Authenticity vital to multi-platform content says head of US ABC

The head of the US ABC Group’s network and production studios says authenticity is key to effective social media marketing following its success with building huge fan bases for shows such as Scandal, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and the highly-anticipated Resurrection.

Paul Lee, who heads both the ABC Group’s television network and production arm ABC Studios, said in addition to the powerful storytelling of “smart” quality content, the ABC has tapped into engaged fan bases by successfully building social media conversations around their shows.

Ahead of the launch of Resurrection, the marketing campaign used just a hashtag for the first promotions in a short TV promo posing a question and hashtag for the conversation, supported by outdoor billboards simply with the line “Did I really die?” and #resurrectionabc.

For Scandal the ABC had cast members tweeting about the show and getting involved in conversations started by questions posed about plot lines.

“There are two very distinctive positions to take. All of them authentic,” Lee said. “If you’re not authentic on multiple platforms you’re dead.”

For Marvels Agents of SHIELD the ABC built a fan base of 1m on Facebook before the show launched owing to its existing fans for the film, Lee said.

Marla Provencio, ABC Entertainment Group chief marketing officer, said: “You can drive the conversations for particular shows and you can find those specific pieces they want to engage in and they become our megaphone, they become our marketing megaphone for us that we no longer have.”

Provencio said the fan base is also an important research tool for the ABC as they are able to pose questions about the campaign to fans.

Lee added: “It’s a really interesting moment in marketing because there are two contradictory forces at play. On the one hand we’re in a fragmented universe and more money on marketing is absolutely critical to be able to break out from the clutter, it’s almost impossible to launch a show without real marketing behind it. And on the other hand with data mining and social media we have the ability to not just target specific audiences but multiply your message many-fold allows you to use your money that much more effectively. So one is pushing the investment down and the other is pushing the investment up.”

Although Lee said linear broadcast will continue to be the first platform for ABC content he said it is also just the first viewing platform of many.

As a result the ABC has seen audiences grow by around a third in consolidated viewing numbers during the week, with more watching through various apps such as the live streaming channel recently launched by the network.

“The reality is we’re seeing huge bumps in delayed viewership on multiple platforms and we actually grew by four per cent in total ad impressions in the the full once you add all the various platforms together,” he told the annual Australian Broadcasters and Digital Media Summit in Sydney.

“You’re seeing in the US television is really becoming more like the Florida recount. The next day you really don’t know who won, you really have to wait seven days.”

Megan Reynolds


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