Deloitte TV+ paper, some notes

A new paper out today from Deloitte called ‘TV+: perspectives on television in words and numbers‘ which covers some subjects close to my heart. I was particularly pleased to be invited by the Guardian to appear in some brief podcasts discussing it (along with Tess Alps from ThinkBox, George Entwistle from the BBC, Richard Welsh from Bigballs Films, Sally Quick from UKTV, James Bates & Paul Lee from Deloitte, all chaired by the brilliant Aleks Krotoski).

The PDF itself is secured, making it hard for me to copy and paste some choice quotes for you. Oh well. Here are some rough notes anyway.

Foreword

TV as “the super medium around which all others revolve”.

The primacy of TV is defended in terms of hours of consumption, but I think there may be more to it than that. Would would it take for the internet to become the primary medium? Hours of consumption? Reach? Share of total advertising spend? We know that the share of advertising revenue spent on TV, press and internet are now about equal (26-27% / £4B each) with internet spend just slightly below the other two. TV has been stable, press has been falling and internet has been rising. What happens next year, if internet overtakes TV spend? There’s an argument that we could be very close to the moment when the Internet becomes the primary medium for advertising. That doesn’t necessarily make it the primary medium for culture, but I’d argue we’re moving towards that too. [According to Ofcom, the percentage of 8-11 year olds who would rather give up TV than internet is 15%, and rising. Even more striking, “children aged 12-15 are now as likely to miss the internet (24%) and mobiles (26%) as they are to miss TV (24%)”. Interesting times ahead.]

1.) TV+ proliferating portable screens

Increased opportunity to watch TV thanks to increase in access to mobile devices, apparently. Hmm. My view is that just because someone can watch TV on a small screen doesn’t mean they will always want to. I’d expect mobiles devices to be largely used for clip-snacking rather than people watching 30 minutes of TV on the move (though no doubt there will be some more of that too).

Colour e-ink capable of fast refresh rates. (Imagine something like a Kindle, but in colour and capable of video.) This will indeed be amazing. I’m still not sure we’re going to be watching whole episodes of X Factor in the park though. Personally, I think the power of mobiles will not be in watching TV, but as a second screen allowing you do browse, chat, buy etc simultaneously and individually, without cluttering up the big shared living room screen. Million Pound Drop had an online game (by Monterosa for Channel 4) allowing you to play at home. With good on air calls to action they had 12.4% of the TV audience simultaneously playing on their second screen. For advertising, things like the Honda Jazz app and the Heineken ‘Star Player‘ game are just the start.

2.) TV+ social networks

“Social networks and television complement each other” Couldn’t agree more. Both for TV makers and advertisers, the opportunities here are massive.

Popular programmes are what drive social chatter. – I can certainly confirm that producers and commissioners are very interested to know “did we trend on Twitter last night?” But some interesting ones are thinking about how to make sure their programmes work well online too. Seven Days was deeply flawed in many ways, but a format that tried (and arguably succeeded) to ensure people would talk about it and share it online. The BBC, too, puts a lot of effort into helping people know where the online conversations are happening online (whether it’s linking to the buzz about each programme from its official web page (like this), or putting a hashtag on screen at the start of certain programmes).

35x more time spent watching TV than using using social networks. (more people are watching TV, and for longer, than using social networks). This is probably the fact with which TV execs in Edinburgh will be reassuring themselves in Edinburgh this week. I’m not sure this helps us understand the underlying patterns though, for two reasons. First, because TV viewing figures measure “presence rather than attention” (to quote the brilliant Matt Locke), and time spent watching TV is very different from time spent conversing, sharing, creating, etc. And second, because the average time spent online is not a particularly useful measurement. I’ve been re-reading Clay Shirky‘s Here Comes Everybody recently. He writes “the most active [in social systems such as Wikipedia and Flickr] tend to be much more active that the median participant, so active in fact that any measure of ‘average’ participation becomes meaningless. There is a steep decline from a few wildly active participants to a large group of barely active participants, and though the average is easy to calculate, it doesn’t tell you much about any given participant.”.

Conclusion: “Television and social networks could each exist independently of each other” … but “the two media are strongest when working in parallel”. Yes.

3.) TV+ technology

PVRs: people think they’re watching fewer adverts but actually, they’re watching more. (As with ‘TV is not going away’, this is actually something people have known for a while.) It’s a good fact though.

47% of 16-24 year old PVR owners always, frequently or occasionally stop fast forwarding through ads if they see an advert or trailer that interests them. – Interesting to think of opportunities to develop advertising that works well on PVRs. A three minute spot, with 18 seconds of film played out at 1/10th normal speed, would be really annoying unless you were fast forwarding it. Let’s not make one of those.

I dispute that claim that YouTube is now “focused on professionally produced content, with television programmes featuring prominently”. I’d suggest that the vast majority of YouTube’s content is still people “broadcasting themselves”, despite the (very sensible) moves to showcase professional content too.

4.) TV+ advertising

TV advertising remains strong.

“This is why the most successful campaigns tend to run across multiple media – each complementing the other, each reaching the target audience in a different context, but all conveying the core message.” – Spot on. At work, we call this an integrated campaign.

5.) TV+ shopping

TV is about as important as recommendation by a friend, while ‘I came across it on FB/twitter’ are very low. Interesting, but I think there could be a bias in that survey against recommendations made online, especially as social networking becomes mainstream and not something people think about as a specific activity (just how they stay in touch with some friends).

All in all, a really interesting piece. Well worth a read.

Podcast recommendation: Off the Wall Post

As you might know, Shift Run Stop (that podcast I used to edit every week) is on holiday at the moment. While we work out when/how/whether to restart, I’ve found myself listening to lots more podcasts. There’s one in particular which I think you might like.

Off the Wallpost (‘a conversation about digital media in the real world’) is put together by an intelligent, funny gang of three that you want to be part of. It only took 15 minutes before there was a Ghostbusters reference. What’s not to like?

They are: Dan Biddle, a social media producer; Kat Sommers, who works in a research team developing new tech for TV and radio and Barry Pilling, a cross-platform producer. Full disclosure: I used to work with these people. I think they’re ace.

Here’s what you’ll find in episode one…

    6:00 – Artfinder.com launch. What is it, does it work, would you use it?
    13:00 – Mobile + contacts, why can’t Google and Facebook get along?
    20:00 – Charlie Sheen being bat-shit crazy on Twitter.
    24:00 – Charity and social media (covering Underheard in New York, TwitChange, Pledgehammer, ProcasDonate and more). How is online charity evolving?

And episode two…

    8:00 – Jon Bon Jovi and Steve Jobs
    10:30 – The trend of using Tumblr to do one single simple but very specific thing, like Kate Middleton For The Win. Kim Jong Il Looking at Things. [I love these so much, I don’t know where to start. I have my own collecting internet fridges and I’ve recently fallen in love with Nick Clegg Looking Sad.]
    18:00 – Facebook and Warner Movies deal – will it work?
    25:30 – Wanky words.
    26:45 – Geo-location. Foursquare, StickyBits, Google Latitude, Glimpse and more. Is Foursquare a dead end? What’s the real opportunity here?

If you’re anything like me, this is exactly the sort of stuff about which you want people to do be funny and irreverent. Why else do I like it?

  1. They’re pleasingly cutting about the jargon and bullshit which often surrounds social media experts. The first episode begins with an amnesty on the most offensive, trite and meaningless ‘wanky words from the web’, rooting out terms like ‘side-loading’ and stripping them of their power. This is refreshing, funny and fun.
  2. At usually (so far) between 35 and 45 minutes long. That’s the right length; not too long, not too short.
  3. It’s presented by British people. Not that I don’t love my friends from the USA, but in an online world where their US voices often seem to dominate it’s lovely to hear some local accents and a UK perspective for a change.
  4. It’s like a really good SXSW panel with brilliant panelists talking about things you care about (and all without having to even get in a shuttle bus or queue up).

Like.

Hashtags on programmes – It’s the bat signal!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, writing for ComputerWeekly this week, has picked up on the BBC displaying a hashtag at the start of the new series of Have I Got News For You and said some very nice and insightful things about it:

…when the BBC started broadcasting episode 1 of series 40 of ‘Have I got news for you’ with ‘#bbcHIGNFY’ on screen as the show started, they expected their audience to understand – and follow

I think that’s quite a watershed moment for the BBC and for broadcasting in general. In fact, the very term broadcasting starts to become redundant when the broadcast is only one component of the entire entertainment experience.

Yay!

#bbcHIGNFY

It’s actually not the first time BBC programmes have displayed a hashtag in this way, though it’s arguably the most mainstream so far. Previously, there have been:

#genius for the latest series of Genius, which used it to source contributions to the programme

#genius

#laterjools for Later with Jools Holland, which also displayed selected tweets which used that hashtag on their site. Chris Kimber wrote about the thinking behind it, and some feedback, on the BBC Music Blog back in May

#laterjools

And the very first was #bbcrevolution for Virtual Revolution

#bbcrevolution

What all of these have in common is that they appeared silently, with no voice-over or obvious call to action.

It’s a secret bat-signal. A neat solution to a tricky editorial problem.

  • It works for all microblogging services, and doesn’t give undue prominence to Twitter.
  • People who recognise it as a bit of online grammar will know what to do with it, and it makes them feel like an insider…
  • …while coming just at the end of the credits it’s easily ignored by people who don’t.
  • It doesn’t jar. The visual appearance is tailored to suit the programme, using a typeface which matches the titles etc.
  • It’s not about gaining followers; it’s authentically about pointing to the conversation…
  • …but it’s also a conversation that the BBC is part of. People will spot that we’re joining in too (e.g. @bbcGenius is an active part of the conversations around #genius, @bbcHIGNFY uses the #bbcHIGNFY tag, etc).

You’ll also see the same hashtags appearing on the BBC’s Programmes pages too, in the new ‘Buzz’ pages which link to the online conversations around those programmes. e.g. the buzz page for HIGNFY, linked from a new module on the programme page,

The ‘hashtag bat signal’ and the programmes page are not the only way of introducing the idea of a hashtag for the programme (and there are some examples of specific calls to action in programmes which involve hashtags: #askRhod, #bbcFilm2010 etc) but it is an elegant one.

Disclaimer: I’m not exactly a neutral observer here. As always, these are just my thoughts and opinions rather than any sort of official BBC line.

Twitter and The Apprentice – some quick observations

I wrote last year about the ‘data flood’ that confronts you if you try to watch what everyone on Twitter is saying about the Apprentice. Well, it’s back, and more talked about than ever.

This isn’t surprising of course. Twitter has grown a lot since March last year, and people will always talk about what’s on television. The Apprentice, Big Brother, Seven Days and of course the X Factor are all ‘appointment viewing’ shows that are always widely talked about both online and offline.

This year, the team behind the Apprentice are not running the same live predictor play-along app they used last year, they’re instead joining in with and reflecting the activity that’s happening on Twitter.

Not only is Lord Sugar tweeting personally as @lord_sugar (yes, it really is him), there’s also an official @bbcapprentice account which focuses specifically on the show, doing a good job of sharing news and retweeting interesting stuff while the programme is on and during the week, but also makes use of a often-overlooked Twitter feature, the favourite. The @bbcapprentice account is using favourites to track the funniest and most interesting public tweets they’ve seen, and the official Apprentice site has a little ‘Favourite tweets’ box on the page which showcases them (with deep links to each), with a link back to the full list of their favourites too.

As an experiment, I used Twapper Keeper to create an archive of all public tweets using the #apprentice and #theapprentice hashtags. I’ve downloaded the archives and spent some time extracting basic stats and graphs from the results. There’s a lot of data to play with, so these are some very simple highlights.

Between 2010-10-6 20:30 – 22:30 there were 23,300 tweets hashtagged #apprentice, 19,782 tweets hashtagged #theapprentice and 390 which used both.

Here’s how the two hashtags were used during the evening. The yellow line represents all tweets which contained either #apprentice or #theapprentice (or both). This shows tweets per minute.

Apprentice episode 1, #apprentice vs #theapprentice

Both peaked during the boardroom scene, which was also the only point of the evening where #theapprentice significantly overtook #apprentice.

We can also dig into the data to spot interesting trends and popular terms throughout the evening. (Episode 1 spoilers follow…)

Apprentice episode 1, tweets hashtagged #apprentice and #theapprentice

Stuart and Dan were the most talked about characters, with Stuart getting some really clear spikes throughout. You can also see ‘sausages’ doing very well during the task, and the “you’re fired” moment quite clearly just before the end.

More stats….

Continue reading Twitter and The Apprentice – some quick observations…

Online drama

I’ve been thinking about online drama recently.

There are traditional online video productions, which are essentially video made for the web. Good examples are Dr Horrible and The Remnants. Both high quality videos made to be distributed online, both created during the writers strike last year. (No coincidence there I think).

Then you’ve got your Alternate Reality Games. I’m going to assume you already know (or will quickly learn) about The Beast, Majestic, Starlight Travel, World Without Oil, Why So Serious, The Lost Ring etc. Three specifically interesting examples…

I Love Bees‘ (2004) was ostensibly a radio drama, but one distributed using payphones around the world which the ‘audience’ became players of a game in order to follow the story. Implausibly difficult for anyone to follow alone, it worked as a community experience with players working together to find, record and share the fragments of story being played through payphone around the world. It was commissioned as a viral campaign for the Halo 2 game.
Hear the story from start to finish here, and read more about the background from 42 Entertainment or the predictably detailed Wikipedia entry.

Perplex City‘ (2004 – 2007) was
“A city obsessed with puzzles and ciphers. A game that blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality.” An ambitious treasure-hunt ARG project, supported by the sale of collectable puzzle cards. Though not necessary to play the bigger game, the cards did provide some of the clues and integrated with the imaginary universe of Perlex City. Particularly of note is the fan-run wiki which the developers ended up relying on as the canonical record of what had happened in the story.

We Tell Stories‘ (March 2008) was ‘Digital fiction from Penguin’ built by Six To Start.
“Penguin UK is launching its most ambitious digital writing project to date. In collaboration with fêted alternate reality game designers Six to Start, Penguin has challenged some of its top authors to create new forms of story – designed specially for the internet. … But somewhere on the internet is a secret seventh story, a mysterious tale involving a vaguely familiar girl who has a habit of getting herself lost. Readers who follow this story will discover clues that will shape her journey and help her on her way. These clues will appear online and in the real world and will direct readers to the other six stories. The secret seventh story will also offer the chance to win some wonderful prizes…”. This was most interesting

Incidentally, there’s a long history of Alternate Reality Games being used to extend and enhance TV experiences too.

Online drama using social networks are an ever growing field. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

lonelygirl15‘ (June 2006 – August 2008) was “the first of many shows within the fictional LG15 Universe, tells the ongoing story of a group of young adults fighting against a mysterious secret society called, The Order. … On the LG15 website, community members can interact with the characters and each other in the forums, chat rooms and comment boards, and can create their own community generated videos and storylines that add to the ever expanding LG15 universe.” (If you’ve always wondered what it was about, there’s a 300 word plot summary you might enjoy. Also worth knowing that in its early stages it was a perfectly believable story of a normal girl, and there was a fair bit of controversy and discussion when it was discovered that she was an actress. Easy to miss, when looking at the story now, but it was controversial at the time). LG15 also involved a small amount of product placement (sorry, product integration), though this was taken a lot further in later spin-offs…

Kate Modern‘ (July 2007 – June 2008) was “an interactive online drama which ran from July 2007 – June 2008 and was produced by the creators of lonelygirl15 – EQAL. During it’s highly successful year long run it was nominated for two TV Craft BAFTA awards, a Webby Award and won the Broadcast Press Guild Award for Innovation 2008”. A spin-off from lonelygirl15, Kate Modern ran for two seasons. (Review). Product integration apparently allowed Kate Modern to turn a healthy profit. (Season 1, 2007, was supported by MSN, Tampax, Pantene, Gillette, Orange, Paramount Pictures UK and Buena Vista International UK. Season 2, 2008, by Toyota Aygo Platinum, Cadbury Creme Egg, Warner Bros & Skittles.)

Sofia’s Diary‘ (March 2008 – June 2009) has run for three seasons on Bebo, was broadcast for about a year on ‘Fiver’ but recently dropped Sponsors have included Sure Girl and Transport for London. (More info)

The Gap Year‘ (May 2008 – August 2009) “The brand new daily reality show, from the makers of Big Brother”
(another Bebo production, this one in conjunction with Endemol. Sponsors include Sony PSP, Trident and Doritos).
Freak A Freemantle co-production with MySpace. ‘The first UK online drama from MySpace’. Launch date: 20th July. Brand partners include Tampax and Red Bull.

Hollyoaks: The Morning After the Night Before‘ (July 2009)
Is an online video drama made by Channel 4 in partnership with the Home Office to promote the Know Your Limits sensible drinking campaign. Character profiles on Bebo and episodes online at E4.com. “Hollyoaks: The Morning After the Night Before is a brand new Hollyoaks drama … It’s all happening here on E4.com. All of the episodes will be online, and you can find out behind the scenes gossip right here too – with exclusive interviews, spoilers, photo galleries, behind the scenes videos and more. Make sure you check out Josh , Sasha and Dave ‘s Bebo profiles, keeping you up-to-date with what the gang are getting up to in between episodes… “ (The 12 episodes will be released online every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through July)

What has the BBC been up to? A couple of recent examples:

Proper Messy‘ (January 2009) A teen drama from Switch.
“Proper Messy was an exciting new interactive drama where YOU could influence the story … As well as weekly episodes on BBC Two there was loads of stuff on bebo and extra exclusive vids online each week. If you were aged 13-17 you could have also signed up to get texts EVERY DAY from the two main characters Imogen or Jake. … This is where things really got exciting – if their texts stirred you into action you could reply and your comments could have influenced the decisions they made. And, what was even better is that it was all free!” (Review)

‘The Well’ was announced just yesterday. “BBC Switch has commissioned digital production company Conker Media, part of Lime Pictures (whose credits include Hollyoaks), to create and produce an interactive, digital drama thriller for its teen audience. The Well will air in the autumn in the Switch zone on BBC Two (Saturdays 12noon-2.00pm) and extends online at bbc.co.uk/switch where the audience can immerse themselves further in the story, exploring a spookily atmospheric recreation of the main drama location in a multi-level game.”

‘Psychoville’, exploring the possibilities of comedy on the web, have strategically dropped a few website addresses into their episodes and site, and encourage viewers to explore the web looking for answers to a weekly question.
“The mysterious stranger knows what you did: stop your secret going public by answering the messages below. Keep an eye out on TV and scour the internet for character websites you will need to visit. Answer the questions correctly to continue and come back after each episode for a new question.”
So, not quite an ARG (and actually, I notice that I’ve drifted away from Drama too. Maybe I’ll make another post about Comedy soon), but it is a great way of exploring the world of Psychoville and discovering things like Mr Jelly’s homepage. The results are every bit as darkly funny as you might expect.

Going back a bit further, CDX (2006) is an ‘interactive film experience’. (Read an article about it from DigitalArts or a review in Joystiq) hough some thinking about games from the BBC is a post I’ll save for another time.

What else? More BBC online dramas: Signs of Life from 2007 (“Buffy meets Horoscopes“), Wannabes from 2006 (” an interactive web-based soap opera“).  Torchwood did an ARG and Dr Who didn’t (even though a prominently placed phone number made many of us think they might have).

So what about the future? Only time will tell of course. I’m interested to hear of other examples though, and what you think works.

How teenagers consume media, apparently

There’s a bit of work-experience-as-research from Morgan Stanley doing the rounds this week. It’s called “‘How Teenagers Consume Media’ by Matthew Robson (Aged 15 yrs & 7 months)” and if you want to read it you can download the PDF from the FT or the the Evening Standard. (Incidentally, isn’t that weird? Where’s the download from Morgan Stanley themselves? I can’t find one.)

If you want to know what a teenager and his friends think about the media, ask him. Fair enough. It is an interesting read too, giving an honest no-holds barred account of Matthew’s perspective on everything from radio, TV, games, internet music, cinema and mobile phones. However, when I read an executive director at Morgan Stanley quoted in the Guardian as saying that “the note had generated five or six times more responses than the team’s usual research” and the Telegraph claiming that it has “become a sensation among City analysts and media executives desperate to discover the habits of younger generations”, I think it’s time to get some perspective about a piece of writing that is purely anecdotal. Suw Charman-Anderson is particularly eloquent on this:

“The City, and sections of the media, are getting a touch over-excited by a “research note” written for Morgan Stanley by Matthew Robson, a 15 year old on work experience … He has written a very well thought out piece which describes the media habits of him and his friends. … But one has to put this research note into context: This is one teen describing his experience. It is not a reliable description of all teens’ attitudes and behaviours, yet both Morgan Stanley and the media seem to be treating it as if Robson has Spoken The One Great Truth. … The important thing about businesses like Morgan Stanley, and the journalists who write about them, is that they are supposed to be able to tell the difference between data and generalisations. Yet they don’t seem able to sort the wheat from the chaff.”

And as Suw points out, it’s not as though there hasn’t been any actual research into teens behaviour before now. Suw’s post links to danah boyd a Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research whose papers are well worth reading her for her well researched and respected insights into teen behavour.

There are plenty of other studies too. Nielsen’s report on ‘How Teens Use Media’ [PDF] from last month.

The notion that teens are too busy texting and Twittering to be
engaged with traditional media is exciting, but false

Teens are NOT abandoning TV for new media: In fact, they watch more TV than ever

Teens love the Internet…but spend far less time browsing than adults

It focuses on U.S. and while it covers much of the same ground it backs it all up with, you know, numbers.

Going back a bit further, Forrester conducted a survey of European teens for DIUS last year, and wrote it up in a report called ‘How are young people using social media‘.

Regarding Teens and twitter, of course some teens certainly do use Twitter (according to Sysomos recently, 31% of Twitter’s users self-disclosed age is between 15 and 19) but here’s Nielsen again:

“Twitterers are not primarily teens or college students as you might expect. In fact, in February the largest age group on Twitter was 35-49; with nearly 3 million unique visitors, comprising almost 42 percent of the site’s audience.”

Meanwhile, CNET reported last month on a survey from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network:

“While 99 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have profiles on social networks, only 22 percent use Twitter, according to a new survey from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network. … 85 percent of them follow friends, 54 percent follow celebrities, 29 percent follow family members, and 29 percent follow companies”

Derek E Baird’s Barking Robot blog (‘musings on Generation Y educational and kids media, online community and youth culture’) is a great resource for people working in those fields. Recently, a post about teens and twitter gave a great summary of various studies and reports too.

If the personal touch appeals to you though, consider getting a few different viewpoints. Particularly interesting was the Guardian’s publishing of two more British teenagers responses yesterday:

Izzy Alderson Blench, aged 16 years, 11 months:

“Matthew claims that teenagers don’t have time for television or reading a newspaper. Maybe that is because he is too busy chatting to his friends on Xbox Live 360. Living in a rural area, Virgin Media is not available and the vast majority of teenagers I know use Sky. Instead of using BBC iPlayer or 4od, teenagers will record programmes on to their Sky+ box and watch later.”

The music program most popular with teenagers I know is Spotify. With last.fm (Matthew’s choice) it isn’t always possible to listen to exactly the song you want; with Spotify, it is.

teenagers DO read newspapers. Real ones, not just freesheets (you don’t get thelondonpaper in East Sussex, funnily enough). Even if it is just the weekend section or the magazine, the majority of teenagers will read an interview or feature in a newspaper regularly. Some even read the news.”

and Eloise Veljovic, 17 years, 1 month:

“As a teenager who lives in a small town in Kent, I feel some of his comments to be unfair on the general population

I believe that the radio culture is thriving among the younger generations. With popular presenters such as Chris Moyles and Fearne Cotton spilling over into other genres, teenagers are keen to keep up to date with their radio shows, even if only for the 10 minute car journey to school

As a teenage girl who cannot tell Ronaldo from Ronaldinho, I tend not to spend five hours a week watching football.

I also disagree with Robson’s take on the BBC iPlayer and his correlation to less television viewing time. Most teenagers live with the comfort and reassurance of Sky or Sky+ and will be informed whether their programme is about to begin or when it will next be on. Therefore, the use of services such as 4od or iPlayer are irrelevant and unnecessary.”

The full article is well worth a look and helps balance some of the London boy centric points.

Update: Kevin Anderson follows up with further discussion and more links to useful studies.

Notes from C21 Social Media Forum

C21’s Social Media Forum said that the event would provide

a creative workshop that defines and develops how the producers channels and rights owners can work with social media platforms to develop business and extend creativity. And generate new revenue streams today!

Despite not being desperately bothered about generating new revenue streams,  I was sufficiently interested by the rest of the description to book a place. Of course, I wasn’t really expecting it to deliver on its promise of being a ‘creative workshop’, and it didn’t. The event was more of a traditional conference, with speakers and time-for-questions. Overall, it was quite useful though, especially the morning sessions. Here are selected notes from some of the more interesting slots:

Opening keynote: Building brands with social media, Ann Longley (Digital strategy director, Mediaedge:cia)

  • how do we use social media, and what it means.
  • “You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice Twitter these days”
  • “What’s happening in Iran shows the power of social media beyond entertainment|
  • “press coverage of Twitter signals the ‘mainstreaming’ of social media”
  • What is social media anyway? Quote from MEC Guide to Social Media – “all online activities, tools, platforms and practices that allow users to collaborate, create, …”
  • “Traditional broadcasting model is breaking down”
  • social media is dominated by UGC: creating, sharing and remixing content
  • campaigning – e.g. NUS vs HSCB, M&S bra size cost, 13k on FB. There’s no such thing as local news any more.
  • organising protests has never been easier
  • finding out what people are saying about your brands online: “Many brands have fans online, even without actively cultivating it. It happens naturally.”
  • “smart brands cultivate their fanbase”
  • “smart fans influence brands” (or at least, influence brands which listen)
  • (while brands can avert crises by listening (Sony Bravia defusing negative story around Paint advert by monitoring online before it turned into a problem)
  • “…and invite their customers to help them”
  • What makes a good social media strategy? At the heart of any campaign you need a good product or service. Examples: Obama – being everywhere, T-mobile – UGC, Skins – energising their fanbase, Sony Ericsson – pocketTV, Dell – going from Dell hell to Idea Storm
  • content, communities and conversations = conversion (to £ or eyeballs)
  • social entertainment: social media enriching experiences. creative industries engaging audiences across channels
  • some examples of Alternative Reality Games (“it’s kind of a geeky thing, seen as quite left-field and not compelling for a mainstream audience…”, but interesting anyway) – cited McDonalds’ The Lost Ring, Superstruct, Penguin’s We Tell Stories
    A Swarm of Angels….
  • earned media: word of mouth from friends and trusted people
  • Whuffie: in a post scarcity economy, reputation and social capital rule.

How to work with Joost to extend your entertainment brand, Henrik Werdelin (Chief creative officer, Joost)

  • people are increasingly consuming an audience online, but how do people find the stuff to watch?
  • social discovery is underdeveloped. The whole internet seems to be centered around Google and SEO
  • the web is bad at helping people find stuff they didn’t know they wanted to watch
  • new content discovery methods are algorithmic (amazon, joost, iplayer)
    and equivalent to zapping / channel-hopping (i.e stumbleupon)
  • “you should watch this show about pandas” vs “28 of your friends really love this show…” – Joost uses FB connect to help with this sort of social discovery
  • ‘ behaviour generated content’ AKA ‘social triggers’: generating user content without having to do anything. e.g. FB activity feeds from status changes. Going from single to married used to be just a metadata change is now an item of activity in a feed. And an important one.
  • personalisation: subscriptions & data visualisation
  • realtime-web: co-watching. what are your friends doing right now?
  • 2% creators, 8% particpators, 90% lurkers/passive viewers. How do you move the 90 into the 8 and 2?
  • Paradox of Choice
  • Joost design based on ‘freedom from choice’, i.e. preventing people feeling overwhelmed.

Using online narrative and social media to drive commercial value, Andrew Piller (Fremantle Media)

  • new media strategy: recycle, extend and create
  • era of self-expression & the rise of the prosumer
  • audience is broader than you think (not just 16-24 year olds) and niche communities are valuable
  • rules for content: personalised, participatory and narrative (if there’s no story, how will the audience engage?)
  • ingredients: linear narrative (lean back mode), non linear (lean forward / real-time), interactivity, community
  • “all of our experiences are underpinned by community”
  • Freak (goes live July 20th.) is a Freemantle co-production with MySpace currently in production (story from Broadcast Now) is the first UK online drama from MySpace. “We’d never let the audience decide the story but how they get there, the everyday decisions, can be affected and influenced by the audience”.
  • Lead character is a girl gamer. Brand partners include P&G (Tampax) and Red Bull. Brand opportunities for music, fashion, games, …
  • producer from Coronation St, director from Hollyoaks, creative prod from serial drama, AP is very young, we have a community manager.
  • Brands want new ways to talk to their customer
  • Brands (think they) want community “but don’t know how to create it”
  • Q: where did the idea come from? A: In house creative team for d
  • Q: how do you work with other social networks? A: YouTube platform where you can view the content too, but the experience is bespoke to MySpace. In the dream world you’d hyper-syndicate and use it to drive back to MySpace.
  • Q: do you need MySpace? A: Brands are nervous about the space, so it’s easier if you have a distributor on-board. Industry needs a gamechanger to prove the model. Kate Modern & Lonely Girl were good examples, but the scale and production values were not there.
  • Q: how does the international model work? A: Not geo-blocked. We’ve cleared the rights internationally, but we’re not going to promote internationally. We think we can take the format to US market or European territories later.
  • Q: who owns the content and format? A: Intellectual Property is owned by Freemantle, but the UK series is co-owned by MySpace.
  • Q: is a TV series on the agenda? A: It’s not the on the agenda, but it’s talked about.

How Xbox used the social media space at E3, Maurice Wheeler (co-founder and planning director, Digital Outlook)

  • Microsoft asked us if we’d go out there and create a social media explosion around Xbox at E3. With 3 weeks notice. Gave us a view of what they’re presenting and announcing at E3.
  • we wanted to get the interesting info to social media power users / mavens / connectors
  • aggregation: wanted to focus people on our conversations. Listening to what people are saying. Consolidating to a stream of content which comes out of the social media cloud. “Sucking out the interesting and exciting content”. Feedback loop
  • providing content to a social media savvy audience in a way that they’re happy with an comfortable with
  • flew 5 influential gamer bloggers and 5 social media power users (including Charlie, to E3).
  • primary platforms: twitter, youtube, audioboo, kyte, flickr
  • secondary platforms: qik, 12 seconds, facebook, seesmic, bambuser, blip.tv, moblog, wordpress.com and many more
  • Q: how much of that would have happened without you? A: we can tell from the hashtag we used that we affected it [I’d agree. Just. Compare xboxe3 vs e3]
  • tips: create a #tag, have a distribution channel established, pick the right people, understand local technology constraints (e.g. make sure you’ve got wifi coverage), have a plan B, C and D

Second screen: this works for me

It’s Wednesday, so it’s Apprentice night again. Tonight I’ve been using Visible Tweets on an open laptop next to the TV.

Apprentice - second screen

Ray was complaining about motion-sickness with Twitterfall running in the background. Visible Tweets (thanks to Andy for the tip) is a nice alternative.

Eye-catching, simple and beautiful in full screen mode, it’s less comprehensive than Twitterfall but does show a selection of recent tweets at a pleasing pace. Here how it looks:

Alternatives to ‘UGC’

I’ve started reading the research paper on User Generated Content undertaken by Cardiff University and the BBC. ugc@thebbc: Understanding its impact upon contributors, non-contributors and BBC News.

The study involved 10 weeks of ethnographic shadowing in BBC newsrooms, interviews with 115 journalists and 12 senior managers, analysis of a range of radio and television broadcasts and online content, plus a MORI poll of the British public, an online survey and 12 focus groups. Phew. 63 pages of report means I have not read all of it yet, but Robin Hamman (who was involved in sponsoring the project, has digested it here. Most of it is centered around the use of contributions from users around News, but there are a great many interesting general observations in there, and will give me much to chew over in coming days.

One conclusion instantly caught my eye though:

“The term User Generated Content is inappropriate and inadequate and should be replaced with Audience Material”

And the paper goes on to use ‘Audience Material’ (in preference to ‘UGC’) throughout. Now, I have as many problems with the term UGC as the next person, and it’s not a new discussion, but I don’t really think ‘Audience Material’ is any clearer.

Material? It’s no more specific than content really. Just another general word for stuff.

Audience? If any word is going to make people at the BBC think of its users as content consumers, to whom we must broadcast, that’s probably the one. Please let’s not reinforce the idea that users are an ‘audience’ or, still worse, ‘consumers’ (as in ‘consumer generated media’. Urgh).

I don’t really have a better alternatives, though I’ve always thought that user contributed content was slightly nicer, if only because I like the emphasis on contribution over generation.

Any others?

Apprentice Live Predictor

For the next hour I’ll mainly be watching the Apprentice.

Except I won’t. Not just watching anyway. A few weeks ago, I talked about the Apprentice and Twitter and if you’re anything like me, you generally watch TV with a laptop open. This is sometimes known as a ‘second screen’ experience (I even recently heard it called, heaven help us, ‘double dipping’).

There are quite a few examples of social telly projects out there, and that list is far from comprehensive. Mac Morrison has been thinking about the web and live TV as an event and reminds us of Tom Coates’ thoughts on social set top boxes from way back in 2005.

Well, now there’s this. You might like it. The Apprentice live predictor is quite simple really. You predict who you think will get fired, can change your mind at any time, and score points based on how long you were backing (um, what’s the opposite of backing?) the person who finally gets the finger.

It’s not a competition (really), it doesn’t influence the show (it couldn’t possibly, since the show is pre-recorded) and it’s not (really) chat-around-content as some of the social telly examples were, because the messages are pre approved and hand picked by the site editor. That means that a secondary game, which I found myself playing last week, becomes trying to leave a comment witty enough, quickly enough, to get picked by the host/edtior.

The predictor is a nice example of participation around live television which isn’t just about adding open chat around a video stream. Fun, game-like elements interest me a lot more really. I think the best bit is watching how the fickle public prediction changes in response to the candidates doing and saying stupid things.

It’s been running for the last three weeks. In case you’ve missed it until now, here’s what it looked like during the closing minutes of boardroom scene last week. I waited for a week before posting this, to reduce the spoiler risk.

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