03/25/2014 05:31 pm ET Updated May 24, 2014

Adventure Into Social Media Land and Other Foreign Landscapes

The past few months I have traveled across our country to various conferences that covered a vast landscape of our industry: broadcast. We are all witnessing a shift that is so unique and that has an effect on every part of our businesses. The base technology is changing rapidly not just upgrades to hardware and results, but major shifts of distribution across expanded networks to miniaturization of screens that are part of mobile devices such as phones, tablets and even Wearables. As for the new hardware we have at our finger tips that can be used to create content, it is so user friendly, simple and available any one can make a film and post it into a distribution network and poof, there is an audience waiting to see that work.
So after CES and the hardware display and invasion of the Chinese, I covered the Humana Challenge set in the beautiful Coachella Valley where I live. During the tournament, I asked the golfers that play the PGA circuit if this new advance with video, mobile and media has affected their training or improved their game. For the most part the answer was no or not yet. It will be interesting to see if this revolution of smart everything will have changed their mind sets by next year.

Then off to Miami and NATPE listening to how the television business; producers and distributors were viewing this paradigm shift and what were folks doing about all of it. So in deference to New Media, the first speaker of this conference jumped right into the idea that everything is changing right now. TV audiences now have their own audiences through You Tube, Twitter and the entire second screen system; this allows an exponential growth to the reachable audience. I want to introduce a few statistics so you can understand a bit of how social media expands the audience through these second screen opportunity. Advertisers can deliver to a waiting audience, watching TV, next then connected through social media allows the TV audience to exponentially expand, since 80 percent of viewers access some second screens; that is four out of five watchers engage with a lap top, tablet, mobile while watching TV, which is now a complete change of the viewer's habits. The ability to discuss what is happening on the TV screen with their friends and family expands the joy and the experience by sharing with others.

Law and Order: SVU
was a very strong example of how speaking directly to their audience helped a 14-year-old TV franchise. Since early last year the cast and writers have been communicating with their audience on a regular basis through social media and they had their best new season launch in 2014. When something unusual or exciting happens now in sports and then there is retweeting of those events, the audience expands and expands from re-tweets like re-broadcasting. This phenomenon is so important to the media buyers, the producer and also to the consumer. The use of social media to communicate directly to the audience and then confirm the relationship and then to consummate that relationship and keep it longer, expands the value of that audience. This is a new great medium to help media buyers and advertisers expand their audience beyond commercials on TV shows. For the past two years, we here at CV Studios Network have been focused on the Enterprise Market and using our patented mobile video player EMVP to introduce another form of communication to employees and customers from major corporations worldwide.

On another panel later in conference Chris Williams CAO of Maker Studios shared that his company is in the business of mentoring new upcoming creators through their You Tube network. His company's goals are to move them from hobbyists to professionals. By allowing these young video makers a place for them to show their creativity on the company's platform, give them support through Maker's leading place on this Google platform, has helped grow their company to a leader and many others who have followed their lead. He of course believes that good content is still important and a young producer can come from anywhere, at Maker or one of the many other new networks, because the film gets curated, distributed and supported by the Network Company and also taps into other producer's fans through social media, each together makes a much larger footprint, just like traditional studios. There are a plethora of these small internet, technology driven start-up companies growing this sector of our industry that is fueled by available new technology and now available investment funds through traditional media companies as well as venture fund, who always wanted to get a piece of our industry, but worried about the risk of making content with so few ways to distribute and build an audience. New money is changing the landscape, so understanding the benefits from the second screens and the addition of new smaller production companies and networks popping up everywhere, we must face that self-distribution is upon us and use that knowledge to grow. Money for making content now comes from so many new investors, from traditional to individuals, and through crowd funding, again more technology driving change to our industry.

It was also suggested that digital video creation expertise can be an interesting talent acquisition for traditional advertisers and another way to make money for these new startups, to that point shorter ad stories are now more watched than those longer traditional, Vine, Snapshot, Pintress and others have been leading the way. There is also a change in viewing by the younger audience, now youths demand mini-form content for their short attention span. No one has time to spend on getting information and we as broadcasters need to be very conscious of this when we create content and place it on New Media.

Celebrity brands can become a platform of themselves. The building of "The Cult of Celebrity" through social media and mobile which allows the leveraging and incubating all sorts of brands; then there are existing celebrities, up and coming growing YouTube stars and just plain folks driven to use a new kind of media platform to build a substantial financial model that comes from celebrity. How do you use these new delivery platforms to create a sustainable cash flow generating brand? That was a question that Drew Baldwin founder of Tube Filter and the Streamys asked his panel the very last day of the NATPE conference in front of a full house in a conference room on the second floor of the Fountainblu Hotel. What a draw celebrity has even to this last seminar on the last day; all of us looking for that Holy Grail. How to move content into social media with names of celebrities, then work with licensing, manufactures brands to then integrate with the TV show's loyal audience and then on top of that add a celebrity brand. This can be a very powerful vision for traditional TV producers on the first screen who can build off of loyal audiences of existing TV shows to expand their brand cooperation beyond the typical advertisers. That is an opportunity for all producers, distributors and librarians of existing content. Those movable screens are everywhere, people consistently connected, dodging them on the sidewalks of America intently viewing their device or on an airplane, train and unfortunately in the auto. But since we can't get away from those screens let's put content on them, just that same old business we have always been in, broadcasting.

Then off to New York City, to brave the cold weather and attend Social Media Week NYC 2014, one of 26 simultaneous events going on all over the world to discuss the power of social media, which was created five years ago by Toby Daniels and been produced in more than 26 Global cities. It was there to meet and have discord around the new phenomenon called Social Media communication, and there were a sea of thousands of young New Yorkers, and others merged in a warehouse converted into a meeting place down by the meat packing district. I don't know if it was the energy in the room or I am just beginning to see the power, but this day, listening to a great panel that JWT sponsored and meeting the Nokia thought leader for social Craig Hepburn with all the always on young leaders in community, not the traditional group I meet with in Silicon Valley, I felt the power from the youths that are driving this revolution. I needed to know more. I mean the statics are staggering, almost 3 billion currently have mobile devices and that will double before 2020, maybe as early as 2016. Right now 67 percent watch video on a mobile device and with everyone at this social media conference discussing how text does not make the sale, photos and videos are the medium for communication through mobile. When we speak about audiences having their own audience, that is what social media has created, even if you have only 200 followers and there is that sweater you love at The Gap, your text with a photo can be multiplied by all your 200 followers add that to theirs, could be millions. How much money would it cost to reach that many viewers of the sweater the traditional advertising way??

I just did a great interview of Toby Daniels and that will be my next blog. Just start thinking about this always on world and what it means to tradition broadcast, content, technology and our lives, and we really do have to think long and hard about this, because we are smack dab in the 21St century where "always on" is the password.