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Why MediaLink Believes the Streaming Wars will Inevitably have Some Major Casualties – and Why Brands are Facing an ‘Existential’ Challenge in this Era

July 8, 2020



In the very first Next in Marketing podcast episode ever recorded, MediaLink’s CEO, Michael Kassan explores how major marketers and media companies have had to scramble to rewrite 2020 plans in light of Covid-19. Kassan also weighs in on how the streaming wars between Netflix, HBO, NBCU and others, and how he thinks the ad business will grapple with live events like Cannes in the coming years.



Mike (18s):
Hey guys, this is Mike Shields. And this week on Next in Marketing, I got to talk with MediaLink CEO and chairman Michael Kassan. We discussed how his clients are rustling with the COVID-19 crisis. What he thinks are the prospects of TV advertising and the streaming world, and why consumers are still grappling with the importance of digital privacy.

Mike (38s):
We’re lucky enough to have MediaLink founder, CEO, chairman Michael Kassan. Michael, do I have your, your role and title, right? Thank you for joining us today.

Michael (48s):
You do. And, and I would add in as well, friend of Mike Shields for many, many years.

Mike (54s):
Absolutely, good friend. I think of when I think of people that are, would struggle with social distance, that you are at the top of the list. I feel you’re a man who probably does not like this being apart from people so much.

Michael (1m 5s):
Well, you know, it’s funny you say that Mike, because it’s arguable that MediaLink was founded on the nugget of social connectivity and you know, such, we’ve been very forthright in our view that this is not about social distance. It’s about physical distance, but really enhancing social connectivity. And that’s not just semantics – just the fact that we can do this as opposed to having a martini in front of us. And, and I will add for those who care, I don’t drink during the week.

Michael (1m 37s):
I have worn off my standard issue martini during the week, you know, because I think it’s just good to stay focused and healthy right now, but this works and this social connectivity that we’re experiencing during this moment actually is going to have, I believe long term impact on our industry, but on the world at large. So yeah. We’re learning how to navigate it.

Mike (2m 9s):
I wish I could say I’m with you with the drinking less. Maybe I’ll get there. Only a few weeks into this, but we’ll see. I do want to ask you, so I was thinking about this, you and I were both at CES, probably. I’m sure you were there this year. I was there and coming out of that event, I’m sure you had a vision for what this year was going to look like. Probably lots of transformation and disruption, but not like this. What did you think the year was looking like? And then maybe let’s talk about when you started to realize, oh my God, things are really going to be different.

Michael (2m 38s):
Yeah. We were looking at this year, very optimistically. We had good projections on tap. And, you know, as I think back to January, there was a lot of exciting projects that we were about to kick off. Thankfully many of them have continued. They’ve taken on a different cue perhaps, but they’re, they’re not, they’re not running for the hills. Thank God. Number one. Number two, it became pretty real for us in late February, early March, like most traveled to New York the first week of March and the last week of February.

Michael (3m 16s):
And I didn’t think much of it. I was on a ski retreat with a banking group with Lion Tree. With a bunch of senior, senior industry executives, but not just marketing and advertising. I mean, entertainment, most players. And we were all, it was that last weekend of February, first week in March. And we were all kind of doing this with our handshakes, that we weren’t kissing and hugging as much, but it was kind of still ha-ha you know, nobody was laughing.

Michael (3m 47s):
I don’t mean that it was hard to wrap your head around. And we were sitting next to one another dinner and we were doing the elbow, but we weren’t taking it as seriously as one week later, we all would. And I mean really one week later, cause I left their ski retreat on March the 2nd, I think, which was a Tuesday, if I’m not mistaken and by March 10th, which was a Tuesday or the next, you know, whatever that next Tuesday was, I was marched down – the world had changed dramatically.

. . .

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Meet our host, Mike Shields

Mike Shields is the founder of Shields Strategic Consulting. Shields covered the ad business for over 15 years at top publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Adweek and Digiday.

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