Guest Post – Emerging Television: Social TV and Participatory Psychology

Image

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.

Advertisements

Social TV: Twitter and NBC Curate the Olympic Spirit

Image

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

Image

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. 

=========================

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.

Image
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).

Image

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.

Image
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.

Image

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.

=========================

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.

====================================

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

Platform Review: Scoop.it – Brand as Curator Comes to Life

While a lot of attention is on content, brand as publisher and the ways a brand can push its message through the social, shareable formats of the social web, growing interest is in the curation aspect of establishing a complete brand presence.  Content curation can bring another dimension to a brands presence online, showing that it’s aware of and a proponent of those individuals and organizations interested in similar or related topics.  Being a convener of, as well as a participant in, the larger discussion alleviates the content burden and puts the brand in context.

One of the new tools to help accomplish this is Scoop.it.  The following is a review of the platform as posted on the Scoop.it platform where I used a free trial of the pro version they offered to kick the tires, create two curations (“Curationist” and the co-curated “MDigitial” curation with Greg Matthews.)

 Usability Overview – Curating the Content Stream

As brands begin to find more options to tell their own story, they’ll look beyond the brand as publisher model and to the brand as curator – or becoming a convener of conversation around a topic or industry.  Scoop.it promises to make finding, reviewing and curating content an easy proposition.

One of the challenges of curating content around a topic is being able to easily select from a stream of good content.  Scoop.it allows you to use keywords to pull in possible content to curate.  The challenge is that the search tool isn’t refined enough to eliminate unwanted content.  This returns results from individual Tweets that may not have anything to do with the topic other than a keyword. It allows you to remove sources from consideration, but this can be a bit more time-consuming that it’s worth.  Having only spent a few hours with the platform, there may be an easier way to refine results. (Originally began reviewing the platform Dec 20. Additional time revealed additional and compelling features – included below.)

Other Curation Options

In addition to pulling potential content in through keywords, Scoop.it also lets you enter specific URLs for the content that you’re interested in curating – a good option for adding a specific post to your curated selection.

Scoop.it also lets you create your own blog post to be published alongside of the other content you’re curating.  It’s the feature I’m using now to provide these reviews of the platform.

Curation Platform – Pros & Cons

As my free trial of Scoop.it’s pro edition ends, I’ve had a chance to test the features and functionality as a curation platform. My experience with the platform has been generally positive.

The features I liked the most include:

  • The ability to share curation responsibilities with others
  • The usefulness of the platform as a way to curate across keywords
  • Being able to add specific urls to your curation list
  • The browser plug-in that allows you to easily pull in items you’d like to curate
  • The blogging feature (which I’m using here) to add your own content to your curation
  • The WordPress plugin (although I haven’t yet set this up on my blog)
  • Easy to create and share new topics

Some things that could improve include:

  • Further refinement of the keyword tool to turn up more specific results, eliminating the number of results that are less useful
  • Spell-check in the blogging widget
  • The ability for those you share curation with to edit or add keyword filters
  • Overall UX could improve (some of the features that are hidden should be more intuitive)

I think platforms like Zite and FlipBook do a good job of bringing in content based on specific filters. Expanding the ability to pull in or integrate with Zite or FlipBook content over mobile and the addition of some of the features above could make the platform an indispensable tool.

At $79 per month for the pro edition, it’s a relatively inexpensive way for brands to test the waters and encourage curation.

UPDATE: Scoop.it President Marc Rougier left a nice comment related to the post. Specific to pricing he added, “I’d like to also complement your review: beyond the free version of Scoop.it, we actually launched three premium packages: Scoop.it Business ($79/month), Scoop.it Pro ($12.99/month), and Scoop.it Education ($6.99/month).” See more from Marc about the platform in the comments.

Final Assessment

As it stands, I like the platform because it’s a single tool with a single purpose and almost makes curation a simple task. It’s definitely worth taking a look if you’re considering ways to curate the broader discussion, themes and trends.  The ability to plug the curated content into a blog is also a useful feature.  If the filters were more refined, reducing the amount of work to dial in a topic, Scoop.it would be on to something.  But, it’s a platform I’ll look at as some of the brands I work with consider curation options.

My Top 5 Professional New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

January 1 is a great day to lay out all of the things you’re going to do in the year ahead.  The day is crisp, and the intentions are strong. So, before daily realities and obligations undo those good intentions, here is my personal checklist of things I want to put effort against professionally in 2012. Some are tied to trends I’m interested in, others are personal interests.  Ok.  Let’s go year-from-now me. It’s time to get started on these resolutions:

Globalisms: Of course there’s a world beyond the geographic boarders we live within. But, there’s also a world beyond the social boarders of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  I see all of the lists of the “YouTube of India” or “Chinese Twitter,” but to truly understand how the platforms work and the nature of the conversations in these channels, there’s no substitute for being in the channels, understanding the mechanics and types of conversations that happen there.  I’ve started to open accounts on platforms like Weibo in China and Hyves in the Netherlands.  I also started a Twitter handle a few years ago based on the premise that cultural differences impact how people use and engage in these channels. @Socialisms is where I share some of the news from these emerging areas.  In the new year, I resolve to continue my push into these new places, language barriers be damned.  Join me there.

Learn Chinese: Or any of the 10 primary languages in the world. If yours is a global brand, or aspiring to be one, understanding the social differences in those regions of the world begins with an understanding of language.  This resolution helps me better understand what people are saying on those new social channels I’m joining.  This is a pretty tall order, but I’ve found a few free apps that at least give me a fighting chance of learning to speak and understand the language.  Learning to write them is another story, but there’s also an app for that. In the end, Google Translate is only a click away. standing the social differences in those regions of the world begins with an understanding of language.  This resolution helps me bett

More Mobile: This is the perennial resolution. I’m fortunate to work in am industry that keeps me current and sometimes ahead of the mobile curve. But, I always feel behind.  So, more mobile apps on my phone, better understanding of how brands can embrace mobile and greater understanding of how mobile continues to evolve from a noun into a verb. Here are a few mobile apps I’m currently obsessed with:  Zite, Flipbook, Path and Scoop.it. If you’re not thinking about all of the ways mobile will impact your brand, join me in this resolution

Blog More: Blogging as a category didn’t even exist when I started my career. Today, there are more opportunities than ever toshare thoughts and experiences with unwilling masses online. I’ve steadily increased my blog posts over the past couple of years, but I’m still not where I’d like to be. In addition to conveying thoughts and ideas through text, I want to push farther into other mediums. This includes video, photo and audio. And, typically, we think of the publishing side of blogging – sharing our own thoughts and ideas, but a growing category is the curating aspect of blogging – or bringing in the thoughts of others by sharing blog posts and other content related to the discussion.  Look out 2012.  More of this, please.

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment: This is a fascinating time we live in. What used to take millions of dollars and hours of investment to take an idea from cocktail napkin to launch (I’m talking to you, tech bubble of 2001) can now be crowd sourced with dev runs that happen in real-time with real users all hosted “in the cloud.” What’s resulted is an acceleration of innovation – and it’s there for us all to play with. When I meet with a new web tool entrepreneur, app developer or social platform provider, the first thing I want to do is get under the hood and find what the real value of the platform could be for the brands I work with. I always want to do more of that – marry a big brand with a big technology to find something new in how that brand connects with its consumers.  It’s the thing that gets me out the door in the morning.

I’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get to it.  Happy New Year.