Five Reasons Entertainment Needs Internet Talent for Web Efforts
January 5, 2009 12:22 PM
A comment on my last post inspired today’s post, in part because I think how businesses adapt to the Web is an important topic. I had said I feel the entertainment industry needs to staff more pure Internet business talent on its digital projects as one of my “holiday wishes.” It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed on this blog in the past. It is, of course, just a humble opinion. I only share my thoughts to help everybody see success. Business’ ability to adapt to the Web helps everybody in the end!
But it’s also not without having done some homework. I spent nine years at the engineering level of the Internet itself, with equal time in consumer sites, e-commerce and mobile technology, plus three years of owning a social media company. I’ve devoted a lot of my career to studying and applying this stuff. If I had to pick five signs that support my argument, they would be:
5. User interface: Before Hulu.com, every network’s Web site was a mess. There are very specific, set elements that drive the user experience, but you wouldn’t know it from these pages. Sites that fall way below the fold, real estate poorly used, nightmare navigation, etc. It’s statistically proven that these things play a role in drawing users to a site and keeping them there, yet they’re little seen within the industry’s efforts. That’s a pretty sure sign that companies aren’t working enough with true Web executives.
4. Audience: The Internet is essentially a platform, not unlike the broadcast television platform with which entertainment is accustomed to working. It’s why I’m always surprised to see an industry that does so well with it in one arena struggle so much with it on the Web. Do you really have to go after your customer and deliver your goods like a milkman, or could you create an enticing superstore they come to instead? The game hasn’t changed; the same rules apply. Only the field is different.
3. Timing that’s off: Generally, if you see something go big, you’ve missed the chance to capitalize on it. That’s particularly true in low-barrier-to-entry markets such as the Internet. The entertainment industry follows, not leads, online and often has misunderstood its tools and concepts. For example, “interactive” comes in a variety of forms, but most entertainment industry sites went directly for social networking, which isn’t really a fit for most content-focused audiences who come to consume your product. Commenting and discussion capabilities would have been better.
2. Poor positioning: Just because FunnyOrDie.com was a success doesn’t mean comedy is the only sell in Web TV. The same applies with webisodic content and other Web TV initiatives. That there is so much redundancy in the market points to a lack of understanding of it. It’s actually the women’s demographic that is said to be more viral, interactive and content-consuming online, with longer session times and brand loyalty. Webisodes are great, but Wallstrip and Wine Library prove other, less expensive and intensive formats can be as effective. Yet the majority of the market has been creating webisodes, many of them in comedy.
1. Bad information: I’ve seen many top digital entertainment executives speak on various panels and have read many quotes in the media about the market. I’m not the only one in the audience who noticed that people sounded inexperienced. When you think about it, it’s normal. Few Internet executives can talk nearly as well about entertainment as entertainment veterans can. Where it becomes troubling is when you realize this is who is leading the industry’s Internet efforts.
One thing I can say about entertainment is that it’s faring much better in adapting to the Internet than media, and especially music. I think if a few companies were to add a little Internet experience to the mix, the industry could someday dominate the Web.