IQ Interactive Special Report: Shock Troops/The Media – Easy Rider

Cyber Dialogue’s Peter Clemente relishes his role in changing the Net.
Don’t fear,” is the exhortation of Peter Clemente, vice president and director of online entertainment practice at Internet customer relationship management firm Cyber Dialogue. And though he’s speaking of technology and its impact on the entertainment field, it’s clear that the theme of fearlessness resonates throughout the life of this early-adopting, Harley-riding Net maven.
Clemente, a former rock ‘n’ roll drummer, jumped on the high-tech bandwagon in the early ’80s when drum machines were introduced. “Studio drummers everywhere were in fear of being replaced by machines,” says Clemente. But Clemente learned to program the machines and the new addition to his repertoire put him in great demand.
Similarly, Clemente feels that Internet-related changes in the entertainment industry portend significant power shifts for many traditional entertainment companies, but that emerging opportunities far outweigh the threats and challenges. He says, “Digital distribution is empowering because it’s now possible to understand in advance what consumers really want in their entertainment experiences.”
Cyber Dialogue’s research focuses on topics including user demographics, e-commerce, entertainment, financial services, online advertising and branding.
“We’ve been conducting in-depth telephone surveys of Internet users since 1994. We ask questions about online usage ranging from age, gender and income to interests, attitudes and behaviors. We track what people do on the Net in aggregate and then advise companies on how to develop stronger, more valuable relationships by listening and responding to their needs,” says Clemente, “ultimately increasing profitability for their online businesses.”
Clemente’s personal appearance–shoulder-length black hair neatly drawn back into a ponytail, shining silver earring and Armani suit–seems to sum up the contradictions inherent in a rock ‘n’ roll drummer and Harley rider who is also an author, researcher and top-level executive, albeit on the Net.
Clemente’s group worked with Seattle-based AtomFilms.com, a movie entertainment site, to help determine what users wanted in a site like theirs. “We make strategic recommendations about how to attract and retain customers and who their most valuable customers are. Now, start-up companies like AtomFilms.com can compete on the same level as major film companies. In fact, Atom is one of the top most-trafficked entertainment sites on the Web, according to Media Metrix. The company didn’t even exist two years ago,” he says.
The benefits are not just for startups like AtomFilms.com, Clemente adds. There are great opportunities for established companies as well. The online entertainment practice client roster includes online and offline media giants such as The Walt Disney Company and Time Warner, and he is positive that established companies like these can benefit from the new strategies.
“Only 10 to 15 percent of films are profitable,” Clemente says. “Up until now, Hollywood’s modus operandi has been to create entertainment and then spend millions of dollars trying to convince consumers that they want to see it. Why not complement that process by doing it the other way around as well–find out what people want and provide it for them? As it is, studios spend as much as $50 million producing a film and then send it out for limited test-marketing runs. What if they produced a trailer instead and e-mailed it to 200,000 movie fans for their reactions?”
Clemente has more than 15 years’ experience in the field of market research, having founded his own market research firm, New York-based TARGA Information Services, in 1992 and authored State of the Net: The New Frontier (McGraw-Hill), a book bursting with facts and figures, in 1997.
Despite these credentials, some of Clemente’s methods for staying up to date about the latest and greatest on the Net are less than purely scientific.
“My eight-year-old daughter Renee has been on the Internet since she was three years old. She’s the first one who told me about Google.com. She’s the first one who told me about Napster,” says Clemente. “She’s a great sounding board. When we drive home from our morning trip to Starbucks, she sits in the back seat reading USA Today’s Money section to see how our family’s Internet stocks are performing.” –Janis Mar