Talk about a whole bunch of keywords in a headline that I never thought that I would ever write. But, here we are!
When cultural moments like Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards happen, we can't help but stop and take a look. It's the classic rubber neck syndrome, where we all, collectively, slow down to get a glimpse of the accident. It's probably not the best part of the human condition, but it is who we are. We've taking rubber necking to a whole new level when you implicate social media into the mix. Now, we're not just stopping to watch the madness and talking about it at the water cooler the next day, but we're living it, sharing it, reporting on it and commenting on it like never before.
Media feeds the beast.
The Onion beat me to it. The satirical website had one of the most insightful (and hilarious) posts about the fiasco that points to the reality of what these types of events means to brands and marketers. And, make no mistake about it, brands, marketers and media entities jump all over this sort of stuff because it moves the needle. The article was titled, Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning, as a mock op-ed piece from the Managing Editor of CNN.com. Most will simply read this piece and laugh, but it has all of the major points about why moments like this get the kind of coverage that they do - particularly in this day and age when traditional media outlets are doing anything and everything to generate advertising revenue, and the wall between editorial and advertising is blurring faster than you can say: native advertising. You can read the article to get the humor, but here is a rundown of why marketers should be twerking Miley Cyrus:
- If the headline is salacious, consumers will click on the site and drive up Web traffic.
- When Web traffic jumps, publishers have impressive Web analytics to share with their boss... and with the advertisers.
- Once the story gets some traffic, spin-off articles happen (like 15 other Music Video Awards Embarrassments, and the like), these bump up the numbers even more.
- Digital editorial teams then turn these popular articles into slideshows (consumers love clicking on pictures). As the mock-article points out: "We also throw in a slideshow called 'Evolution of Miley,' which, for those of you who don't know, is just a way for you to mindlessly click through 13 more photos of Miley Cyrus. And if we get 500,000 of you to do that, well, 500,000 multiplied by 13 means we can get 6.5 million page views on that slideshow alone. Throw in another slideshow titled '6 'don't miss' VMA moments,' and it's starting to look like a pretty goddamned good Monday, numbers-wise." Again, this is a satirical piece, but it's one those, "it's funny because it's true" kind of things.
- One publishers have some articles rolling and slideshows that consumers are mindlessly clicking through, publishers will then create quick, cheap and dirty highlight videos and more, with experts discussing the performance or whatever. These video have pre and post roll advertising and some of them have sponsorship and product placement within the clips. More advertising. More traffic. More revenue.
- If consumers are spending all of this time with this type of content, media publishers have ammunition to tell brands and media agencies about how engaged and how much time their consumers spend on their property in comparison to others. Along with that, the bounce rate decreases (the amount of people who look at a page, but click on nothing else). These are prime metrics that enable publishers to command a higher advertising rate.
- We like to share. Once consumers watch this content, spend time with it, maybe even comment on it, they may be inclined to share it across their own social networks. From blogs to Twitter and Facebook and beyond. This propagates the content, drives more attention, amplifies it and builds the media brand. Yes, once a consumer shares it, they are complicit in helping the media entity to grow and to charge more to the advertisers.
So, in the end, everybody should read this fake op-ed piece in The Onion and realize that it's probably the most accurate story about publishing, content and the state of digital advertising than any research report you are bound to come across.