Los Angeles / Philadelphia / New York

NYC subwayOften when I return from these trips I try to summarize a theme – I think the best I can come up with here is “monetizing social distribution”.

Across a series of meetings – especially on the West Coast – there was a clear trajectory in evidence, the accelerating growth and corporate investment in businesses which source their content and IP from the social and online worlds as a start point.

The rapid establishment of MCN networks, building communities of creators and cross-selling IP to a highly engaged digital audience, is now a scale market segment. And one which is now selling its content back into traditional media formats (books TV, film) but with the advantages of a connected, committed audience already in place.

Two companies I met cited c.5Bn YouTube views per month across their MCN networks, although there was an interesting distinction in that one was keeping its creator community small and seeking to improve content coherence through subject focus and production support (quality over quantity, channel over breadth). As an aside this company also showed the “with hindsight blindingly obvious” innovation of shooting and editing “portrait” for full screen mobile social distribution.

On the East Coast another company continued the main theme, albeit related to still images. Their platform seeking to connect brand imagery to promotion / sale opportunities but specifically following those images outside of any controlled company digital presence to the myriad of social shares by across multiple platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest etc).

The emergence of fast growing media tech companies in Los Angeles has created a very different dynamic to recent trips there, the geographic focus shifting to Santa Monica and the rapidly changing Downtown areas away from Hollywood etc. In fact the only meeting in Studio City was with a major studio now wrestling with how to establish an effective open innovation platform, recognising the need for external input as they seek to keep pace with the evolution of audience behaviour (and which feels like a threat as an incumbent).

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