PROMAX UK 2016 Review- The New Normal

December 6, 2016
by Tim Rabjohns

So, slightly delayed, due to our blog being hacked twice in the last month, is a quick recap of this year’s PROMAX UK 2016 conference.  It was so far, so unusual – we came into the main speaking hall and there was a live band playing a blues shuffle version of Mojo Working, there were loads of bean bags everywhere, some “digital illusionist” performing while there’s a guy “live scribing” the whole event!

We were in “Here East” – the old press building from the 2012 Olympic games which is now an “innovation centre”

Predictably throughout the whole conference there were lots of questions like “what is the future of television?” and “what exactly does watching TV mean these days?” Many of the speakers attempted to answer these questions, each in their own way.

On the down side there was quite a lot of recap-ing on things that we know already – like how many different platforms and devices people use to watch TV in 2016.  In a way the technological side of the conversation is the least interesting of all – there will always be new devices and delivery technologies coming through.

promax-uk-2016-for-dotmogo-05What is more interesting, I think is how to structure the content so that it rises to the top of the watch list.  Certainly there were some very interesting statistics from Anastasia Leng, Picasso Labs about how the measurability of views and feed back on preferences in content should be being fed into the creative process in order to maximise views.  She gave the example of a three different photos of a fashion garment – only one of them shot without the model’s face garnered a much bigger reaction online than the other options.

Jenny Biggam, from the7Stars media agency showed us a very clever piece of content where Ant & Dec pretend to be the voice of a Sat Nav in realtime for two unsuspecting women in a car.  The sketch itself was very funny and of course they happened to be driving a Suzuki – who had paid for the talent and the content.  It turns out that this was an inventive mash up of content, the talent, and media time.  Was it an advert? a piece of web content? or an Ant & Dec sketch?  It didn’t really matter from a viewer’s point of view as it was engaging. (see video at the top of the page)

Another topic being discussed was curation.  It seems that the main way to discover new shows or content is if it’s creatively interesting or if the viewer happens to find something on a “channel” of somekind.  This may mean looking at the newspaper listings for your favourite old school TV channel or, as is the new way, scrolling through your Facebook feed and watching all the silent films looping until you choose to hit play on one of them.

Picking up the theme of Facebook and a channel and running with it was Dean Donaldson.  despite having the title of “Digital Futurologist” on his LinkedIn profile he had some interesting observations.  He postulated that Facebook is really a TV platform with your friends as the new program directors and curators .  He also intimated that it wouldn’t be long before we would be watching longform content on there.

He also talked about some other cultural shifts – for example a 100,000 attendance for an E-games match in Korea.  This is an occasion where people pay to attend an arena to watch gamers play.  As a comparison to this a baseball game in the same country attracted only 38, 000 people.

He observed that there are starting to be E-sports bars in London and Europe and the League of Legends final attracted a viewership of 35 million people

Another example I really liked was James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.  Each time he picks up a well known music celebrity and takes a trip with them in a car, sings their music and talks to them.  The interesting thing here is that this content is really made for YouTube and then played out on his American TV show.  Needless to say the amount of views online far exceeds the viewers for his Late Late Show on US TV .  His Carpool Karaoke with Adele was watched nearly 156 million times!

He also noted that the Emmy’s now also recognise best short form video in a category of it’s own.

There was a lot more going on during that day – I was told by Marc Ortmans that they had managed to have the same amount of sessions in one day as they used to have in a two day conference – which made the whole thing very concentrated and the model of efficiency!

Overall I really welcome this newer leaner event and had a great time pondering the future of screen entertainment and how to promote programs in new and clever ways.

Click on the link for more PROMAX 2016 photos and more PROMAX2016 videos

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