Tag Archives: Original Content

Dodgers Dodged A Great Original Content Opportunity To Engage Fans

How exciting was it when the Dodgers were so hot at the end of the season to head into the MLB Post Season? For many in Los Angeles, just the thought that they will actually be able to watch the games on their television was enough to bring joy. Unfortunately, too many fans were unable to participate in the age-old ritual of being able to watch nearly any game on television because they didn’t have Time Warner Cable. For those who have sports superstitions (like I do), could it be too easy to blame the collapse on the very fact that many who couldn’t watch games when the Dodgers were playing lights-out could suddenly view every moment and, therefore, break the sports-win continuum? Naah! You can’t blame it on that. But the frustration the team felt with their post-season performance and the fans felt in not being able to watch as many games could possibly have been lessened if the Dodgers (and MLB) didn’t miss a golden opportunity to engage fans with original content production off the field.

The blown opportunity – like the blown mid-inning pitching and saves on the field – can be found in what the Dodgers didn’t do as much as what they did do. Granted, Clayton Kershaw had a mind-blowing year – leading to unending national coverage – and Yasiel Puig could fill crazy amounts of columns and blogs with those who love him and those who hate him, but what about the other players?  What about the opportunities to reach those who don’t care as much about the game, but the nuances and personalities of the players?

Looking at a key component of Olympic coverage provides a model for how the Dodgers can be even more compelling and attractive to fans. Every four years, people around the world start cheering for sports that they might have not cared about in the preceding three years and 50 weeks. They might be cheering for their countries, but lately, they’ve become more invested in the individual athletes due to the featurettes and clip packages conveying their journey.  Without being able to watch the Dodger players and hear the legendary Vin Scully talk about them during the games on TV, the Dodger fans (existing and potential) have very little opportunity to be “up close” and derive a more intimate interest and fandom.

The Dodgers (and by Dodgers, I may mean MLB as I believe MLB manages much of what the individual teams do) do a decent job of capturing the experience for fans and players with the Cut4 series of videos on their site, but the vast majority seem to be little more than PR pieces – as opposed to warm embraces between the players and the fans. it’s all too much on the surface.

Dodgers

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe that a team needs to post videos depicting the harrowing sequence of events Yasiel Puig endured to get from his hometown to Chavez Ravine. There’s a lot of great stories in the clubhouse about how the players got to this place in their careers. All of this leads to deeper engagement with the core fans as well as inviting more into the fold – both physically and digitally.

Much like a motion picture based on a comic book needs to engage people beyond the hard core fans, so too do the Dodgers and all other sports teams. For every Kershaw, Puig and other established players like Andre Ethier, Josh Beckett or Carl Crawford, there’s a Paco Rodriguez, Drew Butera or Joc Pederson with a story that’s ripe for original content to engage and broaden the fan base.

Advertisements

Best Annual Map Of The Web! Now, Just Find The Time…

While we all wish we could just troll the web to check out the coolest sites, the most exhilarating use of technology, or the most elegant online animation, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Even with those hours, it would be hard to find what is really cool and not just what has the most money going toward promotion of those online elements. So, there still aren’t enough hours in the day, but we’ve come to the time where everyone has a guide – The Webby Award Nominees… Again, it will take a very long time to get through everything, but at least there’s the semblance of a map of the web and some of this past year’s strongest offerings.

CenturyMOMA

The site itself could possibly put itself up for an award. With smooth movement and simple voting mechanisms, it’s easy – though I sometimes wish it had a more elegant solution to jump in and out of details, live sites, voting and more.

As we’re constantly working to output product ourselves, there never is enough of a chance to see what else what’s out there – especially in other verticals. Without a set determination or rule of who gets to develop better experiences on the web – remember back in the day when Auto sites and porn subscriptions were at the vanguard of web development – you’re losing ground if you’re only checking out what your competitors have published. Events/sites like the Webbys remove any excuses for that research.

Remember, these are awards, so electioneering definitely plays a part.  Some offerings may not be there while others with deeper pockets and promotions teams are.  But, for the most part, everything that we’ve seen major buzz for throughout the year is in there to provide credence to these being the best of the year.

There used to be less categories for easier reviewing – but just like the web, there’s so many permutations of content that call for more categories. If you were to consider all of the entries in every category and vote on them, I imagine you would derive a lot of pride and deeper understanding of what’s out there.  I’ll just be happy if I can get through half of it.

What excites me the most are sites that convey its purpose – marketing, news, commerce – in an elegant way. For me, that means I check out the Arts and Entertainment categories first. And with that, I fell in love with MOMA’s site on the Century of the Child. I really feel that the way users can move from one part to another fluidly is the way everything should be moving, and the content is extremely fun regardless of interface.

The showcase of products by category also illuminates how some things stay similar to how they’ve always been (check the two Disney films with almost identical navigation to what is usually seen for Disney titles and the beautiful BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD site that has long downloads for beautiful pictures but very little content.) The cool thing is finding the specific nuances that tweak typical offerings in just the right way.

Ultimately, the voting part takes away from what I like the most about the annual announcement of the nominees – the exploration.  Spending time to figure out what is best when there are so many differences even within same category nominees seems to diminish what we can truly get out of this. There is just so much to see in sites, advertising, video and more.

With that being said, I’m stopping this entry that went longer than I hoped for so that I can jump back to my map of the web and continue exploring – there’s not much time…

Off-Color Spots Find A Home On The Internet

More brands and agencies are finding that the opportunity to generate video views cheaply online are only part of the equation.  The online video platform is allowing marketers the opportunity to present some targeted creative that might have otherwise been considered out of bounds and accesses a new audience.  A case in point is Ragu’s new campaign “A Long Day Of Childhood” for their pasta sauce products.

Courtesy of Ragu Facebook Page

They launched a series of online videos with their strongest one.  Each of them deal with the trials and tribulations of being a child, but the first one about a boy entering the parent’s bedroom is quite funny. It’s subject matter could be a common one in the home, but could only be expressed on the internet.

The drop in views found in the subsequent videos show how the creative execution drops off from that first one, but it is clear that we are no longer left to waiting for that TV special showcasing international ads in order to get our fill of funny and risque spots.

On another note, Ragu was smart to do a social program that asked users to submit their own recollections of childhood “hardships.”  They even do a nice job of creatively representing some selected user submissions, but they did all of this on their main Facebook page – which seems to be working off of different campaigns all at once.  It is confusing and probably stunts the social activity tied to user-submitted memories.  It is interesting that longdayofchildhood.com is available – yet Ragu didn’t use it.  I don’t know what Ragu’s url and social strategy is, but they could have (or should have) used that to drive traffic and more fully frame this campaign.  Even the images they created (like the skunk one above) could have had the vanity url placed on it to enable it to be posted many places and drive back into Ragu’s site.  At this point, if someone were to see that image outside of the Ragu/Long Day framework, they would have no idea what its all about.

Ragu’s strategy is not a bad one – the spots are cute with one being really funny and their usage on Facebook is OK.  But, it allowed for many holes to be realized in the campaign. You’ve got to wonder what kind of opportunities might have been missed by not providing the fullest platform to tie all of the pieces together under a clear and concise umbrella.

All in, this campaign is an example of something that is fun inexpensive to pull off.  I would imagine the entire campaign was done for much less than it would have cost to produce one broadcast commercial.  With it, they were able to reach a specific audience in a way that brought the brand to mind for an audience AND they were able to do some quantitative research at a nominal cost.

Executing the Scarcity Tactic in Marketing Can Do Harm

I can understand a company wanting to generate the buzz that Apple has been getting with their product scarcity tactic, but it’s getting out of hand. But the past couple of days, there’s been a major instance of a product release coming when stores aren’t even open or the product is not available online and in only one store in the country in daily limited supply. Both products have strong stories to tell, but they’re not stories that consumers are actively seeking out – like they do for Apple products. When there is a demand for 4 million units in the first weeks of a product release (New iPad) you can deal with some folks being upset they can’t get their hands on the product.  When there is very little demand, you can’t risk people being upset that the product is not available. As such, the scarcity tactic does more harm than good.

The bigger fail of the two is AT&T’s launch with Microsoft of the Lumia 900 Windows 7 phone. They supposedly spent $150M to promote the product’s launch date on April 8th. That would be fine if the 8th was not Easter Sunday. Did they think that people would separate from family to buy products – even if stores were open?  The NY Times did their own research to find that there were just no units to be found in the few Manhattan stores that were open. I personally don’t buy that it was smart marketing to launch a big product on a commercially dead day. There certainly is not any buzz that’s coming from the lack of found product.

They had to have spent a pretty penny on the Nicki Minaj performance in Times Square.  It’s too bad they couldn’t have drafted any of that into sales through the weekend at those 30+ stores within five miles of Times Square.

Nike also did something weird with its marketing schedule. They launched a video yesterday on YouTube that stands as their key video campaign element for the Nike+ FuelBand product. The “Make It Count” campaign centerpiece conveys a great Nike spirit:

Whether the production was as clandestine as they would lead you to believe – with the director, Casey Neistat, taking the entire budget to travel around the world with his best friend – doesn’t really matter.  With nearly 150K views in just over a day, they are doing pretty nicely from a numbers sense. It is a great long form piece if you want to capture the Nike Brand, but I don’t know if it does a great job at conveying what the FuelBand actually is.  When I went to the site to find out, its features made me interested but there was no price and they didn’t have any in stock.  They do point out that stock is updated on the site as it becomes available and each morning the NYC Niketown gets an extremely limited quantity.

I don’t know that I would be interested in checking back regularly for this product as I don’t have to have it and can stand to wait for a while. But I would imagine both Nike and AT&T/Microsoft/Nokia dearly hope that people will feel they must have it in order to drive the opening weekend numbers.

The problem in both instances is that they have executed big bangs for the product launches with no way to leverage the excitement to drive conversions to purchase. I know I’m being cynical when comparing the scarcity “theory” between these products and Apple products, but I just can’t get my head around the fact that there is such a huge disconnect between marketing decisions and distribution capabilities. If this new marketing phenomenon is all about a press release, then it certainly will do harm to many bottom lines.

Home-Grown Content Makes The Internet Dance

I am smitten. I am moved. I am excited to see an example of great content begetting more great content. And, it wouldn’t have been possible without the internet.  Granted, it took me a while to find it and it’s just in time for the show to come to Los Angeles tomorrow night.  The show I’m talking about is GIRL WALK //ALL DAY.  It’s a piece of long-form dance music video that is based on the music in Girl Talk’s 71 minute mash-up release ALL DAY.  One of the great things about it is that it builds upon the creativity that Girl Talk’s Greg Gillis put into his music mash-up piece that he released for free last year and put a story-telling spin on it that is exhilarating.  On the GIRL WALK site, it is explained as a tale about finding community and vitality in shared public spaces – and where can that be accomplished if not on the internet?

Granted, part of the joy in the film – which is divided into twelve parts on the site – is seeing the interaction with people and places in the real world of New York City, but its been a very long time since I have seen a dance film this good online or on the big screen.  Usually, there are so many cameras that you lose the dance entirely.  Or, there’s not enough movement – leaving the viewer to feel as if they are an outsider and not part of it. One of my favorite chapters is, #3 “It Goes Like This,” where the lead teaches random people the dance and they all perform back-up for her.

Some other points of interest were:
– When there was an entire dance party on the subway and you can clearly see who is part of the cast and who was not by the mere fact that those who were not all had the mobile phones out to capture video – then riders entering the train at a stop were treated to a male pole dancer in the doorway.
– When they seized the opportunity to visit the Occupy rally at Zuccotti Park during the “Shopping Spree” section to get nice footage and convey the societal ends of the spectrum.
 
– When theprotagonist – who often comes across as an Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly for this millenium –  gets kicked out of Yankee Stadium for standing on the outfield wall (timed perfectly with the lyrics, of course.)

I have listened to the ALL DAY piece since downloading it last March and had not even thought to overlay a narrative.  Director and Cinematographer, Jacob Krupnick, and his cast were able to weave an eloquent and even moving story into  the narrative Krupnik derived from the music. So, the introduction of that emotionality beyond the music is what blew me away.  Additionally, the potagonist, Anne Marsen, seems to be a force in dance and perhaps even more (see the Audrey Hepburn note above.)  Her improvisational style is refreshing and intense with expressions of full emotion.

To me, this provides a strong sense of what’s possible in digital – either as a creative outlet or a marketing element. The filmmaker and cast’s path to making this real is chronicled briefly in a NY Times Magazine piece by Bill Trough a year ago after they had only created a proof of concept. Their original goal was to post on kickstarter.com and raise $5,000.  They ultimately raised $25,000 and shot from April through October of 2011.  With a range of cast members, volunteers and “innocent” bystanders throughout Manhattan, the piece goes beyond being a love letter to the city.

In the past, something like this would have been hard to pull off – let alone distribute.  They are currently on a tour of social events and screenings that hits Los Angeles tomorrow night at Space 1520 in Hollywood on Cahuenga and it has been accepted to the SXSW Film Festival. My hope is that they are able to release it as a DVD, EST or whatever as one long piece, though I imagine there may be a considerable amount of legal restraints to doing so.

The Filmmaker and promoters have been able to generate coverage across the board. They have moved off of the internet and into the real world with inclusion into festivals and tour events and the hope is that the movement will continue. To think that it all basically started with experimentation and passion enabled by technology, the future possibilities are quite exciting. Hopefully, this will open more doors for this form of entertainment, trigger ideas for others and extend the power of Content across the digital realm.

The Future Landscapes and New Economics of Original Content

Amid the beginning of the dot-com lunacy at the turn of the millennium, a company called Digital Entertainment Network (den.net) formed as an online channel for original content.  They were positioning themselves to be a form of competition for the traditional broadcast and cable outlets – programming niche original content for youth to access through their computers.  At the time, FBC was getting stronger in its run against the big three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and in the spring of 1998, there were only 171 national cable networks.  DEN couldn’t help themselves from getting attention (both good and bad) due to their publicity machine, extravagant parties and the legal issues of its founders.  At the time, it seemed like an interesting model, but not one that could last into the future. Regardless of the content, we really had no clear vision of what that landscape would be and what the economic play would be.

Seeing DEN was one of the things that pushed me to make the move from being a network development executive into digital.  I didn’t think DEN, or any other online video platform at that time, was a recipe for success in the future.  I didn’t know what the future held, but I wanted to jump in near the beginning to see where things would take us. 

DEN went away early in 2000 and the larger dot-com implosion came soon thereafter.  Since then, the world, technology and the outlets for original content have changed beyond anything many imagined.  Besides the more than 500 cable channels that are vying for attention on television sets along with the now big four networks, online video sites and their serving capabilities have improved dramatically and there’s so many ways to view video beyond the television sets and computer monitors.

In addition to the challenges of getting your “channel” seen or even generating awareness about its existence, there’s numerous ways to interact with the content and each other that were either dreams or creative lab tests at the time.  Suffice it to say, the model has evolved and we are all trying to keep up with it.

YouTube launched its program to pay 100 content providers good sums of money to provide sufficient content for their own channels.  They just announced four channels – all focusing on extreme sports – yesterday and there is sure to be more. How they plan to promote and discern between the four remains to be seen.

Episodes of shows on television are appearing on sites across the spectrum – both legitimate and not-so-legitimate. Viewers are expecting to not only watch shows, but to vote on them, communicate with their friends during them no matter where they are and view their content anywhere at any time. Content is being created and now has the ability to be sold in so many forms without the help of traditional media companies (e.g. the previously covered Louis CK concert at the Beacon Theatre). All of these are vying for eyeballs.

Even the production of those shows has dropped in price considerably as technology has allowed us to film HD footage on such easily accessible tools as our mobile phones.  Most computers are coming with at least a basic editing suite with near-professional versions becoming more affordable each year.

The reality is that there is so much more original content (good or bad) coming from different sources that we are still yet to see what the big play will be.  The big companies that are looking to establish themselves as key digital distribution platforms – like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and more – will continue to pump money into the products to try to generate an audience that is either advertising or subscription supported or both. There is no doubt that the monies going into these productions are significantly smaller than those budgets for content back in 1998 and the amount of buzz that needs to be generated to reach a certain level to make them profitable is more than what was required back then.

What effectively was derived from a standard platform back then has changed so much in such a short time that it has even soundly shifted the foundation that the original platform of television on which it was built upon.  The general feeling in the established media back then was that of superiority. No matter how intrigued or excited we were by the possibilities of the future, nobody really saw it and prepared those established outlets to be able to deftly move along with the flow.

Ultimately, storytelling is storytelling.  Even without the clear economics, we now have access to so much more than before – and so much more of a fragmented audience to try to reach. Yes,  there are more outlets to get the content out there, and the key difference may be in the one that really aggregates everything in the best way possible.  Currently, if someone wants to search for content, it is relatively hard to find with so many different platforms.  For broadcast type stuff you need to pay for, you’ve got to look at outlets like Hulu, Crackle or Netflix.  The outlets to find content of all types for free consist of those like YouTube, Revver, Break and many, many more.  Throw in iTunes and you’ve got even more outlets.  All this leads to more challenges when trying to find content – let alone pay for it.

We have so much more to discover before finding that next standard. It will be in flux for quite a while longer as the players try to re-establish their footing in the quickly-changing marketplace.  The economic possibilities for Original Content and their outlets remain huge and complex – is it enough to just stay in the game?  I’m certain DEN wishes they still in play. And I am certain we all can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

In Saturated Markets, How Much Is Enough?

In the ever-growing saturation of the online video player market, TumTiki has just entered the fray and its future is not entirely clear.  While they seem to be aggregating full TV episodes, movies and short-form content from other sites like Hulu and Amazon.com – with a reported 700,000 free videos at launch – their business model is a little unclear.  They are running ads from the serving sites and don’t plan on selling their own advertising for a while.  The site is backed by rural communications company, Frontier Communications, and they will have to do quite a bit of marketing and promotional programming to drive users to this new site amongst many.

Before looking at the possible upside, its important to look at the issues:

  • The video quality is quite jerky at the beginning of each episode.  They are certainly not of the quality of Hulu or the ABC App.
  • For a media planner, will it be even more confusing as to who they would go to for an ad buy?  Currently, just the ownership of Hulu and questions of which team to buy through is challenging enough.  With added resources, TumTiki’s ad sales team will seemingly have even more issues.
  • While they did just launch yesterday, it seems they need to do a bit more work on the UI to make the site more compelling than other video aggregators.  I would argue that they truly need an editorial staff to strengthen the offering and attempt to make it stick out from the pack.
  • On a nit-picky side, I watched a ONCE UPON A TIME episode and it quickly moved on to play an episode of GRIMM’S.  I would have preferred a setup like youtube that shows video options after a video plays rather than going directly into another episode or one from another series. Also, once the other series begins, the browser chrome should change to the new series (but that’ just being really picky…)

There are some good possibilities that are still too early to tell whether they will work or not. 

  • There is the seeming promise that you will be able to comment while watching the show, but it does not say whether that comment will appear at the same time in the episode.  The technology for that has been available for more than a year, so it should be included.
  • They intro video also promises a loyalty rewards program based on how much content you watch.  Depending on what the mechanics are and what the payoff could be, that piece could be integral to the site’s success.
  • In some markets, they will be offering local content mixed in with the rest of the content.  This could be good for finding items, but I’ve got to imagine that if someone is really searching for local content, they will find the originating source as this site is just an aggregator.

 All in, it begs the question of launch strategy for new sites in any of the saturated markets.  Do you launch just to get out there with promises of things to come?  Do you tinker until it truly does set itself apart?  In the case of TumTiki, it seems like they might be getting buzz too early and those early samplers will not get the full value that they might have if there were a soft launch first.  Again, only time will tell if what they’ve done is enough to clear a big enough market share to be a big player.