Watch the consumer.
Always keep an eye on how she is changing. That’s the advice on how to thrive and survive in the media business from a veteran and a luminary who has shepherded TV networks, designer goods e-commerce sites and now a venture fund.
“I am always struck by how much has changed, not just in my lifetime but in the last decade,” says Susan Lyne, President of BBG Ventures at AOL, in this interview with Beet.TV. “The biggest shifts in consumer behavior have taken place as a result of smart phones and social networks and neither existed 10 years ago,” she says, adding that some of the biggest changes in the media business have occurred in just the last five years, considering the impact of personal devices and the Internet of things on media and advertising. “Keep your eyes on the consumer and watch what she is doing and be a part of it,” she says in her advice to newcomers.
Lyne offers this tidbit for what might come next — a resurgence in magazines. Consumers are starting to read them again, particularly those created for a so-called “narrowcast” audience. “Think about reimagining old forms and making them new again,” she tells us.
Lyne has had a long and storied career in media, having co-lead ABC Entertainment and helmed Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She also built Gilt Group. During her time in entertainment and media, she’s mentored many young women and has also seen opportunities for women expand. “The year I graduated from high school, the most senior female at Time Inc. was a researcher. By the time I was appointed president of ABC [in 2002], four of the five people running entertainment networks were women. So that’s huge progress.”
However, there is plenty of work to be done, since most CEO positions at media firms are not held by women. “There still seems to be that barrier, Especially in digital media,” she says. That’s one of the reasons she took on her new post with in AOL, where she now leads a venture fund that is focused on women-led digital startups.
This is segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP. Lyne was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.