There is the saying that nothing beats the real thing, but sometimes what you have to settle for ain’t to shabby. This was the case with the Coachella Live site on YouTube. For those who were not lucky enough to get tickets nor able enough to take off for a weekend of all the crazy things that happen over the course of the weekend on a Polo field, this presentation sponsored by State Farm insurance was fantastic. Sporting three live streams on a dashboard that included thumbnails of what you’re not watching, Facebook/Twitter/Google+ and a schedule of what’s to come, there was no lack of exploration and enjoyment possible. YouTube really showcased a phenomenal product and Coachella was able to serve the fix of a much larger audience to celebrate the music exploration and wonder that is Coachella.
There were a number of elements that really made this content great:
- The interface was simple, clean and clear;
- The production quality was strong throughout. The on-site direction and coverage was comprehensive and, in some instances, rivaled that of a well produced concert video.
- The streaming quality was better than I had expected. In most cases, both the small and full screen versions were very clear. Sometimes, the images were getting pixellated, but there was no rhyme or reason that I could make out. When the image quality was good, it was great and when it wasn’t, it wasn’t that bad.
- The sound quality was clear and consistent throughout – even when the picture was not.
- The Chat was extremely active with very little delay. Unlike previous versions of this type of thing that I’ve seen, you could see songs, comments or lyrics presented on stage referenced almost immediately in the feed. The fact that three major social networks were incorporated for ease of entry and use seems like a no-brainer. It’s surprising how many feeds choose not to use more than Facebook and Twitter…
- State Farm’s sponsorship was persistent, tasteful and refined while not interfering with the content. Meaning, they didn’t pause sets to show a graphic in-stream - or some other annoying ad mechanic.
Though there was mention of the live streaming on YouTube and the Coachella site, I didn’t see any wide mentions or promotion for the feature. Perhaps I missed it and imagine there could have been some artist relationship elements to consider. Ultimately, the people who were most interested were able to find it – either by searching it out or finding it organically through friends’ social activity.
Talking about artists relations, I was impressed that the artists allowed it – and even more impressed about some of the artists that participated. With the point of the weekend(s) being music and the exploration of new music, the site makes perfect sense. I was able to check out a solid mix of acts I knew and had even seen live before with a healthy dose of new acts. I know that the experience is not the same as being there, but I am sure that Coachella Live viewers were able to jump from stage to stage much more quickly and easily than anyone who was physically there. The fact that I could jump from a great view of Miike Snow to the pit of Radiohead without leaving my chair was awesome.
On a personal note, My commute home after Radiohead’s late set on Saturday and Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg’s star-studded show to close it all on Sunday night was much more comfortable than driving home from Indio. And, the fact that I already have State Farm insurance made me feel that I wasn’t just being a freeloader – I might even feel a little bit more loyalty to them because of it.
Hopefully, this becomes a trend for more live events as it really extends the community and the technology has come about to enable that like never before. The technology upgrades has made the experience drastically different from when I spent hours in front of the television watching Live Aid as a kid. Who would have thought then that we could control what we were watching without having to suffer through commercials and annoying MTV VJ commentary?
Props to Coachella and its partners for taking the festival to the next level by making the experience extend beyond the 180,000 people who actually get to go to the two weekends in the desert. The fact that YouTube is now hosting some of the full sets, it really extends beyond the desert. And, you get a chance to see some freaky cool things like the holographic Tupac performing. Thanks for providing the opportunity for many more people in many countries to get their fix…
Posted in Ruminations
Tagged Advertising, Coachella, Community, Dr. Dre, Exploration, Facebook, Google, Live Aid, Live Video, Miike Snow, MTV, Music, Production, Promotion, Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, State Farm, Streaming, Technology, Twitter, YouTube
In the past, HBO was able to drive subscriptions for their services based on the fact that they were a special premium product. Whether through buzz about their shows, awards their shows garnered, or the enabling of a few days a year of allowing users to sample their content, they were able to drive subscribers. Now that the other premium cable networks, like Showtime and Starz, have gotten into the production of buzz and award-worthy original shows, HBO has to change their traditional ways. One of those is HBO’s entry into their own form of the Freemium model. Freemium is generally the term used for product that are attained for free and then continued usage requires payment, or premiums. HBO’s version consists of them making the pilots of their new shows – GIRLS and VEEP – available on HBO.com, YouTube, DailyMotion, TV.com and multiple distributors’ free on-demand platforms the day after their premieres. The shows will also be available as free downloads on iTunes. To me, this is a smart model for HBO to induce viewers to move from freemium to premium and subscribe to the premium cable network to get their fix of those shows.
Hopefully, HBO's Freemium play will drive engagement and not apathy. (Courtesy of HBO)
Of course, they’ve got to hope that the shows are good enough to compel viewers to actually want to pay to see more. This model is probably a stronger one than the limited opening of the FreeView windows they’ve done in the past. From a television programming perspective, I would even allow for more than just the pilot episodes to be streamed for free. As it takes a couple of episodes to become truly engaged, they should probably look to make three episodes available. The Freemium model is proving to be more and more successful as time goes on and HBO’s foray into that style of marketing or sampling could be a sign for the future of products that are not traditionally associated with that Freemium way of engagement.
In the music sector, Spotify has certainly established itself strongly on the freemium model, but the uptake to premium is an unscientific process. The numbers reported in a Billboard article covering 2010 and early 2011 showed a slow uptake, but that was before they launched in the US and picked up steam in their existing markets. Even with that, users are running into issues as people start interacting with the product and deciding whether they want to shell out the money for the premium model. Spotify reports that since launching in the States in June of 2011, they have 3 million users, with only 20% subscribing.
On the gaming front, the poster child for the Freemium model is ANGRY BIRDS. They most recently launched on Facebook in February – where playing is free, but the opportunities to power-up or get other additional gameplay benefits comes with a cost. This incremental revenue may just be a flash in the pan as we see whether Facebook users actually care to purchase additional powers, but they don’t seem to be hurting amidst all their other growth on multiple platforms that all effectively launched on either the true freemium model (limited level gameplay with payment for more) or a nominal premium for slightly robust access and the payment opportunities for even more.
The freemium model across the board is increasing and revenues are driving up. Steve Smith wrote about it on his MediaPost blog recently. Smith cites an IHS Screen Digest Mobile Media Intelligence Service report that projects that Freemium will drive 64% of app revenue by 2015.
I give HBO credit for trying something different as a strategy to remain above the competition in an ever-tightening race with more and more outlets for the type of content they are known to provide. Will this lead to other businesses to delve deeper into their own forms of the Freemium model? If so, it’s got to be more compelling that what might have been a very early form of Freemium – giving away free food samples in stores hoping that consumers will buy. Regardless of the product, there’s got to be a real desire by the end users to get more. Hopefully, for HBO, these shows are good enough to drive that craving for more.
Posted in Ruminations
Tagged Angry Birds, Billboard, Content, DailyMotion, Facebook, Freemium, GIRLS, HBO, HBO.com, IHS, Marketing, MediaPost, Mobile, Premium, Revenue, Spotify, Steve Smith, Strategy, TV.com, VEEP, YouTube
I’m sort of reminded of the Y2K excitement when people are now talking about the fact that the whole Facebook interface changes for good – across the board – in a matter of weeks. It’s not that we didn’t know that the Timeline structure would be pushed to everyone, it’s just the effect it has on Facebook Pages. There is so much darn branded content that needs to be wholly redone to work within the new layout. If you’re a brand that has one – or even a dozen – FB pages (and a number of tabs) then it shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you have hundreds or even thousands of pages with bunches of tabs, you could be in trouble.
Other than the fact that the layout is changing (and that Facebook must be getting a lifetime supply of cupcakes with their sample of Magnolia Bakery on the Pages page), the main differences are in the control of the entry point and the amount of Tabs a brand can maintain. Without being able to force people to either Like or enter an email upon first arriving at the page means that brands will now have to find a better way to get people to commit without their exploration seeming to need a gateway. With the addition of 4 Favorites buttons that act more like navigation buttons, brands will have to put a little more thought into their presentation strategies. Will they use those to garner Likes or collect emails, or will those items be placed on the Wall for larger presence – which would also require closer management. Brands can send users specifically to a Favorites tab page via a URL, but companies can no longer rely on that gateway upon entry.
The need to re-think or rework does present major challenges for those companies – like movie studios – who have hundreds (or thousands) of heavily designed pages up that they were hoping they could just leave up there forever. It now ends up they will be completely broken – and who knows what will happen to all those followers if the page owners decide to let the pages wither away…
On the good side, it seems like this major change will help to stop all the micro changes that the Facebook engineers unleashed on a seemingly bi-weekly schedule with no notice for the past few years. Nothing created more headaches than waking up and seeing that your pages are broken and nobody was prepared (or paid) to update it. The hope is that these more structured and formalized pages will make those micro-changes unnecessary. Additionally, with the timeline, it will be easier to tell your corporate story by putting communications or newsletters on your pages and actually have them better reflect progression over time rather than a hodge-podge of items that might come if they weren’t anchored to an exact time. Additionally, the opportunity to push your creativity will be presented as the timeline will be more kind to graphic posts.
In the long run, it seems these changes will make population and content management more standardized. This could make things a lot more easy and allow for companies to rely on Facebook as an even simpler way to even replace an unwieldy and expensive custom site. I’m sure Facebook looked at the migration of companies from expensive sites to easy (and free) sites on platforms like WordPress caused them to take a deep look inward and provide their own solution.
Putting my user hat on, I’m very happy that I no longer have to Like something or submit my email address just to be able to see content for a possible vendor. even from the marketing perspective, I would rather have unencumbered eyeballs on my content and then step up to the challenge of developing good incentives to have them Like my product or enter their email because they actually like what we’re about – not just because its what they’re about to see.
So, while many brand marketers may be flailing in the short-term to make things right with the transition, this could be the key to really providing stability and a strong presence for all who approach this new landscape smartly and strategically.
Posted in Core
Tagged Challenges, Change, Digital, Facebook, Incentives, Like, Marketing, Opportunity, Pages, Platforms, Smart, Standards, Strategy