Caroline Hicks: Hi Colin. Tell us about Discovery Digital Networks, and how it fits into the wider Discovery family?
Colin Decker: Discovery Digital Networks occupies a space that’s all about creating original, video-centric programming for digital native audiences.
We focus largely on creating original IPs – unlike some of the other multi-channel networks which are built largely on the aggregation of existing large YouTube channels and things like this. We’ve put a lot of investment and time into growing our own original programming and building large audiences on YouTube, Facebook, social media, around them.
In that sense Discovery Digital Networks has, since its beginning, really focussed on Millennials, and that’s an important thrust for this business – that it focuses on the next generation of Discovery fans that we want to engage with the DNA of Discovery: curiosity, inspiration and awe.
Millennials are a notoriously tricky group to produce content for. How are you finding and meeting that challenge?
I think we’re succeeding. We’ve built a pretty big audience very quickly. I think a common mistake is to think too much in terms of programming to Millennials: the trick is to really think about programming with them. Which is to say that you have to understand the dialogue that drives all these platforms and makes them really exciting places.
So a very important focus for us is on social sharing. That’s a really, really big driver for content discovery (no pun intended).
So what factors are driving Millennials to share?
In this ecosystem of social sharing and video, we’ve seen how the kind of content that really resonates is no longer the cynical fail video of the past, something that’s negative: quite the opposite in fact.
Millennials are looking for something that’s emotionally resonant, something that inspires, and frankly for things that are informative and smart. That’s a really good remit for Discovery to work with: it’s already in our DNA.
How does the process of creating content for digital natives differs to the more conventional production process?
The biggest difference is simply that you don’t create a piece of video, hand it to a distributor and walk away. The process of publishing a video in our world only begins the minute the video is done. Then you have to work to help it find the right audience. I’d say that’s the biggest thing.
It’s also very important to understand that the context of all these different services is entirely different. The same piece of video is not necessarily going to resonate in every context. We spend a considerable amount of time looking very carefully at format, the context of discovery – the way you’re going to find a particular piece of content on Facebook is going to be very different than the way you’re going to find that video on say Snapchat, or any of these other platforms. We custom produce per platform.
And have you been able to evolve the advertising dynamic hand-in-hand with the advances in programming?
What we call ‘native advertising’ has been one of our most important areas of innovation – frankly I think we’ve led the space. Native advertising about how we integrate an advertiser’s message or service, the product or brand, and how we organically integrate that into the video content itself.
Our audiences have a very community minded relationship to our brands, and so we think about how you make that advertiser’s brand or product a part of that community conversation in an organic and integrated way. As a result of this approach, things like intent to purchase, recall favourability – they all go through the roof. It’s a whole different measure of advertiser effectiveness.
We’ve got a ton of marquee brands on-board and we continue to grow every day.
Colin will be examining the impact of multi-channel networks at this year’s TV Xperience (October 6th-7th 2015, Hilton Times Square, New York). Click here for booking and more info.