Streaming Media West Conference Has a Motto Thanks to the Opening Keynoter: "Adapt or Die"
"Adapt or die."
In white lettering against a black background, those words projected onto a screen at the Huntington Beach Hyatt Tuesday morning summed up the point of the Streaming Media West conference.
It went up immediately after a slide with the logos of Barnes & Noble, Kodak, Tower Records and Blockbuster--once beloved brands that, uh, did not adapt.
Instead, the companies resisted market changes brought about by new technology, changes that have made successes out of companies that came later like Amazon, Expedia and Roku, noted the morning's keynote speaker Dan Ackerman, senior vice president of Adap.tv.
His company, a division of AOL Networks, develops products and data for businesses that have gone all in with video advertising across multiple platforms. StreamingMedia.com, the conference presenter, is a news media outlet serving that same market.
Adap.tv Dan Ackerman
The conference comes at a time when consumers are considering ditching cable and satellite television for streaming Internet services like the aforementioned Roku, and programmers are simultaneously presenting content on multiple devices like televisions, laptops and cell phones. Streaming Media West exhibitors are the companies with the software, hardware and clouds that are making that happen.
Video advertising is, Ackerman told a polite crowd of a few hundred, the next digital revolution, one that's turning the entire advertising business upside down. Growth is not being seen in advertising that casts a wide net for potential customers but that which targets the individual.
Advertisers recognize this, Ackerman noted. He cited successful media companies like the Wall Street Journal, ESPN and Turner Broadcasting that held out as long as they could with strictly the old advertising model but have now poured resources into targeted ads.
Taking questions from a moderator, Ackerman answered he does not believe digital will kill television, but our notion of television will evolve beyond watching a big screen receiving a broadcast signal. Having led ad strategy and innovation at CBS Local Media before moving over to San Mateo-based Adap.tv, Ackerman said he believes targeted advertising will enhance the television business model.
But what about consumers who are used to devouring content without ads (or by scrolling through them very fast)? Ackerman told the moderator it is up to businesses to figure out which automated advertising is right for that consumer so s/he will be intrigued, not repelled. Figuring that out involves collecting data on the person's consumption habits. And this is and will be going on for each individual in a household; each will have one's own individual suite of video ads.
Doing that sounds expensive, but Ackerman swore advertisers will see value in this kind of model.
Responding to audience questions, Ackerman said he does see a potential for consumers who "opt in" for ads catered specifically for them, noting younger adults grew up more accepting of advertising. This will be especially true if it is understood the ads are a part of the content they really want. Meanwhile, Ackerman indicated to another audience member broadband cable's days may be numbered thanks to boxes that offer not hundreds but thousands of channels. "There has to be a shift," he said.