5 Takeaways from Content All Stars

Sep 19, 2014

Article ImageOn Thursday, September 18 the Online Publishers Association held its first event that was open to the public -- and then CEO Jason Kint announced that the organization was changing its name to Digital Content Next to reflect the changing industry. He did this at the end of a long, informative day at Content All Stars, where everyone from Werner Brell, managing director of Red Bull Media House to Soledad O'Brien shared their content secrets with the audience at the Conrad Hotel in New York City.

Here are a few takeaways and themes from the day's programming that all content creators can learn from:

  • "There’s a role for brands to inform and entertain audiences." - Sebastian Tomich, VP of advertising and branded content, New York Times. Tomich sat in conversation with Amanda Rubin, global co-head brand and content strategy at Goldman Sachs for a session called "Content Marketing: A Sound Investment by Goldman Sachs." But really this was a conversation about native advertising and all the potential benefits and pitfalls. As usual, talk of trust and editorial integrity came up, and Tomich was clear. Native advertising is "not about investigative journalism. There’s a role for brands to inform and entertain audiences." In other words, you can create branded content without duping your readers and compromising their trust.
  • Digital native companies know technology is key to content. Vox Media was out in force to talk about how the company puts technology at the center of its editorial strategy. "When you marry technology and editorial with passion and purpose," you get a lot of great poducts, says Melissa Bell, co-founder and executive editor.
  • "Storytelling is the best way to connect to people." - Soledad O'Brien, founder, Starfish Media Group. We hope  you know this already. Humans have been telling each other stories since the dawn of time, but O'Brien brought that point home. There was nary a dry eye in the house as she played clips from documentaries like Black in America. I personally vowed to go home and look up all of her documentaries. 
  • "There’s value in difference." Soledad O'Brien, founder, Starfish Media Group. Editors, producers, and marketers take note: Storytelling is powerful, but no one wants to hear the same story over and over again. Find a new story to tell--or a new way to tell it--if you want to create the most impact.
  • The digital space is perfect for experimentation. I am heartened to see that media companies are finally really using the digital space as a testing ground for new talent and ideas. This was exemplified by Allison Kingsley, VP of digital development at Comedy Central. At her network, Kingsley is able to use Comedy Central Studios to try out new talent and ideas. "My focus is using the digital environment to incubate and birth new shows," she says. The freedom to let the talent do what they want to do and showcase what makes them special has proven valuable, as two online shows have been picked up for television.

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The organization formerly known as the Online Publishers Association (OPA) recently announced a new name, Digital Content Next, a rebrand that it says signals a renewed focus on defining and confronting critical, big picture issues that its members face when creating digital content experiences for consumers and marketers. Digital Content Next (DCN) is a trade association that exclusively serves the diverse needs of digital content companies that manage direct, trusted relationships with consumers and marketers. The association hired a new CEO in May of this year, Jason Kint, former SVP and GM of CBS Interactive's Sports division, and welcomed six new members to its membership of 55 brands in early September. EContent intereviewed Kint about the future of DCN.