On Monday, May 20th, hundreds of media professionals gathered in NYC for She Runs It’s annual flagship event: What’s Hot in Media and Tech. A wide range of speakers from brands and agencies discussed the future of the industry, touching on topics such as the opportunities and challenges of OTT, creating an in-house agency, and adopting a DTC marketing approach.

Check out our deep dive into some key themes presented at the event.

Where We Are Today: Trends in Media and Tech

OTT Gives Consumers the Freedom of Choice

Kerry Flynn at Digiday presented that 75% of households have an OTT device, and Netflix accounts for 66% of the OTT landscape – though a shift may be looming. Panelists agreed that nearly ‘all networks’ are coming up with their own solutions in the market and many are cutting back their content from Netflix.

From the publisher perspective, Jill Cress, CMO of National Geographic, cites this as a great opportunity to augment National Geographic’s linear business and give a longer life to content. The challenge is balancing all the different mediums and upholding a hierarchy of messaging.

Maureen Bosetti, CIO of Initiative, named high price, less measurement, and higher CPMs as a few causes for concern when it comes to OTT advertising.  The market is very fragmented across 500+ different apps and the challenge for marketers lies in understanding where audiences are. Marissa Jimenez, President of MODI Media claims, “It is difficult to say what percentage of an audience you can find on one particular app vs another and how they complement each other.”

Consumer Brands Adopt a DTC Approach

Helen Lin of Publicis Media opened her panel with a standout statistic – “81% of all people say they plan to buy from a DTC company this year.” Each of the brands on stage credited storytelling across platforms as a crucial factor to their success. Charlotte Cho, Co-Founder and Chief Curator of Soko Glam, argues, today’s customers want to know who’s behind the products and that it is authentic.

Janet Balis also spoke on the rise of DTC brands in her keynote address. She claimed, “DTC brands understand the power of first-party data. They’re not just doing a fantastic job of performance marketing, but they also appreciate the mass and targeted reach of linear television.” Balis later went on to explain that all brands must adopt a DTC-approach to create more meaningful and lasting connections with consumers.

Where We’re Going: Marketing to the Consumer of the Future

In her keynote address, Janet Balis, Partner, Global Advisory Leader for Media & Entertainment at EY, gave attendees a look into the future of the industry. She explained “Human expectations are higher than ever. Whatever your last best experience was as a consumer, that’s what shapes your expectations from the brands you talk to next.” Given consumers’ current demands for convenience and personalization, Balis offered some important tips for navigating the new realities of the marketing landscape.

Focus on the Customer

While marketers have always strived to put people at the center of their marketing strategy, the human experience has become more crucial than ever before. Oisin Hanrahan, Founder and CEO of Handy, later supported Balis’s point, saying, “It’s as if experience has become the currency of consumers. You now have to sell your product into consumers lives.” As consumer expectations continue to evolve, brand marketers must find new ways to deliver highly personalized experiences that engage consumers and fit their unique needs. 

Invest in Data & Technology

Balis acknowledges investing in data and technology is a hard conversation to have with a CFO. She said, “We have to open up with our CFO to drive the level of transformation that’s required to embrace the right technologies that unlock the use cases that produce better experiences for consumers.” Brands need the proper technology and resources to deploy campaigns, as well as the necessary tools to measure long-term performance metrics such as lifetime value and retention.

Embrace Automation

Alongside the need to focus on customer centricity comes the push to look at data in more strategic and innovative ways. While the ability to attain data has grown increasingly easy, there is still work to be done when it comes to analyzing and leveraging consumer data. Balis asked the audience, “How many of you are running sophisticated reports in excel, or email?” The answer? Certainly, too many of us. Balis encouraged the crowd to embrace automation and establish clean and precise processes for handling data more efficiently. 

Looking Ahead

Huge thank you to the She Runs It team and all the presenters for organizing and hosting such an engaging event. The content shared gave a glance into the different moving parts of the industry and how we should all be adjusting to the ever-changing environment. Can’t wait to learn what’s hot in media and technology in 2020.