’re going to commoditize your business. They’re going to buy media that way. They’re going to neutralize anything they can and drive the cost down because it is a race to zero without an airbag. So if you’re on that side of the business, you’re going to be flattened, and you’re already feeling flattened if you’re getting involved in problematic buying and such.
The other side, the enablers, it’s going to work to your advantage because it’s going to put a real value on your content. You’re going to create riches that you’ve never seen because it won’t be about “Look at the audience I brought” as “Look at the audience I brought and look what they did because of my content”. So in the middle ground, it won’t be.
So if you’re on the providing side, me too, content, brands, media, it’s not going to be a pretty story. The other side, it’s going to be your greatest weapon because nobody can deny math. It’s no longer an emotional buy; it’s a strategic buy.
If I could have gone into Loblaws, if I knew that show had made $30 million for Loblaws against a $3 million investment, they’d be running that — they’d be saying, “Can I run that three times a year before I get diminishing returns?”
I’d go down to the States and have an auction between the four bigger retailers to say, “Who wants to buy my platform” because I knew that I could monetize the value.
It’s so important that we look at providing, the problem, enabling. It’s great.
Listen, first of all, I’ve got to do a shout-out because my beautiful wife Marion and Zulu, my family in South Africa, my daughter in London and my daughter in New York were kind enough to — and my sisters in Toronto were kind enough to listen, and so hello everybody.
And I want to thank you so much. You’ve been such a great audience. Thank you so much.
THE MODERATOR: That was great. Thanks, Tony, and thanks for all the great questions.
We’re going to take a short break now, and as Tony alluded to, some of the questions about algorithms and about niche content is what we’re going to dig into during the conversation after the break.
One of my unenviable tasks is to keep things going on schedule, so I’m going to cut in a little bit to your break time to get us back on track, okay? See you back at 10:30.
— Upon recessing
— Upon resuming
Round-Table Discussion: The Discoverability of Content in the Age of Abundance
THE MODERATOR: Hi. Welcome back. I hope you all had a good break.
So we are ready to take our places for our little round table here. I will introduce our panelists, and they will come up.
Tony Chapman, you got to know him before the break. He’s going to join us for the round table as well.
Sara Diamond. Dr. Diamond is the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University, Canada’s “university of the imagination”.
Ashkan Karbasfrooshan. Ashkan is founder, CEO, Editor-in-Chief and Ombudsman of WatchMojo, Canada’s largest YouTube channel. Welcome, Ashkan.
Moyra Rodger. Moyra Rodger is an award-winning producer, entrepreneur, industry innovator, and founder and CEO of the online strategy company, Magnify Digital.
Tessa Sproule. Tessa most recently left an executive position with CBC as Director of Digital Content to co-found and create Vubble. She’s a leading North American expert on digital media production.
Ling Lin. Ling heads up content partnerships for YouTube Canada. She’s spent the past five years with Google and, prior to her current role, she led the content partnerships business for Greater China and Vietnam.
And finally, Nathan Wiszniak. Nathan brings over 15 years of marketing in music, sales and programming experience to the Spotify Canada team, where he’s responsible for Label Relations.
Welcome. Let’s have a seat.
So thank you all for joining us, and it’s going to be a great conversation.
I want to start with a few just kind of general questions, partly so that people can get a sense of where each of you is coming from because you’re all coming from different points of view.
So briefly, how is discoverability an issue in your area of expertise or your company?
Tessa, let’s start with you.
MS. SPROULE: You want to start with me?
THE MODERATOR: You looked at me.
MS. SPROULE: Sure.
So our company is set up to actually address the discoverability issues that I faced when I was at CBC, and our goal is to disrupt the algorithm piece that we’ve already talked a little bit about to figure out how do you do monetization without advertising and eyeballs driving everything because that’s the massive pressure point that so many of us face.
And then thirdly, the legacy models around things like scarcity and territorial control of consumption of content don’t make any sense in the digital space when it’s like water.
DR. DIAMOND: May I jump in?
THE MODERATOR: Sara.
DR. DIAMOND: So I have a very sort of schizophrenic relationship to all this. I am very involved in working with the major media entities in helping them build recommender engines that are next generation technologies, which — recommender engines which I know you all know. But anyhow, they help users find the content that they prefer, and looking at visual strategies to help editors who are working with that content make decisions, and increasingly data-driven editorial decisions.
But I also come from the media industries, and I’m really interested in the problem of how really great niche content can stay alive in this environment and be nurtured before it finds global market.
So I think data is a really important contributor to that, as Tony has shared, but I think we need a lot of work together to make sure we have the right ontologies in place to find Canadian data content.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: The one thing I’ll add is when we talk about discoverability, there’s actually two things. There’s discovery and recovery, and I think online, you have to recognize that those are not the same thing. And I think that’s all driven by the fact that there’s so much clutter — like on YouTube alone, I think each minute there’s hours of content uploaded, and there’s really no programming. It’s not linear television.
So we could talk about all those things a bit more, but that’s the main kind of fork in the road.
MS. LIN: Yeah. To add on, 400 hours of content uploaded into YouTube every minute, and so you can imagine the sheer volume of it.
I think at YouTube, what we do is we work very closely with content providers, content owners who are building a presence up on our platform to help them with optimization tips, how should you be tagging videos the right way, how should you be better discover it by like creating content that’s in line with trending topics because that’s what people are usually searching for.
But to us, discoverability or getting discovered is just step one. How do you then build up a channel, a consistent brand and presence on the platform to keep people coming back? Because even if you get discovered, you’re like viral video. You’re a one-hit wonder. If you don’t keep up that momentum, that doesn’t mean anything at all.
MR. WISZNIAK: Same thing goes upon our platform. You know, it is about continuing the conversation. It’s extending the life cycle of a product.
I mean, part of my job is to ensure that content creators are getting their content on our platform, then also, it’s about getting Canadian music exposed globally.
It’s — there’s never been more of an opportunity right now for Canadian artists, traditionally where it’s been really difficult to break out of the mould of Canadian — of Canada, and now this being a global platform, which I’m sure you can agree that there’s now more than — a greater opportunity for Canadian music and Canadian artists now.
MS. RODGER: Well, at Magnify Digital, we work on strategies. We help companies build strategies using some of these — some of the tools that we’re talking about.
So I’ve been a television producer for about 25 years, and about seven years ago, we got into the space and combined some business background that we had with experience in the digital media space and started advising companies on how they can make really strategic use of these tools.
And I guess about five years ago, we turned our attention over to media, thinking that this was going to be a tremendous growth area, that all of my television producer peers were going to get excited and come to us, and we’d talk about how they could build their audiences directly. And frankly, it’s been — it’s taken a long time.
We built a tool to help businesses do that, but I’m thrilled to be here today because I feel like this conversation is one that truly has been a long time coming.
DR. DIAMOND: And also, the environment is forcing this on people.
I mean, we’re seeing the end of, essentially, an era in Canada of the subsidized environment, and if we’re going to keep content producers and creators alive and well within this world, we’re going to need to really create a strategy, I think, with not only market forces that allow people to successfully adopt these new tools, but where there’s collaboration, you know, the sort of tripartheid collaboration between government, producers, you know, and distributors.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, is there anything you want to add to your —
MR. CHAPMAN: You know, I think it’s (indiscernible). We talked a little bit about it earlier, that I think content will still remain king. Talent and genius can find a home, but the reality is that you have to find — carve your way and claw your way out of a lot of “me, too” content that really lacks purpose. And so I think the combination of technology and experimentation plays directly to Canada as a marketplace.
We have the most competitive market in the world, but if you come in here and you fail, it’s a rounding area on your balance sheet. But if you come here and you succeed, you can export those ideas.
So I’d love to see us get off our back foot playing defence and always thinking about importing platforms and trying to replicate U.S. content and go the other way and say this is the breeding ground where we can test new models. And when they work, it’s something that’ll give you first mover advantages and you take it globally.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: You think that Canada’s a more competitive market than the U.S.A.?
MR. CHAPMAN: It’s —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Because by saying it’s the most competitive market in the world, you would say it is. I don’t think that’s the case at all.
MR. CHAPMAN: Well, I guess —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Canada’s one of the least competitive markets in the world.
MR. CHAPMAN: No, I’m talking about — sorry. You’re — in terms of competition, I’m talking about the people that are looking to fund — find ways to get their brands engaged and they’re trying to find ways to invest to connect with people, so it’s a very competitive market in the sense that we are high users of the internet, we are a very complex retail marketplace. It’s — we’re — stretch across a very big geographic area.
This is — a lot of multinationals have brought executives here to cut their teeth in Canada because it’s a great place to learn because if you can grow your business in Canada, you can grow it anywhere.
So that’s what I was talking about competitive, not so much —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think you meant challenging, like tough market to compete.
MR. CHAPMAN: I actually meant competitive.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Okay. I disagree.
I think it’s a very challenging market because, at the end of the day, you have 30 million people, which is less than the population of California, and it’s still a place where, left to their own devices, a lot of media companies are, you know, renting trucks, going up state, chopping down trees and saying how are we going to improve our newspaper businesses.
I think there’s still this kind of lack of realization that things have changed, but I guess we each have our own perspectives.
THE MODERATOR: I want to talk a bit about niche content, which sort of came up briefly before the break, and whether that’s sort of niche by locale or by subject area. How important do you think niche programming is in this new environment that we find ourselves in?
DR. DIAMOND: I’d love to hear from YouTube. I mean, I think YouTube is full of niche content from really, really creative makers, and the challenge then is how you, you know, keep that content going and create an economy around it.
Some people have been very successful. You know, for people at the sort of low budget entry point, there’s a great environment out there. And a lot of those younger people know how to use that, too. You know, they understand their market, they track that stuff. It’s instinctual to them.
You know, so I think that’s there. I think the challenge is what gets called the squishy middle, which are people who have had a successful run within the current subsidized world of Canada, and some of that content’s really excellent and it’s really figuring out, you know, how to create the tools to position it, but also budgets to sustain that kind of work.
And I think that’s the work that we need to do to keep that world moving and also help those companies begin to kind of breed with each other, whether it’s an orders and acquisition environment, you know, or kind of cooperative working together within the space to be able to afford the kind of analytics necessary for more expensive content.
I think that’s the big challenge in this country.
MS. LIN: Yeah, I mean, we spend billions of dollars building this platform, which is global in nature. And when we started, our tag line or motto was “broadcast yourself”.
And the idea of it was, no matter who you are and what you’re doing, as long as you’re able to create content that you’re passionate about, upload it onto YouTube. And if there are people who latch on, they like watching it, the audience base grows, there. You have an audience.
And I think niche is only niche when you have gatekeepers saying that this isn’t conventional, this is different from what we’re used to seeing or what we’re used to producing.
But when niche becomes mainstream, when gaming content or gamers sitting in their bedrooms playing games and if people watching, it becomes mainstream. Well, Jimmy Kimmel joked about it, but gamers take it really seriously.
Or when unboxing toys was niche, but now we have millions and billions of views and subscribers to these content.
I think that’s the beauty of a platform like YouTube where nothing is really niche because we don’t — we’re not gatekeepers. We provide the platform, and as long as you’re passionate about it, upload it and you build your audience.
MS. SPROULE: Can I jump in — sorry.
I was just going to say, like niche is fantastic and it’s beautiful, and there’s so much, you know, agency in the individual audience to actually define their experience, but it also comes with a massive problem, which is that our ability to be exposed to things that are outside of that niche that we put around it, whether we call it filter bubbles or whatever it is, that’s what conventional media used to do, right.
Like my son is nine. If he could watch Minecraft videos all day, that’s all he would do. In the next few years, he’s going to go out into the world and define his belief system, and that’s going to be very self-directed. And we feel that that’s what self-directed, he gets to choose, but those choices are actually kind of false because they’re made by the things he’s looked at before or the things that his friends might have shared with him that he’s clicked on.
So all of that — the algorithmic piece that I think we’re going to get into as well — powerful, fantastic, but I think some of the things that concern me mostly are that that serendipitous experience of being exposed to something where you go, “Oh, my God”.
And that’s how our brains work. Like we actually remember things much more significantly if we’ve been challenged with, you know, something that’s slightly outside your comfort zone or something that’s a contrary point of view. That is the stuff that actually makes us who we are, and that’s the thing that I worry about and that keeps me up an awful lot.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah. Is there a tension between niche programming and shared values, which is so much of what we traditionally —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think everything is relative and it’s a question of your perspective. I think in a global reality with no gatekeepers, even though there are still some gatekeepers, where content and distribution are likely yin to the yang, I think everything could be niche.
I think the Superbowl, if you’re a kid in Prague who all of a sudden has an interest in American football, is niche because your friends are watching the Champions League.
We are a channel of 10 million subscribers. We’re Canada’s largest channel on YouTube. Not to plug. That’s still small. That’s — what I want to get to, it’s still niche. Even within that 10 million subscribers who watch 200 million videos per month globally, you know, there’s some videos that we’ll do that will be of interest to a niche fragment within our audience.
But I also think, again, going back to perspective, I have a seven and a five year old — two daughters. And you know, sure, now you could argue it’s the algorithm that kind of determines, but they’re still more in control of their own fate in terms of what they watch based on algorithms and what they want.
How is that different than me growing up, some dude at the CBC or someone at YTV decided that Saturday at 10:00, you’re going to watch this? That was based on their belief system. If they liked it, if that was a friend who said, “I’m the producer of this; could you guys consider it” or if there’s some government entity that’s funding it, then maybe there’s going to be some forces that push that to be picked up on.
There’s always been this kind of invisible hand that affects all of these things. It’s just we’re kind of moving to a more open and democratic.
Now, democracy is great. It’s better than its alternatives. But it doesn’t come without its, you know, pitfalls, and that’s what you’re seeing now.
But I think net, net, I would much rather be in this reality than any reality before because, at the end of the day, we manage to build an independent, profitable business without the help of government, without the meddling of investors, without the intervention of marketers.
And we did it — you know, you talk about free constituencies, government, producer and distributor. That has changed a bit.
The three constituencies, increasingly, are publisher, distribution platform and marketer. And we’ve still been able to just do what we want to do, but it’s — you have to put the audience first and foremost, right.
So I think it all goes down to your perspective.
THE MODERATOR: Moyra.
MS. RODGER: Yeah. Well, I hear what you’re saying about niche, but I think from a content creation side, it can be really daunting, this idea of building audiences and how do you do it.
And when you have niche content, if you have the subject matter that’s defined or hyper-defined, it can really be helpful in figuring out who your audience is, finding your audience online, so it can actually give a leg up, I think, with building an audience rather than saying, “I’ve got romantic comedy that appeals to women 18 to 49”.
I mean, that’s very — that’s tough. You’ve got to have a lot of money and some very savvy marketing strategy to really have an effect building on that audience.
But if you’re working on a documentary about something that’s niche, there are many ways that all content creators — there are many tools that we can leverage to start to build that audience really and to build deep engagement with them.
That’s where I think niche becomes really powerful.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But could I play devil’s advocate?
MS. RODGER: Sure.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Freedom of expression, God-given right, whether you’re religious or not, you know. Freedom of media and press, God-given right. Freedom to create content, God-given right. But there’s no God-given right that you need to make a living out of creating content.
I think what the internet exposes is that there’s been a lot of content with no demand. And I’m not talking demand in an economics perspective. I’m saying that like it was created because someone made a decision, given the job they had, that they were going to fund something and, unless it was force-fed to an audience at 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday, was not going to be actually of interest.
I do think you need to be entrepreneurial. You need to be either like a good marketer and a good storyteller or you need to be able to cut deals to go and meet someone and tell them why they should carry your show. But I don’t think that it’s like, okay, if those people now cannot survive in this new reality, they will just animal — you know, animal instincts, move on to something else because, sadly, maybe they were not in the right business to begin with. Maybe they had no business producing content to begin with.
MS. RODGER: Well, fair enough.
MR. CHAPMAN: Maybe they just want to produce content because they love producing content.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But then you should be able to do it if you’re willing to do it free.
MR. CHAPMAN: But, you know — and that’s storytelling. And — but you know, one thing — I don’t like the word “niche” in terms of eyeballs, how many people. I think it’s about passion points.
And reality is, you might be dealing with, on a numbers game, only one percent of the people are passionate about it if you’re talking in this room, you’re going to go out of business. But if one percent of the human population, that’s a big scale.
So algorithms then allow you to track that.
But the other thing is, it also could be I only really want to reach 10 people. There’s only 10 people that matter to me that I want to influence and change their behaviour.
Might be a parent creating content for their child because they want them to have new values and beliefs when they go beyond gaming on the internet.
So it’s not — I think we’ve got to move away from eyeballs and really, really start understanding the value of the content. And some of it can be monetized, and some of it will never be monetized.
But some might be just I hate my job, I hate my life, but when I get home and I get to create something and, my God, there’s a channel I can upload it and I can see my content, I can share a link with my grandchild that lives across the ocean, that’s fantastic. That’s the world we live in.
THE MODERATOR: It’s part of my job to herd seven passionate, intelligent people through a lot of my stuff, so I’m going to move us on to talk about data analytics, which also came up before the break. you know, what’s the relationship between data analytics and the production of content, and how can data analytics be effective in discovery.
Sara, I know you have thoughts on this. Perhaps you could start us off.
DR. DIAMOND: Yeah. And I think it’s quite relevant to the previous conversation because you can actually design your analytic engine so that you look at patterns of behaviour, you know, within individuals, patterns of behaviours within demographics, and you also look at emergent trends in the world.
And you look at counter-trends so you can actually provide content opportunities to people through recommender engines which says, “What would you like to explore next?” that provide them with not only what they’re used to and comfortable with, but what’s trending and also what’s contradictory.
And I think what’s very interesting in this space is still the role of human intervention, and that’s the work that I’m trying to do.
I work with, as I mentioned, one of the very large media entities in this country who has invested a lot of money in a very high end, brilliant analytics team, and a lot of the conversation that we’re having is, you know, what is that fine line between what’s called think data by ethnographers, i.e. understand kind of the complexity of human psychology, et cetera, and how you can still have a kind of editorial layer within a world that’s algorithm driven and where you can actually increasingly crunch a huge amount through cognitive computing of data, a huge amount, so you can understand not only — and some of the problem with analytic engines is they’ve been in very close proximity to the content, but increasingly, there’s a sophistication.
Google is a major investor, you know, in that space in its capacity to really look at world trends.
So you don’t have to necessarily limit your kids’ world view to what they like now and, as a user, you can actually program your level of risk and trust in the kind of content that you would experience.
I think the question of how you build what’s called an ontology, in other words, a sort of meta data environment that recognizes some of the sort of interesting quirkiness of content is a really interesting computational problem. But if you look at some of the analytic systems, I mean, there’s like 400,000 different sort of topics within that space.
So it’s a rich, exciting world, and human agency is still very much at play within that world.
And I just have to say the culture within the media industry, a lot of the people who come in, either editorial — make the editorial choices now or in the future, they’re not necessarily knowledgeable about using these tools, so it’s also building the environment within the agencies and the platforms where people know how to use the tools in a sophisticated way.
THE MODERATOR: Nathan, I think that the digital music space has —
MR. WISZNIAK: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: — a lot to tell us in this. Can you tell us your experience?
MR. WISZNIAK: Yeah. I mean, over the last 15 years of being in the industry from, you know, seeing the evolution of CDs to digital to now to streaming, and having worked at a record label and being sort of on the other side, data and analytics has never been as important as it is now for content creators and the repertoire owners only because they need to be quick and nimble as far as understanding if the content is working to their audience, who their audience is, where their audience is listening.
And you know, some of the analytics that we’re actually able to provide to artists, managers, record labels are helping to inform touring, helping to inform who they’re selling their merchandise to. And it’s becoming more of a bigger business model rather than just putting out a CD, and — an album and just watching — letting it happen.
Tony, you talked about the long tail. And the long tail — I’ve been the evolution of long tail in the music industry is increasing. And again, we’re, you know, looking at a model where you’re relying on first week sales. It’s always the first week.
Now it’s extending that life of content. You look at a band like Metric who released a record in September, but they had five singles out over the course of six months that led up to this release, so you had six months of focusing on one song — I’m sorry, five songs, but one piece of content that was — you were able to create a story around.
MR. CHAPMAN: Hedley did the same thing.
MR. WISZNIAK: Exactly. Yeah.
So — and that’s now happening because you have a global platform now and you have a larger audience to talk to.
Record labels and independent labels are recognizing that global rights is a big thing now, and not gating rights to specific territories. You know, having things available globally increases an audience and, again, the analytics and data is exactly what they’re using now to — you know, to help them build their audiences in other territories.
MS. LIN: And I mean, you mentioned Google analytics, but there’s YouTube analytics as well, so — and anyone who uploads a video, has a channel, they have access to analytics.
It’s not something that they have to pay for. They can log in every day. There’s real time data on how each of their videos are performing.
And I think — you asked a question about how that has impacted or shaped production.
I think the — in the past, production has always been, you know, let’s get together, create the best concept ever, get a storyboard. Probably it would take months for us to come up with the next big thing.
But if you talk to a lot of YouTube creators today, they live by analytics. They look at analytics and it tells them what they should be producing next. It tells them where they should be going on their next tour, worldwide tour, not just targeting audiences in their own home base country.
So analytics tells them — gives them the ability to test concepts.
They are able to produce content at a lower cost, load it on to YouTube, and see whether it works.
Analytics tells them whether people are watching the full length of a five-minute or a 10-minute video or if people are dropping off at the second minute.
It tells you that your content sucks because at the second minute —
MS. SPROULE: That’s not so much new because television producers have been obsessed with minutes to minutes forever, since the — that data was exposed to them. And I know YouTubers who actually — they actually figure that they —
MS. LIN: Yes.
MS. SPROULE: — their videos that don’t do over a million, don’t do over a million because they didn’t hit the punchline within the first three seconds. And so they know that.
But you guys have been incredibly transparent and allowed —
MS. LIN: Yeah.
MS. SPROULE: — that data to be out there. I worry about companies like Facebook that have a locked box and it’s really hard for a producer or a creator to understand exactly what’s going on, not just with their own content, but within their content within that universe if — and then —
MR. CHAPMAN: But I have to believe some of your biggest surprise hits had nothing to do with building your content based on analytics. I think they captured the imagination, you know.
They just took over the world. You know, the “boy in the back” or “Charlie bit my finger”, it wasn’t — that wasn’t built on that.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But those are — I think those are more viral.
MR. CHAPMAN: Let me finish. Just — I know you want to speak, but let me finish.
I think the comments — I think analytics are very important. I think we’re way behind. I think we’re going to catch up. But make no mistake about it; you’re still going to need talent and genius.
MS. LIN: I agree.
MR. CHAPMAN: You’re still going to need art. All analytics is going to do is it’s going to shape and fine tune like a lathe, but the reality is that if the content doesn’t matter to somebody, all the analytics in the world won’t count.
MS. LIN: Yeah. Nothing lives in silos. And the “Charlie bit your fingers” that you mentioned, they’re usually one-offs, and they happen once a year, once every two years.
But again, I can’t stress enough sustainability. How do you create a sustainable presence? Analytics helps you do that.
And one more point. If you look at how KPOP has taken over the world, it’s hugely successful globally. Analytics told them where their audiences are, and using that analytics, the management companies or the labels — I mean, you can also speak about that. But mostly, it’s about the music industry.
They realize that they have a lot of audience in Latin America. They go to Latin America, they do live shows. They work more closely with distributors or partners in those markets because analytics are telling them that their fans are there. So that’s how they can build sustainable global scalable businesses off of one-hit wonders but also, at the same time, build it up over five years, 10 years.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: So big fan of YouTube analytics. We use it a lot.
But I think, yeah, to what Tony was saying, it’s — you don’t want to be a slave to data. I think oftentimes, you have to be following your gut and just, you know, be a bit counter-intuitive or maybe I would just say not take a short-term approach and take a more long-term view.
So I think the “Charlie bit my finger”, that’s more like a one-off, but I get your point. There’s been a lot of viral things that were thought of and planned and that speak more to like emotion.
I think that’s the difference between like service journals and we’re showing how to make a pie that one morning you don’t wake up passionate about pie; you just want to make a pie and you’ll search for it.
But — so we make that decision consciously every day where we go, you know what, obviously if you do a top 10 explosions in movies, it will get a lot of views, but I don’t want to do that.
So I think you do need to — and you can’t do this until you have a big enough audience, but you also do it to build the big audience and diversify.
We’ll do top 10, you know, religious — influential religious figures or top 10 writers. Some of our audience is like, “Boo, this sucks, give us more explosions”, but then you’ll expand your tentacles and, you know, you have to take that risk.
So I think meta data, which is just describing the videos for people to find them, so more of a push, and then pulling in data to see what works and what doesn’t totally, you have to do it.
But the last thing I think anybody should walk away from here is like become a slave to data in the short term because then there’s not going to be any variety of content. Everybody’s going to have the same BS, excuse the language, click baby things that are just — you know, it’s all fluff.
So you do have to take a risk, and it’s okay to do something that your audience may not necessarily like. But yeah, you can’t build your business around that. You still have to go with the core.
MR. CHAPMAN: And predictability does —
DR. DIAMOND: There’s two other things I just wanted to talk about in terms of types of analytics.
So one is understanding how your content is found, so really understanding where you sit within the social media space and how people move towards your content is very useful for producers to — content producers to understand that.
And the other thing that is interestingly more intelligent than it was for a while is sentiment analytics.
So it’s interesting to try and read how your audience and different kinds of consumers of your content relate emotionally to that content and the points where they relate to it and what that effect is, and then you can actually use that in terms of creative production in terms of narrative and narrative drives, if you’re doing drama or if you’re doing documentary, even with music.
So we tend to look just simply at sort of audience and taste and how those are moving, but it’s really important to look at how things are discovered and what effects they have on people.
MR. CHAPMAN: I think there’s a lot to be said for predictability and unpredictability.
So I would think, for example, that YouTube, a lot of your brand was anchored to the one-hit wonders, I mean, that — because they just hit 100 million people. Where do I go?
There’s no question, though, that predictability, the analytics, is the future.
But the thing that worries me sometimes is, you know, when WestJet hits and everybody — every brand says I want a WestJet, what do you mean, you want a WestJet? Well, I want everybody talking about my brand the way they did.
Well, that was part of their DNA. That’s what WestJet people are known for. You can see them doing it.
And so we’ve got to be careful that we don’t let analytics turn us into a very predictable industry. I think we’ve got to use analytics, but we still also got to go sometimes surprising and being contrarian to where the mass is telling you to go.
You know, Steve Jobs said, you know, invent what the humans want, not what they think they need.
DR. DIAMOND: So this is also brand consistency, and it’s a very interesting conversation.
And I mean, I know we’re talking about a large news entity, but The Guardian is one of the most interesting brands to watch because they’ve chosen to use analytics within about 50 to 60 percent of the decisions of what they provide you with, and they really know their readership. They’ve actually grown it substantially through analytics, but they also will run all kinds of stuff that’s true to their brand that has the 10 people looking at, you know, because they want The Guardian to still have this brand which leans to the left, is engaged with global issues, et cetera, et cetera.
So I think that’s an interesting part of this conversation, too, which is how you establish a brand and it’s not always about having substantive number of eyeballs. I think you were saying that. It’s also about brand consistency.
MS. RODGER: This is like a merry-go-round. You know those ones where the kids push and you spin around. That’s kind of what this table’s like because there’s all these ideas going by and I think oh, but — oh, wait.
So okay, I’m coming at this from the point of working — and I think a lot of people, and I look around the room, are more traditional content creators. So yes, there’s going to be exceptions of people that just create content and should create content, just like some Canadian content doesn’t walk very well, and I’ve produced some of that. Doesn’t cross the border very easily.
There’s a real place for that. I’m not disputing it. I don’t think analytics should be used in the extreme so that we produce by numbers. I think that would be a flaw.
But for the traditional business, this notion of using quantitative data, qualitative data, of using sentiment, of knowing who our audience is and defining it, that’s different. That’s different than we’ve ever produced television before.
Most of the media operations production companies in this country, traditionally, have been B-to-B operation, business-to-business operations where their buyer is a broadcaster or a distributor. And now we’re talking about changing that to a B-to-C, to a business-to-consumer setup. And it — there’s going to be a time for transition.
We need to get away from funding — being funding-centric, too, but it’s going to take time because it means inside some of these companies there needs to be a realignment of the team. They have to — they don’t necessarily have the same skill set.
So that’s sort of the perspective I’m, you know, bringing to this conversation, and I think it’s — I just think it’s going to take time and we need some leadership to help swing what is a very — has been a very successful industry.
DR. DIAMOND: Yeah. When I talked about that tripartheid role in the beginning, that’s exactly what I meant, is some kind of transition plan, you know, for an industry that, essentially, being weaned off of a heavily-subsidized environment.
THE MODERATOR: Can we —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Just quickly because I just — as Tony — I’ll always have a comment on things.
But Sara, I don’t think that what — the rules — exactly. You’re right on.
The rules that apply to news organizations are definitely not going to work.
DR. DIAMOND: I know.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: That’s a very different thing. We get that.
DR. DIAMOND: I know.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But your point — you know, like I noticed in British Columbia, there’s no Uber, okay. So interesting.
So what does technology do? This is — I think Mark Andreessen said it; it shrinks industries.
So are we okay to come to the conclusion at the end of the day that maybe what the internet has done is it’s shrunk, and will continue to shrink, this traditional production industry where that — those days may never come back and maybe there’s no role for government or a different for government and they’re not going to fund things and data will make things more transparent, democratic and maybe, instead of having 1,000 companies producing content and throwing it out there, hoping, like you said, in a B-to-B dialogue — maybe there should only be 100 producers, same way that technology Uber shrinks the cab industry.
I mean, that’s — and you’ve seen transportation industry. I mean, it’s more efficient.
I don’t necessarily think there’s a silver bullet solution to replace. I think it’s more like times have changed, maybe this isn’t going to work out, let’s go build an Uber, something new and different.
MS. RODGER: Yeah, but there’s a period of transition for the traditional industries.
But for new content creators, too, I mean, the legacy of content production, professional content production,, where you do make money is you go to funding — you use funding and you sell to business because that’s still where the high budget — that’s still how high-budget production is being produced in this country, and it’s going to be for who knows. Who’s got a crystal ball?
I’m just saying that I think, from the perspective of professional — you’re going to shoot me down for using that word — for people that want to make money producing content, we need to be thinking about analytics differently. We need to be thinking about our content differently, as I said, not producing by numbers, but we need to know — we need to know who are our target audiences are.
I mean, that’s not something that’s even always contemplated. Your target audience is your buyer. It’s the CBC, you know.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But I mean, there are people making money online. It’s just those people have changed.
PewDiePie, the most popular YouTuber, makes a lot of money. I could tell you the dollar based on data that’s available. I won’t.
But the point is, it’s just that’s what’s changed.
I agree with you, like your first point, which was, you know, we all think that there’s a certain definition and threshold for what is quality programming, but we also — I mean, I, as an internet entrepreneur, came to that conclusion one day when I said I may have to throw that notion out the window.
It’s not — what is quality to you is not quality to you and it’s not quality to me the same way we may have different musical tests.
I don’t get PewDiePie. I will never watch PewDiePie. There’s more — PewDiePie has 40 million subscribers. Like that’s bigger than most countries.
He’s making a lot of money, you know. So it’s just that has changed.
— Several speakers at once
MR. CHAPMAN: He made $12 million, if you’re interested. He had 100 billion views.
But it’s not — my point was, it’s not about the quality. It’s the fact that he’s enabling. He’s enabling, and that’s why he has such a great audience.
People go to him because they’re getting the content they need to be better at what they want to do.
THE MODERATOR: I should have brought a large gavel with me.
Let’s shift the conversation to talk about cross-promotion, which is another area we wanted to get at.
What are sort of some of the benefits and challenges of cross-promotion, specifically in terms of discoverability?
MS. RODGER: You gotta have a strategy. And the one thing I want to say is can we please stop talking about social media like that is having a strategy. It is a tool. Online advertising is a tool. Newsletters are tools. Key implements or outreach is a tool.
So when we say we got to push it out on social media, you’ve got to have a great social media profile, I mean, yes, you may, but first of all, where’s your audience? What social media channels are they on? What are they going to do? What do you want them to do on those channels?
And then figure out how they all work together because none of us have endless resources.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: PewDiePie does.
MS. RODGER: Cross-promotion to create that engagement and not just — we’re not talking about just blasting the same content. We’re talking about actually engaging people, your audience, across different platforms, but being clear on why you’re doing it and what you want them to do and then measuring it.
It all comes down to strategy for cross-promotion.
DR. DIAMOND: This is so funny. I just have to say, I came here from this two-day workshop in the university sector about the disintermediation in, you know, post-secondary education, and I came here literally from that. And it’s exactly the same conversation.
So I think, you know, we’re talking about the digital world. It’s all about making sure that there’s a conversation between those different platforms that’s meaningful for the audience. Otherwise, don’t use the platform.
MS. RODGER: Exactly.
DR. DIAMOND: So if we don’t have to (inaudible).
MR. CHAPMAN: If people are scared, they’re so apt to hold on. You know, you’re trying to preserve your past.
And if collaboration that we’re talking about means leaving the egos in the door, it means that, you know, YouTube is no more important than the network, it’s no important than the producer. It means how do we all come together to make that content travel and find ways to monetize it.
So the difficulty is, is the human being. Every time I’ve been in meetings where I’ve had to bring a brand person, a television producer in, a potential retailer in, it’s all about my agenda, what’s important to me. And that’s what you were just saying now.
DR. DIAMOND: Better let the algorithm do it.
MR. CHAPMAN: Yeah. Well —
MS. SPROULE: I was just going to say, also, we’re sort of at the mercy of some of the competitive struggles between these platforms, though, as well, so as much you might want to be able to, you know, do your beautiful thing on YouTube and then make a version of that beautiful thing and put it on Facebook, you might not be allowed to. And those are things that are actually happening right now, and those are things that are pain points for YouTube creators through the whole process of defining, you know, where they’re going to put their things, when and how.
They’re kind of following old models again, and how do we — how much influence can we have to try to break that apart because, to me, that’s just creating new structures of the same old framework.
MR. WISZNIAK: It’s interesting. There’s a lot of similarities or a lot of cross-promotion between both of our channels, YouTube and Spotify.
One example, cover versions. I mean, there are artists that are doing cover versions that are creating these big audiences, you know, like you have the Shawn Mendes, Canadian, Ruth B, who had this big YouTube audience and she released a song that went to Spotify. And before we even were in a position to support it or add it to playlists, she already had nine million plays, nine million streams. So to me, it’s that audience, that YouTube audience, migrated over to our platform, but still, they’re fans.
I mean, I don’t — to them, it doesn’t matter which platform it is. It’s creating the fans, creating that fan base. And the fans will travel with that artist.
They’ll go to VEVO to watch their video. They’ll go across to other channels. But as long as that — you’re creating, again, content that’s conducive to each platform — and we’re seeing a lot of cover versions.
Like there’s one that we’re seeing a lot that are starting to migrate over from YouTube. But those are some of the examples of what we’re seeing on our end.
MS. LIN: I think content producers often think about how they’re going to distribute content from a business or company’s perspective, but they forget that they’re trying to talk to users. They need to think about how users are using platforms, mediums today.
Nobody — I mean, think about — look — ask yourself, how many sites are you on a day. How many video sites are you on a day?
And if you’re a content producer or you’re — you own a brand, you want to be present everywhere because your fan isn’t just going to be on YouTube. Your fan’s going to be on Spotify, your fan’s going to be on Facebook, your fan’s going to be on Snapchat. You have to have a presence and customize your presence because your fans want different things when they’re on different platforms.
When they’re on YouTube, they — even on YouTube, if they’re at home, they’re using Chromecast. They’re casting on their TV. They want something that’s longer form.
If they’re on the road, they are transiting, commuting, they may just want something that’s just five minutes long.
We have been working with content companies, whether they’re broadcasters or production companies, to let them know that, fine, you have, you know, like a 45-minute long form content. If you have the rights, you have fully recouped the investment that you’ve put onto it, you’re able to upload the full length content onto YouTube, that’s not it.
How do you then create 10 more versions of content out of this 45 minutes that you can put up onto YouTube and 20 other forms of content that you can then upload onto different platforms and engage with your fans regardless of where they are?
So that’s how you should be thinking about it, what do users want, not what do I — I mean, it’s not one-dimensional, like we mentioned. It’s not just about analytics. It’s not just about creatives. It’s a balance that you’re supposed to strike with all these different factors.
I know it’s a confusing world, but it’s the world that we live in today.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: The biggest change — sorry, just to bring these two points together, is — again, I agree with the user and all that. That’s true. That’s to your two points, Tony and Moyra’s.
So back in the day, I didn’t work in traditional media. I’m guessing, like you said, it’s relationships.
If I need to get in like a meeting at Telefilm, I’ll call you, you’ll make an introduction. And like you said, it’s what am I trying to get out of it, how can I help you, and there needs to be that payback. Then if you need an introduction, I’ll return the favour.
What’s changed with online is audience, eyeballs, traffic does have a currency. It shouldn’t be the — you know, the ultimate goal. There should be more to it than just the numbers. But — so it’s very hard, while absolutely true that on YouTube there’s been a lot of cross-promo between channels, it’s very hard to call a bigger channel and just — or email them and say, “Let’s do a cross-promo” because right away, it’s like, well, we have five million subscribers, you have one; what’s in it for me.
Karma, being a decent human being. You know, what all — you know, but it doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. There’s — it’s very, very hard to do cross-promotion because I feel like the human equation, the relationship-building, the let’s find a win/win paradigm for everyone, it’s been replaced to just sheer numbers.
You could help me X units, I’m only going to get back one unit, not interesting, not going to help. So that is the challenge, and there’s no overnight slam dunk solution to that, either.
But you have to make up for that discrepancy somehow.
MS. LIN: There are exceptions as well. Let’s say, you know, you are like a two million subscriber channel from Canada, but you’re trying to expand to Southeast Asia, and there’s like a 500,000 subscriber channel in Malaysia or in Singapore. They would love to work with you. And this two million subscriber channel from Canada would love to work with this channel with less subscribers just because they’re able to tap — they’re able to help them tap on an audience that they don’t have access to but they want to reach out to.
So there are exceptions, and that’s how the YouTube ecosystem has been working in terms of cross-promotion.
So besides — cross-promotion across different platforms within the YouTube ecosystem, there’s a lot of collaborations happening across borders globally.
THE MODERATOR: Right. I want to just get back to something that Tessa alluded to, which is the problem with certain platforms or other people have thoughts on this idea that, you know, about the transparency of the tools that you’re using or that kind of thing that you alluded to?
MS. SPROULE: I don’t know if others have something to say about it, but one of the things that I’ve noticed is that the — you know, in the Facebook world in particular, nobody really understand what “reach” means, really, because it seems to fluctuate and change based on things that you can’t see beyond the — you know, your insights when you first go into your page insight.
And then there’s things that, you know — I mean, Reddit’s fantastic, but I know that the partnership arrangements that happened around that, some people felt that that was forced on them. Some people felt that, okay, I can’t bite the hand that’s feeding me so I’m going to do this and, you know, smile.
And then when — but if you want to use those two platforms in particular, let’s be frank, like the video space and the digital space that is Facebook and YouTube are essentially at loggerheads right now. How do you do that without — in the Facebook world, I know of people that have had their traffic, they believe, has been throttled because they have been posting YouTube videos.
So how much can a producer control that? We can’t.
MR. CHAPMAN: What’s interesting, the (inaudible) effect of the universe will be around forever, which is that human behaviours which always 20 percent — the 20-80 rule. You know, we watch — we go to a handful of web sites. We go to a — you know, a certain amount of TV stations. We just — we become very behavioural that way.
But I think in this new world order, if the company, the platform you’re with doesn’t want to play by your rules, I think the wisdom of the crowds will create a new platform. I’m optimistic.
I’m optimistic the days of industry dictating consumer behaviour is over, and I think the consumers and their ability to rally that army of David is going to be a very different set of — business is going to behave in a very different way.
That’s going to be my optimism.
DR. DIAMOND: We’re not really talking about, you know, over the top and Netflix and some of the other opportunities there that are also very much data analytics driven these days.
And I mean, I think there’s been some very successful experiences on the part of Canadian producers in making it into those markets. They have had to work with and learn to work with Netflix analytics that do things like take the title of a series and test them across large numbers of kids to see what the response is and then tell them to change that title, so it’s a kind of editorial relationship that happens there.
But I think it’s important to say, you know, yes, obviously, YouTube or Facebook are channels to promote content that’s being created for that kind of market and at that kind of budget level, but there is another world out there that I’m sure some of the people in the audience are actually historically kind of focused on if they’re doing long form work or series television.
THE MODERATOR: And Netflix, especially, if they’re getting more into —
DR. DIAMOND: Yeah, absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: — co-pros and things like that.
DR. DIAMOND: You still need the analytic skills. And I mean, I think part of what’s interesting here is whether, you know, you buy them or it becomes in-house if you’re a production company and how you begin to think about building that understanding and that capacity because it’s a specific set of skills.
THE MODERATOR: Right. I did want to ask, Ling, if there were any examples that you could give us of whether it’s digital first companies or companies that have successfully made the transition from traditional media who are really doing this kind of multi-platform stuff right.
MS. LIN: Tons of examples globally. WatchMojo. Great local company.
I think a lot of Canadian home-grown companies have done really well — I mean, companies and individuals have done really well by tapping, you know, the global audience on YouTube. When they start out creating content, they don’t just think about like whether the Canadian in Buffalo or in Vancouver is going to be interested in this new video that I’m putting up, but, instead, they are targeting the global audience.
Lilly Singh is a very successful YouTube creator. She’s better known as —
THE MODERATOR: She just moved to L.A., though, I think.
MS. LIN: She did. But she’s Canadian. And that’s how she started, and it was only recently that she moved.
She has over seven million subscribers today, more than any of the traditional media companies from Canada have on YouTube, even if you combined all of them. She has more subscribers than any of them, and she is not just a YouTube creator. She’s a motivational speaker. She has businesses, you know, across different fields.
And if you look at what WatchMojo has done, they’re from Montreal, but usually when I talk to people, I talk about them and they’re like, “Aren’t they a U.S. company?”
They started out by doing content, by targeting a global audience, by targeting an audience that’s outside of the — of Canada.
And if you look at what Chinese broadcasters have done, think about it, YouTube is blocked in China, but Chinese broadcasters, production companies, they’re uploading full-length content onto YouTube.
There are 166 million Chinese-speaking audiences, or population, globally. That’s what they are targeting. They want people outside of China to get in touch with their content.
And there are 330 million English-speaking audiences globally. Canadian companies are well placed to attain success on this platform.
Production companies like Temple Street, they’ve done well. They are a traditional production company, but they’ve taken steps towards exploiting, you know, different digital platforms, uploading, you know, their content onto YouTube, getting the characters of their show to do different types of YouTube channels, YouTube content, and they’re doing more.
Discovery Communications, Discovery Network in the U.S., again, a traditional broadcaster, but they acquired Revision 3, which is now known as Discovery Digital Networks. They’re a YouTube-only channel or content producer.
Besides that, some of the content that you see on Animal Planet, they create spin-offs.
Like what happens to the pit bull that was featured on TV, but it was only one episode. You don’t know what happens to this guy after the show. But they create content that lives on digital, that lives on YouTube, to talk about what happens to this guy, this pit bull, after the show.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Inaudible – off mic)
MS. LIN: No, they live on Animal Planet because it’s the brand that they’re trying to build up.
But not just that, but look at Endemol, look at Free Mental. They have great formats. They have transitioned from TV to online. They own all their rights globally on YouTube, and they set up different channels of different formats of The Expecter, of the Idol show. Everything that exists on TV, you see on YouTube.
There’s just, I would say, thousands and thousands of examples I can give you of individuals and companies who have transitioned or established digital first operations on YouTube and are highly successful today.
THE MODERATOR: I want to shift the conversation around to talking a little bit about tools for discovery.
So just opening question, like how important do we think the search engines, traditional search engines, still are in terms of discoverability?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think that’s the one where, for recovery, it’s still a search-driven world. If you see something, the Leafs actually win a game, you want to make sure that was actually, you know, reality. You will go search that in a search engine and you’ll land somewhere.
However, if it’s for discovery, then it is more and more social, be it like somebody share something on Facebook or you’re following a number of people on Twitter or, basically, you know, just you’re randomly watching something on YouTube and something pops up.
MS. DIAMOND: Recommendation.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Yeah, exactly.
MS. DIAMOND: Recommendation. That’s an algorithmic experience.
MS. RODGER: I think search is still really important, though, and there’s other information you can glean as a result of search, like just search volume, to understand how people are searching for the topic that you might be covering or the cast member or the genre.
So — and the other thing is, I mean, search is evolving so much. We can really — now that Google is including content from apps and we’re seeing all of these changes, we can only be sure that they’re going to continue to innovate and figure out how best to deliver up the content that people are searching for.
And you know, even around search advertising, I think search advertising is — we know; we use it regularly. It’s a very under-utilized tool by content creators trying to connect with audiences. And it’s inexpensive and, yes, you have to have a certain skill set around it, but it’s certainly — it’s not really prohibitive.
MS. SPROULE: So search —
MR. WISZNIAK: Search necessarily wasn’t an issue for us, but when you look at a platform that has over 30 million songs, you can imagine someone coming into our platform and being a little overwhelmed.
So really, I think for what we do is we serve up editorial-based playlists and really based on moods, moments and looking at a more passive — a passive listener.
I mean, that’s really who the majority of our consumers are.
But then you have an active listener who knows what they want to listen to, who knows what they want to search, who knows which genre they want to go.
So we start there where we serve up based on moods, moments and genres, but then, as you get yourself into the platform now, then you get served based on algorithmic. So I mean, for our — our platform, discoverability is really the key.
And we’ve been able to work with the company by the name of Equiness(phon) who is probably the best partner for us that has been able to help people discover music that they may not necessarily have ever thought that would be something for them.
So we’ve been able to serve up a weekly — discover weekly playlist that basically takes all of your listening habits from the past week and is now streaming you music based upon your like listening tastes.
And you know, at the beginning, people were a bit hesitant, but then realized that this is actually serving up good music and good content that was very relevant to what they were listening to.
And we’ve seen that 60 percent of people are actually — are leaving discovery after five or six songs — and the playlist is 10 songs. So like the engagement of being served up something when you might not know it for content that is so overwhelming, you know, in a platform that may be so overwhelming when you have so much content, it’s — search is for what you want, but then algorithmic discovery is for basically — for things that are more on a passive.
MS. SPROULE: And I’ll say on the search with video, that’s the massive issue that we have right now is that, you know, it depends on people’s meta tagging. It depends on how well the words have gone around it.
Now, YouTube — actually, Google created an algorithm to — with 75 percent accuracy you can tell whether there’s a cat in the video, which is fantastic that a computer can do that. I think that’s phenomenal. So could my two year old neighbour. And the thing that my two year old neighbour can do is say whether or not it’s a funny video, a sad video, a — you know, an upsetting video, all of those things that computers actually can’t do.
And that’s the thing that when you talk about creating mood lists and things, that’s where the human piece in it is such a fascinating space because I think we’re starting to see the element has swung really far over here where search was finding our experience, then it became social and how much of that social is actually driven by people. I think we’ve got a misguided impression that it’s mostly driven by people.
But if you use Facebook as an example, you only see four percent of your friends’ content on your own Facebook feed; 96 percent of that is not stuff that — you’re only going to see four percent of what the breadth of all your friends’ content is.
MR. CHAPMAN: You know, human creation and (inaudible) creation and stuff, but the — I don’t know. I think the — I’ll leave it at that.
— Several voices at once
MR. CHAPMAN: No, no. I think — you know, I think we all look at search in terms of the first moment of behaviour, but I’m — what I’m more intrigued about going in the future is what did that content — how did it get you to change the way you think, feel and mostly behave, and behave in search. Did I search for it in store, did I search for a product online, did I search for more of that music, more of that genre? And I think we’ve really got to come to terms with it.
Sometimes, you know, you could connect with three people and suddenly turn that into 30,000 people if it fosters that kind of behaviour with the right influencer.
So it’s not always this sense of search being I’m looking for things, but sometimes you’ve made me now look for something.
Does that make sense?
MS. LIN: I think we need to think about it as a journey. It’s not one-dimensional. It’s not either/or. Just think of — I mean, when I’m looking or when I’m watching content on YouTube, it could be recommended videos from channels that I’ve subscribed to, but very often, because of this one video that I’m watching, it triggers something in my mind to go think of searching for something that’s related.
And then other videos from other channels then come out and then I’ll be watching this other video from this other channel and chance upon something that’s totally unrelated to why I came to YouTube to the thing that I searched for, but I get addicted or hooked onto this other channel and then this just goes on and on and on. So it’s —
DR. DIAMOND: There’s search-related behaviours as well, like shopping or being in a location. And we’re not talking about, you know, the incredible power of being location-based and mobile here, which is both about being served content, about that space, but also searching and exploring.
So you know, I think that it’s interesting to kind of look at which behaviours foster search and which tend to make you want to have content served and to be very precise about those because they’re different behaviours and they require different kinds of, frankly, algorithms and treatment within the spaces.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah. So let’s shift to talk more directly about algorithms.
How — from a consumer’s point of view, how effective are algorithms, like recommenders, for instance, in terms of finding the content that we want?
This is your area.
DR. DIAMOND: Well, you know, that’s a huge — there’s a huge amount of investment in trying to make those algorithms more complex so that they’re working with different kinds of information. So you know, what you’re doing now, cold call, when you enter, where you are, and then to look at a history, if there’s a history attached to you, so to combine different kinds of algorithms in order to then offer you content that’s more tailored to who you are, your identity and what you’re doing at that time, in that moment and the context in which you’re consuming.
So I think that it’s becoming a more and more precise science because we’re mixing sentiment. You know, we’re mixing histories. We’re mixing context and immediacy with the ability to make a recommendation, and we’re also working with huge amounts of data and, as I said before, trends in behaviours, so looking at what other people like you might do in that context.
So I think it’s a very rich space that’s emerging and that there’s more and more accuracy to the kind of recommendations that are being served.
Now we have to go back to the other conversation which is what do people want in their lives? And we don’t only want to have the same content served to us all the time as humans. We actually like a certain level of disruption. And part of how pleasure works in entertainment is to have things pushed at you that you wouldn’t imagine.
And exactly your example was a great one. So you get attached to something you never thought you’d find interesting and off you go, and then of course that data is going to be tracked and engaged in building that profile, building that identity for you.
MS. SPROULE: But if that’s happening between this algorithm over here and this algorithm over there and this algorithm — and people end up staying in the space that they’re in, the opportunities for that become less and less, right, or do they?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Depending on the platform that they’re in.
DR. DIAMOND: Well, large media entities are working with IBM, they’re working with Google, they’re working with their own content. I mean, what they’re doing is looking at how to — there’s a business interest, and I know you talked about the sort of YouTube, Facebook sort of crunch, but in this algorithmic world there’s frankly a lot of collaboration happening right now, an increased collaboration to be able to, you know, have access to huge amounts of data to do that kind of predictive work. There’s a business collaboration drive there that people have different stakes in those businesses. So I don’t think people are stuck necessarily being fed choices only from the platform in which they’re located.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think there’s an inherent risk. So let’s take the Montreal Gazette which is the property of Post Media. So on the Montreal Gazette, it’s a traditional newspaper. People have been largely reading, conditioned to read articles. And let’s say the Gazette has this challenge of how to get people to watch videos. Now forget the whole news timely issue. The challenges with data is if on the one hand you have YouTube that has a billion plus people, lots of data, so normal distribution will give you good conclusions, but at the Montreal Gazette you make a business decision that we don’t want to embrace YouTube; we’re just going to tap into the, let’s say, one million unique users in Montreal that are on our website. We’re going to run all these algorithm test surveys. You’re basically asking a number of people that don’t care about video, don’t come to your site to watch video, what kind of videos would you watch and what kind of videos should we produce? And you see the craziness of that equation.
So I think, again, it’s like you’re in a kitchen, you’re making a nice meal, you’ve got all these ingredients; you can’t overemphasize one of these ingredients. I think the data makes sense, but the data — the algorithms are just one of these many things.
I think the bigger issue that I see is as a bigger obstacle is this business ego where traditional media companies, for obvious economic reasons, it’s like they’re protecting their own business and they’re not embracing these new platforms.
And the last point which goes back to your previous point is, you know, Warren Buffet says you don’t know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out. I find that applying that to – disturbing imagery – but I apply that to online video and I say, you know, if you have a real audience, as you do on YouTube – and Facebook is still TBD what kind of audience is watching videos – but on YouTube, if you have this real audience, then over time the economics will improve. But if you’re on the Montreal Gazette or other platforms and you’re kind of fabricating and manufacturing these stats to say, “Look, all these people are watching videos” when they’re not; they’re just reading an article about travel to Madrid and there’s this auto playing video and a banner about a video on Madrid, you know, apples and oranges.
So I just think you have to be very careful that, one, if I’m running these tests and relying on these technical solutions, is there enough of a sample size and is it the right behaviour —
DR. DIAMOND: Yes, 100 percent agreed there, 100 percent agreed. And that’s interesting because that was one of the issues of Netflix in Canada is that their sample size in terms of making determinations about, for example, simply a title of a series wasn’t large enough because of the kind of analytics they were doing, when in fact if a Canadian producer needs to reach an international audience, they need to have analytics that are much broader.
MR. CHAPMAN: I think analytics, another place that we’ve got to really take advantage of it is five years ago, a marketer’s job changed, and we depend a lot on marketing dollars. They walked into work one day and they said “You’re no longer hired to spend a marketing budget; you’re now responsible to invest it.” And their psychology changed. I’m expanding it. I can skip the part — I experiment. I can do all this stuff, because that was my job, to spend. And next, the CFOs took over and they sort of said, “It’s a race to zero; what’s your return on investment? What’s your return on investment?” And it froze it.
And that’s why so much money got shifted into pricing because pricing moves volume. It kills brand equity in this spot.
Analytics is going to allow us to have conversations with marketers again and say, “You know what? We can track what this content is doing” and it’s not only going to change the way you think about your brand, it’s actually going to move the product that you sell in Walmart or on amazon.com.
And doing so, we’re going to bring back — I mean, literally, $27 billion last year left this industry and went into pricing from marketing. Bringing that back in is going to create a real renaissance and that’s one of the big advantages of data when we go to talk to these brands. It’s not just something nice to do; this is something that’s going to build your business.
MS. RODGER: Just surfing back to recommendation engines and the importance of search.
I mean, one practical problem that seems to be being dismantled is the lack of the universal search. So though the recommendation engines within each platform are becoming fantastic, if you want to watch what you’re searching for, actively seeking a piece of video content, you’re still looking in many cases across different platforms. I mean, the Apple TV is trying to — I think the last iteration has a more universal search, but you’re still having to look across many platforms. That needs to be solved somehow.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I agree. Google has a lack of market share and we should address that.
MS. LIN: So does YouTube.
MS. RODGER: But think about it, you’ve got —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Do you know about Google? But I see them through my universal search like on Apple TV.
MS. RODGER: I mean, for those people that still have — some people still have cable. I mean, some people are watching on Apple TV and you want to watch on Youtube and you want to watch on Shomi or Crave or whatever and there’s no way just to look for content and then figure out whether or not you have a subscription and access to those platforms. You’re still, you know, searching.
DR. DIAMOND: Can I add a — just a next generation data possibility which I’m very excited about? I know Tony talked about the IOT, Internet of Things. I just think we’re in this other fantastic emerging world that I actually think this industry needs to pay a lot of attention to which is biometric data, you know, technologies that we will wear — many of us already wear on our wrists that are very much connected to content experiences.
So as people as adapting to this world and using it for marketing and placing their content, et cetera, we still need to think about next generation kinds of products that this industry can produce that I think are going to be, again, a great, great opportunity for creativity and very much data driven.
THE MODERATOR: Didn’t Spotify do something with a adapting people’s running?
MR. WISZNIAK: Yeah, running. So it’s Run to the Beat, so basically takes the pedometer in your phone and basically what you do is you’ll start running and then it’ll match the BPM. So what we’ve noticed is that it does increase your performance. So the BPM, beats per minute, fluctuates between 140 BPMs to 160 BPMs, and then from there we’re actually creating playlists based upon those BPMs. And it’ll actually slow while you’re running.
So from a content perspective, we’re now actually creating content with artists. Ellie Goulding was the most recent one. She created a full running soundtrack; DJ Tiesto another one. And then — so now we’re actually using the tech portion of our business to inform the content creation.
So the same thing goes with sleep. We had a sleep category we recently launched and it became so popular that we’re now getting people that are actually creating content specifically for sleep. It became so big that it actually overtook the R&B category, so go figure.
DR. DIAMOND: It says a lot about the world we live in.
MR. WISZNIAK: Again, but then it’s your passive listener, people that are just looking for something —
DR. DIAMOND: Wanting to be very passive.
MR. WISZNIAK: Very passive, right.
MR. CHAPMAN: But you know, the marketing, you get so excited. Like, what you just did, why isn’t the Running Room and Nike coming to the table and going, “We want to be partners”?
MR. WISZNIAK: Right. We are working with Nike.
MR. CHAPMAN: You’re making content that matches music to exercise.
MR. WISZNIAK: Right.
MR. CHAPMAN: And all of a sudden we’ve got a phenomenal business proven in Canada exported around the world.
MR. WISZNIAK: Well, I mean, a part of our — other part of the business on — aside from the content side is the sales side. So we do have two tiers. We have a freemium tier and a premium tier. Our freemium tier is predominantly driven by ad sales and experiences. So we are tying brands directly to music experiences and a part of that is creating these unique experiences that are again, you know, experiential music, sort of money-can’t-buy experiences that are helping generate that.
THE MODERATOR: So we’re getting close to the end here, and I have a couple of quick topics that I want to get to before we finish off with asking you all to look ahead. So get that in the back of your minds for kind of next — more next gen stuff.
I just wanted to touch briefly on transmedia. Do people have thoughts on why broadcasters in particular ought to adopt a transmedia strategy?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think it’s the classic innovator’s dilemma, that if they’re not going to — you know, we’ve discussed — we have content that is similar sometimes to VH1’s content, which is the property of Viacom. So when I was meeting them last summer I actually asked them, I said, you know, “You guys sued YouTube and you claimed that they caused you irreparable harm and whatnot.” But I go, “Is there a conclusion that finally maybe you guys caused yourself irreparable harm by not putting your content on this emerging platform thereby opening the door to a WatchMojo to create similar content and this millennial generation now views as their generation’s VH1?”
And it wasn’t like the guy’s mind was blown. He’s like, “Well, you know, I can’t say anything on the record,” but that’s why if you don’t embrace these new platforms — you may not like it, but it is reality and then you create this opportunity for others to come swoop in.
But it’s also very weird for us entrepreneurs to say these guys don’t get it. I think a lot of guys in traditional media — men and women get it. It’s just they’re not driven by economics. Like, it makes no sense for them to embrace it. But if they don’t find a way to embrace it, then their businesses will shrink.
I used to say newspapers will definitely disappear. That makes no sense. Magazines will have a beanpole kind of product role, and I always used to think TV would survive and do well. And you’re right; there’s still a lot of money there, but seeing ESPN subscribers fall, seeing everything that’s coming out and the paranoia of these TV executives, I actually think a lot of them may disappear if they don’t find a way to kill their business and reinvent themselves. Easier said than done, but they have no choice. It’s clear that to this generation those brands in TV just — there’s not — you know, the value of those brands was in goodwill and that goodwill, the brand equity, is nonexistent. So they have to embrace it. It’s not a should we or not; it’s a we have to. How do we do it?
MS. LIN: It’s a lot of fear of the unknown, inertia, sticking to the old ways of our models of monetizing or generating revenue.
I’m going to give an example in like the retail world and how I always look at the retail world and then I think about the broadcast industry, and it just, you know, is mind blowing. It baffles me why the broadcast industry isn’t behaving more like the retail world.
Think about the Guccis, the LVs, the Chanels of the world. They have their own flagship store. Are they not distributing the bags in Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s? They are. They don’t say to themselves, “Hey, I only want people walking into my store because they only get the best stuff in my store. I want them to get access to my product regardless of where they are.” And that’s reality. People are not just going to walk into one flagship store. They’re going to be everywhere.
So it’s taking that step and I think it’s, again, like Ash said, easier said than done, but a lot of the traditional media guys need to have a more open mindset, I feel, to test.
What is testing going to cost you?
DR. DIAMOND: It’s interesting, I don’t know if we’re going to talk about gaming, and the value of thinking about transmedia and also involving games experience and attaching gameplay to content in a different format and being able to draw audiences through that kind of magnet really in a culture that’s so gamified.
So when we think about transmedia, it’s not only about platforms and mobile versus whatever, but it’s also about the form of the experience within those media that are really important.
MR. CHAPMAN: There’s an immense amount of profit still being made in traditional television, and they’ve found a way to maintain that by a lot of cutting. And the reality is you can’t cut your way to growth. It’s a short-term — it’s a Band-Aid on a festering wound.
But when you cut and you lose a lot of that young, the experimental talent, you’re not getting the people that are saying you’ve got to change your behaviour.
So it’s easy to say why aren’t we doing it, but being around those people, one, they’re profitable; two, they’re in a model that was one of the great content models of all time. It was so beautiful how that worked, command and control. And I think that the reality is that maybe before it’s too late, one or two of them will be scared enough to re-invent themselves, to start working with other ways of distributing the content, bringing young smart people in there and one or two stations with a new leader will come in and change the model. Because I’ll tell you something, I don’t believe television in the sense of the family campfire in watching it is going to go away. The question is who’s going to create the content for it? The giant screen and the family getting together and bonding, lining up to watch your sports, there’s always going to be a place for it.
What’s up for grabs, though, is who’s going to have the right to own that screen?
DR. DIAMOND: You have companies in Canada that are doing far more than surviving. I mean DHX now has gone absolutely global, Blue Ant, you know, even though they’re kind of trying to manage all the changes at the CRTC level, et cetera, but they’re doing quite well.
And I think there’s Marblemedia who are opening an entertainment park that is a biometric entertainment water park and, you know, they’re really experimental, interesting media producers who have always been able to work between television very, very early into mobile content, et cetera.
So, you know, these companies have some volume to them and they retain their kind of experimental curious edge — curiosity-driven edge. So I think that — and they’re still within the television space in that they’re doing long form or series, but they’re looking at different ways of packaging that.
MS. RODGER: I’d like to make two quick points. One is going to what Tony said about big media companies. It’s the same for production companies. They’re still making money, a lot of them. It hasn’t hit their bottom line. The idea — the notion of connecting directly with audiences and altering their business model hasn’t really hit their bottom line until very recently. An then I think we will see them change and I think they’ll be easier to change then the — you know, innovation doesn’t usually come from large companies. So they’ll be the ones — of course they know they have to transition or they’re realizing it and it’ll happen.
The other point I wanted to make was about transmedia, and I think that word — I really question whether or not it’s going to survive as a word because for a while there it was about dramatic narrative and there was a tension between the word transmedia and marketing, Marketing being the ick and transmedia being more thoughtful and highbrow.
I mean, I think the reality is now that of course every broadcaster has to have a transmedia platform because of the way they connect with their audiences which is how they make money, or across platforms. It’s now across platforms. And that, to me, is all transmedia. You know, some of it’s going to be — have a dramatic narrative and it includes story worlds where you can go in and crawl around, but I think that words — I don’t know if it has a place anymore.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: It’s been struggling for a few years.
THE MODERATOR: Speaking of terms that have been bandied around a lot lately, I want to touch briefly on gamification.
So there was a huge buzz about gamification in the last year or two. Where are we at with that? What — why use gaming principles in other types of programming? How can game mechanics help in the process of discovery? Any thoughts?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: So we launched a suggest tool on watchmojo.com where people could go and suggest ideas and the community can upload or download the idea and then others can also enter entries, like top ten skyscrapers: Empire State Building, Chrysler, et cetera. We pitched it when we were much smaller — not to put you — it was not your decision, but we pitched YouTube to put this on Google+ to help Google+ grow faster and they were like, “No, it seems complicated; just put it on your own site.” So we put it on our own site and it actually gets a lot of traction. It’s helped us with data.
So to use your Gucci analogy, it’s a bit like your loyalty program for us. Gamification, the first layer was that at the core we are a user suggestion driven channel – it’s a bit clunky, but that’s what we are – but then two, we said those who are really active answering trivia questions, because we’re informational, and those who are really active suggesting ideas, they become like Mojo masters and Mojo gurus in the Mojoholic community.
So for us, gamification isn’t something we bank on. It’s probably a distraction to our tech team and design team, but it’s like, you know, people like their frequent flyer points and sometimes the banks are not happy to have those on their books, but it’s still something nice that people like. So I think it’s for like your 1 percent. It’s for that man or woman who’s going to go into a Gucci even though he or she could go into a Macy’s. It’s still important, but let’s face it, I agree with you; content is king, but I really think it’s a content and distribution and then third, you know, the prince’s audience. Those things really have to build together. So we are the mercy of YouTube and others where we can’t take that gamification to all of the 10 million subscribers, but if one million of them come to WatchMojo and participate, it’s a perk. It’s a —
MR. CHAPMAN: But you’ve got to go back to human behaviour. Any time we’ve had idle time as a society, we play games. We love to play games. We love to compete, and I think gamification is going to be — is the secret sauce for a lot of the content that we’re producing out there, to have people — so we’re not just giving it all away. We’re teasing them. We’re getting them involved. They’re inventing; they’re contributing; they’re collaborating. And you only have to look at what we’re seeing in e-sports and the fact that these communities are getting together and funding their own pools. I mean, it’s probably our biggest growth engine.
And watching linear TV and not adding gamification on a second screen, advertising the gamification has got to be one of the greatest misses. It’s like we’ve got out head in the sand, because human behaviour craves it.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But that’s happening. I think when you’re watching sports, so many of us who are sports fans, we’re also on twitter. We’re kind of like colour commentators on the side. So I think —
MR. CHAPMAN: Or fantasy sports.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Oh, fantasy big time.
But I think, like, on YouTube, I think the most kind of basic, although it’s so active as the engagement, is likes and dislikes and comments.
We don’t view likes and dislikes as a bad thing. When we started, I, despite being CEO, read and replied to comments, and that helped us get a better sense — like customer service is critical — or viewer service is critical to what we do.
So my point was just to say, like, on YouTube, where we have to operate within their framework, the basic gamification is just the likes and dislikes and comments.
On our site, we can go a bit deeper and add the concept of user suggestions and, you know, how active you are. And TV for sure, I mean, you see Twitter is trying to position itself as the companion of television to try to siphon away ad dollars.
MR. CHAPMAN: When you watch the Voice and there’s three stages and how people Tweet, the stage goes up or down to see who’s going to win. So right there — no, but —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: That’s TV budgets.
MR. CHAPMAN: No, but you’re watching television and you’re going — it’s not just some vote that happens the next day. Right now, I’m affecting the outcome.
MS. SPROULE: That is how social television evolved, exactly like that, and when I was at CBC, that’s one of the things that we did enormously.
I think what we’re seeing right now, we’ve got a generation of storytellers and producers, content makers that are doing things in a style of people who have used game mechanics to help to market their material.
What I think is going to be incredibly exciting is the next future generation of storytellers who didn’t grow up watching sitcoms, who grew up actually building worlds in Minecraft or who grew up playing Zelda or grew up doing shoot-em-up games, what are they going to create? Because their narrative structure and the way that they think about how people engage with story is vastly different than what we’ve ever seen before.
MS. LIN: I don’t know, but I feel like gamification has some negative —
MS. SPROULE: It’s a terrible word.
MS. LIN: — connotation to it.
I prefer interactivity.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Engagement.
MS. LIN: Yeah, engagement.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: On YouTube, that’s what you use. It’s engagement.
MS. LIN: And there are channels on YouTube who use the existing tools like epic rap battles where at the end of every rap battle, they ask their fans, “Who do you want to see rap against each other in our next video upload?” And that’s how they’ve been generating content. They don’t have editors or like writers, script writers who think about who’s going to be featured next.
And recently, I watched Chinese drama on YouTube because the Chinese production company uploads full length onto YouTube.
But I realized that besides that, when it was aired on TV in China, the reason why they picked this storyline was because they got users to vote. What novel do they want to see being shot into a new TV series? And that’s how that concept came up.
And throughout the entire process of shooting that film, there’s been always like interactivity from the artists. They got fans to create little small — what do you call that — animated characters that represent the different characters throughout the entire preproduction phase.
So think about how much interactivity goes into the entire production, not just during the time when the show airs, but pre and post-show, there’s still a lot of interaction that’s going on, not just on TV but on social media.
DR. DIAMOND: So what’s cool about this, having been around this world for a couple of decades, is sort of watching what was described as stranded narrative, you know, interactive storytelling, actually in part because of data analytics and the ability to quickly synthesize that kind of data, begin to drive narrative decisions within other kinds of media. And I think that’s just fantastic.
And it does come back to that central idea that this consumer, the viewer, the audience is really the driver in this world, and we’re responding to them.
THE MODERATOR: Sorry, we’re out of time, unfortunately, and I just want to wrap up because I do want to leave plenty of time for questions – lots of brains in the audience.
Maybe we can just go quickly around the table and, you know, if we’re thinking about the next kind of two years out, what are the insipient trends on discoverability that you find that should be top of people’s minds as they leave this room?
DR. DIAMOND: Well, I do think we’ll see more and more sophistication in our engines and we’ll also see, you know, a very tough debate about the balance between, you know, what’s automated and where the editor makes a decision within our world.
But I just really want to urge people to think very much about the world of IOT and the incredibly exciting opportunities that they really can help to invent as we move into that world, the relationship between narrative, storytelling, gameplay and the embodied experience of their users and viewers. That’s the next big world.
MS. RODGER: I think from an audience side we’ll see universal search. I think that nut will be cracked somehow, and I think from the content creation side, whether you’re a traditional, whether you are new, I think that audience outreach and sophisticated plans for designing, implementing and then measuring strategies will be baked into the earliest stages of concept development.
MS. LIN: I’m just speaking to, like, the Canadian production or TV space. I think companies should start thinking about reaching to audiences globally. I think that’s key. And don’t just think about driving people into your own flagship store which is at the end of the street, which is a dead end but which you own completely. Think about how you can get more people on the main street where most of the people are around the world.
MR. WISZNIAK: I would agree. I think speaking to a Canadian artistic music audience is to have global distribution and retain global rights. There’s no sense in building a story locally before taking it globally. It’s about, again, going to Main Street and there will be fans for you in some territories that you may not even know or just greater opportunity for placement on some of the other editorial, say, playlists that we would have specifically. But I think limiting it to specific territories or specific channels, I think it’s a bit detrimental, so I would say global distribution and global rights on the music side.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: In addition to what all these fine people said, especially Global, Widescope and MTV worth billions because of the global aspect, but I think mobile — I think Jeff Zucker at NBC, who is now at CNN said, you know, unfortunately we’re trading analog dollars for digital quarters or dimes. Well, brace yourself for mobile pennies, you know. Even though there’s great parts of mobile targeting that will maybe yield higher CPMs and ad rates, it’s going to be a bit rocky as well over 50 percent of consumption will come on mobile. And mobile means everything. Mobile also means taking something you’re watching on mobile, projecting it on your smart TV or Comcast. That’s what’s going to be really weird and, over the top, connected devices and out-of-home, it’s just going to be wherever you are. But that’s going to disrupt the economics even more. Things are going to get a lot tougher economically than they get better, but you have no choice. That’s where the audience is.
MS. SPROULE: I would say expect even more disruption to not just on the monetary side but other platforms. There are new things that are going to come that we don’t even know the names of yet, like —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Crapster.
MS. SPROULE: Maybe Crapster.
So check your ego at the door and embrace the opportunities in that and don’t look to the ways that we’ve done it in the past to actually solve how we should go in the future.
MR. CHAPMAN: So I’m an optimist. I’m an entrepreneur. I look at a $2.2 trillion market and wish I was 20 again. I look at — I love the fable “Teach people to fish, they can eat for a lifetime” and I congratulate the CRTC and the NFB for putting this together.
But instead of just giving people money for content, I would really look to say has Canada got a role in inventing the new platforms of the future, where ideas change behaviour, not just on television, not just on the internet, but in-store, that we can create really good content that can be monetized and help drive a new economy for this country, because we desperately need it. We need to stop pumping oil and stop being heaters with wood and start thinking about the creative economy, and this is what I think hopefully today is the start of.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks to our panel very much. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: So we’ve seen a lot of these themes around flexibility, innovation, multiple platforms addressed during our conversation here.
The NFB, the National Film Board is innovating and leading in a lot of these areas and I want to invite, before we get to the Q & A, Claude Joli-Coeur as Chairperson of the NFB to come say a few words on his work and the NFB’s innovations.
MR. JOLI-COEUR: Thank you.
I would just like to share with you a little bit what has been our journey since 2009. So at the time, we were basically facing the same challenge as we are addressing today, discoverability. People didn’t know where to find our films. Except for some broadcasts or community screenings, our films were basically not available and everybody, at the time, was just saying “Well, remember we’re able to see your films in the school, in the church basements, but where are your films?”
So in 2009, we decided to do a major shift, invest a lot of the money that we didn’t have – our own money – to digitize our films, to create an online screening room, and we were amongst the first to start a bilingual service and now we have 3,000 films available online at nfb.ca.
And we started after that to create apps, so over the next two years we’ve been adding apps on the iPhone, the iPad, the Playbook at the time that existed, Android, but we were there. We did our best to keep it alive. So we found a way also to reach the audience on the mobile scene.
And also, we decided to create two interactive production studios because we felt that we needed also to jump into the new form of storytelling on the interactive way. So we created one French studio and one English studio that have been winning awards around the world for our creation.
So I can say we’ve been at that thing. It was a long journey, adapting always ourselves. Now we are everywhere. We are on YouTube. We have a very performing channel on YouTube. We’re on iTunes, on Netflix. We are — we created apps on connected TVs. On the Samsung TV our app is there by default. We just launched an app on the new Apple TV. So really, we decided to be everywhere and to get our content on any device where the consumer was able to get it.
We also felt that it was so important to go back to the school, so we created an online screening room for the school system, campus, that is now available across the country to all teachers.
And still in that journey, we started to create channels and, as a matter of fact, today I’m very glad to say that we’ll launch in January a channel in partnership with Téléfilm for young Canadian emerging talents, another place to get the content available, content that would definitely reach the marketplace.
But that’s something now, today, after that long journey and after hearing what we all got today, I really feel that we are, at the NFB, at the same place of where we were six years ago. We need to get on the road and start a new way of thinking to get our content available.
If you think that there are more now than 1,500,000 apps on Apple or Android, now it’s a matter of discoverability of your own app to get your content available and discoverable to the consumer. So it’s a huge challenge, and I’m very glad that we have a lot of people now thinking about it and embracing the challenge all together.
Group Discussion/Question and Answer Period
THE MODERATOR: So I want to open things up to the Q & A and I’m going to stand up so that I can get the blood flowing through my hands because it’s kind of cold.
Does anyone have questions who would like to kick things off? I’ve got the mic here. Yes? I’ll hand you the mic.
MR. DAO: Thanks, Nora. Can you hear me?
I’m Loc Dao. I work at the NFB with Claude. I’m the exec in charge of digital content and strategy and co-founded the NFB interactive studio Claude just mentioned. Previously to that, I worked at CBC with Nora and Tessa, at CBC Radio 3 as well.
So as Claude — Claude was talking about, you know, where we’ve gotten to with our interactive works and a very critical success has brought us to the table internationally and, you know, we’re in discussions and partnerships with La Guardia, New York Times and, you know, Google and Facebook, Oculus and BuzzFeed. And I find that as a public media organization, we have a lot of credibility at that table because we’re not seen as competitors in that industry and that’s, you know, been part of our mandate.
So my question for you guys is what do you see as a place for public media organizations in global culture because the internet has removed traditional borders?
THE MODERATOR: Coming from the public media side, that’s a very interesting question. Who has thoughts about that?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: So some of my friends always point out that, like, if you are a foreigner, i.e. not an American, because we do target an American audience, they go, if you wanted to like — what’s a quick way to learn about American pop culture? They’re like, “Well, watch Mojo; you learn about iconic figures in history, movies, sports, et cetera, et cetera.”
So as much as yes, especially since 9/11 and the subsequent wars, American culture has kind of been criticized in many circles. People still associate American culture with certain things, generally positive.
Similarly, Canada is a very cool brand globally. And, you know, the same way that, okay, regardless of certain periods in our history, Canada will always have that massive goodwill brand equity. So I think that you’ve got to capitalize on that. There are certain things about Canada, whether it’s hockey, whether it’s — I mean, you were talking about labels. It’s funny because my perspective has been that Canada has produced so many successful entertainers – just think of SNL and musicians. And there’s a lot of things about our culture that I would personally leverage that. I would take out certain things that your programming has covered and others have covered and feed off that, same way that if I was working in public programming in Spain or France or wherever, I would just pick up the things that trigger those fuzzy feelings and run with that, and then you could build and add secondary and tertiary programming around it. But Canada is a fantastic brand equity.
DR. DIAMOND: So I think it’s a really great question. I’m glad you asked it because I think there may be even more of a role, but like a re-shaped role for public entities, CBC, NFB, you know, the educational networks, because they’re incubators.
And for those of you in the room not familiar with the NFB content that’s been developed in the last, you know, seven years, it’s phenomenal. It’s incredible, and that ability to actually — it’s a little bit like what universities do, frankly, when we’re at our best. It’s to create an environment where risks can be taken. That is a role for government, by the way, that I think is really important, to invest and co-invest in that kind of incubation environment, and I think it’s a place where you can emerge talents and you can also find new forums. So we need that and I don’t think we should assume that that is always going to come out of the private sector and the private space.
So I would really hope that as part of this transition strategy, that we really look at kind of re-framing and re-thinking the public space. And I actually think it’s a space for democracy too. So I think it’s really important there. I think it has to be managed on its length, by the way, so it doesn’t kind of trot to the will of whatever party is in power. And it’s a space for discourse. It’s a space for experimentation. It’s a space to incubate new talents. Very important, and I’m looking forward to that dialogue.
What I hope doesn’t happen is that kind of reset post the previous government where we now kind of go back and say, “Well, we’re going to do things the way that we always kind of did it,” because I do think we need to really embrace that public space but reshape it as a very dynamic, integrated part of how we really develop and also globalize Canadian talent.
And I think, again, what your studio has done is fantastic in reaping those markets.
MR. CHAPMAN: I think we’ve got to take advantage of the fact that Canada, in a world that’s right now steeped in so much hate, is a place where democracy is working. We’re tolerant. Our moral compass is pointing the right way with freedom of speech, and I think that that is not only to remind us, but also to attract some of the best minds in the world to come here and to build their careers here and to re-imagine a new economy. And I think that’s the role of a public broadcaster because there’s times that we just take — Canadians take this so much for granted, what we have here, and we’re losing it on our watch. And I think there would be nothing more appropriate or honourable than a public broadcaster to have Canadians wake up every morning and go, “I am so lucky I live in this country.”
MS. SPROULE: And I would just add to that, that some — when we talk about niche and all that and everybody in their own little public sphere is doing their own things, perhaps the public broadcaster or public media, actually, I would say, is the thing that can cut across all of that and find ways to — yes, The National would tell you what was important to watch or whatever, but that fundamentally needs to happen. We need to have common things that we all understand as a society for us to have conversations about those things to then have progress. If we’re all obsessed with our thing that we’re doing at our own time without having some sort of common language, then we become a highly polarized country that really can’t have any progress and we see what happens when that happens. Let’s not do that.
MS. LIN: Well, I think, number one profile, Canada to the world.
And number two, you guys are free to experiment, build models that others can follow and adopt successfully because you guys have that freedom to do that.
And last but not least, but show — I worked with a lot of public broadcasters globally; be really successful on a global level and show other companies in Canada that they can do it too.
DR. DIAMOND: Well, it kind of goes back to Tony’s earlier point about the need to invent new platforms and where is that going to come from? I think that’s going to come frankly from really serious data analytics that are in the research space and, you know, public investment, potentially some of the role of the Film Board and CBC could be — CBC not now but if it changes itself to become an incubator environment and in private partnerships.
MR. WISZNIAK: I would just say — an observation from a funding perspective. The amount of record labels and artists that are funded in this country — and it’s being recognized outside of Canada, there are record labels that are licensing Canadian talent as exports now in the U.S. and the U.K., knowing that all of this funding that’s now available for Canadian artists is creating amazing content.
And for me, it’s — probably the most satisfying part of my job is taking a look at the music industry in Canada in general and comparing it to other territories, and the amount of talent that we actually have in this country that is now being exported.
Our top streamed artist was Drake in 2015, globally. Our top album was The Weekend, globally. The most streamed artist in one day that broke a record globally was Justin Bieber. The most viral track that we had —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: You lost us there.
MR. WISZNIAK: I know.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I’m joking.
MS. LIN: You may not like him but others do.
MR. WISZNIAK: But then on a more viral level, you’ve had a girl named Alessia Cara, who is one of our highest viral tracks globally.
So I mean the amount of pride that we have as Canadians and the art that we’re exporting is amazing. And you know, in the industry that I’m in, all eyes are on Canada right now for the amount of talent and art that we’re exporting. It’s a great position to be in right now.
THE MODERATOR: Just before I go to more questions, I just want to mention to anyone who’s following the live stream, we are taking questions that way as well. And I think you’re going to share them with me if they come in? Great.
So who else had a question here?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well, before I ask my question, I just want to thank the organizers of this event, because it’s my first event like this and as a young filmmaker and media entrepreneur, it’s incredible to have this kind of opportunity and meet so many great people.
But the National Film Board, I will say, in terms of the effect of it, as a young filmmaker, for me, like it instills a sense that the Canadian brand, as you were saying, is quality. Like if we’d try to make a transformer sort of thing, it’s just going to feel copycat. But you know, it’s never going to feel very Canadian and that’s what it has instilled to me.
And like you want to mob these people after the event and put all your life course into seeing Circa 1948, because like some of the innovations that happen, a lot of us in this room have to think about profitability all the time. And with the National Film Board, for me as a creator, what it really does is like experiments and, as you were saying, is an incubator and really innovates and creates amazing things.
I mean Circa 1948 is essentially virtual reality without having to wear anything, and that’s like — it’s the next level.
My question is for Tony. In creating branded content, because that’s kind of the funding model that I’m going towards, and you were talking about communicating to brand the — you know, the conversion rate between the content and — this content is leading to purchases.
And I kind of get it in the Recipe to Riches because there’s a product that is literally related to the show, so you can track it.
How would one track that conversion rate on your own content without having access necessarily to the commerce data, if we’re not selling ourselves. So like if it’s for a local brand, say, like a —
MR. CHAPMAN: It’s a great question and it’s a tough question. How do you start?
First of all, when you involve a brand in your discussions in your content, in their eyes, they see you’re looking at their dollars; you think that they’ve just got an unlimited war chest.
And these brands are — find it really tough out there right now and their dollars are diminishing. A lot of it is going into pricing.
So the first thing you’ve got to do is to say I’ve got to understand the role of that brand. I’ve got to understand its DNA, and I want to show how I’m weaving it into the story lines that are enabler. And not just that jarring product placement or that, you know, “Oh, let’s just stop and, oh, just make sure the camera freezes for five seconds and I’m going to monetize it.”
That’s the first thing you do. So you’ve got to get brands that come in there and really feel like they’ve had part of the role in the story.
And then you’ve got to communicate to the brand how that story can be told at retail. You know, maybe you’re casting at retail. Maybe you can bring the imagery of retail. Maybe the stars can go out and speak at retail.
It’s a big mass audience that walks through a Walmart or a Loblaws every day. Pepsi spends in the States, and it’s public numbers, but they’re — with Walmart is a $9 billion customer.
The amount of money they spend buying their way into Walmart in terms of pricing an in-store display is probably 25 times more than they spend in marketing everywhere. So retail is very important.
So you’ve got to find a way to say, I can give you the rights in retail. When you go to a — you go to — no, we can’t get passer rights at retail. We can’t get use passer rights in digital. It dies on the floor. They have to be able to get the sales people involved in that conversation and go, I can take that idea to Walmart. And instead of just putting in a price, or that flyer or that dirty — I can give them a program that’s going to drive traffic into the stores.
And when you can connect it and down the road when the analytics can prove it, that’s where you’re going to start seeing people opening up their pockets and bringing a brand of content. And the pockets will open. I’ve seen it happen.
But Kraft Hockeyville is a billion dollar success story for Kraft. It started on CBC. You know, it was about home — small town, the insights, they were losing their self-esteem and they could compete for an arena makeover. And an NHL team coming and playing there. And then they could bring — and the campaign headquarters was a grocery store.
And I sold that once. I got paid once and I got to execute it once. Twelve years later, it drives me crazy that it’s not a TV show that I’m monetizing around the world for Cricket and everything else because that same insights they play.
So when you’re going after it, understand how the importance of your story and the role the brand can play on it. I hope that makes sense.
THE MODERATOR: More questions?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just wanted to put a question on the table, and I realize that this is going to be — we’re going to have a conversation today. There’s going to be one in Montreal. There’s going to be one in the spring.
And I kind of wanted to put this point on the table because as I’ve listened to you all, you’ve all used some very interesting words; “democracy”, “freedom”, “access”.
All of those things sit on a term, in my view at least, which is the word “governance”. And there is a regulator sitting in the room.
And I ask this question, and I’m asking it because this is a practical situation that my company is dealing with literally this week. And that is what if there are circumstances where you, in fact, do not want content to be discoverable?
For example, what about a show that’s targeted at a four year-old child that is associated with an ad that is aimed at a 19 year old man about a subject that you don’t want four year-old children to be dealing with?
How do we deal with that kind of a governance issue in this new value chain?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think the reality is that we don’t live in a vacuum anymore. We were talking earlier about — that’s a serious matter. We’re going to start with a lighter matter and then move.
We were talking about just why we are very transparent and why we would disclose if there was an advertiser involved or if somebody flew us somewhere to cover an event. We’re very transparent.
And I said, even if you wanted to mislead the audience, online everything is a search query away. You know if there was some funny shenanigans.
And now, with social, you see a celebrity going to pick up her car at a carwash and she shows some disrespect to the attendant, before she gets home, she’s terminated from ABC because she acted in an unprofessional manner.
So any serious platform producer entity, there is self-governance. They don’t need to and they won’t be able to go there, because if there is something that is inappropriate, it will be on social media and there will be pressure to be taken down, especially in an area where everybody is offended with everything, some legitimately, some not.
So it depends. If you’re talking about a rogue individual launching a rogue platform, doing rogue things, yes, that’s different. How do you control that? I guess that’s where government needs to step in.
But if you’re talking about someone who thinks they’re being entrepreneurial, who has bad intentions and wants to do those things that clearly is not freedom of speech but it crosses a line, that’s where I think social media, you’re right, is a buzz word but that’s the good things of social medial. And that’s where there will be pressure and that’s going to take care of itself.
The internet is — there’s bad parts, there’s good parts but it’s largely self-sufficient and self-regulatory in that sense.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off microphone). What if in fact the situation was absolutely middle of the road (off microphone)?
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: Well, again, I was reading an article about the Postmedia’s plights and how they’re challenged with the church and state editorial and how one of their investigative reporters was being muzzled because of apparently/allegedly the Postmedia was involved with the oil lobby and all that. It still got out.
There’s always been players. There’s always this invisible hand with, you know, conflicts of interest. The internet largely exposes that. It may take a while, but it doesn’t take forever, you know.
And you do have to have faith in that and it’s like this great platform that allows, you know, in the same geographical zone for people to say, “Enough. Down comes the dictator.” Also we’ll maybe have censorship and things like that.
But in the end, you know, you’re talking about being an optimist. As an entrepreneur, I’m a big time optimist but I’m paranoid about everything. I do believe that ultimately in the long-term right does prevail, common sense does prevail but sometimes you take the scenic route to get there because you’ve got to convince people, you’ve got to put pressure, and that’s for the good part of social media.
When you see an injustice, the wisdom of the masses or whatever, the wisdom of the crowds, the masses do gather behind something and the right thing eventually happens.
DR. DIAMOND: So Gary I’m going to be a bit contrary on this one.
I mean I believe there’s a role for the state, you know, and states develop over time. They have certain kinds of functions within society. I guess now increasingly a 52 percent tax if you’re in a certain income bracket.
But no, I think there’s a very — there’s still a role to look at. You know, we have Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I think that there’s a social discourse that absolutely has to continue in this country to look at how we understand what — and I think it’s a negotiated space but, you know, what are the limits of discourse and, you know, how to have it as a public discussion again. And again, public broadcasters have an important role.
But I think there is a role that we have to figure out at the regulatory level in relationship to that Charter.
Personally, I want to live in a country that respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and manages somehow to keep that context intact in a global culture in society.
I don’t have easy answers for it, but I think it’s a conversation we absolutely need to have. I think the rights embedded in the Charter are very, very hard fought for and won. And we’ve just come out of the Truce and Reconciliation process, which is something I personally feel deeply attached to.
So I think we have some work to do to figure out, you know, is it regulation? Is it another level of legislation? But we still need to have a way of having that dialogue in society.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I have a question for you. Let’s say you’re running Twitter Canada and there’s the channel by ISIS showing decapitation videos. Do you leave that up or do you keep it up — or do you take it down?
DR. DIAMOND: I think it’s violent pornography of the worst kind, and I think there’s a conversation about, you know, where that sits and where it doesn’t sit in society, and we need to educate around that kind of stuff.
I’ve always been a very strong anti-censorship advocate by the way, but you know — so I think you maybe put a certain kind of fence around it in terms of its success —
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: But you wouldn’t keep it up?
THE MODERATOR: I don’t want to go down the tube of a rat hole here.
We have a question that came in on Twitter.
PARTICIPANT: We have a company asking an advice for a small company doing the best practices on how to face the transition from traditional broadcast to digital media.
THE MODERATOR: That should be an easy one.
Tessa, over to you.
MS. SPROULE: I’m a person who’s done that and that’s what our company is trying to do.
But basically with that, it was just take away all of the — sort of structure that was created through the traditional filter and to say, “Okay, what can we do that throws all of that out the window and what are we left with as the thing that we want to create and build?”
So it’s not a very elegant or articulate answer at all, but it is about like if you are new in your start-up and you’re a small enough company, my gosh, you can do so many incredible things, as the new YouTube creators do much more. And I saw a lot of people, who had tonnes of money behind them, as production houses that I worked with at CBC.
So the tide is in your favour if you are smart and able to make good decisions, is what it comes down to.
MS. RODGER: We’re actually working with some production companies that are trying to make this kind of transition and, you know, in broad strokes, my recommendation is to start at the end. What do you want to be? What do you want to look like? What are you really good at? What are you passionate — what kind of content are you passionate about producing? What does your library look like? Is there evidence in the analytics, the data around you or existing catalogue to see what are people interested in that you do really well?
And only when you have those objectives and only when you’ve got the research, narrow down what your target audience you think is going to be, at least for your first part of the venture and build out a strategy for creating content and connecting with audiences, using that type of content. But definitely start at the end and imagine what you want.
And you know, I believe in — even though I have a terrible live-work balance, I believe in one day attaining one. And I think it’s important, figure out as a company what your values are, what your culture is and how you want it — how you want your business to look.
MR. CHAPMAN: I think as a business person I always look at what is the unmet need?
MS. RODGER: Gap.
MR. CHAPMAN: Like what’s the gap? What’s the opportunity? And then once you fill that unmet need, what are you hoping for? Change the way they think, the way they feel, the way they behave.
And out of that comes your business plan. And then you decide, do I need to move from this media to another media?
I think very often we get very reactive in a society that looks like the sky is falling in one place or you know the grass is greener on the others. So we immediately jump but be pragmatic. And the pragmatic is, is there a need for this content? And if I produce it, then I’ve got to find a way to have it discovered. And when it’s discovered, what happens next?
And I think when you follow that, you can follow the money. But first, satisfy intellectual and emotional before financial.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: I think it depends but the best advice is to start early. So if you’re running, let’s say, a small company, but you’re generating cash flow, that’s the time to hire someone and invest during sunny times for like a new, you know, emerging trend.
But even at the highest like eBay, years ago, bought PayPal. People thought it was crazy but now PayPal makes more money probably than eBay.
And even if you’re again a small company but you’re kind of breaking even and you can’t just hire people, you know, I knew a guy who — his business was printing stationery and stuff. And I was like, well, the world is changing. How are you going to survive?
So he merged with a company that had expertise in something and they could rely on his client base and he could rely on this newer, flashier ways of doing things. And when I saw him a couple of weeks ago, I was like, “How is business?” He’s like, “It’s fantastic.” And they kind of pooled their expertise and resources.
The key though is to be ahead of the curve. You don’t want to wait until the patient is dying to be like, “Well, maybe you should have eaten a bit better.” That’s going to be too late.
MS. LIN: I think my suggestion is test and iterate. I think to what Tessa mentioned, don’t create content using the same old model that you’re used to using for traditional platforms.
If you have a concept, make sure that you can create at least three to five videos with that one concept, because it’s about consistency as well. You want to build up a brand or a channel on a platform that your audience is able to engage with you, not just through one video but through multiple ones. And take risks but be passionate about what you’re going to produce.
Because if you lose passion or you think like it’s going to be the next big hit, that’s why I’m doing it, you’re not going to be able to make more than three videos.
MR. KARBASFROOSHAN: WatchMojo lost money for the first six or seven years of our history and then we broke even in year 8. And the last two years have been very good. Thank you, knock on wood.
But that goes — that’s the first question. Earlier on, when we were talking, I said you should be doing content only that you’re willing not to get paid for, and I didn’t finish what I meant. I’m not saying content makers should not get paid. That’s not at all the message.
I’m just saying only if you do what you’re really passionate about and are willing to do it for free, proverbially speaking, will you eventually ride out the storm, get big enough and be successful.
But seeing CutiePie do his kind of video and you go, I could do that, trying to copy him, to your example, you’ll fail. You won’t have the passion. You won’t have the — it’s all about persistence and determination.
So you’ve got to do stuff that you’d almost do for free sadly and eventually you’ll make a lot of money but it does take time.
DR. DIAMOND: There are two points —
THE MODERATOR: We’re just about out of time.
Sorry. Go ahead quickly.
DR. DIAMOND: I have two points to add. So one, just coming back to the analytics piece. You know, there’s a lot of accessible analytics programs. Become familiar with them. And I think the merger and acquisition are just the joining forces with companies with dissimilar skills, so you reinforce each other.
I think that’s the way of the future. It’s either M&A and growth or else it’s collaboratives between different companies.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Excellent points.
We’re just about out of time. Any further questions? Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It’s sort of a question, sort of a comment. And I’m going to give it to you, so you can finish up.
I work for Bell Media, which is a media company and for those of you who are thinking it’s an old broadcast or obviously old media as well, it’s a part of what we do.
But I was actually really heartened by the Panel. I was excited to hear you speak because I felt, actually, we’re doing a lot of that. You know, we are selling most of our original programming internationally and to some great success. We are getting onto new platforms with our Much MCN and, you know, experimenting in these different ways because we’re a media company and we recognize the importance.
John can speak to this better than I can, but we actually do use multiple platforms to promote our programming and we’re always experimenting with that as well to make our original programs as successful as they possibly can.
This is about discoverability and we’re always trying — that’s our watchword, we’re always trying to get those original programs that we create out into the ether and try, you know, to get them the biggest possible audience, using everything at our disposal, our whole arsenal.
But I have to take issue with one comment, which I think was Ashkan at the beginning, you said — that it was an invisible hand that was making these decisions in the past. And I don’t think that’s true.
Media companies put a lot of time and thought into their brands as well and reaching out to specific audiences tied to and associated with those brands, recognizing and acknowledging that that’s who those people are.
And I think that is, you know, historically is what’s made us trusted curators. That we have been a curation experience for people, so that when they come to us, when they come to comedy or they come to space or they come to CTV, they think okay, I know what this experience is going to be and I trust you.
And if we give them something new, they recognize that we thought about them and we’ve considered them and we want them to believe in this as much as the other thing that they loved, that we brought them.
So I think as we end up in this world of abundance, which is a wonderful place to be, the trusted curators are actually going to be really important and maybe even more so now than they have been in the past.
And so I think television has a really important role to play in that.
THE MODERATOR: And you wanted to say?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: If I can? Yes.
I also work at Bell Media and I too is very heartened because so many of the topics that were discussed today are things that we obsess over every day as well.
You know, cross-promotion, we invest about a quarter of a billion dollars a year in promoting Canadian content. And for us, that’s not a tax, that’s just good business because we know success to get success.
We drive awareness, discoverability to our productions through other successful shows, and that’s really the premise behind our cross-promotion. We leverage all our assets and across all of our platforms, you know, we reach many millions of Canadians, about 80 million, of course with some duplications across all platforms in an average week.
But we also know that as part of that investment, we’re not reaching everybody at every moment, and we invest in Google AdWords; we invest in YouTube and Facebook, whether it’s through paid media or through things like sampling.
You know, we’re starting to put up episodes of our shows on social channels, on YouTube. We’re going to try and leverage and reach new consumers who then may be interested in other products that we have to offer.
So you know, Tony, gamification, absolutely. Something that we’ve delved into. It does take investment and not every show is appropriate for gamification, as I’m sure you’ll recognize. You know, sports, reality shows, absolutely. Game of Thrones, big gamification opportunities. But not every show, and that’s fine. We don’t want to tailor all our programming to meet the gamification checkbox.
So I think the take-away is really there’s no silver bullet. It’s really as — discoverability is about marketing and with marketing it’s all about a mix, and I think so many of the topics we heard about today are part of that mix. And I do believe that broadcasters have a major role to play in that as well.
MR. CHAPMAN: You know, and I do — because I’m just a crazy idea guy sometimes, but if you gave 60 seconds of Canada AM away to citizen journalism, and I fought to get my videos on it, I think that’s an element of gamification even on the news.
THE MODERATOR: Any other final comments and response?
I wish we had more time to chat but I’m sure some of the Panel Members or all of them will be around after the day to chat more if you have further questions.
I would like to invite Claude and Jean-Pierre to the stage for closing remarks.
Closing Remarks by Jean-Pierre Blais and Claude Joli-Coeu
MR. JOLI-COEUR: Well, that was three hours of challenging and stimulating discussions. That’s really a good start. That was great but I think that everybody will agree that we are at the beginning of something, and that we all have — and I think it’s well started, we all have the responsibility to address the situation and make things happen.
It’s such a complex and evolving environment. For sure we care but that’s pretty clear and we all have a role to play and we can all be part of the solution. So I really look forward for the continuation of that journey.
MR. BLAIS: Merci, Claude.
So I do want to thank you for sharing your ideas today. I apologize for the people in the room. I think you’ll see on the Weather Network this evening that this will be branded as the coldest indoor place in the country.
MR. BLAIS: But I would like to thank Nora for chairing this conversation, and I think she realized how hard it is sometimes to chair.
MR. BLAIS: I would like to thank also Tony, our keynote speaker as well as all the experts here today.
I certainly found the conversation very stimulating and there’s lots to reflect on. We branded this as “En Route”, on the road to, because it really is just the start of a conversation, a journey towards a deeper conversation we will have later on in May. But we will also continue this conversation, this journey in Montreal, where we’ll have a similar event in French on Thursday.
So I really want to invite everyone to sign up for updates on the discoverability.ca website. We will be posting highlights and videos of this event and other things going forward.
I also invite you in particular to go to that site and visit the community page where you can share and post articles, blogs, thoughts, anything else that you want to share, and to enrich and deepen our conversation and our journey on the road to discoverability.
And hopefully we’ll also hear a little bit more about viewers, not just as consumers but also as citizens and creators. I have nothing against making money, it’s good. It pays — it creates jobs, it pays taxes for hospitals and roads, but we also have to think and reflect on discoverability with respect to public good, citizens as individual creators, media literacy, news and education.
And Tony, you started talking about this, how we could use some of these tools to enrich that, but I think we need to go a little further.
In the meantime, I invite you to follow us on Twitter for the latest news. I also invite you to continue the conversation on social media. I will remind you that they have the hashtag “Discoverability”, which we’re all learning to say.
This of course has just been the start. If you’re still hungry for more, because this was not the main course, this was just the appetizer, there will be, as I mentioned earlier, an event in May 2016 in Toronto. I will provide dates a little later on this week. It will be unique, authoritative, world-classed, international. And we will explore in more details the ideas mentioned here today with the aim of finding tangible solutions, because we’ve really got to move beyond the “diagnostique” and actually find solutions.
So it will be a forum for learning, creative discussions with a focus on new strategies, tools and approaches. So stay tuned for more news on that and thank you again for being here and have a great afternoon. Thank you.
— End of recording