05/25/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Traditional Media's Golden Opportunity

Creating and distributing high quality content is not easy. It takes financial resources, creative talent and time. The same applies to digital content. The only difference is that digital content can be instantly published and is available on demand.

Traditional media companies are hesitant of investing a lot of resources in digital platforms as they don't generate enough revenue. However, most people making that claim approach digital as a replacement medium rather than a complimentary medium.

Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal has been frequently associated with the phrase "digital dimes and analog dollars."

However, if television properties can recoup their production, distribution and marketing costs through analog mediums, digital revenue should be considered complimentary revenue.

A few years ago, digital revenue was pennies. Today, it's dimes. In the future, it will be more than a dollar.

At the recent Media Summit conference in New York, CNN US President, Jonathan Klein mentioned that CNN reaches more viewers and generates more revenue today than it did a few years ago. That's despite the shrinking TV market. The same will apply to every traditional media property in the future.

Even if traditional media companies don't adapt every new social media platform for monetization purposes, there are enough options to engage audiences and make them loyal to a brand.

Potential engagement scenarios:

  • Foursquare: Some shows have a very strong following. A few years ago, Friends was extremely popular. Today, it's How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, 24, Lost, etc. All these shows have a dedicated fan base that want to learn more about the story line, the characters and the location. Working with location-aware services such as Foursquare, production companies can create engaging experiences with fans who want to do more with the show.
  • Facebook: By every measure, Facebook has grown at an impressive rate. And, it continues to grow daily. Given how much time people spend on Facebook, creating and actively maintining fan pages can be tremendously advantageous for an audience as well as for the media property.
  • Twitter: When a product is mentioned on nearly every TV show and website, it gains momentum quickly. Even though the service is young, it has attracted technologists and celebrities. It has built an entire ecosystem of applications on the web, desktop and mobile platforms that make using the service painless. Currently, the service hasn't discussed monetization options. However, when those do become available, these options could have a far reaching impact on brands.
  • uStream: There are half-a-dozen live streaming services that allow users to broadcast content from a cell-phone to the web. Using live streaming services to share behind-the-scenes content would keep the user engaged when the show is not on the air.

On the web, the potential for building and engaging audiences is unlimited. And, it costs very little to experiment. The four services above are mostly free, but can have a significant impact on a traditional media properties and will go a long way in converting dimes to dollars.

Aanarav Sareen is a producer and consultant with extensive experience in broadcast television and digital entertainment. Aanarav's expertise lies in establishing & executing strategies for distribution and cross-platform projects. He blogs at Digital Media Business and publishes the monthly Digital Media Newsletter.