digital transformation businessEconsultancy has been discussing the ongoing transformation of organisations for a while now, as digital increasingly permeates their operations, capabilities and structures. 

Ahead of ad:tech Melbourne, where Econsultancy is one of the media partners, I managed to catch up with one of the keynote speakers, Bettina Sherick, to discuss these changes, along with their challenges, benefits and the general direction digital is heading. 

Can you explain a little bit about your role, the current marketing direction of 20th Century Fox and where digital fits into this?

I work in International Theatrical Marketing group at 20th Century Fox, where we develop marketing campaigns that are used around the world to promote our film releases. As the SVP of Strategic Digital Marketing, I’m responsible for making sure that digital is at the core of what we do.

The cinema-going audiences are avid consumers of digital content. We need to make sure that our messages reach them where they are, when they are deciding what movies to see.

Every aspect of our marketing mix is changing because of the proliferation of digital platforms and digital content. We have to think differently about our media mix, how our video content is cut, and how much content we need to fuel our social efforts.

More and more, movie fans are keen to share in an experience that takes them on a journey from that first teaser trailer right up to the opening day release. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. 

Can you explain how your current marketing team is built around digital. What existing structures do you have in place and who’s responsible for what? 

Until just recently, a core team focused on all aspects of digital marketing. Recognising that everything we do needs to be digital, we divided the digital group, and integrated digital talent into each of the marketing groups.

Now we have a digital creative lead, a digital PR lead, a digital project manager, and also agency resources that support us on media, production, and social projects. 

What’s the biggest challenge in trying to develop digital transformation and what advice would you give to other organisations striking out down similar paths? 

People are naturally creatures of habit. Not everyone is going to have digital curiosity. On one hand, there are those who are waiting for things to settle down and for the hype to go away. On the other hand, there are those pontificating about the digital apocalypse and how old businesses are going to die a sudden horrible death.

Meanwhile, the shift is happening, and there has to be balance. If you’re leading the digital transformation in your organisation, you have to be able to address both extremes. Help those who don’t ‘get digital’ feel more comfortable with change, and temper those that want to rush toward whatever is the ‘new new’ thing. 

My advice to organisations looking to transform their business? Make sure the person you’re asking to lead the transformation knows your business well.

Does he/she know how your business works and makes money? Who are the people and what are their roles in the business? How do the business units work together? Does the person leading the change have the vocabulary to speak to your organisation in a language the people in the organisation all understand? Someone from the outside may not be successful because they don’t know the culture of the business.

It’s then easy for those on the inside to reject the ideas because they will be dismissed as “this person doesn’t understand…” Change needs to come from within the organisation, not from outside. 

What level of social media engagement are you building into the organisation and does this go beyond the marketing department? 

We are most definitely using social engagement to reach film fans. It goes beyond just setting up profiles on FB or a Twitter account. We make content specifically for film fans to be shared and talked about. We reach out to avid fans of film franchises and invite them to share in the storytelling. 

However, our social relationship with movie-goers is about being the voice of the film. Unlike other brands, like an e-commerce business, our social role is less about being 20th Century Fox International as a corporate entity or playing a customer service role, and more about telling the stories that help bring people closer to the experience that they will share when they see our films on the big screen. 

What kind of social media safety nets do you have in place – i.e. management technology, staff training, internal policies? 

I’ll be honest. Social keeps me up at night. And not just because I like checking to see what my friends are doing on Facebook and the news on my Twitter feed…! Social has grown somewhat organically in my organisation and I know from talking to other digital marketing execs that this is the common theme everywhere.

But now we need to formalise the process. What pages are set up, who manages them around the world, what is being said. We are making up the structure and rules of engagement as we go.

We’ve looked at a variety of tools out in the marketplace to manage our pages and to help with the messaging. But the social space is moving so rapidly that even the tools we try to use seem to obsolesce quickly. 

How advanced is your multichannel strategy? What kind of metrics or measurements of success are you trying to achieve and how successful have you been in achieving them?

The theatrical film business is very unique in that we are releasing a new “product” every few weeks. So many of the metrics and measurements that a company selling one product or a range of products day in/day out might use quickly become irrelevant in the film space.

Our KPIs are focused around trailer views and engagement with our content. 

What would you say your most successful digital channels are, in terms of meeting your overall marketing objectives? Which are you currently giving priority to and which ones are you focusing on for the future? 

Video is the best sell that we have for movies. We are giving priority to outlets that can help us showcase great video, help us socialise our content, create ways for fans to engage with us and tell the best stories. 

What do you think the future of digital will look like, in a wider sense? 

Have you seen Minority Report? I worked on the digital marketing campaign for the DVD release. At that time, the idea of moving content from screen to screen, near-field communications in outdoor marketing installations, and cars that could drive themselves were all part of an imagined world. Not so imaginary anymore.

My smartphone synchs to the main computer in my house when I walk into my home, which is connected to the TV where we consume most of our content, some of which is stored on external hard drives, some of which is stored in the “the cloud”, and some, although admittedly less and less, is consumed “live”.

My eight-year old happily consumes content on screens big or small. I’m connected to friends around the world, and know of what’s happening in their lives because they are willing to take a few minutes out of their day to post a picture or a comment about what is going.

I’m connected to news around the world thanks to Twitter. I read more, because I can download a book onto my iPad or order it from at the moment I decide I want to read it. 

Where do we go from here? If I knew, I’d be a digital soothsayer, and rich, and unfortunately I’m not. So, since I’m in the film business, I’ll write two different endings to this story.

There’s the version where we’re headed for a dystopian future where technology divides us into the haves and have-nots, people become more selfish and demanding, privacy is non-existent, and no one engages with each other except through a computerised screen. Or there’s the version where technology breaks down barriers, there is more sharing and learning about different cultures and people, and we learn to live with technology benefiting our lives in a healthy and happy way. 

I’m rooting for the happy ending. 

On a more personal level, what you think has been your biggest marketing achievement in the role you currently have and what’s been your favourite digital campaign? 

I think my biggest marketing achievement and my favourite campaign has been AVATAR. We did several media firsts with MSN and YouTube, and I was able to work with a variety of digital partners.

The highlight of the campaign for me was the London Premiere, where we plucked three popular YouTubers to join us on the blue carpet to talk to the talent, and share their stories about being part of the event, and their enthusiasm for the film.

Our AVATAR page on Facebook is still active! We have 28m fans, and are still actively posting content and sharing stories with them. 

Econsultancy regularly works with global brands to tackle their own digital transformation strategy head on. Contact us to learn about how this is affecting businesses, including yours, and how our approach and experience can assist you.