We were encouraged to see that a few media brands crept their way onto Interbrand’s list of the 100 Best Global Brands of 2009, out today.
Of course, some of the world’s biggest brands rounded out the top five: Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, General Electric (which owns media brand NBC Universal) and Nokia. Google came in at number seven and Disney ranked tenth.
Global newswire brand Thomson Reuters came in at number 40. Interbrand said the company is in a strong position for future growth:
“Thomson Reuters’ continued investment in the brand and strong portfolio of flagship brands is beginning to pay dividends as the company continues to drive towards becoming one unified firm.”
In its overall assessment of the media industry landscape, Interbrand said new brands will soon take over the cache of more traditional media brands:
“The media sector landscape is being redefined by non-traditional players, and is facing pressure from all sides. Technology companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook are entering the content creation and delivery arenas and giving users the power to dictate their means of media formation and consumption, threatening to render the old media brands obsolete.”
After the jump, more of Interbrand’s take on the media industry and the future of its biggest brands.
The media sector landscape is being redefined by non-traditional players, and is facing pressure from all sides. Technology companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook are entering the content creation and delivery arenas and giving users the power to dictate their means of media formation and consumption, threatening to render the old media brands obsolete. As retailers, automobile dealerships, and small businesses fold in hoards due to the recession, regional newspapers that depend on local businesses for ad revenue have followed suit. In the U.K. 60 out of 1300 of Britain’s local newspapers have closed. In the U.S., even reputable, big city newspapers like Chicago Tribune (filed for bankruptcy protection), The Boston Globe (for sale), and The New York Times (shrinking staff and content) are at risk.
Meanwhile, magazines face the decline of both advertising revenue and subscriptions. Digital media faces the challenge of providing defendable ROI numbers. In order to command scarce advertising revenue, brands need to justify their value to both audiences and advertisers. That means staying ahead of the competition, and both anticipating and responding to audience demands. Recent media trends demonstrate the increasing importance of relevant, timely content. The brands that remain strong are the ones that deliver a relevant brand message backed by targeted content. Thomson Reuters continues to meet the demand for relevant content head on with flagship brands that cater to specific audiences, but still operate under the Thomson Reuter’s umbrella. This ensures full audience engagement and acceptance. If a brand is unable to deliver relevant content, users will simply find it elsewhere, or create it themselves. Customized content is king.
User-generated content (blogs, podcasts, online communities, wikis, and social networking) is rising at a faster rate than editorial media.
Social networking websites and microblogging sites make it easier than ever for customers to cherry pick and aggregate content. This holds true in the B2B and the B2C world. Media brands need to tailor to audience needs or else theyâ€™ll be forced out of the loop by social media tools.
Leading brands that understand this have developed ways to cull consumer insights. MTV Networks actively mines the web for user generated content related to MTV in order to better understand how customers engage with and relate to the brand. These insights inform the brand, and allow MTV Networks to customize its offering based on real-time audience feedback. The rise of social media means brands must increasingly navigate the tension between maintaining brand values, and also allow users the freedom they increasingly demand. The tension is most evident in companies with traditional core values such as Disney, which allows users flexibility through heavy moderation. Its user-generated content initiative, “U-Rock,” allows users to upload music videos that they created and allows fans to vote on their favorites.
However, each and every video is screened prior to appearing on the Disney.com website. While this tactic has been successful to date, Disney will need to innovate as its consumers become savvier and less tolerant of policing by the brand. While it is important to manage the brand, finding the right balance between protecting the brand and giving up control will be critical for brands to continue to grow. Customers no longer accept only being spoken to. Customer engagement now requires sharing the reins of the brand.
In order to prosper, media brands must strive to forge an emotional connection with customers to capture and hold their attention through a myriad of content and delivery options. The traditional value-add of media companies is no longer enough. Brands need to be flexible and adaptive while still maintaining their brand integrity. Success in the future will require brands to be proactive in shaping the marketplace as well as reactive in addressing new and unpredictable challenges and ever-growing customer demands.