Once upon a time, marketing and media were two separate entities that worked in unison to elevate brand awareness and entertain target audiences. The technical capabilities of creating awesome content used to only belong to very powerful media companies, costing marketers a good portion of their budget. But overtime we've seen these platforms become more accessible to businesses and many marketers are taking media production into their own hands.
Businesses are beginning to act like media hubs not because they want to become media companies but because they know creative content drives ROI for business. Think of Red Bull or Apple TV. Both companies own media hubs that produce entertaining content that doesn't necessarily pertain to what each brand is selling. Red Bull TV features action sports, live events and pop culture stories on their channel, highlighting their mission of selling an action-packed lifestyle to inspire individuals. Similarly, Apple TV hosts a variety of content that ranges from entertaining to educational, including movies and shows created by app developers.
This intersection of business and content creation raises an interesting question: what constitutes as marketing and what is defined as media? As media technology becomes increasingly accessible, the defining lines begin to blur. Take Nestle for example. "In 2014, the food and beverage giant created more hours of content than all of Hollywood combined," says Brad Hunstable, CEO of Ustream, a popular video streaming and hosting service. "And what's happened is as these media platforms have become more universal and easier to use, it's spread to more than just media use-case. It's now businesses and enterprises who want something very similar to media companies." But is what Nestle creates strictly defined as media? Or should it be classified as part of their overall marketing bucket?
The line separating media and marketing are blurring. Marketers have a focus on driving engagement and developing a relationship between a brand and its audience, using media to transmit brand messages. "We're still trying to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between us and our audience," notes Kirk Drummond, CEO of Drumroll. "Most of the time, you hope [media and commercials] turn into a transaction, but most of the time it's purely an alignment with our audience built on belief and values." While an immediate transaction may not transpire, consumers are likely to remember and consider business with a brand whose message resonates with that individual's own ideals.
It's become increasingly difficult to pinpoint whether a brand's funny advertisement is meant to entertain viewers or to establish a business relationship with consumers. Unsurprisingly, over 90% of brands are using one or two more social media channels where they upload information and engaging content to connect with their consumers. But does a viral video, like the Old Spice Guy, label itself as media or marketing? On the one hand, the video is meant to sell a product (men's deodorant) but it also encourages viewers to participate with the video to add to the Old Spice Guy's storyline.
Perhaps one factor that distinguishes media from marketing is the monetization of branded content. Content that's used for marketing purposes costs money up front with the hopes of eventually driving a return on investment through product and service sales. "If you look at brands that are already making content and putting it on their YouTube channels," says Michael Nicholas of Media Assembly, "The production has always been there. It's the other costs that have hurt them. I think a lot of content is driven from the marketing perspective and we don't have our consumer and brand hat on, we have our commercial brand hat on."
If there's one thing for certain, it's becoming difficult to define what is media and what is marketing. As tools for media production grow more accessible everyday, the lines between the production of content for marketing purposes and the production of content for media purposes will continue to blur.