Tiberio Santomarco has spent 25+ years on top of the media industry. After leading PubliEurope international expansion from Brussels and London, Tiberio has crossed the ocean and started calling California “home” since 2017.
With his family (4 kids and his even busier wife, a former British politician also turned media exec), he is now residing in Los Angeles, the cradle of media.

After being a long time mentor at Mind the Bridge, Tiberio has now helped the establishment of MTB footprint in Los Angeles.

MTB new office in Santa Monica

To celebrate this milestone, I sat down  with Tiberio (alas, virtually) discussing his view on where the widely defined “Creative Industry”is headed.

Here are some highlights of our conversation:

What’s happening to the Creative Industry?

Like all markets, the media, marketing and advertising markets are being disrupted by heightened competition between the main tech platforms.  Until a few years ago Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook used to compete in different and separate markets. Amazon meant distribution, Google search, and Facebook social. Recently the ecosystems of these tech platforms started broadening their scope.  As a result, Amazon, Google, Apple and FaceBook are now competing between themselves in several areas. The main ones being video, gaming and retail.

    • Video: “Content is king” said Bill Gates sometime in late ‘90s, and video content remains the best way to catch consumer attention, get more engagement, and build brand relevance. Google paid $1.65B to buy YouTube. In the last few years Amazon and Apple have been investing massively in Prime Video and Apple TV content respectively. Also FaceBook has been very active in this competitive arena introducing “Watch” and promoting video elements in Instagram stories.
    • Gaming: Gaming will be the new TV. Gaming is already a place where you play, watch live concerts and big events, socialise with your peers, and watch other people play. It’s where every maketeer and media strategist will compete to get Gen Z and Alpha’s time and attention. Just keep an eye on Amazon strategic positioning with  “Twitch”, or Google with “Stadia” to understand the future of media. It’s also worth mentioning FaceBook’s significant investments in VR games and Apple’s in “Arcade”.
    • E-commerce: Even before Covid19 nobody had any doubt the future of retail was in online shopping, not bricks and mortar. The pandemic has strengthened this trend further – from M-commerce to T-commerce to S-commerce (Mobile, TV, Social). Amazon reported a 36% increase in sales for the first 6 months of 2020 in North America, and 28% internationally, while its stock rose more than 60% this year.  S-commerce is now a strong reality with the growth of Google and FaceBook shoppable ads, Facebook “Markets”, Instagram ‘Checkout’, and the ever more popular Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The disruptive effect of this fierce competition is changing the traditional media and marketing landscape. Incumbents face significant pressure from the main players, who are now the global tech giants. In this new market place, media and marketing strategies rely even more heavily on the big tech platforms. This works for the advertisers and their agencies, as they prefer a data-driven approach to measure ROI on marketing spend. And it works for consumers too, as they receive more relevant and personalised advertising.

Another significant trend in the creative industry is the adoption of a strategic marketing approach, which shows real commitment to social and environmental issues.

  • Mission-driven: brands and advertisers were already seeing benefits from a mission-driven approach, as millennials rewarded brands who “took a stand” (blending well with the authenticity of the influencer’s kingdom in social media). The twin pandemics of Covid19 and racial injustice have accelerated this trend.

Who’s influencing whom?

Here are some facts: 10 years ago gaming used to take inspiration from real-life sports events or movies. But the flow of influence recently reversed: gaming now inspires how we watch sport, the aesthetics of blockbuster film, and how we consume music and communicate with our peers. 

The growth of video marketing has accelerated the stellar rise of gaming in the media and entertainment world. Gamers enjoy spending more time playing (or watching other people playing) in a world enhanced by artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Social media is still the king of connection and social interaction, but gaming is growing exponentially and will soon become the media channel to connect with new and growing communities.

Media and marketing specialists have to embrace new technologies to engage and influence more consumers in what will be the new TV – just look at the evolution of “Twitch” to understand how it’s moving from games and chat rooms, to more mainstream broadcasting concerts and events.

Where is the new center of gravity for media?

Home is where the market is. 

Our home is changing: from a zone where personal space and time were protected to a digital agora: a more open place where we shop, work, study, practice a sport (also eSport), consult a doctor, and communicate with our friends. A place where we let more people in, virtually. A place where the Internet of Things is no longer an abstract concept but a reality in our lives. Nowadays our homes are populated by connected objects everywhere; Sonos, security cameras, doorbells, Alexa, Google Home. As voice technology matures this trend will only strengthen. 

Pre-pandemic we were talking about limiting the invasion of technology (technology overload, digital detox). Now connectivity and technology are more important than ever. Home is the only place where we can experience nearly unlimited entertainment options (with massive amounts of content on video streaming platforms).

This digital agora is the new frontier for commerce. Marketers are leaving the high street to enter the living room. Data sophistication is promoting innovation in consumer habits (for instance the subscription model of the new ‘generation rent’) and in marketing practices. The boundaries between ‘brand marketing’ and ‘performance marketing’ are more blurred. For instance ‘Addressable TV Advertising’ and shoppable TV ads developed, mainly in Europe, as a response to the advertisers’ desire to employ the same degree of data-driven tactics used across internet platforms to TV marketing strategies.

In the digital agora competition for audience and ad spend has intensified. The tech giants’ ecosystems have expanded their scope (for instance providing TV like services and content offerings) and disrupted traditional broadcasting. It is clear brands and traditional media must up their game to compete in the new super connected home.