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House of Cards: Emmy Win Winks at the Future of Marketing

by Frank Strong

house of cards, emmy, future of marketing

What House of Cards says about the future of marketing (photo: screenshot of Netflix’s home page on 9/23/13)

House of Cards won an Emmy award.  That matters to marketers. In a big way.  It’s winking at the future of marketing.

First, some context:

NPR reported:

This win could help Netflix establish itself as it seeks to compete for eyeballs and talent, although the cable channels dominated the Emmys – especially HBO – which racked up 27 awards, more than any other outlet.

The Wall Street Journal said Netflix made history:

The Emmy win could boost Netflix’s prestige in Hollywood as an outlet for high-quality original series…

TechCrunch set it up:

Today’s Emmy win is a strong indicator that Netflix can compete with television’s major players, even though it redefines “primetime” by presenting shows in much different ways than traditional networks. Netflix does not have linear programming and all episodes in a season are made available at once.

And a paragraph or two later provides important perspective:

For many TV critics, the premiere of The Sopranos on HBO in 1999 heralded a new “Golden Age of Television,” with cable networks launching series, such as Breaking Bad, The Wire and Mad Men, that are more narratively complex and darker in tone than previous well-received TV dramas.

Behavior modification in the making

The tech savvy marketer will be quick to point out that content consumption habits have been changing for some time:  Netflix is anything but new.  That is certainly true…but it is true only for the early adopters and perhaps some of the early majority.

The mainstream?  They are still getting there.

What we are witnessing is a number of behavior modifications:

  • Interaction.  Tweeting during a show, indeed with a show, is a new form of interaction for the masses.  It is this habit that has evolved that has made things like the Oreo cookie tweet possible.  Some of the biggest players in the space, like Disney, have taken note with the Little Mermaid’s second screen. 
  • Multi-screen.  This is moving from screen to screen and across platforms.  For example, starting to watch a movie on a computer, watching parts of it on the couch in front of an old fashioned television, and finishing the ending on a mobile device over a 4G network while riding the bus to work.  This is possible today; right now, on Netflix.
  • New delivery.  All of the articles I cite in setting up this post get after the fact that what is new about House of Cards, is that it was designed entirely for the web. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve read recently somewhere the series was rejected by cable, which as the TechCrunch post points out, grew its roots under a similar theme a decade ago.  “On demand” presents an incredible potential to the providers of video content, but at the expense of those that own the traditional delivery systems.  This is disruption in the making and some companies are set up in advance and simply waiting for this to evolve.  Recall that YouTube launched paid channels a short while ago, which are being put to use.


Marketing:  Ambassador for change

A short while ago, Adam Singer got after a theme that’s been playing out among the tech savvy marketers:

It is your job as a marketer, investor or tech entrepreneur to try out and use new sites, apps and devices before the general public.

What’s striking about his post, is the realization that marketers ought to have, that understanding new tools isn’t just a means to an end – that it is not about just knowing new tools so we can use them.  Rather, if we’re truly going to be disruptive in marketing, we need to understand the future so we can guide our communities there.

In other words, the future of marketing, is being useful.

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