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Permission to be a Kid Again

With both the media industry and research industry going through seismic shifts -- for media there are more shows, more platforms, higher programming costs, more competition, more difficulty reaching consumers, need I go on?

And, for research, there is more data, the need to integrate data, the need for more timely insights, disparate and maybe antiquated measurements to contend with, etc. -- it is no wonder that the tried and true ways of thinking and working no longer yield the same results. Of if they do, that is not necessarily a good thing when companies need to be one step ahead of the myriad others just waiting to steal market share and eyeballs.

Several sessions over the past two days at the Media Insights & Engagement conference in February gave us valuable lessons to be learned from those who don’t remember a world before Netflix. First there was Jeremy Gutsche, CEO of Trend Hunter, who showed us how much more creative his adorable 6 or 7 year old niece is than a bunch of experienced researchers at how many ways there are to use a paperclip: Niece well over 100; researchers, 8 was it? Story here is as we grow older and presumably smarter we base our ideas on what we already know which limits our ability to think creatively. We need to learn (or re-learn) how to look at problems differently so we can come up with new answers and new ways of doing things to adapt to the changing landscape.

The focus of producer Dana Brunetti’s presentation was also on the need to “think out of the box” much like children do with no thought or effort. You need to break out of your comfort zone so as not to be disrupted due to complacency. He gave the example we all know well of Blockbuster, which did not adapt and their lunch got eaten by Netflix of course. Dana went on to talk about risks he had taken which resulted in more engaging films because he approached problems in unique ways, not conforming to the ways things were usually done. He gave examples in TV as well, selling two seasons House of Cards to Netflix right out of the gate and allowing an entire season to premiere at once, despite the possibility of spoilers which clearly changed the game for TV overall.

In the “State of the Union” session, adapting to change was also a prevalent. There is a need to think differently about our work we the media industry is changing. We need to understand and leverage new data sets, learn new tools, and provide insights that are based on ever more complex data sets. Some companies, such as Nielsen that mentioned their “Emerging Leaders” program, are embracing bringing on board younger consumers to question the way things are being done.

It is ever so evident today, and will be even more so tomorrow, that with the rate of change accelerating we can’t sit back and be complacent. We need to change and grow to keep up. And we can look to the younger generation to help us with that.

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