Tag Archives: BBC

If All Screens Are TVs, What Then?

TVolution Last week, the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences announced that they would be awarding prestigious Emmy Awards in an expansion of the short-form series category. The deeper explanation of categories and requirements is:

The Emmys has expanded the short-form series awards to four categories: comedy or drama; variety; reality/non-fiction; and animation. Series must have a minimum of six episodes with an average length of 15 minutes or less, and be shown on traditional TV or via the Internet. Awards have also been added for short-form actor and actress as well.

What struck me is the inclusion of something that was not traditionally television within a “traditional” television environment. While not completely out of line with what the academy has done in the past – they have a membership group that focuses on digital content and they already expanded the meaning of Primetime when they included cable shows that could effectively be consumed at any time (a la HBO, Showtime, BBC) nearly two decades ago, before even DVRs and time shifting came around – it certainly seemed a bit of a land grab for an organization to stay relevant in the shifting of landscapes to an unknown future.

Then, there’s a lot of noise about Facebook making a play for the streaming rights to NFL games over the past day or so that really brings to question:

What do we consider a TV moving forward?
If all screens are TVs, how are people going to interact with them and content?
When will we start gaining from data insights in making it a better experience?

Just looking at Facebook and their want for live sports content, they’ve already driven video views on the platform to 100MM per day. The opportunity to completely do away with second screen environments – where your friend’s comments appear adjacent to the video, effectively making it a huge virtual sofa – is an evolutionary game changer. And, the predictive opportunity for delivering content based specifically on what you’ve been interested in that day or even that hour is mind-numbing.

One challenge in all of this is how closely tied to the past TV – of any form -remains. Though the rising interactivity allows for lean forward video consumption, there are far more viewers sticking to the lean back model. They still might make a selection off their DVR, VOD, or even that time-worn event of choosing a channel, but why can’t we start moving toward content delivered in linear fashion based on what you would probably be interested in right now?

Why do we see a huge amount of content highlighted based on what we watched in the middle of the night on Netflix when I’m logging in with my kids mid-day on a weekend? How come I do an incredible amount of searching on Google, yet their owned YouTube only prompts videos that I’ve already showed my kids on my computer a month prior? When will Facebook come forward with a “You’ll Also Like” product based on what video I’ve consumed and not what my friends post? (To give Facebook credit, they’ve done something like this, but it comes across as being more advertising than value-add.)

I do see a time when we will be able to turn on a stream of content – both short and long-form – and predictive technologies will line up the content and you can choose to watch or skip. The reality is that there is so much data there, it’s sort of silly not to use it. Whether it is Google or Facebook that have people exploring on a daily basis – and they also deliver content – or Cable/Satellite providers who might have relationships with data providers, there should be an ability to curate in real-time what the viewer might want right now. The use of data right now is usually only good for showing me what I was interested in then. Imagine the possibilities if we could have what is top-of-mind now delivered to us.

Perhaps this thinking isn’t even breaking enough from the TV norms as we know them. As much of content is evolutionary, perhaps this will just be a step to opening our minds and experiences to enable an content distribution/consumption cycle we can’t even yet conceive of.

For those reasons, I’m excited about the question of “What Then?”

Don’t Let Your Brand Name Fall Flat On Your Audience

Often, there’s a name that really sticks among the founders of the company. There’s a ring to it… It makes people smile… It seems obviously right… Or, frequently, in these times, the cute omission of vowels in a product name is just plain cool. Unfortunately, some of those names get lost in translation. The BBC’s Justin Rowlatt captures the pitfalls of naming beautifully in his column of how context can change a brand’s inflection.

Plopp

Whether the ownership is too close to the product, doesn’t think beyond their initial market or just has bad luck with other things going on in the world, sometimes the brand name just leaves you wondering what they were thinking. This isn’t to say that you’ve got got neuter your brand name to make it work without offending anyone – it’s just that you should take the opportunity to get to know your audience well in order to name the brand as best as possible.

Of course, you should only have the problem of being so successful that changing your brand’s name is a major hassle. Otherwise, be sharp on the front end and strongly consider your brand name so you don’t have egg on your brand later.

A Twitter Account’s Legal Questions Lead to Ground Rules for Social Branding

A legal story that broke last week in reference to a Twitter account and its ownership brings up some interesting questions about how brands and companies should consider or engage Twitter – or perhaps all of social media.  The specific lawsuit that was written about in outlets like the New York Times and BBC focuses on the legal challenge and its possible precedents in relation to a user’s 17,000+ followers that were initially generated while he was working for a company.  Upon leaving the company (phonedog.com) eight months ago, he was given permission to maintain the account and even changed the name to be completely his own.  The parameters of the suit are seemingly too convoluted to focus on whether the ruling will set any clear legal precedence, but those same questions provide a solid basis for ground rules on social branding.

Before getting into assigning a worth to your tweets, let’s look at a couple of the main foundations for your social outreach. There are a number of routes you can take with the two most popular being an official voice of the company or the use of a personality – either within or outside of the company.  Both offer strong opportunities but both are also rife with challenges.

The official voice of the company works because it is always supposedly from you (the company).  Maybe one of its values is that it can never up and leave you – taking its followers along – but depending on the platform, the company voice might not be considered as authentic or it might be thought of as too dry and unimportant.  It takes more than just posting to engage a large base and only consistent communication complemented by other outreach can build a passionate following.  Knowing that, social outreach is not a medium to fly into without a strategy and discussion of tone, frequency and communication.  It also cannot be considered as something that you can constantly change.

The option of working through other entities might work for you if your goal is to reach a large group of people quickly – perhaps via someone they trust.  There is an element of control you will be lacking in this engagement, but with the proper partner, it can lead to quick engagement of larger groups if that is what you are looking for.  Of course, you are effectively leveraging an individual’s personae to communicate with readers or consumers who will relate positively with you company or product. It’s all great when the positives line up nicely with your product or releases, but you won’t have total control over it.

With either of these – and all other forms and formats – there is strong value that is completely dependent on what you are trying to convey and how you want to convey it.  Either way, strategy is the most important and shouldn’t rely on your hiring of someone to just write.  If you hire anyone, it should be a social strategist and they should formulate the strategy only have a bunch of meetings with the marketing, publicity groups or whatever combination makes sense for your organization.  Perhaps only after you’ve defined the strategy can you place a hard value on the elements of your social campaign.  Unfortunately, there is no one metric that correlates with everyone’s needs.

In the case of Noah Kravitz, there is no way his readers are worth $2.50 each – the amount Phonedog is seeking from Kravitz) and I personally don’t believe the company can lay claim to anything he has done with that list because it has always been just him – even with his old user name being both his name and the company’s name, the company was not represented without Noah’s name in there. As we don’t know the specifics, we can’t fully judge, but I don’t see grounds for the company to get any compensation.  They didn’t hire him specifically to start-up a Twitter feed for them and there didn’t seem to be any bespoke characteristics they might have developed for Kravitz to speak of when representing the business full and not himself.

While this legal wrangling will most likely not set any precedent, there are some things companies should do to protect themselves when it comes to social IP and the off-chance of it flying away if an employee (or more)  should leave:

  • Establish a clear social strategy for official communications and also for other employees who might invoke the company’s business when tweeting on their own behalf.  Besides mitigating PR issues, not setting clear parameters for employees discussing company issues (or not) there may be competitive or SEC issues that could arise if they share too much.  Make sure your internal and external strategies are clear and consistent.
  • If you start a social presence from scratch, make sure it has a specific POV or narrative that is consistent with your brand.  Whether in tone of voice, personality or whatever, that specific element effectively instills what could be considered social IP.  Even if you are engaging a person to create a following, establish it as a work-for-hire so that ownership is still in the control of the company if that person decides to bolt.
  • If going the route of bootstrapping on existing outlets, ensure that they work with your communication, but also make sure that there is no confusion who’s doing the communicating for who.  In this case, an outside source is communicating on the company’s behalf – so the company cannot expect to have ownership and control of the outside source.  Clear expectations are key – especially when determining if you want to transition this quick-reach solution to the long-term. As there are complexities related to the long-term when using outside sources, its one more reason to have a clear strategy prior to engaging social outreach.

Sadly, there are many more questions than answers when it comes to social and that’s why its imperative to lay a solid foundation or ground rules for your social branding. Whether it is corporate updates, product information, help or just the weather that you want to provide for your social minions, keep yourself out of a legal quandary by laying down strong ground rules for your business and employees.

Google’s Gotta Give

In an instance that really makes your shake your head in wonderment or disgust, the BBC reported that Google finally removed a review claiming that a shopkeeper had fondled his 9 year-old child. The review in whole was not just about the fondling – but also an allegation that the customer was cheated on a hardware fix. The Review read:

“Robbed My RAM and Touched 9 Year Old What a scam artist, he stole RAM from my computer and replaced it with smaller chips hoping I wouldnt notice and also I later found out touched my 9 year old inappropriately. A Violator and a rogue trader. DO NOT DO TRADE WITH THIS MAN!”

The review was posted 18 months ago. Since then, the shopkeeper has been trying any which way he could to contact the reviewer to try to rectify the situation – to no avail – and he has also been asking Google to remove it since not being able to contact the less-than-ethical poster.  Toni Bennett, the unfortunately targeted shopkeeper maintains that he lost 80% of his business due to the post. 

It is sad that people would resort to making such a claim on review sites – even if the allegation were true, as there are other channels through which to settle claims.  But its even more unfathomable that Google would have hidden for so long behind their statement that “we’re not in a position to arbitrate disputes.”  It seemed that the damning part of the review was not about a dispute, but the intensely defamatory allegation of inappropriate touching.  Without a doubt, the person who posted the entry should have some responsibility, but Google should have stepped up and removed this offending review a long time ago.

Yes.  A thing of beauty about the internet, social media and the ability to post reviews with ease is beautiful until it is mis-used.  For Google to imply that business owners have the ability to counter or resolve any claim in the reviews only deals with part of the equation. Yet most business owners don’t know how to respond well to negative reviews – and those that do would be hard pressed to come up with a solid face-saving response to claims of pedophilia.

Reviews are an even larger part of Google’s business – with both the acquisition of Zagat and the introduction of more opportunities to post reviews in Places, Maps and more.  There’s got to be a better way to be able to respond to downright inflammatory reviews like the one referred to above. Sadly, there is no real responsibility placed on those reviewers who do not follow guidelines of honesty or ethics.  Real harm can be done to innocent and honest businesses if they were to come under fire from reviewers with malicious intent.  The sites, including Google, must take responsibility to enable quick resolution of these unfortunate postings.

With the ability for anonymous people to post questionable reviews that can really have an adverse effect on businesses, individuals and even the sites that allow those postings with no form of accountability, something’s gotta give.

Outstanding Future Possibilities And Keys To The Now

BBC technology reported about an exciting development in the world of computing and chips at Northwestern University. It points to a future technology that could be truly astounding and enable computing devices to be even smaller, cheaper and more powerful than the immediate direction we are heading in with silicone-based chips that are being developed now. They are developing this future by addressing known scientific theory and molding it an entirely new way. With their direction, there are also lessons to be learned by companies of all types.

The researchers have developed a material that manipulates positive and negative particles to form a dynamic transistor that switches by external electrical pulses – effectively re-wiring itself.  It is challenging to understand even when reading the report, but the presumed possibilities are seemingly endless and extremely exciting. Please read the article via the link above to get more of the technical story than is being portrayed here.

Other than that cool future, there is a great lesson for all businesses in the here and now. One of the researchers, David Walker discussed how they came to this solution for the key challenge of creating chips that are even smaller and more powerful – especially when there is not much room to get smaller.

“It’s becoming more and more challenging to make devices smaller and you need to think of new ways rather than just shrinking things down because you’re reaching a fundamental scientific limit here of how small you can make a device,” said Walker.

“Our solution to this is instead of making things smaller, why don’t we try to make them more versatile – by taking all these hardware components and building them into one.”

And therein lies the key learning. Far too often, we see companies reduce department head counts and still ask them to do everything they were doing – and more. By effectively following the thought process and re-evaluating what they are doing, they can not only be more efficient but also perhaps lead to growth for the company.  This certainly doesn’t mean disbanding a unit or starting a whole new group – there is opportunity to evaluate the existing resources and structure to see if reconfiguration can wield enough of a difference.

The particles that the Northwestern researchers are working with have always been there.  They were just not “managed” and manipulated like this new material does.  This type of thinking leads to alternatives – some work and some don’t – but at least its better than just trying to achieve what you might have done before with reduced resources due to changes in technology, tastes and economics.

The “particles” of companies certainly are in place, it’s a matter of how we choose to manage them.  Looking at the opportunities for growth in the future may just be the key to surviving any business environment shifts in the now.