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CMB + ABC @ TMRE 2017: Attracting Viewers (& Customers) in the Golden Age of Content

Posted by Megan McManaman

Mon, Oct 23, 2017

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We're less than 24 hours into TMRE 2017 and it has been a whirlwind of sessions and great conversations with researchers and marketers from all over the world. If you're not one of the 1000+ people who've converged on Orlando for one of the biggest market research events in the U.S., don't worry—we won't let you miss out. 

This afternoon, CMB's own Judy Melanson and ABC's Lyndsey Albertson presented an in-depth look at how ABC is building a deep understanding of what drives content discovery and what keeps viewers watching! You don't have to be ABC Disney to know how critical it is to gain traction for new products while navigating a market in flux.  As you navigate your customer journeys, amid seismic shifts, are you asking and answering these 7 critical questions?

  1. What does “new” mean to your consumers; what content, products, and materials can you re-merchandise?
  2. Do you understand how your industry’s disruptors are meeting customer needs?
  3. Are you regularly evaluating your schedules to ensure offerings break through and remain relevant?
  4. How well is your brand’s story connecting with your customers’ emotions?
  5. Are you fully leveraging the power of social to engage?
  6. How are your distribution points ensuring relevance and stickiness?
  7. Have you adapted your product availability to better fit with consumer needs (that may be changing due to competitor offerings)?

Learn more about how we're helping leading brands ask, answer and act on the questions that matter, drop us a note or give us a call:

Contact us!

At TMRE now? Stop by Booth 409 to chat! 

 

Topics: conference recap, digital media and entertainment research, customer journey

Hulu's Emmy Win Marks a New Age for Content Creators

Posted by Savannah House

Thu, Sep 21, 2017

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Hulu made Emmy and television history on Sunday night when “The Handmaid’s Tale” took home the award for Outstanding Drama Series. Hulu’s dystopian drama beat out heavy hitters like Netflix, NBC and HBO to become the first streaming service to win the coveted award.

We’ve seen the rapid maturation of streaming services ever since Netflix released “House of Cards” in 2013. It was the first time a streaming service delivered Emmy-nominated original content that could compete and win against powerhouses like HBO and Showtime. And while “House of Cards” put Netflix on a path to become an award-winning and prolific content provider, a best series award eluded them.

That’s not to say that Sunday wasn’t a big night for other networks—HBO snagged the highest number of awards with 29 wins and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” was the top winning program with 9. But Hulu’s big win is a game changer—securing a seat at the table and putting networks on notice.

The sheer volume of award-winning content means there are literally thousands of quality programs available on every device imaginable. With that sort of competition, how do content creators ensure their programs will get visibility and retain viewers?

Gone are the days of linear viewing—people can access what they want, when they want, and how they want. Empowered consumers are more decisive and critical than ever before. For that reason, it’s important to understand what’s motivating people to discover, watch, and stick with shows.

Next month at TMRE, CMB’s Judy Melanson and ABC’s Lyndsey Albertson will share findings from a comprehensive content discovery initiative that gets to the heart of a viewer’s path to engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. While this is a case study on the disruption within the media and entertainment space, the challenges and solutions will resonate with any brand looking to gain traction with new products while navigating a market in flux.

The shift towards consumer-centricity transcends the entertainment space, but Hulu’s shining moment at the Emmy’s underscores the rise of streaming services as legitimate content providers and the need for all entertainment players to start considering what is motivating their customers if they are to be content kings.

Are you going to TMRE next month? If so, let us know! We’d love to connect you with one of our lead researchers to brainstorm upcoming projects. If you’re not going, tell us know anyway and we’ll send you the ABC presentation!  

Savannah House is a Marketing Manager at CMB whose list of shows to watch is longer than Game of Thrones season 7.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research

Putting Viewers First in the New Media Landscape

Posted by Lynne Castronuovo

Thu, Jun 22, 2017

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While recovering from a recent running injury, I logged A LOT of miles on the “dreadmill” and “helliptical” at the gym—both conveniently equipped with televisions to keep me entertained. Because I was also in the middle of a kitchen renovation, I found particular solace and inspiration in my good friends from HGTV: Tarek and Christina, Chip and Joanna, and the Property Brothers.

I’d grown particularly fond of Tarek and Christina’s “Flip or Flop”, so when I stumbled upon a recent New York Times article about them, of course it caught my attention. Why is it, the author wonders, do these home improvement “stars” now regularly share the covers and pages of magazines previously dominated by Brangelina? Gone are the days of traditional star power and mass appeal programming—as media consumption continues to fragment, niche is the new mass.

Media companies, from networks to celebrity magazines, are having trouble reaching these smaller groups. They’re still fishing in the biggest ponds left, which in the case of HGTV, has a relatively large fanbase in Middle America. But even with the sizable HGTV audience, there’s also the FX and AMC “big-city smarty-pants” groups to think about. With these splintering subgroups, what’s a media company competing for their attention and loyalty to do?

“Do I like these characters?” to “Who do I want to be?”

Traditional programming research focuses on what the viewer thinks about the show’s plot, characters, setting, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these elements are still essential to programming. However, in identifying subgroups based on the content they watch, we need to answer some important questions about identity, namely: “Who do I want to be?”, “Do I want to be perceived as the kind of person who watches this show?”, and “Can I relate to people who typically watch ‘Flip or Flop’?”

As people, we’re motivated by opportunities to reinforce or enhance our identity—it’s an integral piece to who we are. The brands we use (or in this case, the content we consume) can be an expression of identity, so we’re inclined to align ourselves with those that express it in a way that’s meaningful and true. In that vein, we find we can tell much more about a viewer or consumer by asking the identity-centric questions above than something like, “What do I think about the cast of ‘Flip or Flop’?”

This identity-centric framework is the basis for CMB’s identity measurement solution—AffinID. AffinID helps brands understand their target consumers’ image of the typical person who uses their brand (or watches their content) and finds ways to strategically influence that image to strengthen how much consumers identify with the image.

 As competition increases, identity measurement should play a key role to media companies.

So, as the media landscape becomes more fragmented and competitive, and as we continue to see niche groups with particular tastes pop up, media companies need to consider the important role identity plays in viewership—the more a person perceives a show and/or a network's typical viewer as the kind of person they are, they know and like, the more likely they are to engage in it.

This has distinct advantages for content creators testing new pilots—with so many players churning out quality, original content, there’s no room for mediocracy. Prior to pilot launch, creators can measure the identity benefits offered by the show to predict performance, help identify and profile likely viewers, and diagnose potential barriers to viewership.

This approach could be equally helpful to advertisers. Much of the advertising research conducted today is tactical, focusing on ad load and placement. The holy grail is finding what ads are “relevant” and aligned with not only the network, but also the particular program. And as viewers continue consume programming on a number of different platforms, it’s more challenging than ever for advertisers to be sure they’re reaching the right audience or fishing in the right pond.

AffinID can help advertisers identify perceptions of the viewer that drive these positive behaviors, strategically influencing them through the elements/moments featured in the program promos and identifying the ad placements/brand partnerships that make sense for a particular show.

While I won’t be watching Christina and Tarek as much now that I’m running outside again, and have a newly renovated kitchen, they remain important reminders of the future of media consumption. Like celebrities, there are fewer shows with “mass appeal” these days. In order for media companies (content creators, advertisers, etc.) to remain favorable to targeted audiences, they'll need to start looking through an identity-centric lens and consider questions like, “Who do I want to be?”

Lynne Castronuovo is an Account Manager at CMB who enjoys running outside when she’s not cooking meals in her shiny, new kitchen.

Topics: digital media and entertainment research, AffinID

Don’t get ganked! What the rise of esports can teach us about building products that survive

Posted by Josh Fortey

Tue, Mar 14, 2017

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PAX East just left town and if you don’t know what esports is—let alone what “ganked” means—you’re missing out. While traditional team sports continue to rule the roost in the American sports landscape, esports have become the fastest growing spectator sport.

To put this into perspective, the 2016 NBA championship finals game garnered 31 million viewers, the highest count of a NBA finals on both ABC and ESPN in over 10 years. Yet more people—36 million in 2015 and 43 million in 2016— tuned in to watch some of the world’s best League of Legends teams battle it out across the Summoners Rift for the world championship crown. But these remarkable figures aren’t unique to League of Legends. Twitch, the world’s largest gaming-orientated streaming platform, clocked in 95 million hours of esports streaming across the top 10 esports titles in January 2017 alone. And that 95 million hours of esports streaming is just one third of all the streaming that happened in January for these top ten esports titles. In addition to these staggering numbers, esports has effectively carved out a niche of digitally-engaged younger gamers; approximately 1-in-5 of all Millennials are now regularly watching esports online.

Based on this strong viewership, it’s no surprise that the esports category is estimated to surpass the $1.5 billion mark by 2020. But looking beyond these remarkable numbers, esports serves as an excellent example of an industry—comprised of brands, publishers, and developers—that continues to successfully deliver on rapidly changing consumer needs despite being in a constant state of adaptation, progression, and evolution. These factors are all important in understanding the meteoric rise of esports, but they also serve up a number of lessons about listening to your customers. Lessons that brands, marketers, and product innovators must learn if they want to develop products that stand the test of time:

  • Deliver meaningful experiences. The esports graveyard is littered with failed games that sent the right message to consumers and appeared to have the “winning formula”, but ultimately just didn’t cut it. Let’s look at Infinite Crisis. Infinite Crisis launched with all the makings of "the next big thing” in esports gaming: development by Turbine, the reputable gaming studio owned by Warner Bros., financial backing from a major IP in DC Comics, a spin on the hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, an extensive beta testing phase, and a highly accessible free-to-play business model. But despite these attributes, just two months after launch, development of Infinite Crisis ended. Why? Because its makers failed to nurture a critical mass of consumers across a generic gaming audience and ignored users’ complaints of unbalanced gameplay. Infinite Crisis serves as an example of what can happen when a brand doesn’t consider what its community of users/customers is telling them about their experience.
  • Nurture your community. The Infinite Crisis example also emphasizes the importance of nurturing and listening to your community. The growth of esports is largely driven by its engaged users, and so fostering these communities is key. Fostering a community is mutually beneficial to the brand and the user—the brand enjoys increased user retention while its customers have the satisfaction of knowing they are valued.
  • Community interactivity and engagement. Brands committed to their customer communities enjoy a more genuine dialogue with their users—ultimately helping strengthen customer loyalty. Strong brands recognize this as a cornerstone to a successful esports game. Take gaming giant Blizzard and its wildly successful game Overwatch. Overwatch developers pay close attention to feedback provided on their forums (underscores the importance of my first point, too), updates users on product developments, enhancements, and innovations (or product patches), and provide detailed product roadmaps. In the world of gaming, players aren’t just customers; they’re fans, loyalists, and advocates who deserve to be engaged and updated.
  • Embed consumers in product development. When gaming companies foster a community, they open up the possibility of embedding consumers into the early stages of product development. Across many of the most successful competitive gaming titles, publishers rely on the customer voice to formulate and enhance the brand experience from early alpha testing to open public test environments. Dota 2, a successful MOBA title, takes an innovative approach to embedding customers into its esports product strategy by crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. For example, the proceeds from players’ in-game cosmetic (items that don’t affect gameplay) purchases are partially donated to its competitive tournaments prize pools. Users can also create their own cosmetic items that can be sold through an online marketplace. Both initiatives resulted in Dota 2 customers amassing a staggering $20 million in prize money for its 2016 world championship tournament, The International—the largest overall prize pool in esports history.

Esports and competitive gaming are gleaming examples of how an industry has successfully used its customers’ voice to create sustainable and attractive products/experiences. It also demonstrates the perils of ignoring customer needs. Infinite Crisis is just one example among myriad others, including Dawngate, Battleborn and Minions. If there’s an overarching lesson to be learned from the explosive success of esports, it’s that brands should first and foremost prioritize the needs of its customers.

Josh Fortey is a Project Manager at CMB who is all too familiar with the feeling of being “ganked”.

Topics: product development, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research, growth and innovation, Gaming

CMB Conference Recap: Yale’s Customer Insights Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, May 11, 2016

Logo_Yale.jpgA hidden gem of a Consumer Insights conference, the Yale Customer Insights Conference is great for researchers seeking advanced quantitative methodological thinking. This conference is a rare mix of business and academia. Well-known PhDs came from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Wash U to share their research and findings. Not to be outdone, mega-brand thinkers from companies including Spotify, Vail Resorts, Viacom, and REI also came to share their insights. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Peter Fader discussed how Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) drives business forward. He had an abundance of wondrously specific cases, including how Starbucks is shifting from knowing your “usual” locally to knowing your “usual” virtually so that you’re able to have a personal and frictionless experience no matter where you are. In other words, Starbucks has become “a CRM company that monetizes through coffee.” This attempt to understand what each customer wants/needs at the atom level is a prime example of what Starbucks is obsessing over (and it’s not the next roast).
  • Kirsten Lynch, the CMO of Vail Resorts, focuses on the emotion and passion of Vail’s very specific target audience. The company’s segmentation scheme directly feeds everything they do. The target customers are not just pedestrian affluent—they are significantly wealthy, with average household incomes of $280k, so the customer mindset is very focused on exclusivity and excitement (vs discounts). When guests return to one of the resorts, everything they do is tracked in the Vail app: ski runs, where they dine, the people they’re with, etc. Like Starbucks, the data again is available at that atomized level, which not only allows Vail Resorts to personalize the experience for the guest, but also allows Vail’s leadership to assess strategic assets and ask: what do we need next? Another lift or another restaurant? Where do we need it, and why?
  • Spotify took all of the data it collected last year and used it on a “Year in Music” campaign, which was not only able to give each subscriber a recap of his/her year in music, but also able to give specific countries and zip codes information on the most popular songs/albums in that area. Fun fact: Eric Solomon, Director of Global Brand Strategy for Spotify, shared that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” was the most popular song last year in Williamsburg, one of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods (can Beliebers be trendy?). People now listen to more than 40 hours of music in a week (yes, that’s the level of a full time job), and Spotify is using this data to segment by mood states (party, focus, sleep, workout, etc.) instead of by genre.
  • Ross Martin, Viacom’s EVP of Market Strategy and Entertainment, talked about how the company is moving passive fans to active “super” fans and discussed the shift from selling impressions to engagement. How can brands acknowledge and celebrate these super fans? Martin shared an example of a Millennial asking Viacom if he could make Ninja Turtle cuff links (a potential trademark violation) for his wedding. Viacom not only approved the use, but actually manufactured the cufflinks and sent them to the entire wedding party for an experiential point of connection with its influential fan base (which was an earned media opportunity for sure).
  • Michel Tuan Pham from Columbia Business School discussed how feelings and emotions affect our judgments and decisions. Whether there’s a “like” button or the option to give something a rating (e.g. 5 stars), people derive pleasure from the act of liking or rating something. His research found that even when there are no stakes and no decisions to be made, people like to “like.” His research examines motivation (narcissism) for these “likes”—and he concludes that as marketers, you should emphasize the “you” when asking customers to “tell others how YOU feel about Product X” because it’s more narcissistic than altruistically motivated.

Be sure to add this conference to your calendar for next year, and we’ll see you there.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

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Topics: consumer insights, conference recap, brand health and positioning, digital media and entertainment research