Tag Archives: Content

Defining User Experience Within Audience Development

UXinAD

Audience Development requires a different perspective on User Experience. Traditionally, User Experience relates to what the user or customer will experience when interacting with a product, but the key factor of Audience Development extends the idea to a larger conceit of the experience from all touch-points with a brand or product – what we refer to as Brand Experience. Kieron Leppard of SapientNitro posted an Evolution of UX presentation on SlideShare four years ago and, while a strong layout of the basics, it is outdated because of it’s pure focus on the User Experience design within the product and not all touch-points of opportunity within an Audience Development strategy.

Those touch-points that Audience Development factors in are; product, marketing, partnerships, customer service, overall brand, and whatever else makes sense for the particular company. Additionally, these touch-points aren’t considered to be one-way outbound features but enabling two-way communications that builds the bridge between company and audience. This strategy allows for the entire relationship to be fluid and authentic, because without it, consumers start to question the efficacy of the company/brand. Another benefit that many overlook in this strategy is the value to the employees within that corporate culture. With the clear strategic direction and understanding of how everything truly relates to each other, ambiguity and bad decisions can be left at the door.

We’ve all seen examples of the disconnects in the bigger UX picture:

  • A consumer is intrigued to sample a product after being pitched one thing, only to find a product that doesn’t match the promise.
  • Products come out hailing themselves as new and improved, yet are less appetizing to the consumer – even with strong feedback channels, the consumers are often left out of the equation.
  • Receiving bad customer service after completing a purchase on a site with a fabulous user interface.
  • A restaurant with great tasting and well-priced food, but horrible service.
  • Being on a email list for a beloved-brand – only to be bombarded with communications that are too frequent, not relevant, or even worse, both.
  • Original Content is produced and pushed out to try to broaden the audience, but only proceeds to confuse the loyal existing audience.

For companies/brands to be successful in the future, a strong emphasis on an holistic user experience is imperative to Audience Development. One can no longer develop product and then clean their hands figuring that it’s up to others to market it or relate to the customers – that will only lead to disconnects. From first-hand knowledge of a number of our clients who have come to us after falling into the trap of disconnected product; their businesses either struggled greatly to take-off, flat-lined or dipped because of such pervading methods. In many cases, the clients maintained deep insights about their audience (even developing open communication relationships with them) and understood the concept of the full user experience, but couldn’t determine how to address the disconnects effectively with limited or, sadly, wasted resources without taking a beat to delve into the possibilities afforded through proper Audience Development. Once you can look at User Experience as more than just a sum of it’s parts, a path to success and the ability to turn your audience into a tribe will come into focus.

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8 Examples How To Build Brands Through Audience Participation

SW_DarthWhere it was once taboo to allow normal folks to play with and publish content based on a brand’s product, the opposite now stands when looking at a key factor of Audience Development. It wasn’t too long ago that brands might have shuddered if their IP was manipulated in a way like Wacky Packages did,  but most of those survived – and it was only a precursor to what audiences have the capability to do now with creative tools and the low cost of distribution and sharing. Those tools and abilities further strengthen the abilities for brands to build audience through allowing full participation.

So, in the spirit of Wacky Packs, the truth of the title above was fudged a little bit. Included are not 8 separate examples, but 8 different iterations of one example where a brand is allowing the audience to participate. That brand is STAR WARS – which is now managed by Disney – and these examples are how the characters were inserted by a fan (or fans) into the Tinder social platform.  A compelling dilemma about the brand is that they didn’t foster or celebrate that audience participation for years. Instead, choosing to control everything and any fan-generated content was done on the outskirts, completely pulled off with a rebel intent like the heroes of the series. When Disney took over, that spirit of community celebration and the welcoming of un-“official” creatives really started to take it’s rightful place.

All that is needed is the positive space in which to allow the audience to play – if the audience shares the same passion for the brand as the brand obviously does, they will make it happen. In addition, with proper Audience Development, they will self-regulate due to their affinity for the brand and bring the brand to heights that might have previously been unimaginable. The proof of just such a thing can be seen above and below with the classic STAR WARS characters trying to find a little love on Tinder…

SW_Chewie

SW_Lando SW_Droids SW_Leia SW_Han SW_Luke

English Premier League On NBCSN About Content Or More?

NBC Sports Network was looking to make a splash when it launched English Premier League Football (Soccer) this past weekend and it seems like it did the trick.  While much of the build up was focused on whether the $250M per year was a sound investment, the payoff on the investment will rely on much more than the actual ratings of the televised matches. To me, the more interesting question is whether good content will draw viewers as much as engrained history does – will English Premier League draw viewers where Major League Soccer has not?

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To get the business side of things out of the way, here’s Cynopsis’ synopsis:

NBC Sports Group’s debut of the Premier League the on Saturday paid dividends for the sport as the league drew record ratings nationally. The triple-header on NBC and NBC Sports Network averaged a 0.5 rating overall, to mark a 67% spike over the equitable three opening Saturday games saw a year ago in 2012 (a 0.3 average). NBC’s telecast of Swansea City/Manchester United delivered a 0.8, the highest overnight rating in US history for a Premier League opening day matchup. On the local front, Washington, D.C. topped all U.S. markets for the game with a 2.2, followed by Tulsa, Austin, Seattle and Buffalo. Online, fans also streamed more than four million minutes of Premier League action via NBC Sports Live Extra.

Certainly, you can get caught up on the growth year-to-year, but the general public know where to find the opening day matchups last year? It was probably the mixture of NBC’s promotion and so many EPL clubs coming to the States to play exhibition matches. But, taking that at face value and the fact that there is more coverage this year than last, is just doubling a small baseline enough to make it a success?

As with other sports like Hockey or even Major League Soccer, there’s something to be said for generating large viewership for a population who may not have grown up with a sport.  We can safely say that the American population grew up with American Football, Baseball and Basketball. But, only a limited part of the country grew up with Hockey and barely any grew up with home-grown soccer.

While transplants to the US have deep affinities for their home teams – whether it be South American, Mexican or European leagues – will those not from the UK buy in to EPL? Will it be enough to generate 1/20th of the audience for the NFL to make it worthwhile? (The 1/20th figure is based on $5B per year the networks are paying the NFL from 2014-2022.) It may very well be enough.

Usually, with sports that have not been a part of someone’s life, people need to have a personal experience with it – perhaps attending a game or knowing fanatics of teams or the sport in general. Personally, I enjoy soccer, but it wasn’t until I was able to attend an EPL match that I was able to get excited enough about it. I certainly would not have tuned in to watch the Chelsea/Hull City opening weekend match while flying from LA to New York.

So, will NBC have to do something to generate even more excitement for the game, or are they happy with the numbers they might have and the awareness it might bring for the network?  It could be argued that the coverage leading up to opening was worth far more than $250M in marketing and awareness for the network. (Though it was odd to see an ad for Fox Sports 1 through DirecTV during the match…)

Or, will it be a boisterous cheer that the EPL fans are known for singing at the top of their lungs in stadiums ringing hollow?

Transcending The Pitch And Becoming The Lifestyle

The delineation of Lifestyle Brands as a separate vertical is odd to me.  Its hard to think of “lifestyle brands” that don’t retain a product at its core. Some examples of lifestyle brands – to me – are: Nike, Gatorade, Coca-Cola/Pepsi, and some could argue Apple or Facebook. You could arguably suggest that Livestrong at its height was a lifestyle brand, but its core product was funding and awareness for Cancer research. Perhaps one of the more recent strong transitions to Lifestyle is Dove. Though the Dove brand has been around for a long time with numerous strong campaigns, it has been over the past decade that they have been able to transcend the pitch and become the lifestyle.

What started in 2004 as a way to establish itself in a new market, Brazil, utilizing creative from London, Ogilvy & Mather Brazil’s “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” had a lasting effect that has enabled the brand to create content and community without constantly pitching its products. Perhaps the best part is the fact that the Brazil team launched what seemed to be a local campaign leveraging existing materials that then went on to drive strategy for the brand globally.

RealBeauty

A recent example is their “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” program that has garnered phenomenal viewing metrics.  Rather than describe it, you can check them out yourself, but keep in mind that there is absolutely NO product description. The US 3 minute documentary has garnered over 54 million views on YouTube in just under a month and a half.  The longer 6+ minute version has had 2.6 million US views.  Just the sampling of other markets shows Brazil with another 5.3 million views of the short and 1.6 million views of the longer on YouTube.

Needless to say, the amount of views is of incredible value, but we can’t forget how they got there.  This was certainly not a matter of posting a cool video and just seeing the video completes jump. It was about an almost decade-long investment to build the community with content and programming that helped Dove to become a Lifestyle Brand.

So, with that in mind, the way to think in this technology and media age is how can your brand become “a lifestyle.” It becomes a matter of content strategy, release strategy, Social Media, messaging and campaign strategy. And it could take quite a while.

If done right, it can effectively allow the brand to not even deal with the concerns about brand loyalty. While consumers are becoming more fickle about brands, they are becoming less so about their lifestyles. Red Bull was able to achieve Lifestyle status through their media content and Dove was able to do the same – in large part through their Real Beauty campaign.

So, if marketing product properly and thoughtfully could enable it to transcend product placement and pitching to become a part of life – or lifestyle -, then what constitutes a purely lifestyle brand?

Privacy Irrelevance?

Another season and another Digital Hollywood ended yesterday and is officially in the books. While there were a couple of recurring themes – social, Netflix, Big Data, social and social – one of the larger “Eureka” moments was the clarity on the idea that debates on privacy and social or browsing are somewhat irrelevant. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that conversation will come to Privacy when discussing Big Data and the growing opportunity to gain insights from the many bits of data collected on every one of us.  One stat bandied about was that most adults already have amassed 2-3 Terra-bytes of data and will continue to drive 1TB for every year forward.  When you think about that on its own – along with the omnipresence of tracking-enabled products from entities such as Google, Microsoft and others – there is more than enough reason for people to have a growing concern. But, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, those concerns of relevant to the invasion of personal privacy might not be what they seem.

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There are a few elements to consider when determining how concerned we should be about Privacy:
– The make-up of the data packs,
– The proper use of that data,
– User Differences by Generation,
– and what should be done to protect ourselves.

Before getting into details, the company line across the board is that security of data is of the utmost importance. But, as we’ve seen, that accounts for little to those who really want to breach security – just ask the US Veteran’s Administration, credit card providers and, just last week, Living Social (whose data was breached to the tune of 50K users’ information.) In all of these examples, None of these examples are tied specifically to social activity, or browsing history, or targeted advertising. When the politicians or privacy experts start railing against privacy in big data for use in targeted media, remember that.

The Data Packs

Those TB of data per person mentioned above is a LOT to parse through on an individual basis. It’s effectively counterproductive to draw up pictures of individuals for targeted media as it’s too much work to get to the numbers you need for an effective campaign. In the case of Big Data, the data packs need to be broader in order to be effective. Could some government look to use the specific data for nefarious or “1984-ian” means? Sure.  But remember, credit card companies have effectively had more telling data on us over the past  40 years.

The Proper Use of Data

When you poll most people about their use of the web and mobile, the majority will say they are sick of ads that have no relevance to them.  As those data packs come into play for more targeted media plans, people will receive content and advertising that is more aligned with their interests.  As long as that placement is not uncomfortable or “Big Brother” like, most people will find those well targeted pieces beneficial and the content distributors/advertisers will appreciate their optimized impressions.

Generational Differences

The general perception of the older generation about the younger one is that of disbelief about what people are sharing about themselves. A simplified perspective on the difference in generations is found when looking at mobile; the Brick phone (Motorola DynaTAC 8000X) was introduced 30 years ago and mobile phones that were cheap enough and small enough to sort-of fit in pockets were introduced 20 years ago. Those who are in college or just graduating high school have never been bound to their homes in order to communicate with others who were far away. That difference is just one of many leading to a completely different consideration of privacy.  In fact, ever since any one of us got our first mobile phone (or credit card, for that matter), we should have been concerned about privacy for that matter.

Which brings us to the second part of this element and leads to the next one. What do we care to share and what don’t we?  The beauty is that each platform provides the choice of participation and security settings. The sad part is that some make it harder to refine security settings than others. It comes down to personal consideration of how much benefit one can derive from the information they are sharing. And, looking into the future, everyone needs to consider what they can stand to have on on the internet in perpetuity.

Many older generations question youth (Millennials) and what they share, but shortchange youth on their social intelligence and savvy. As these mediums are ones that they’ve never lived without, they intrinsically have a better beat on how to get around things.  That could be in the platforms they use. Or, the act of children leaving their mobile phones at a friend’s house during a “sleepover” while they head out to have fun. Or, self censoring what they share and how they share it.  In all cases, young and old, we can’t really control who we share it with. Leading us to…

Protecting Ourselves

Just as we wouldn’t step into the street without looking both ways, we shouldn’t be interacting via digital platforms without recognizing where we’re going.  And, just as we can’t decide not to cross the street just to alleviate risk, we can’t disconnect from all devices and still hope to remain connected and vibrant.

Marketplace Tech from American Public Media ran a segment this morning that illustrated exactly what we can learn from the younger generation (listen to the audio as it is not in the text.) While most of Jeremy Hobson’s interview with New Jersey high school students focus on the platforms they use and why, they do end with suggestions for “their parents.” Those suggestions convey exactly how this younger generation understands exactly what the long-term effects of sharing and data are.

That request is that parents need to consider what images they post of their kids as there could be nothing more mortifying than seeing images of yourself as a child on a beach popping up when you are 17.

In the end, the concerns about privacy in the era of Big Data are effectively moot as that ship has already sailed. As systems and algorithms are refined, people (or users) will find content served up to them where they will consider seeing irrelevant content to be as annoying as being tied to the home phone or digging around for coins to feed the payphone.

All through time, the conveyance of personal information has been a personal decision.  Those who want to be more secretive work hard to do so.  Those who don’t care, don’t. The only thing that has really changed might be what people consider to be truly personal information and how that information is used.

In the past, we didn’t have the bandwidth to parse that information to target at scale. Now we do.  There are certain sensitivities we have to be conscious of, but as the interview with the high school students shows, those concerns about data privacy are becoming less and less relevant.

Automakers Raise The Platform Of Inspiration

Ahhh, Automakers.  I see you did get that email.  You know? The one where it is agreed that the focus in this first quarter of the year should be on inspiration in the commercials. Honda set things off right with the Civic commercial showcasing new innovations and emoting the feeling that things can always be better. Then, during the Super Bowl, we were treated to extremely long spots focusing more on the members of the military and cowboys than on the Jeep and Dodge trucks they were marketing. The fact that many count the Dodge commercial as their favorite says something – but what that is, we don’t yet know. It seems we’ve reached a trend where inspiration becomes the platform for awareness and connection with cars – and association is almost as strong as what’s under the hood.

HondaBetter

For those who remember Paul Harvey and loved listening to his radio broadcasts, the subject of his talk could have been about toothpicks and he would have made it inspirational. Play him talking about God making a farmer over beautiful images, and there might not have been a better connecting inspirational moment for its intended audience. The fact that it was effectively a two-minute slide show with voice over takes it to another level with its simplicity amid the pandemonium of the big bowl game.

Going directly for the heart-strings, Jeep clocked in at 120 seconds with Oprah guiding us through our wait for our armed forces to return home. And, there were a couple of compulsory shots of the actual car they are selling. It seemed the seed was planted by Chrysler’s spot in last year’s super bowl stating that Detroit (and America) was back.

Other than the Millions of views those two longform spots have received on YouTube in the two days since the Super Bowl, it remains to be seen what will be done to build on them.  But the onslaught of inspiration has been taken to the next level by Honda and its Civic model.

Tying into every big social media platform, Honda is leveraging its inspiration into a content play surrounding innovation.  The social media program is called the #HondaInnovator Series and it sets off to provide more information about the innovators in its spot.  With a slew of programming across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube to distribute content and enable interaction, they’re hoping to also generate buzz around the 2013 Honda Civic.

Though it’s not clear how many people will show up for the hour-long Tweet chats with the innovators featured in the spots, Honda will end up with a bunch of content that indirectly touches on their product. To a certain extent, the sky is the limit on where they could take this new-found content stream. Though I don’t believe its the same, it feels sort of like the moment that ESPN decided to create the X Games – but that had sports at is core. Maybe a better example was when MTV decided to air a reality TV show about kids living together – perhaps they all liked music.

Regardless, the opening up of a single commercial concept to create more content and enable more touch points with consumers is a strong one.  Honda’s tie to innovation is as strong – if not stronger – to its product than Jeep’s tie to our military and veterans or Dodge to God, cowboys and Paul Harvey. Let’s now take a moment to reflect on the proliferation of content converting to market share…

Tread Upon Our Content? We Won’t Take It! Or, Will We?

Last night, I caught the premiere of NBC’s new game show, TAKE IT ALL, hosted by Howie Mandell and had a little fun with it. While I absolutely enjoy narrative shows – sitcoms and dramas – more than game shows, it seemed that the bells and whistles were more reserved and made more sense with the context of the game show than they do on the other content I watch on broadcast and cable. Those bells and whistles I’m referring to are the incessant promotional graphics that come up in the lower-third, upper-third, corner or even full screen.  They are sadly more invasive than ever – partially due to DVRs, but seemingly more due to the lack of consideration for the content. How much will viewers stand to suffer as content is tread upon by messaging?

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

David Goetzl wrote about the intrusiveness of networks over programming as a response to DVRs in his MediaPost entry this morning.  While focusing on the encroachment of promotional messaging within a network’s shows, he posits that actually selling overlay advertising inventory may be right around the corner. I shutter to think how much that will diminish the actual content that provides the platform advertising relies on.

Back at the turn of the century – remember 2000? – product placement for television was not effectively seen in Primetime. At that point, it consisted of a bottle of Mountain Dew given to the winner of a SURVIVOR challenge. There was a debate between networks and producers while trying to figure out who would make the money from those “promotional considerations.”  Since that point, the integration of products with shows has reached – and perhaps exceeded – the high science of product placement in motion pictures. Back then, it was still reasonable to assume that the network could make their bucks through commercial inventory sales.  But, is that opportunity window closing to the networks with the growing penetration of DVRs?

The line marking who profited (network/producer) from what type of integration has certainly blurred, but profit participation becomes secondary when when weighed against diminished content by distracting overlays.  An argument could be made that promotions are a different beast with the belief that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” and all shows benefit from the promotion of other shows on a network. But as Goetzl writes, our time-shifting sort of makes that argument moot. Either way, if overlay inventory is actually sold and an item is distractingly pitched over important narrative content, the network might have the short gain of a sale, but the long-term risk to the actual content (and its viewership) being greatly diminished.

Going back to TAKE IT ALL, the ability to DVR proof promotional items within a game show is certainly a solution – but not something everyone can do. We saw how devastating game-show-full schedules can be to viewership in general (check that same turn of the century period) so a solution for narrative programming is required.  Is that solution a widespread jump to running advertisements on top of narrative content?  Absolutely not. That would lead even more viewers to stop watching or switch to the pay-TV programming that has gained ground on Showtime, HBO and Starz or shift to streaming options – definitely not good for broadcast and basic cable networks.

Whatever the winning decision is, my hope is that they don’t tread on the content and destroy the television programs that have been the height of storytelling in the past few years.  Enjoy the show, TAKE IT ALL, but don’t encroach on the content and Take It All away.