The Cannes Debate: Social, Media, Entertainment, and ad Dollars

2014 Cannes Debate_Viacom v Twitter StatsThe official title of the talk was new platforms, new engagement: what it means for media, consumers, and clients. I watched it a couple of times because it teases out so many threads I have worked in and around both for the media and entertainment business and social.

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, in conversation with two of the global media industry's most influential leaders: Philippe Dauman#, President and CEO of Viacom, and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo#.

The chart you see above summarizes the key data point Sorrell shares off the tiny piece of paper at the very beginning.

We have an established media and entertainment company with four groups of well known brands# like MTV, nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1 as well as a film production company, Paramout, and now a division fully dedicated on creating branded content, Viacom Velocity# launched in January 2014 (here are some advertising numbers#) on one side.

In April of this year, Viacom also announced a partnership with Mass Relevance# (now merged with Spredfast) to develop a measurement platform — Echograph — which, according to Jeff Lucas, head of sales, will bring a level of accountability to social media that has yet to be seen from TV networks.

Two recent pieces of news for Viacom:

  • recently announced acquisition of UK Channel 5
  • and Paramount's Transformers breaking box office records on opening weekend with a debut at $100MM#

On the other side one of the most effective social media platforms along with YouTube, according to WPP's Sorrell. Twitter happens to have no direct competition, Costolo said, as the best way to keep up with your world and events as they unfold.

If you are looking for a good book that tells the unvarnished truth about the social network, Sorrell recommended Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton.

Twitter meets four characteristics that set it apart from other social networks like Facebook and YouTube that do nonetheless compete with it for ad dollars. The medium is:

  1. real time
  2. public
  3. widely distributed
  4. conversational

It is the ultimate companion experience to other platforms for its ability to amplify what is going on this moment. For its ability to marry "what I'm watching right now" with "what I'm talking about", since 2013 the social network has struck 20 content relatioships with Viacom, having first partnered during the MTV music award in 2009.

Because it flows pieces of content directly onto the experience, Twitter has been considered the most media-ready of all social networks, and I have written quite a bit about content and its portability on the platform during its first seven years.

This "in the moment" characteristic transfers to commerce and Twitter has been piloting hashtag sales with American Express# and with #AmazonCart#

USA Mobile Digital Trends 2014
The second chart is a cleaned up version of Mary Meeker's 2014 Internet Trends report# and shows the disconnect between attention and ad spend for print and a significant difference in TV spend, as well as the large opportunity for mobile and digital. Itself, making up 45% of the potential market.

Sorrell said that WPP currently focuses 36% of its work on digital.

At minute 40, Costolo and Dauman talk about the opportunity with content and their respective companies moves. If you are interested in their current and near term plans, you may want to skip the first part and watch the video/listen from that point on.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.