The News: This week Salesforce announced Salesforce+, a new streaming service for live experiences and original content. Salesforce+ will be the hub for digital business content with compelling live and on-demand videos, podcasts, and experiences for every role, industry, and line of business. Salesforce Studios has already developed a lineup of original programming and is growing their team to develop more thought leadership content for all interests. As of now, the service will be free and not feature external advertising. Read more about this new service in the press release here.
Analyst Take: This digital media network, launching in September, is an interesting foray for Salesforce, but I see it as a smart move for the CRM giant as it seeks to enable a post-pandemic world to build more fluid engagement with Salesforce. Unsurprisingly, our media consumption has increased significantly over the last 18 months. From Netflix and Hulu to Spotify and podcasts, anything someone could possibly want to watch or listen to is available at their fingertips. When it comes to business related content, there certainly is no shortage, but largely it has been a slower transition to enterprises acting as their own media networks–Salesforce sees this gap as an opportunity.
The days of reading interviews and articles about certain topics or attending events to hear an executive speak are dwindling. Salesforce was quick to identify this and is as CMO Sarah Fleming put it “reimagining how to succeed in the new digital first-world.” This shifting demand for more human experiences, even if remote on Zoom or other social/streaming networks has inspired a barrage of business content, but it is often disorganized or dependent on a third party platform to manage the experience. Using YouTube or Vimeo provides a secondary search engine and hosting for video, but Salesforce is thinking more like a network dedicated to business and Salesforce related topics. Think Bloomberg meets QVC, or a highly produced infomercial with content targeted to the sales community.
The current channel lineup so far features four different channels: Primetime for announcements and news, Trailblazer for training content, Customer 360 for Success Stories, and Industry Channels for vertical-focused offerings. The shows will be of various lengths that will showcase conversations with CEOs, marketers, career experts, and other business leaders on variety of topics from the pandemic to workplace issues and everything in between. Salesforce Studios is working to develop additional content in the coming months, and this will be an imperative if this is going to be a success.
Launching with Dreamforce
Salesforce+ will launch in September in conjunction with Dreamforce, the annual 3-day global conference. This is a smart move for Salesforce, because it will showcase the power of the streaming platform while reaching an audience across the world that likely would’ve been attending the conference virtually anyway. Dreamforce attendees will be the first to access Salesforce+, and we know the powerful pull that Dreamforce has for its community, so I tend to be bullish on that decision.
According to Salesforce, participants will be able to customize their Salesforce+ experience during Dreamforce by selecting content that is relevant to them. Content will be live and on-demand so viewers can watch when it’s most convenient for them. Again, this is smart for Salesforce. Viewers can get used to the idea of consuming business content outside of business operating hours.
Monetizing for the Future
While this platform sounds like a great idea on paper, there are currently no plans for monetization. As it stands now, the platform and content will be free to access and will not feature any outside advertisements. Salesforce is one of the most profitable companies in the world, but creating content like this is not a free endeavor. They also have recently taken on a lot of debt with the Slack acquisition so I don’t see this staying 100% free for very long. Adding in advertising or sponsorship opportunities for other companies would be wise. Or perhaps Salesforce could create premium content available only to certain subscribers similar to the model that NBC’s Peacock App uses.
How they choose to monetize this opportunity remains to be seen and will likely depend on the data that they are able to collect from viewership stats post-Dreamforce. For now, I’m intrigued by this move and must say that I look forward to seeing how the market responds to the roll out of Salesforce+, and how this may spark a series of fast followers looking to tap into this medium to drive engagement with customers in this high-production format.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice. Neither the Author or Futurum Research holds any positions in any companies mentioned in this article.
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Image Credit: Salesforce