The Master of Emerging Media

Q&A: Denuo's Krieger on How to Make Your Branded Content Appeal to Wired Consumers

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Watch out for Todd Krieger. Whether his parents intended it or not, his name, when translated from German, means "Death Warrior." It's a complete misnomer, though. If anything, he's become the soothsayer for content companies and advertisers attempting to stay alive in the choppy waters of today's media landscape.

Photo: Seth Joel
Todd Krieger

Recently named to the newly created post of senior VP-West Coast operations for Publicis Groupe's Denuo, a new stand-alone business unit focused on emerging media, Mr. Krieger will be drawing on his experiences as a "strategy guy, a content producer, an author, a marketer and a creative" (according to Denuo CEO Rishad Tobaccowala) to help clients find and capitalize on opportunities in emerging media.

Madison & Vine: With a career trajectory that has hit sojourns in Parisian TV, pre-IPO Organic, Microsoft TV and, most recently, Yahoo Media Group, what would you say is the central driving theme to your working life?

Todd Krieger: It's the combination of entertainment and the possibilities of additional platforms. I got interested in the internet originally because TV was very stale and moribund, and I thought there was much more interest with what was happening on the different possibilities on the internet. It was much more exciting than being a junior executive in television. At Microsoft, it was very much the same thing; interactive TV and the promise of interactive TV -- which still has not been delivered -- is really compelling. It was basically supposed to be all of the deliverability, complexity and personalization of the internet combined with television content. You could choose it, you could play with it and you could also have much more robust advertising models through targeting, and have it delivered through the television.

What happened in the U.S. vs., say, Europe, is that we came up with broadband much faster, but we didn't have a model. We didn't have the habits -- that's one of the great mistakes that people make in this space. To a degree, you see that with mobile today. Mobile is taking off, but it's not as rapid as it is Japan. Those habits that people look to abroad and say, "We'll mirror them," they're actually entrenched [there].

M&V: What does play in the U.S.?

Mr. Krieger: When we talk to advertising clients or I am spending time with contact clients, it's all about connection -- you should make sure your content is available always. It doesn't have to be available in the same form at all times, but it should be available whether it is a text alert about what's going on in your gaming system or you can log in on a [mobile-web] site or more robust site to see what's going on in your interaction with said product. ... Your content should be always on so someone can touch it in some way. People want to participate. People want to connect, share, create and play. ... I [as a consumer] should not be simply showing up and consuming. This is a real challenge because television was made for consumers to show up, consume, sell, you're done. We now have to reinvent that because if video were enough, TV would be doing fine.

M&V: How does all this translate to your new position?

Mr. Krieger: I have a wide breadth of experience in talking to contact companies and advertising companies about the promise of Denuo. ... I have a fluency in discussing the challenges that are present in new platforms and trying to pioneer new models with people who are possibly reluctant, but curious. With the rise of the internet and ubiquity of broadband, this perfect triangle of content, distribution and advertising has been blown up. On any give day, any one of those players can be doing some piece of the other's. Google will claim they are not in the content business. They don't want to be called a media company, they're a technology company. But they are a media company. They are a distribution company. They're a content company, and they're very much an advertising company. At Denuo, I have experience with both sides of the content-advertising fence. I can talk to content companies about the things I have done with advertisers that will be attractive to advertisers. I can help them think of new ways to talk to advertising companies. Media is under siege with all these new technologies eating away at their share of the market. ...

My hypothesis is that content companies can benefit from the same things that my brethren at Denuo have been doing with advertisers. So much of the deal is just getting out there to get in front of consumers. They are not watching your show or playing with your game the way that they were just two years ago. We are using the same tool set for advertisers and content companies because, really, the goal is to get people to participate, to play with your content, to comment on it, to share it and to get it across all these different platforms in order to actually consume it.

M&V: Can you give us some examples of what it looks like done right?

Mr. Krieger: I just started at Denuo, so it's difficult to talk about what I'm doing right now. But, if you look at "The Office" and Chili's integration: That was fantastic. It was smart and blended. Granted, one of the things you're seeing at NBC with Ben Silverman in charge is that he's really open about the fact that they are in the advertising business -- let's be honest and open about it. One of the reasons that helps them to survive and do better is that they actually accept that revenues are going to have to come from different sources than the traditional ad-sales model. One of those is really unique blended product integrations. I know that upsets the writers sometimes, but it's advertising any way you cut it.

M&V: What areas are you looking at for the future?

Mr. Krieger: I do think that there's some question around virtual worlds. In view of the announcement today that Doppelganger got $11 million, I think you will find as you have these environments that are less Wild West than Second Life, more and more brands will be trying to figure out how to be part of that. Both Honey Shed and Doppleganger are having multiple brands participate in their universes, and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out when you have this idea of virtual malls. Will one brand rise above and guide all the traffic or can brands play together in these virtual spaces.
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