A Student’s Perspective: The Agency of the Future

Janet Upadhye is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from The Agency of the Future.

“YouTube will not kill TV,” said Robert Davis, Director of Ogilvy’s Advanced Video Practice. “And actually, video never really killed the radio star.” What Davis meant by his colorful introduction is that agencies of the future need to stop thinking in absolutes. And instead focus on common threads.

Davis highlighted content as the most obvious common thread. The content remains the same in any medium, but how companies think about content needs to change. Davis, accompanied by Mitch Bernstein, Client Strategy Director and Martin Lange, executive Marketing Director of Digital Strategy, laid out ten strategies to create, what they called, a “Content Revolution.”

Briefly, those points included speaking in languages that audiences understand, making content more interactive, creating good distribution methods, measuring success rates by more than just views, creating content that is liberated from the interface, focusing on hand held devices to deliver content, and identifying who the target audience is and when and how they best receive content.

Social TV is one of the most important emerging strategies. A panel comprised of Peter Naylor of NBC Universal, Kimberly Meyers of GetGlue, Matt Crenshaw of Discovery Cannel, and Mark Ghuneim of Trendrr talked about how to socially activate TV audiences.

Ghuneim identified “calls to action” as great ways to get viewers involved. For example, American Idol asks viewers to discuss and vote for their favorite competitors. According to Trendrr, 420,000 people mentioned American Idol on social media sites during its premier on January 18 of this year. This shows increased involvement and a new way to measure a show’s success.

Meyers talked about one of her clients, Pepsi, and one of their new social media campaigns. Viewers that checked into watching the Super Bowl on Foursquare and Facebook received a sticker in the mail worth a free Pepsi. Without mentioning numbers, Meyers said that they strategy was very successful.

Social TV can actually change the artistic direction of a show. The USA Network allowed viewers to tweet about the new opening credits of the television drama White Collar. After an outpouring of negative comments, the network decided to change back to the old opening. “USA took the opinions of its viewers to heart,” said Naylor. “That is what social TV is all about.”

The way that people are watching TV has changed and Social TV is the networks’ response to that change. “People want to be able to discuss the shows that they love with other fans,” said Ghuneim. “Social TV allows viewers to do just that.”

Janet Upadhye is a multimedia journalist covering Hunts Point in the Bronx. In a past life, she was the Development Director at San Francisco Women Against Rape. During her decade in the Bay Area, she also organized within queer and trans communities for safety and justice. You can follow her on Twitter at jupadhye.