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10 Key Takeaways from Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit

There has been no better time than now for TV leaders and content creators to establish new trends. After the pandemic, many consumers were looking for entertainment that catered to them to take over their ample free time. At Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, entertainment executives, leaders and public figures spoke about the new wave of media content and bouncing back after the pandemic — either continuing to stick with what was working before, or latching on to new ideas that seems to pick up traction over the last year.

We Are Constantly Rebranding

In a keynote conversation, Netflix’s chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John explained the process of constantly rebranding, which can help consumers develop personal, emotion-driven relationships to the products they engage with.

“When I was a kid, I moved around quite a bit. And every time you show up on the playground at recess, you had to reintroduce yourself. I look back at that time and realize that I kept rebranding. What’s your name? What do you do? What’s your favorite color? What do you like? We’re constantly rebranding. And if I think about how I do that now, it’s like, how do I connect with people? What do I find to be the point that we both agree? It doesn’t matter about our race or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation, any of the things that make us othered. My overarching vision and strategy is, how can I get people to connect to each other right away? That overarching idea about why we are connected to certain products or brands sometimes feels illogical. It can feel very emotional. And that’s the thing about the strategy of marketing that I love best. How can I help you to see yourself in the product or the service that I’m talking about?”

Timing Is the Most Important Detail of Launching New Projects

In another keynote, Rob Lowe, the actor known for roles such as Sam Seaborn in “The West Wing” and Chris Traeger in “Parks and Recreation,” discussed his popular new podcast, “Literally! With Rob Lowe.”

“It’s not good enough just to have a good idea. Timing truly is everything. People [had talked] to me about doing a podcast for a while. I’d had some pretty serious interest for a couple years. I discovered this passion for storytelling, talking to people, interviewing. I’d [guest] hosted ‘Ellen,’ [‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’], ‘Good Morning America,’ and had a ball. An absolute blast. I was like, ‘I could do this for a living.’ But I also knew I wasn’t gonna give up my day job to do that. And then podcasting started to feel like an adult’s job, as opposed to, ‘Gee let’s put on a show.’ And then COVID. So all these kinds of things dovetailed at once and it felt like the right time to do it.”

When In-Person Connection Is Off the Table, the Metaverse Is Always an Option

At “The Scene Stealers: Breakthrough Entertainment Innovations,” Christina Wootton, vice president of brand partnerships at Wootton, explained how the pandemic helped Roblox understand the power of virtual events and products.

“We’re seeing [more conversations] about the metaverse. If you can’t do something in the physical world, whether there’s physical limitations or you can’t open up a movie because of COVID, there are now options to do something in the virtual space. We launched an experience for DC Comics for ‘Wonder Woman’ when the movie was getting moved and we were working closely with Warner Bros. We launched the virtual experience so people could still engage with the content. Gal Gadot would show up with her video and greet the audience. That way you’re keeping the fans engaged. We’re also seeing this not just within entertainment, but with fashion.  While production has been tough for a lot of the fashion brands, or they’re working on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint, they’re using digital fashion items as another revenue stream, but also an opportunity to test products without having to produce something physically. They can actually just launch something virtually and get real-time feedback from their audience. Let them be part of the design process.”

Power Couple Talks Rebranding and Fan Interactions

In a keynote conversation, Paris Hilton and Carter Miliken Reum talk about being a couple in the public eye and interacting with Hilton’s devoted fanbase who have watched her through many transformations.

“She understood not only what it was like to be a celebrity, but to understand the fandom,” said Miliken. “The way she interacts with her fans. And it’s really interesting for me when people say that I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I get to marry her, it’s interesting to see where they’ve interacted with her in terms of — ‘Oh, I grew up singing her songs, I grew up watching ‘The Simple Life,’ or I love what she’s doing around advocacy.”

The Trendsetters: Succeeding in the Disrupted TV Industry

In a keynote conversation with trendsetters succeeding in the disruptive TV industry, Miguel Panel, president SVOD of AMC Networks, talked about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on the production of TV.

“During the pandemic, a lot of our productions were impacted,” said Panella. “They had to be postponed or delayed, and that disrupted our release calendar, and that’s something we had to adapt to. Having that robust release calendar is really key in terms of driving signups and acquisitions.”

Storytelling and Gaming in the Streaming Age

In a keynote conversation with streaming content leaders, Michael Aragon, the chief content officer of Twitch, said that there is more to the function than gaming.

“People not familiar with Twitch think of us as a live video streaming and gaming platform, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Aragon. “We’re really chat video with interactive features which means, while you’re watching you can interact with the creator and the rest of the audience at the same time which builds community. In these pandemic times that community has been really important, which is why we’ve seen such a boom in viewership.”

Marketers on the Rebound — Building Audiences Across Today’s Media Divide

Sofia Hernandez, head of North American business marketing at TikTok, said the app is much more than just a social platform.

“We’re not a social platform,” said Hernandez. “TikTok runs on a content graph so we consider us as more of an entertainment platform. What we’re finding is our users are spending a movie’s worth of time consuming content on TikTok on a daily basis. So, while people will go check social platforms they came to watch TikTok.”

Holistic Data and Partnership Is the Future of the Multi-Platform Advertisement Field

In “The Roaring 2020s: The Explosion of Multi-Platform Advertising,” Carol Hinnant, chief revenue officer of Comscore, discussed the challenging yet exciting nature of the fast-paced multi-platform advertising industry and what advertisers should prioritize in order to succeed in the developing field.

“It’s the speed at which you can retrieve that data. Some are faster than others, but you have to make sense of it too. And you have to be able to clean it, understand it, make sure that you’re making good decisions based on that. It’s a complicated world but it’s changing at the speed of light. The monetization strategies and understanding that it’s a real ecosystem where everybody has to be partners in it is what I think the future of the industry is going to be.”

How Entertainment Brands Can Cash-In on the NFT Bonanza

In another keynote, Tom Mizzone, founder and CEO of Sweet, spoke to the importance of increasing accessibility to NFTs for the customers who want to be collectors but don’t know how.

“You’re really limiting the number of consumers who can get into the experience because it’s too technical and too complex,” said Mizzone. “So brands are looking to do more and consumers want to be collectors, but you have to really break down those ease of entry kind of barriers to understand it and to make it very, very simple.”


Creators Are the Heart and Soul of Clubhouse

In a fireside chat, Fadia Kader, head of media partnerships for the audio social network Clubhouse, discussed the strengths of Clubhouse and how it can support creators as a community.

“You know, I’ve worked at platforms where it took years to embrace creators, but from day one, Clubhouse has been embracing creators and community members such as myself and bringing them in-house or identifying creators and community members that we support because we see the potential,” said Kader. “It’s like we’re trend forecasters. When they talk about creators being the heart and soul, they truly mean it, and they actually own up to it in the way they support creators and the way we all support creators as a team.”