Think Like a VC to Unlock Digital Content for Diverse Audiences

Risk Is the Key to Success When Developing Content for Multicultural Millennials

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Millennials -- 83 million strong and 45% non-Caucasian, according to market research firm Experian. They are the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. Developing content for this audience is a huge opportunity and a real conundrum. With NewFronts in full swing, it's a perfect time to look more closely at the needs of these diverse audiences and how to fuel successful digital content development and more addressable moments. The reality is, most established media and agency players simply do not have enough talent to meet the emerging appetite of this cultural group's inclinations.

So, think like a venture capitalist (VC). VCs look for one out of every 10 investments to pan out (i.e. to produce a 10x return). Risky business to some, but that's what winning looks like when funding startups. If you want to remain relevant with fast–growing, multicultural audiences and ensure your long-term relevance, you cannot dabble. Risk is the absolute key to success. You must put a number of irons in the fire. Hiring a few one-off representatives of these diverse groups to produce content doesn't scale. This is a volume game, so get out there and place some bets.

In the late '90s, overhead on content creation was fitting for the time -- i.e., massive budgets for massive audiences. Digital development is custom built to drive the next evolution of content for diverse audiences. With lower overhead, you can rapidly create, test and develop large volumes of content that will ultimately prove successful with diverse audiences. It's relatively easy for companies to identify what's resonating without inordinate risk, because you're testing on digital before pushing to other primary channels and/or linear TV.

For instance, multicultural millennial-focused digital media company Fusion recently brought "Real Future," a new documentary series developed by Alexis Madrigal, for linear TV because it performed so well online and via social media.

And consider what digital-savvy media companies such as AwesomenessTV, Vice and Univision are doing to grow their young and diverse audiences. Univision recently unveiled its Univision Creator Network partnership with 150-plus producers of digital video content on YouTube, Vine and other platforms, opening up the floodgates on content for diverse audiences.

Last year, Vice opened up a Miami bureau to specifically bolster its ranks with Hispanic talent (23% of Vice's audience is comprised of U.S. Hispanics). And AwesomenessTV just brought its popular show for young audiences, "Freakish," to Hulu to feed its demand for binge-worthy, on-demand entertainment.

So where is all this diverse media talent, and what can you do to stand out with them?

Authenticity goes the longest way. That, and being culturally mindful of their life experiences and invested in their success, you'll be able to foster a fruitful relationship with diverse audiences. Going a step further, it's important to align with efforts such as the IAB Education Foundation's iDiverse training, certification, and job placement program, which is working to supply the digital media and advertising market with qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds.

You've got to be in it to win it. Making token moves and swipes at fueling diversity will not set you up for future success. Developing content that ends up being a home run with diverse audiences can only happen if you're taking a lot of swings. As famed VC Tom Perkins says, "If there is no risk, you have already missed the boat. Your competitors will already be there." So take some chances with a bigger selection of cost-efficient, diverse content, and if one is a hit, then you're winning.

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