Cannes 2021 – Marché du Film
Industry Report: Market Trends
The future of data-driven and data-influenced audiovisual storytelling discussed at Cannes
CANNES 2021: The panel attempted to explore how data can affect and benefit the work of creatives and filmmakers
On 10 July, Cannes NEXT hosted a panel entitled “What Can Creatives and Filmmakers Do With Data? Exploring the Future of Data-driven and Data-influenced Storytelling” during year’s Marché du Film (6-15 July). The discussion, organised in association with Creative Europe – MEDIA, was moderated by AC Coppens.
To start with, Coppens introduced the speakers – namely, Atonik Digital CEO Nathalie Lethbridge, The Looping Group co-founder Peter Greve, and Bundle strategy and growth consultant Sander Saar. Then, the floor was given to Saar, who quickly spoke about content overload and the limitless creative opportunities offered by the current media landscape. He explained how traditional players are focusing on increasing their SVoD and AVoD revenues, while fighting on “massively competitive ground”. He mentioned the growing trends of consolidation and integration, how traditional players are being considerably outspent by the new ones in terms of production investments, and how these are “vertically integrated operators” that are “in control of the experience” to sell you more products (“Apple is there to sell you more phones, Amazon to sell you more shoes”).
He argued that we are experiencing a sort of “renaissance for creators”, which started in the 2000s, when their focus was on audiences, continued in the 2010s with a focus on monetisation, and is currently dominated by the promotion of franchises. Speaking about the streaming platforms, he added that local content is driving growth (for example, 40% of Amazon Prime’s content available in Japan is represented by domestic productions) and that the American market has reached a “plateau”, while there is still room for growth in other territories, as demonstrated by the recent French hit Lupin, the “number-one, most popular Netflix series”, watched by 70 million households in just one month. The future for Netflix will therefore consist of “local productions” with “global distribution”, said Saar, quoting Netflix CEO Reid Hastings. As the platform market in Europe is saturated (with more than 100 services currently available), he concluded that our continent’s industry could follow three possible paths: a defensive approach “supporting local content in local markets” and “regulating global access”, a more pragmatic one “leveraging global platforms for cross-border audiences” and “endorsing independent creators and business”, or a liberal one basically resulting in “a global, open ecosystem”.
Next, Greve talked through a case study: his narrative short for Mercedes My Father’s Dream (which “produced over 10 million organic views and generated over €1 million in earned media value”) and how his company uses “data analytics to produce stories that create worldwide impact”. He also highlighted how important it was to work during pre-production and production to create “trigger moments based on data”. Three principles were followed in this case: the introduction of “a protagonist seen as deserving, who has a dream that seems big enough” (specifically, a blind man who wants to drive a car, and gifting him with this experience not as an act of compassion, but as a reward to “a good man”); maintaining a high level of cinematic quality despite the limits of not screening it in a theatre; and carefully “looking at the attention curve”, which is essential when it comes to placing the short’s most emotional moments. “We believe that using data will trigger the next evolution of entertainment, both branded and non-branded,” he added.
During her contribution, Lethbridge hoped for the creation of a sort of “industry collective” that would “enable us not only to access the tools to engage with the audience, but also to market them”. In her opinion, there is an erroneous assumption that data might limit opportunities, and she invited those present to think about it not as “a static thing”, but rather as a multilayered concept. “We can think of data in terms of how people are viewing content, being engaged and how much time they spend watching it, but what else do they do? What are their other interests?” Thus, developing additional ways to make these figures easier to communicate could be extremely beneficial. She also mentioned her work for The Audience Project, which analyses audiences across multiple titles to identify patterns and, hopefully, “build a common European audience strategy”.
The panel was brought to a close by a short contribution from Nowhere CEO Jon Morris (who attended remotely) and a Q&A session.
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