Media is an ever-changing industry littered with new ideas and dead content. The current coronavirus pandemic sparked concern for the industry’s future, including uncertainty about the production of new content, theatrical releases, and distribution of existing content. For Matt Wunderli, a CJBS Alum and founder of Publisher Arts, an opportunity to improve an archaic industry undergoing a digital transformation, presented itself. When asked if the pandemic would cause Publisher Arts to pack it in and try something else, Wunderli said: “On the contrary. People want more content, more stories to connect with and to tighten the connection with their friends and family when they can’t physically be with them. Stories are as old as humans, there will always be a need for them, now more than ever.”
The industry is experiencing a convergence of media and tech. While traditional media conglomerates expand horizontally for greater distribution through acquisition, digital distributors are now integrating vertically by producing their own content and leveraging the data on their viewer base. The industry continues to splinter with thousands of new online streaming services and the intensity of competition for audiences and viewers grows. Wunderli continued: “Everybody in media has changed their model in the past few years. We’ve shifted to focusing more on what we call ‘media science’. It turns out, there are a lot of streaming platforms and a whole lot of content, but only archaic analytics try to match the two up. We’re the matchmakers.”
Publisher Arts brands themselves as “The Media Scientists” and they’re building a lake of data that integrates internal and external data streams and segments by country, genre and demographics. They offer real-time country-specific audience analysis, and as each media platform subscribes, their data is augmented with existing data and AI then stitches together a deeper profile to more fully meet the needs of the audience specific to their platform. Existing and new audiences provide valuable data that allows for better mining of the Publisher Arts data lake as the client relationship matures. Headquartered in both London and Salt Lake City, Publisher Arts has established a global presence working with clients from Singapore to Sao Paulo.
Prior to studying at Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre, Wunderli was working in Los Angeles at NBCUniversal, then returned to his hometown of Salt Lake City working with a regional television network. Wunderli says he “fell into a tryst” with media at a young age and believes that storytelling is at the centre of human nature. “My dad is a writer, and a filmmaker, my grandfather an artist”, said Wunderli, “I had front row seats to some great storytelling early in my life and it impacted me in profound ways.” He claims that existing data is telling us personalization is the next phase in the media evolution, therefore placing data and analytics centre stage. “I saw those data trends taking shape while at NBC, but I don’t think I had a strong strategy for capitalizing on them and on finding market demands. I would say that’s what benefitted me most at the Judge. The experience clarified my thinking, gave me the relationships I needed to shape the direction I needed to go, and the mentors to help me get there. Let’s just say I was in the stadium when I arrived, and Cambridge Judge put me on the pitch.”
What about the future of media and Publisher Arts?
Wunderli says in the short-term more clients from around the world need what Publisher Arts is doing. “Our first clients give us a good idea of what we are doing well and how to expand.” In the long-term, they’ll look for ways to aggregate technologies and trends into what they do. “I know that’s vague, but growth doesn’t have to be in one direction. We are doing the media science well right now. We have a good network of content creators and distributors. As we focus on doing one thing right, more opportunities will present themselves. We just have to be ready to take advantage of them.”