Media Business Strategies

The Blog of David Polakoff

“Tryin’ to Make it Real — Compared to What?”

Posted by David Polakoff on March 8, 2015

The Windmills of My Immediate Mind

Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff

“Tryin’ to Make it Real — Compared to What?”

The Digital World Holds The Digital World to Authenticity


The digital content consumption experience has got to be authentic for an audience to become engaged, to remain loyal, and to invoke shareability. Producers, platforms, media buyers, and brands can be so shortsighted (or blind sighted) when it comes to jamming square pegs in round holes of the audience experience. Trying to make it real isn’t good enough because the audience knows what is real by comparison to those who do it better. The lack of genuineness rattles the consumer and influences their propensity to act, and act they do. Making it real will make it worthwhile.

Gene Daniels’ Tryin’ to Make it Real — Compared to What, covered over 270 times, is a social commentary song but also speaks to “…hypocritically ‘unreal values’… (B. Lee Cooper).” I invoke that theme whenever I have an irritating digital experience. I’m not talking about seeing an ad that isn’t contextual or even a pop-up ad.   I am referring to showing me a 30” spot when I’m watching a 2’20” music video. I’m talking about showing me the same version of an ad that runs on television, on my desktop or mobile platform. I’m talking about forcing me to click 20 times to read a “top 20” list, just so you can serve me more ads or claim click-throughs (both your “content” and your experience prompt me to bounce by the second entry). I’m talking about wasting time clicking through to an article that lacks any journalistic quality or integrity because publishers are just uploading volume to fulfill their mission to be my “daily destination.” I’m talking about publishers who don’t making it obvious that content is sponsored. I’m talking about forcing me to register or log-in with only the choice of doing so through another service (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). I’m talking about pre-rolling a five minute ad, though skippable, assures there’s no way I’d watch a five minute pre-roll. I’m talking about app, Email, or website tickers of “Breaking News,” that is just desultory piffle.

So little of digital content is “must see” that any element of displeasure will prompt me to “Turn on, tune in, drop out (Timothy Leary).” And, beyond switching out, I have the power of digital democratization to slam you on your own site or via any social media option of choice.   Every content creator, marketer, platform, brand, or media buyer is also a digital content consumer. It baffles me how one can be on both sides of the content table and not alter professional pursuits to match moments of their own consumer satisfaction and avoid their own moments of consumer dissatisfaction.

While it may be more expensive to shoot or cut more than one version of a commercial, the ROI of an ad customized for the context will certainly pay for itself. I smiled and was delighted to watch, in its entirety, and share it here with you a Geico ad made for digital consumption (Geico Made YouTube Ads That You Wouldn’t Skip Even If You Could). Digital content – text, video, or ad – is not and should not be the same as what runs on national television. It is not always about convenience or “TV Everywhere.” That’s why consumers view different kinds of content from apps, websites, broadcast, cable/satellite, SVOD, PPV, etc. sources. They seek different, varied, and noteworthy experiences and must have real, true, and authentic satisfaction.

Yes, it is hard to meet the varying demands, tastes, and expectations of producing, offering, and monetizing content that is suitable for television, desktops laptops, tablets, and smartphones, but if you’re going to be in this business, you have to meet the needs of the audience; we’re far from the days when it was the reverse.

The content producers, publishers, platforms, brands, ad creators, and ad servers are multitudinous, all scrambling for the same eyeballs and limited amounts of time. The successful players will be those that know their audience and can deliver and serve effectively. The one size fits all days are over. Being “it” to a dedicated audience is the new formula for success. Authenticity has to be baked in; not sprinkled on top. Take your analytics to heart, including comparing to competitors. Solicit and read the commentary – it’s what people really think about you. The work you are doing is being compared to what? It is being compared to what is real. It is being compared to those doing it better. Make it real. Keep it real.


Media Business Strategies is the blog/website of David Polakoff, a New York based, Media & Entertainment Industry Financial Executive.

David Polakoff’s media/entertainment industry experience and expertise results from his tenures in senior financial and development roles with: Ernst & Young, HBO/Time Warner, Granada America/itv plc, independent consulting, and multi-channel network, Iconic Entertainment, Inc.  Currently, David provides financial, operational, and strategic services to media/entertainment companies.  Read more in About.

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