How 3 Non-Traditional Media Companies Use Media Strategy to Win Big

July 21, 2014
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ImageThere is plenty of ambiguity around the term “media.” To the paranoid, it means propaganda or tabloids. To others, it is news and information. In commerce, media means engaging with customers. In tech it’s often just a noun – a tangible source for knowledge, like a mobile app, a tablet, a website. In grad school, media was simply the means of influencing an audience via communication.

ImageThere is plenty of ambiguity around the term “media.” To the paranoid, it means propaganda or tabloids. To others, it is news and information. In commerce, media means engaging with customers. In tech it’s often just a noun – a tangible source for knowledge, like a mobile app, a tablet, a website. In grad school, media was simply the means of influencing an audience via communication.

Now, what comes to mind when you think about media companies? If you’re traditional, you’ve probably instantly thought of a Hearst, a Conde Nast, a News Corp. But ask a millennial and likely those legacy brands aren’t top of mind. Legacy news sources simply aren’t claiming the bulk of millennial media consumption any longer. 

Whether it be entertainment, smut, crisis communication, or even some good ol’ click-baiting, media’s main goal is to fight for your attention – and that rings true whether or not you are a traditional media company.

With the explosion of content marketing (e.g. blogs, white papers, free reports, sponsored posts) and social networking, all companies are looking for interaction – it’s what validates your digital presence and, essentially, your product offering. From the MLB to ecommerce startups or your favorite soft drink, here, we look at a few companies outside the scope of “media,” but are using media to bolster ROI, brand awareness and customer lifetime value like never before.

In a League of Their Own

America’s most treasured pastime may have always fit some definition of media, but in the digital age, major league baseball as a media company has taken on an entirely new meaning. Maury Brown’s contribution to Forbes exposed the MLB’s Advanced Media tech company for exactly what it is; the king of live streaming media, or “the biggest media company you’ve never heard of.” MLB Advanced Media describes itself as:

MLBAM (MLB Advanced Media) is a full service solutions provider delivering world-class digital experiences for over ten years and distributing content through all forms of interactive media. Our digital leadership and capabilities are a direct result of an appreciation for designing dynamic functionality for web, mobile applications, and connected devices while integrating live and on-demand multimedia, providing valuable products for millions of fans around the globe.

With an upper hand as the rightsholder to MLB content (that includes individual teams), Advanced Media has exclusivity to baseball’s live-streaming, on-demand and all other digital experience across any platform. By creating a copyright, essentially, on all of baseball’s digital content, Advanced Media is able to provide sponsorship value across marketing channels, at points of purchase or wherever the fan may be. Suddenly, the MLB has become it’s own agency, much like the powerhouses that are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and so forth.

Fans are connected now more than ever. An amazing feat, considering sports teams contain some of the most loyal brand followers there ever were – the kind that looks forward to hearing from the brand (imagine that!). It doesn’t stop at live-game viewing or just digital content consumption, though. MLBAM also has a ticketing division to help get fans in seats. From every angle, Advanced Media is managing and capitalizing on the MLB’s digital world to keep fans engaged both in and out of the stadium.

At the In-Stadium Sports Fan Experience Summit in Chicago on July 14-15, amongst many hot topics, panelists discussed the movement toward paperless tickets. The more digital tickets that are sold, the more the MLB can identify who the fans are behind the purchase and optimize those experiences going forward. Sports teams and leagues are indeed coming around to the value of their loyal fan data and using it to drive digital initiatives that surprise and delight even the most downtrodden of fans.

The MLB, thinking outside the box, recognized the amazing opportunity to score in an excessively connected universal fan base out of the stadium and during the off season. Content and new media methods to reach fans are becoming more important than ever, and MLBAM is truly a media company of the digital age.

It’s Puppy Love

eCommerce company Bark & Co. has won over the hearts of dog spoilers everywhere (see recent funding news here). BarkBox is a monthly subscription service (think Birchbox for furry friends) with a boastful 90% customer retention rate from month to month. The company’s customers are simply dog lovers looking to treat their pet to a monthly treat.

Getting people to subscribe though isn’t just a walk in the park – a praiseworthy content strategy has helped bring a digital community of dog lovers together. Bark & Co. created The BarkPost, a light-hearted, personality-filled satire publication dedicated to sharing the best dog-related content around the web. By targeting the right audience (animal lovers) with already viral content (like a Boston Terrier that loves balloons), Bark & Co. increased brand awareness, created a content strategy that keeps readers coming back (and sharing!) and put a personality on the brand. It was that personality dog lovers fell in love with – and the subscription service took off. 

America’s Soft Drink of Choice

Legacy brands aren’t left out when it comes to utilizing media company strategy to elevate brand awareness and customer loyalty. Coca-Cola is one non-media company doing just that. Playing off of the brand’s long-standing “Ahhh” campaign, Coca-Cola created the interactive fan site AHH, on which multiple letters H are given personas much like the interactive Google Logos. 

For Coca-Cola, this media play is essential and gives the brand the opportunity to track and monitor the interests and online behaviors of the Coke audience, measuring and adjusting when needed to continue to stay top of mind, despite the company’s already undeniable brand awareness.

Where does all this content come from? How do they know what to create? With a data rights management platform like Umbel, you’re able to manage the millions of data points that your digital fans create every day. When you can easily identify the DNA of your audience; the sponsors they’re into, where to find more of your best audience (you know, the kind that watches videos and buys tickets online), creating a media strategy to engage and entertain your fans, increasing their customer lifetime value, is simply about getting creative.