Q&A with 'Elevate' Trail Leader, Digital Strategist Marissa Gluck
This year, Elevate returns to the iconic Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley, Utah. Elevate will once again be comprised of four ‘trails’, each one a deep dive into better understanding the foundations upon which branded content is built. This year’s trails will explore four subjects pertinent to the work of brand storytellers and their partners: Content Development, Platforms & Mediums, Measuring Success, and Looking Ahead. Each trail is being carefully curated and led by an industry expert on the subject at hand. This year, one such expert is Marissa Gluck.
Gluck, co-founder and managing partner of Radar Research, is a digital strategist who has spanned the agency and publisher worlds, most recently as a Vice President at media consultancy MediaLink. As head of research for Disney's Maker Studios, Marissa worked with Fortune 500 brands on influencer and social strategies. Prior to Maker, Marissa worked in strategy at IPG agency Huge Inc., where she was responsible for the company’s global thought leadership platform, providing a perspective on the impact of emerging technologies across a range of industries. As a consultant, she has worked with companies such as Google, DoubleClick, McGraw Hill, Sony Pictures and agencies such as RGA and POSSIBLE.
Brand Storytelling Advisory Chair Todd Barrish took time to meet with Marissa Gluck to better understand her perspective and approach to tackling the Platforms & Mediums Trail at Elevate as it relates to her immense experience:
First off, can you tell us a little about your background? Specifically, what drew you into a career in media and advertising as an analyst?
I've been working in digital media and advertising since the beginning of my career and have worked on both the agency side at places like Huge and on the media side at Maker Studios/Disney. What I enjoy the most is the pace of change. Nothing ever stays the same, even as the fundamentals of great media remain grounded in compelling storytelling. It's an industry that thrives on innovation. And what else would I do? I don't personally have the constitution to work on Wall Street or be a doctor.
Can you give us an overview of the Distribution Trail? What are you hoping to learn through this process?
The distribution landscape is really confusing right now. There is a seemingly endless supply of content and almost equally endless supply of opportunities for distribution with the explosion of OTT and SVOD platforms. There is a massive land grab happening as SVOD platforms spend outrageous sums of money to acquire quality content. We're hoping to make some sense of this landscape, to discern what the opportunity is, and to understand how these changes affect everything from advertising, to acquisition deals, to advanced analytics.
Given the ever-evolving nature of the content distribution ecosystem, how are you planning on gathering information on traditional ad supported mediums as well as the more opaque platforms and media streaming services abound?
At Polymath, we've already done a lot of the foundational research. We've conducted executive interviews, have pulled from publicly available data, and have some great sources for information on what cable channels, SVOD and OTT platforms, and social networks such as Facebook and Snap are looking for in their content slates. We've also gone beyond the development level to talk to producers and writers who are working with these platforms to understand the nature of their relationships and some of the complexities from a legal perspective. Negotiating contract terms is a bit of a Wild West these days.
There is more content being produced now than ever before; however, it seems like the path to distribution for advertiser funded projects is extremely complicated and requires customized approaches on a per project basis. As you dive deeper into your work, how do you plan on segmenting opportunities with traditional media companies, SVOD platforms like Netflix and Amazon, alongside platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Snap who are so ubiquitous in this space?
There is this idea in the industry that data drives development. That Netflix has cracked this nut, where its algorithm propels what kind of content they acquire or develop. The reality is that development is still very much an art more than a science (yes, even at Netflix). However, data is critical to marketing and promotion in order to find interested audiences. Data is not what drives the content -- it's what drives new audiences. Traditional demographics, which have always been a proxy, have been replaced by more precise taste clusters. We also have newer metrics emerging such as survivorship. Did audiences watch a series to completion within 28 days or did they watch a couple of episodes and never return? I think for advertiser-funded projects, we need to think more like these platforms and less like advertisers and gain a better understanding of what success looks like.
What do you hope the audience learns from this session that they can apply to their businesses as brand marketers and content producers?
I hope we find a little bit more clarity around what's a really complex opportunity and have a better understanding of what our goals are with these kinds of projects, what some of the common obstacles are, and what are the signs of success in this space. I think brand marketers have a vague sense of what the value proposition is but I'd like to add some more substantive discussion. How do we avoid common pitfalls? How do navigate this landscape? How do we find the best distribution opportunities and how do we optimize that for their audiences? I'd like attendees to walk out of there with a more concrete battle plan and a realistic view of the opportunity.
About Marissa Gluck
Marissa Gluck, co-founder and managing partner of Radar Research, is a digital strategist who has spanned the agency and publisher worlds, most recently as a Vice President at media consultancy MediaLink. As head of research for Disney's Maker Studios, Marissa worked with Fortune 500 brands on their influencer and social strategies. Prior to Maker, Marissa worked in strategy at IPG agency Huge Inc., where she was responsible for the company’s global thought leadership platform, providing a perspective on the impact of emerging technologies across a range of industries.
As a consultant, she has worked with companies such as Google, DoubleClick, McGraw Hill, Sony Pictures and agencies such as RGA and POSSIBLE. Marissa earned a B.A. from Binghamton University and two Masters Degrees in Global Media and Communication from the London School of Economics and the University of Southern California. She has served as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California, teaching an undergraduate course on social networking. Marissa is also one of the principals at design east of La Brea (de LaB), an NEA-funded arts non-profit seeking to increase civic engagement through the lens of design. She writes about architecture, art, and urbanism for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and The Atlantic, among others.