The Attention Chasm

The attention chasm continues to grow. By the time you finish reading this sentence, you will have had, on average, three competing thoughts trying to break your concentration. Was I right? It’s because of this competition for attention I need to ensure that I’m connecting with you, keeping you engaged and ensuring that you remember me beyond these pages.

As marketers, our job is the same – grab someone’s attention long enough to have them take the journey we want them on. Read an article, click a link, share a video, buy a product – whatever the ultimate action we want people to take, we must understand the human condition these people are in. We must know more about them, who they are, where they are and what they care about. And, we must inform our message and programs with that understanding. If I still have your attention, I’ll share more about that.

The Goldfish Principle

Research shows that a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds (don’t ask me how they know this, they just do. It’s on the Internets.) A goldfish outpaces the average land-walking human’s attention span by a full second. And, it’s no wonder – our customers have 3.5 screens in front of them or at arm’s length through 90 percent of their day. Cell phones, tablets, watches, subway monitors, backseat taxi screens and even old-fashioned television sets – all bringing attention-sucking messages to them constantly. Add to that those things that happen outside of the square screens we’re obsessed with, like not walking off the sidewalk and into the street – and the uphill climb for marketers is real. And, our customers’ attention airspace is only getting more polluted.

Relevance, Resonance & Repetition

At some point as marketers, we lost our way. Channel strategy took the driver’s seat. Not only did the message get diluted through self-serving words, the audience got completely shoved aside. Without an advocate, the audience became a necessary byproduct of the appendix for our marketing decks. We lost the connections and understanding that allowed us to know what was relevant to our audience. Without this relevance, we struggled to find a way for that audience to remember us, and this forced us to spend more to achieve less.

As bleak as it might seem to ever cut through and make a connection with our customers, there is hope. And, it’s found in a principle of human nature that we somehow forgot about in our race to put stuff in places to show that we could reach everyone with our message. It’s time to get back to that audience-first understanding. It’s the only way to truly make a connection.

Rocket Science

Ok. Everyone take a breath. Here comes the magic. You might even want to sit down for this ….

I’ve set the stage on the attention spectrum. There are other forces at play that I’ll cover briefly before (finally) getting to the point. In addition to the assault on attention from messages, images and general daily life, getting attention alone isn’t the only consideration when trying to form a more committed relationship with our customers. The decline in trust of information sources, the rise of third-party credibility, the fragmentation of the media landscape and the polarization of society all create a difficult context for a marketing message. But, within this context, and because of it in many senses, we can know more about our customers than ever before. Those same screens that are used to divert attention also hold keys to understanding interest areas.

Through analyzing social conversations, we can know more about what people aspire to. And, through online pathways from one site to another, we can understand what people are really interested in. Add to this our ability to conduct polls, A/B tests and primary research, and we’ve found a pathway back to our audience.

Audience-centric and Insight-based

Breaking the habits that got us to the point where we lost our connection with our customers is a complicated proposition. And, it can be a delicate balance navigating words that have multiple meanings. At times, I feel like the person across the conference table from me is hearing what I’m saying, but they aren’t really getting the point. To cut through the word jungle, going straight to a grounding in real, human connections is the best way to start. Grounding the response to a business need or problem in the people who will help our cause (our customers) will ensure that we’re playing in the right sandbox.

Step 1: Define Your Universe

There’s a common misperception that creativity is a spontaneous and, mostly, a serendipitous product of thinking broadly about a problem, the world, life. Having had to deliver a creative, compelling and insightful response to a business problem on a regular basis over the years, I can tell you that there are a million good ideas, but there are very few right ideas. And, narrowing the universe of possibilities through a deliberate process is the only way to not just let fate take over and hope for the best. Defining the universe of possibility begins by developing a program brief that centers on answering two questions: what is our business challenge and who do we need to reach to address it. It’s in this document where your audience is defined, set against the backdrop of a white screen or piece of paper as a line in the sand. Your declaration of dependence on the need to know the audience. It’s a starting point and where you return to validate your assumptions. With a clearly defined audience, the real work begins to explore everything you know about them – going beyond demographics, geography and HHI to get underneath all of that to find a reason for them to linger on one of their 3.5 screens for .5 seconds longer.

Step 2: Knowledge is Power

If step one is finding a reason for your audience to care, step two is packaging that knowledge in a way that can bring your message to life. What you learn by exploring the relationship between your audience’s habits and perceptions is rich information that can then be used to inform a compelling and creative space where your message finds common ground and a safe space to coexist with your audience. The best expressions of your message through a creative platform will make it clear that you’ve done your homework and have landed the idea in a way that will build credibility and trust.

Step 3: Channeling

Remember my earlier complaints about modern marketing being addicted to the channel? The love of the places we put things forced an understanding of the audience to become a weak voice crying hopelessly for attention. However, when we begin with an understanding of our audience, we are able to develop messages and compelling creative platforms that our audience will connect with.

That work now gives us a turbo-charged roadmap to where, when and how to reach them. In the right place, at the right time. In addition to being more effective, it’s also more efficient. No longer do we completely rely on mass media metrics. Rather, we are able to focus our message and our time on getting our message, the right message, in front of the right people through the right channel.

Step 4: Proving It

Finally, because we’ve wrapped our message, story and creative platform in the secure arms of our audience, and we’ve done the work to define where they get the message, we’re able to better measure the impact of our program. We can build programs that are measureable and have an impact throughout the customer journey. It’s this ability to measure the full value of our programs that is also the foundation for the measurement model and how we can tie back to real business value.

A Final Consideration

It’s said that 90 percent of marketing effort is focused on the last 1 percent of a transaction. So much effort is put into closing the sale, it’s no wonder we’ve lost the connection with our audience. Certainly a company of any scale has enough historic, aggregate data about consumer buying habits to understand how best to close the deal. My proposition is to think about the long-term attrition of attention. The point where your message is competing in the mindshare marketplace. It’s those battles for the synapse that require an evolved approach. Looking for ways to engage with your message across the customer journey, with a message grounded in the relevance of knowing – knowing the daily human condition and context for your customer. It’s this knowledge that brings relevance. And this relevance brings customers.

Serial Magic – How to Tell a Great Story Even When you Don’t Really Have One

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Unless you’ve been detained in isolation at a Maryland correctional facility for the past six months, you’ve heard of the popular podcast from NPR’s This American Life called “Serial.”

As a marketer, the phenomenon around the Serial podcast is interesting. Here’s a format, the podcast, that’s been around as long as the Internet itself, but has just now achieved broad acceptance. I don’t need the numbers to know that Serial is likely one of, if not the, most popular, shared and talked-about podcasts to date. But, while I’m focusing on the format, there are other aspects that made Serial great, the least of which is the story the podcast is based on.

As much as I love a good story, and we’ve all been challenged with having to tell a lackluster story, if you really look inside this one, the story isn’t that great. I can get a better story watching Dateline or even the Bachelor. If you’re not familiar, Serial is about a homicide that took place in 1999. The key suspect, who was ultimately found guilty, sits in prison in Maryland serving a life sentence. The narrator, a journalist, retraces the activities through the present-day testimony and historical evidence of the trial, with commentary from the convicted, unfolding the evidence before the listener week by week, giving us all an opportunity to be judge and jury in our own heads. It’s not a unique story, but everything else about the story works.

What Worked

  • The Series – Starting from the beginning of the night in question, all the way through the trial, challenging assumptions, recreating scenes and even uncovering new evidence week by week, episode by episode is a way to really draw people in. I, like many, came to the Serial party late, which gave me a chance to engage in America’s new favorite pastime – binge watching/listening to catch up on all of the episodes. And, there they all were – neatly organized for me on my iPhone in the Podcast app.
  • The Psychology – This water-tourture effect of dripping out just enough content to get you hooked and anticipating the next episode is what makes a great series addictive. A testimony here, a new piece of evidence there, and suddenly you’re hooked.
  • The Target Audience – The audience for podcasts like Serial tend to skew slightly older, making it an interesting medium to deliver content to a specific demographic. Given the characteristics of the audience, they also tend to be more educated and predisposed to stories that challenge their understanding or assumptions – like assuming that the convicted in this case is somehow a sociopath who is deceiving the narrator and all of us.
  • The Format – The type of story that can be delivered in this format typically needs to be consumed by an audience that appreciates the longer format and is likely engaged in another activity while they’re listening to a podcast – on a plane, train or in an automobile.
  • The Shareability – I initially learned of Serial from the lady next to me on a plane. In less than a minute, I was downloading the first episode as our conversation continued. It’s the culmination of the previous aspects of Serial that compelled this stranger to encourage another to get into the experience.

There are any number of other stories that can be told in this format. Given the captive audience that typically listen to this type of programming, the podcast lends itself well to any story that unfolds over time. That contains specific key elements of a good story, including key characters, conflict and a clear timeline of events. A good story also compels others to share or co-create. If you’re a fan of Serial, you’ve likely seen the Reddit thread where fans deconstruct the evidence and offer new theories. Even SNL has done a parody of the podcast, featuring Amy Adams.

For more on the insights from Serial, this Boston Globe article is a good overview.

In the end, good content has to be interesting enough to grab attention and compelling enough to share. Serial has all of this in spades.

Guest Post – Emerging Television: Social TV and Participatory Psychology

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By: Zachary Weiner

Director of Global Marketing, Never.no

Co-founder, Connected TV Marketing Association

Understanding the true nature of Social TV and Participatory television is a lot less about technology and a lot more about psychology and sociology than most folks tend to realize or evangelize upon. Reading the media lately, we hear a lot about differing Social TV trends that whilst all true are lacking a very crucial understanding of the  behavioral background needed to capitalize upon these trends, which we’ll touch upon here (You lucky devils). 

At never.no (www.never.no) we’re looking into the emerging TV landscape holistically with respect to technology, media and psychology. It’s been brought to the TV industry’s attention that social media coupled with television watching increases viewer attention and engagement. Understanding why this is however, can allow those in the TV business to greatly take further advantage of these consumer behaviors. In what could  be hundreds of psychological correlations explored, I will simply highlight two I’d love to focus on, in order to further define and expand upon the notion that social interaction coupled with Television creates immensely  enhanced audience engagement and retention. 

Focused yet divided Attention: One reason multi-screen attention can create engagement:
In a study  conducted by Muller in 2003, findings proved that individuals can divide their attention between two compelling sources of visual  focus. Attention will shift between these two sources within half a second and the brain is still allowed enough time to be cognizant and involved with both. When this attention is divided by these two however, many other elements and stimuli that one might typically focus upon, no longer become relevant or even brought into consciousness. The person in the other room, that meatball sandwich in the fridge, the birds chirping outside, whatever it might be is easily ignored.

So when we engage television watchers, with not just programming on one screen, but also a correlated  visual task on another, whether it’s a synchronized companion application or a social call to action, we allow those viewers to have their attention span divided into the same core focus. This forced selective attention on two different yet correlated items creates a far greater level of engagement without distraction. Everything else without an incredibly compelling call to action. I.E. The pizza guy ringing the doorbell, or a significant other yelling to clean the dishes gets totally tuned out. (See, psychology can be fun.)

Lesson learned: By activating a synchronized companion to TV whether it’s participatory or social, we allow viewers to tune out many other potentially distracting elements around them. We create engagement sans distraction. The permutations of what we can do with this knowledge to further activate participation and interaction are nearly endless.

Group TV engagement begets larger groups and furthers audience retention and interaction
How we act as a group and how we act as individuals are two very separate items that have been the focus of copious behavioral research. One basic component of Social Identity Theory tells us that when we we are in group setting, we often follow, copy or mimic the behaviors of other group members. In the twitter/social media/TV sphere, this means that people who watch what we are watching may become  part of our perceived group, and as such, we often follow their lead on interaction and behavior. We may even mimic their thoughts and actions.

This concept is greatly tied in to the concept social proof, which for all terms and purposes, means that when making decisions, whether it’s what to watch, or how engaged we become, we rely on our social circles. We do this in order to resolve personal insecurities. The point here is that by creating large group behaviors, by creating social groups offline or online, we further the potential for new watchers to come onboard or old watchers to become more engaged. When we create groups around TV programming, we create followers and participators, who beget more followers and participators. Something all in the TV biz should be striving for. A domino effect of active watchers.

Perhaps you may be  thinking that a few tweets for instance are too small an event to influence social behavior.  A study by Taifel  (Tajfel et al., 1971)  proved that people standing together at a painting for 30 seconds could spark group trends and behaviors. Reading a variety of tweets can certainly cause a lot longer and more intensive interaction than a simple .30 seconds.

Lesson learned: 
There are some incredibly robust ways to create groups of watchers around each other. When we give them compelling tasks to participate or interact further with, more people will go ahead, watch and interact as well. The greater we can solidify this group presence the greater potential.  More viewers who are engaged= greater revenue possibilities and increased loyalty.

How we capitalize on these most basic psychological factors are nearly endless when we start to consider  the multitude of further implications. The moral of the story is that when we can create social behaviors that tie in multiple screens, we can create further engagement and retention. When we engage participatory actions that can be followed by a group we enhance the content experience and spread it.  There is much more to discuss here, but I will leave that for another Never.no post on the subject!

Follow more of Zach’s posts on the Never.no blog.

Photo credit: by DigitalBob8 on Flickr; used under Creative Commons.

Social TV: Twitter and NBC Curate the Olympic Spirit

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Twitter has officially  announced a new partnership with US television network NBC   to curate millions of Olympic Tweets from athletes, their families and fans.  It’s the latest in the growing wave of Social TV activities brands and television networks are warming up to.

While much of the attention for marrying television programming and social networks is heating up, the potential has been there from the beginning.  In 2009, I sat in a conference room with Twitter’s Biz Stone and a few AT&T colleagues.  We were on a tour of San Francisco start-ups to find a way to connect the technologies of these new companies with the platform and reach of a global brand.  As we sat in the room brainstorming ways the two brands could work together, I mentioned how social media was making it harder for me to time-shift my television viewing.  I no longer wanted to record programs like the Grammy’s or sporting events to skip the commercials because the online (on Twitter) discussion I could have with my social graph made enduring the commercials more practical.

As a major sponsor of the upcoming college basketball tournament at the time, we saw the potential for that television event, which took place throughout the month of March, to curate the online fan conversation.  We knew fans would be out in numbers on Twitter sharing their support for their teams.  With development help from one of Twitter’s partners, we sketched out the user interface, identified the keywords to pull into the feed and launched the curation platform in time for the tournament.

While visits to the site were strong for the time, they would likely not stand up to the numbers on Twitter today. There have been more than a few changes in that platform and the use of social media since we launched what was Twitter’s first entrance into a sponsored Social TV experiment and one of its first paid efforts.  The volume of people on Twitter and in social channels as a whole has reached critical mass.  Familiarity with social media queues – like hashtags displayed during programming denoting an action that takes place online but ties to the content viewed on television. And, brand and network willingness to push into these new places where consumers are congregating and dialing into the connected conversation that’s happening online.

While our Social TV experiment with Twitter in 2009 was just an experiment, it’s an example of the need for brands to push beyond what’s popular today and into new areas of innovation.  There’s an overwhelming need for brands to have proof of concept and understand all of the variables before they experiment.  With the speed at which social adoption is taking place, there’s a need to push beyond the mediocrity that’s growing in the fundamental social and digital space and look at new ways to innovate in a way that might take brands outside of their comfort zone.  It’s in that zone that deeper connections can be made and true innovation happens.

(Post originally appeared July 25, 2012 on the Never.no blog.)

(Photo credit: by dhammza used under Creative Commons.)

GUEST POST: Blendable Reality: New Formats to move above and beyond Social TV

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By: Zachary Weiner

Director of Global Marketing, Never.no

Co-founder, Connected TV Marketing Association

This is another piece I’m syndicating straight from the Never.no blog, who is leading the Social TV and “Blendable Reality” space. 

If Content is king and data is queen, surely interaction and socialization must be the twin princes of the television royal family.  I’m not yet making an interlude into anything even digital related, but expressing a truth that has been around for decades, way before the ‘Social TV’ phenomenon we know and love today.

We’ve always been driven to heighten our interaction with entertainment. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, He-man, Alf, anyone? (I was an 80’s child). We bought these toys of our favorite TV shows so that we could deepen our interaction. People used to talk about Seinfeld and Friends at work, and nowadays still talk  about the latest episode of Glee, or game of thrones around the water cooler (and twitter). We’ve voted for our favorite idol via text, simply because we wanted to interact .While Nietzsche may have believed the world is a will to power, I think at the least, the world is a will to participate and television is certainly a ringing endorsement of this thought. Sure, we want a lean back experience, but often a lean back experience where we get to be involved. 

This is my segue into the digital. Today’s versions of TV interaction and TV socialization make participating not just something easy, but something that can be robust, seamless and endemic to the programming. A lot of the industry will use the term “Social TV” to describe modern day television socialization, but  many others will state that the term is completely  redundant. TV is social. I prefer to think of most emerging TV formats asa differing term; “Blendable Reality.” A diverse array of methods to blend lean back television content, with our own personal realities encompassing multiple paths to engagement . 

So rather than wax lyrically on the philosophical and make this another opinion piece, lets discuss what is possible and take two formats on how we can blend TV with reality in a participative fashion.  This post was influenced by utilizing enhanced TV technology platforms such as  never.no (www.never.no) 

Choose your own ending:  For decades we have been able to  orchestrate television programming that broadcasts live and straight into the homes of audiences. With further tech enablement we can now allow those same audiences to reach back into the studio or set with their digital fingertips in real time.  This format allows us to base elements of the show on real-time feedback. 

While we often see some very mild and simple versions of voting and polling, imagine the potential of diverse programming formats that lets those same audiences vote to choose the best ending instantly. 

  • Vote to see which two politicians should go head to head on a question.
  • Vote to see which game show contestant should be selected or dismissed.
  • Which sports star do you want to see more clips of? Let the at-home audience decide. 
  • Which news story should we feature tonight?  Tweet us and let us know.   
  • Do you want to see X reality star take train 1 or train 2? Choose now and watch your results instantly.  

This is true participatory television and it‘s easily orchestrated. Why settle for “reality TV” when we can shoot for “choose your own reality TV“?  Television where we have the will, the way and the technology to actually allow those at home to influence it in real time and participate live.  

We can engineer the endings of programming based on audience choice and rather than base TV on assumptions. We can actually give the audience exactly what they want in unique ways and the above examples barely scratch the surface. 

Television that Reaches out to the individual rather than the masses:

As discussed above, television has typically been a one to many format. This has worked well, but it can be even better. Why not allow television to reach out to both the masses as well as  home audiences on a one to one basis?  By reaching out to viewers in a personal way we can heighten viewer retention, interaction and loyalty. 

  • Text/tweet/FB/MMS now to enter a live contest. 
  • Can you beat this celebrity in a game of trivia?  We’ll pick your answer from our social audiences.  
  • “The next 5 tweets we display live will win a chance to join our next show”. 

We can pick specific individuals at home to play along live with linear TV. We can allow home audiences to add their own content.  With interactive second screens we can even reward individuals for their participation. Be the first to send us an MMS of you holding a can of Coke (or other branded beverage) and we’ll fly you out to meet the cast. (Had to throw an Ad integration in there…it’s what I know) 

We’ll go deeper into these formats some time, but the fact of the matter is that Social TV is already an old term. Creating new forms to enhances the current methodology however, is young, on the cusp and ready to be integrated.  Now. 

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Image by cookbookman17 and used under creative commons.

The Rise of Social TV

Social TV – Enhancing the Experience

This year will see a lot of experimentation with bridging the television and social experience.  With more people actively watching while Tweeting, posting and checking in, the dual-screen environment offers greater connection for fans beyond the one-dimensional experience of traditional viewing. 

And, with the reported declines in monthly TV viewing, getting the people who are watching to pay more attention won’t hurt TV’s chances of weathering the increased pull of online video and other distractions.

The Evolution of a Medium

Networks and cable television have been the target of speculation for the past several years as an area where innovation would be the only way to sustain their relevance.  With the help of social media, these channels are finding that they’re becoming more relevant than ever as a platform for brands to find a deeper connection with consumers.

As brands adjust to the connected online discussion, they’re finding new ways to connect.  As consumer attention habits evolve to fit the new channels available to them, they’re finding more ways to tune in and discuss their favorite shows with friends online – and interact with brands.

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From: Social TV Applications Matrix 2012 Written by Mark Ghuneim on WiredSet.com

Current State of Social TV

Currently, broadcasters like Bravo, Oxygen, CNN, Fox and others are leading the way in social TV.  Social opens up new revenue streams for broadcasters giving brands additional avenues for sponsorship and advertising.  And, broadcasters are finding clever ways to maximize fan engagement during live broadcasts.  Sports programming like that of ESPN greatly benefits from live event programming, while MTV matches online content to fulfill the needs of their fan base.

And where broadcasters are treating their shows as brands themselves, they’re winning – reaping the benefits financially, and creating fan advocacy/loyalty too. Take, for example, Bravo TV and their impressive stats surrounding “Last Chance Kitchen” (the online competition allowed fans to vote back eliminated contestants).

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According to Bravo, 26% of the audience who watched “Top Chef: Texas” were actively involved in “Last Chance Kitchen,” and the reveal episode (where Bev won) was the season’s highest rated episode. Further, the social engagement around the program shattered all kinds of records for NBC Universal.

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MCN Buzzmeter by Trendrr

Brands Warm Up to Social TV

While broadcasters have begun to set the tone for social TV in its latest evolution, brands have been experimenting and looking for new ways to connect through social integration.  In fact, one brand that’s clearly risen to this challenge is Red Bull, as illustrated by a recent Fast Company article. They’ve completely immersed themselves in content its customers crave – and they’re reaping the benefits, financially.

Through advanced analytics, brands have more insightful knowledge about their customers than ever before, but even better – direct access to their fans is only a few keystrokes away.

Social TV – Beyond Twitter and Facebook

While hashtags during network broadcasts are becoming commonplace and Facebook integrations give fans a way to connect outside of regular programming, other tools are beginning to find their way into the social TV integration set.

GetGlue, the social TV check-in app continues to grow in popularity among television watchers.  In April, the social platform outpaced Facebook as the second-most-popular social engagement platform behind Twitter.

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Social music app Shazam has also been raising its profile among consumers of connected entertainment.  During shows like “The Voice,” fans can scan audio and download the songs sung by participants.  And “The Glee Project,” where fans could enter contests and further engage with the show.  Bringing music and other elements into the experience helps to extend the value beyond a discrete discussion fans are having with other fans and friends.

Social TV Guardrails

As brands push deeper into the opportunities to connect through this integrated medium, a few guideposts will help align the purpose with the experience.

1)     Convene to Create Value: With the television program the domain of the network, the brand can still have a relevant and effective presence in social TV.  Being the convener of the discussion or enabler of the social interaction can be just as compelling as being an advertising sponsor of the program.

2)     Enhance, Don’t Duplicate: Merely offering a duplicate experience through an alternate channel misses the point of the social TV viewing experience.  Bring viewers into a closer connection, broaden their understanding, get more detail, etc.  And, don’t limit this ability to merely the first run of the program.  Give consumers a reason to revisit the content and interact with the brand.

3)     Create Relevance: Being relevant will never go out of style.  It’s particularly important to bring something of value in the limited attention span of social TV.

4)     Create a Compelling Experience: Compelling content and experiences can come in any number of forms.  An integration doesn’t have to be overly complex to be compelling.  In fact, often it’s those integrations that disrupt the least that are most useful to the viewer.  Keep the viewer engaged in the experience they’re interested in, while giving them extensions that create value in that experience, rather than detracting from it.

5)     Not Marketing as Usual: Intruding on the viewer’s experience can be annoying at best.  Understand that the role of the brand is to bring something of value to the experience. Driving home a logo or brand value proposition should be in support of the overall experience, not the purpose for it.

So while it may be true that broadcasters are leading the charge right now, it’s only a matter of time before brands rise up and move from looking at social as another sponsorship/integration opportunity and shift their attention to creating or co-creating transmedia content that builds real advocacy and brand loyalty which will turn into real commerce.

The activities of the connected consumer will continue to evolve. Take this time to understand consumer attention patterns and how they consume information across channels.  Brands can engage in the precursors to social TV activities, like Twitter chats and social advertising to understand how consumers interact with content and the brand. Now is the time to test and learn with discretionary ad budget to discover what’s possible for the brand and its consumers.

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Thanks to Craig Alperowitz for contributing to this post. Television header photo courtesy of ccharmon on Flickr.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/bradmays // @bradmays // @socialisms

Television – The Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated


Talk of television’s demise has circled since the Internet gained prominence in the late 90s.  The truth is, there will always be an appetite for good storytelling, and the television will remain a compelling medium for immersing ourselves in those stories.  But, as we’re all aware, it will not be the only medium where we can be entertained, informed and immersed in an experience.  

As the ubiquity of the mobile experience evolves, the opportunity to bring more immersive experiences to more places and mediums becomes more viable.  You can argue that watching a full-length movie created for the big screen on the small screen of a mobile device isn’t ideal, and most would agree.  But, the point here is less about the ability of content to transition from one medium to the next than it is in the expansion of opportunities to extend experiences and adapt a story line that can connect in context beyond the single platform, single format approach of old models.  This opens up the possibility to rethink production, creative and story development in a way that can transcend intended context and create a more cohesive experience.

Brands will soon look for ways to extend the experience beyond the flatscreen and onto the mobile screen.  The consumable, short format of the mobile device and brief attention of the mobile context offer opportunities for brands to extend an experience and connect with consumers.  This trend will continue as the intersection of social TV gets more defined.

Brand Opportunity
There are several opportunities for brands to get involved in this highly consumable story telling.  At the center of a brand’s approach must be an understanding of the passion areas that drive its consumers and where the brand intersects or enhances those passions.  

  • Create a mini-episode for FB, bringing fans into an extension of the brand’s passion areas (Camping with a S’more – “Ghost Stories”)
  • Extend the story from advertising within television shows to the web/mobile (A Day in the Digital Life of a Reese’s Cup – Commercial Shoot Behind the Scenes)
  • Crowdsource and select clips offerd by those passionate about the brand (Pedal Passions – Driving a Camero)
  • Create a reality-based series based on recurring events the brand supports (The Cullinary Cozumel – Recipes from Starwood Resorts; Storm Front – Weather-related Documentary from State Farm)

Creative Context
Understanding how content is discovered, consumed and shared in the connected context offers guidposts to making the experience engaging. 

  • Content Quality – a qualitative measure that’s less about the quality of production and more about the ability to capture and retain attention through good storytelling
  • Duration – the amount of time it takes to capture and retain attention, directly related to the places online and off the story will be told 
  • Connectivity – difficult to assess, but an understanding of the connection speeds and coverage areas for where the content will be consumed is fundamental to creating a positive experience for the consumer
  • Context – where, when and how the content might be consumed determined by the pathway the audience will find and experience the story 
  • Planning – often these can be extensions of an existing program with the right planning; build in as an extension of the creative brief, plan for capturing experiences around existing events, etc.

Australian producer Russell Boyd recently launched his take on the evolution of the short-form series designed specifically for the iPad, showing how new distribution models will impact the content industry.

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/bradmays // @bradmays // @socialisms