Welcome to Wizeline! To kick things off, tell us a little about how you got started in the Media & Entertainment industry.
I’ve been in the media business for the past 18 years. After beginning my career at leading technology consultancies like Deloitte and EY, I got an opportunity to join Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia as VP of Revenue Operations. At the time, I knew very little about the Internet. The person who hired me recognized the value of data-driven marketing/advertising/media. She felt that my tech, team-building, and analytical skills made me a good fit for the media business. I spent 3-and-a-half years at Martha Stewart and ran revenue operations across digital, print, and TV. It was a cool 360-degree omni/multi-platform experience.
Very interesting. Sounds like you got a crash course there during a time of significant transformation for the industry, which is still in progress today. Tell us about the rest of your career so far.
Next I joined Mediabrands, where I looked after the planning and buying systems – all the systems they used to plan out media buys as well as the buying systems themselves. I also spent some time working at Universal McCann being the client-facing tech guy – the person that represented all of the tech work done for clients.
From there I joined Operative, starting as a General Manager to build out a new SSP business there. I ran the marketing and account management teams for a while, then ran corporate and business development. That’s when I reached out to Accenture to see if we (Operative) could form a partnership. After partnering, I actually joined Accenture. I worked there for 6-and-a-half years, building out their industry capabilities for M&E companies and selling all of their services – analytics, consulting, content, operations, and core technology. I worked very closely with their digital agency, Accenture Interactive, to sell those services as well.
Sounds like quite the ride! With all of that in your rearview mirror, what will you be focused on in your role at Wizeline leading our Media & Entertainment practice?
I joined Wizeline because of the company’s impressive track record in helping media companies achieve measurable business results (e.g., increased revenue, cost savings, accelerated time-to-market). With so much change going on in the media industry today, I believe Wizeline is very well positioned to help increase effectiveness and revenue for our clients across the media value chain.
To help drive growth for our clients, I’ll be focused on working with our engineering and design teams to build technology solutions that help our customers increase their revenue, grow their customer base, improve their customer retention, reduce their costs, and increase their speed-to-market. It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but if a project isn’t moving at least one of these needles, it may not be worth pursuing.
What kind of services does Wizeline offer to the industry to help customers meet these goals?
At Wizeline, we enable our customers to achieve these goals by modernizing their core technology, maturing their data-driven capabilities, and creating better, more customer-centric digital experiences. This could mean migrating systems to the cloud or integrating/replacing legacy systems with modern ones, building out data dashboards and analytics to provide a single source of truth for the organization, and/or launching a new D2C application to help them capitalize on their proprietary and owned content.
As we grow, we will continue to add new capabilities, but from what I’ve seen so far, there’s not much we can’t do today as the vendor of choice for many clients!
What are some of the biggest trends you see defining the industry in the next one to three years?
I would probably be remiss not to mention and start with streaming. The fundamental model of how content gets delivered to people is really shifting. There was the whole shift from TV to digital that is still going on. Now that we have this D2C model, it’s redefining the market.
Many consumers have grown used to being able to watch ad-supported content on an app, website or TV network. Now, with so many more apps available, accessing content can feel a bit more complicated. For instance, it can be hard to keep track of which app should be used for what. The new D2C apps have tiered pricing, some with ads and some without. Consumers now have apps, cable channels, .com, Roku, other streaming apps… confusing, right?
Generally, I think the whole streaming concept is rightfully a huge focus in the industry. However, there is not a clear path forward, especially taking into consideration all of the legacy systems and processes and business models. Companies are investing crazy amounts of money into D2C (not to mention all of the M&A) with a very unclear outcome. Media companies also need to play longball.
The second trend I’ll mention is ID management, or the death of the cookie. Many media companies have a 10-year-old business model built upon these third-party cookies, with a year left until Google pulls the plug. This whole thing is very far-reaching and complicated. You need to have a corporate strategy since it will change business models.
Plus, there is still the issue of consumer consent and privacy when data gets leaked. Many consumers never understood the cookie, so you are dealing with a lack of trust. A lot of consumers are hugely concerned. Even if you come up with the best ID solution, you have to get the consumer to consent and build their trust. There are many “solutions” out there that are murky at best. ID management is top of mind, but it’s still in early stages and very complicated. The good news is I think it’s a very solvable problem, if approached with the right discipline and focus.
Lastly, there’s integration and automation. The amount of manual work in this industry is staggering. It costs revenue, profitability, and customers. We don’t need (many) more systems. Rather, we need to integrate business systems and focus on making them more effective and easier to use. These systems contain data – data that is used to make important business decisions – but this data is often unreliable and scattered across the company. This data needs to be put in one place, integrated, and then harnessed with analytics for CEOs, CFOs, CROs, and anyone else running the business. Thankfully, this is another very solvable problem with today’s technology and, often, the expertise of a trusted partner.
You have a significant background in the media, agency, and technology world. What’s the best way media companies and agencies can harness technology to become more efficient?
Great question. I think it starts with their internal systems and processes. Transactions that number in the 8 figures for media companies and agencies on an annual basis are being performed manually. Time and revenue are being lost, employees are quitting, and clients are walking. These data exist in systems. If you connect that system with a receiving system, revenue goes up and employees are happy. Costs go down and customers are happy.
Instead, workers look at a screen, type it in an email and send it to someone else, and that person takes it out of their email and enters it into another system. And the vicious cycle continues. It’s one of the million examples of how the media supply chain works. With automation, you can wipe out 50-60% of cost in the media value chain today. When you put reporting and analytics on top of the data in those systems, revenue goes up by 10-20%.
Integration and automation leads to increased revenue and an improved employee experience, along with cost savings. Media companies and agencies can use that savings to invest in the cool D2C stuff themselves, as well as to explore new revenue models and optimize the consumer experience.
The pandemic brought about a huge rise in digital entertainment. What’s one area where you expect this growth to continue?
I am very bullish on gaming. Pandemic or not, the number of people playing video games continues to grow, and it’s a younger audience. At first, nobody thought gamers wanted to be marketed to. But now, studies are coming back showing the opposite. Everyone thought only kids were gamers, but now we’re finding out that adults are, too. They all buy stuff. The key is getting the experience right.
Thank you, Matt. How can people get in touch with you?
Matt Gay is Managing Director, Media & Entertainment Industry at Wizeline. Keep your eyes peeled for more of Matt’s perspectives on all things M&E. Until then, check out our case studies to learn more about how we help leading brands increase revenue, reduce costs, and become more data-driven.