We want to add 2-3 people to expand the panel beyond Sydney & WIlliam, to get better geographic and demographic diversity. So if you know someone under 18 who would be a good addition to the panel, please let me know. They don't need to be tech geeks, we're looking to really understand how teens of all kinds are using tech.
Any new participants will need to be prepared to put in the prep time if we get picked and help us expand the survey to their friends. And, of course, they will need to join us in Austin next March for the session! If you know anyone, please email me with why they would make a great addition to our team!
We would also love your input for additional topics to cover during the session. If you'd like to see what we covered in 2015, you can click here to download the full presentation or go to here to see a quick overview of what they talked about. What topics would be important to cover? What are the trends you'd like them to discuss? Please feel free to leave a comment here or again, email me with any ideas.
We got a really great response to our session this year and want to make our 2016 even better. We appreciate your help and thoughts and hopefully we'll see you in Austin again next year!
The audience is getting smarter and tougher. We keep talking about transparency and the audience being in control. Well, if we keep telling them they're in control, they're eventually going to expect to be in control. Then what are we going to do?
Caution: Reading this piece is likely to result in raised blood pressure, seeing red and perhaps a core questioning of what the hell you do every day!
OK, so I've read another series of articles in the various trades about the growth in in-"Something" advertising. Ads on cell phones, ads in airplanes (one airline is even making a pitch during the pre-flight announcements!) and even more eBay "body advertising" auctions. And all of the articles come with yet another series of quotes by execs saying something to the effect of "Isn't it great that the audience can't leave and they have to watch your ad?" (UPDATE: As we start to see mobile and location-based advertising take off, I believe we'll see the ad industry try to deliver more ads that can't be turned off.)
Is this what the advertising industry has become? Is this how we want to harness the incredible, creative power of our industry? In trying to figure out places that the audience is trapped so they can't get away from our messages? Are we really aspiring to create the world of Clockwork Orange, where we hold your eyelids open and force you to watch our messages?
Well, if so, let's really tap into our creative abilities. How about ambulances and hospital emergency rooms? "Welcome to your emergency, triple by-pass. Brought to you today by LowChol. Don't want to be back here again in six months, ask your doctor for LowChol, the prescription rotor rooter for your arteries. Our one-a-day pill will save you a visit here in the future!"
Or maybe funeral homes? There's another place that people are generally captive. "This eulogy is sponsored by HappyPill. If you're depressed over the loss of your loved one, let a HappyPill make it all seem better." And let's not forget the casket. I mean, we don't really know what happens in the afterlife and I have lots of friends who think that shopping may be involved. Do you really want to miss the opportunity to have your message be the last thing someone sees before heading off into eternity?
If you're reading this publication, there's a good chance that you're in the advertising business. So, riddle me this Batman -- when was the last time a friend, colleague or family member came up to you and said "You know, if you could just figure out more places to put ads that I can't escape, that would be really cool!"
And yet, while the industry is happily writing articles about how we can capture the audience, there are numerous articles from people outside the industry complaining about being captured. A recent article by Edward Wasserman, Knight Professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, discussed the proliferation of branded content and even quoted from Brandedtv.com to ask "Why create a commercial when you can own the show?" And it's not just TV where branded content is a hot topic. Print media are feeling the challenges, both from companies looking to create "branded editorial" to companies asking for control over how they are covered in magazines where their advertising appears. And while it's not the first time it's happened, Sweet Charity got trade press when they changed a line to include a sponsor mention. He ends his piece with this, "What's astonishing that the same audience that has proven acutely sensitive to any whisper of political bias is tone deaf to the glare of grossly manipulative communication that our media are eagerly mutating to serve."
Advergaming is booming today and I have rarely seen a single mention about the audience in the discussion about what a great opportunity this is. In fact, rarely do you see a discussion about the impact on the audience of the many, pervasive techniques we're using today. Well, other then isn't it great that they can't get away.
It's what happens when tactics over take narrative and strategy. Look at the press the Paris Hilton commercials have scored for Carl's Jr. But a recent article in Ad Age indicated virtually no lift in sales. And Carl's is now going to create more teen male oriented content on their site, to make it a destination for that audience, based on the number of people who wanted to download that single commercial. That's an idea being driven solely by tactical thinking, not strategic thinking.
You can be sure that after the success of programs like BMW Films and Subservient Chicken that many companies called their agency and said "Give me one of those subservient chicken things!" There was no thought as to how it fit into their brand or story, but if it worked for them, it has to work for us!
And just look at the entire WOM phenomenon. Now, as part of full disclosure, we participated in the first WOMMA conference and am very good friends of the WOMMA team. But think about it, if you identify campaign A as your WOM campaign, aren't you saying that your other campaigns aren't worth talking about? Shouldn't the goal of great storytelling be that people talk about everything you do??? Shouldn't you be creating TV commercials, or events or online activities that all make people want to talk about them?
Here's what I say about great stories:
Examples like the Paris Hilton ads or the Pontiac giveaway on Oprah show what happens when tactics rule story. Yes, people will talk about it, but it doesn't translate into action.
But when the American Girl Doll Place opened in NYC, it was the toughest restaurant in the city to get reservations for on a Saturday night. That's the power of great story telling! No ads, no capturing the audience so the can't get away, well, unless you have an eight year-old daughter, then you're trapped! No, they've created a compelling, authentic and relevant story that they deliver to their target audience.
I'm an old theatre person, so I do tend to approach things from the theatrical point of view. We usually start with two things - the audience and the show. We don't say, "Hey, we have sets that look Roman, so let's do Julius Ceaser." (Although, I guess it does sometimes happen in smaller theatres!) No, we start with the audience and the show and then build backwards. My wife calls it backward design
This is not rocket science. There's always been an excellent ROI on telling a great story. Just look at the products and services you use every day.
And you can also very accurately look at what will happen if we don't make a change. People in captivity always revolt -- you can take that to the bank. If we don't start looking for ways to captivate rather then capture, then we need to start fortifying the barricades. For the revolt will come. And sadly, many people in this biz will be yelling, "Let them watch commercials" as they're led to the guillotine.
It made me think about the ad industry and our need to walk in circles to mat the ground down just because that's they way it's always been done. That's why we continue to spend so much time looking at reach & frequency and tactics that work because the audience is captive. Hopefully one day we'll stop all of the old habits that exist just because they are habits and start doing things that create truly engaging experiences!
The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." -- Samuel Johnson
Company: AT&T AdWorks
Position: Associate Director, Lab
Reports to: Director, Lab
Location: New York, NY (Relocation not available)
RESPONSIBILITIES: The Associate Director, Lab will play a key role in developing AT&T’s AdWorks Lab – a storytelling showcase for innovative marketing opportunities across TV, online and mobile platforms.
The individual must be both a strong strategic thinker and have excellent creative skills. This individual must have excellent digital design, 3D modeling and video development skills and be able to work with a wide variety of tools to develop a constant flow of content for the Lab. Relationship management and project management skills are critical, as is a thorough understanding of the digital media industry including mobile and online as well as TV. Understanding of basic UX principles and best development practices in addition to strong technology background is a plus.
An ability to create content that articulates the unique selling propositions for future AT&T ad products is a fundamental skill. The ideal candidate must be able to produce a compelling story for advertisers and agencies as well as work with partners to bring the story to life within the Lab environment.
You will need to:
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: •
Successful candidate will be able to multi-task and thrive in a fast paced, entrepreneurial atmosphere, while also being effective within the matrix structure of a Fortune 100 environment. This individual will have a history of being an impact player and is comfortable taking personal ownership in the performance of his/her projects. Good backgrounds for this role could include experience running emerging media labs or experiential agency experience. Experience in mobile, interactive and media are a strong plus, and knowledge and interest in the mobile and media industries is essential.
REQUIREMENTS: Minimum of 5 – 7 years of professional experience. Track record of success in creating content across a wide variety of platforms. Ability to understand client/agency brand marketing challenges and create appropriate content solutions. Outstanding presentation and communication skills via written and verbal delivery. Strong attention to detail a must. Conversant in mobile services and Web 2.0 media: social networking, search, gaming, etc.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s Degree required. Degree in design and/or content development preferred.
SALARY & ADVANCEMENT: Competitive. AT&T has an extensive benefits program and is focused on career development.
If interested, please email Maria Mandel Dunsche and attach your resume and a cover letter highlighting your relevant experience. Only those who are interested in working in our New York City office need apply.
And let's talk about premium channels. Sure, I really like the original shows that many of the premium channels carry, but tonight's (it's a Monday night) line up of movies is so weak, it should be embarrassing to their programming staff. With all of the movies that have been made, how is it that there's a Harry Potter movie from 2005; Platoon from 1986; 42 from 2013; Enemy of the State from 1998 (I do like this movie and it's actually still relevant); King Kong, Spartan, Men in Black. You get the picture.
And on-demand is just as frustrating. I admit that I'm in a minority on this, but commercials don't really bother me. However, networks haven't caught up to how we actually watch on demand. We binge watch, watching several episodes back-to-back, so we can create our own TV viewing timeline. So, I binge watched Brooklyn 99 and watching four episodes in a row, I saw the same three commercials at every commercial break for two hours. Two of them were in-house promo ads to get me to watch another show and the third was the ever popular Viagra commercial. So, I got the same three commercials for two hours and I couldn't even fast forward. Do TV execs actually know how people watch TV these days?
Think back to the start of the TV industry and imagine if you needed a different kind of TV set to watch each network. You could only watch certain shows on specific TV sets. How far would that industry have gone?
Now, my bill for all of my Comcast services is about $200/month, so it's not a cheap service any more. And I actually don't mind paying for it, really. But if you're going to charge me to watch content, then I should be able to watch it however I want to.
During our SXSW presentation, William made an excellent point about content and Gen Z:
then they won't be paying!
Notice, he didn't say they wouldn't pay for content. Just that when they paid for it, it had to be a better experience than what they can put together themselves. I get the whole business of TV and I do understand where many of their challenges come from. But it has to get easier than it is today if it's going to thrive as an industry. Content needs to be completely portable based on the consumers desires, not the industries. Look around TV folks, there's lots of industries you can review to see what happens when you don't give the consumers what they want.
The good news is that our small survey that we did for SXSW clearly showed that Gen Z likes content and that their desire to both snack and have full meals of content isn't on the decline. But their patience with how we deliver that content is on the decline and the industry really should be listening.
Came across another VR article from my previous blog, this one from 1995. It's interesting to see articles appearing in the ad trades once again talking about VR for advertising purposes. And while Arthur C Clarke's prediction has not come true yet, I have no doubt that VR and AR will play a more significant role on the future of entertainment that we can picture today.
Back when I started in VR, I called the work I was doing Experiential Advertising™, which I defined as the ability to enter and interact with a marketing message and I still think it will be a standard marketing tool in the future. It was a powerful experience back then, with people waiting on line for hours to put on the head mount and experience VR, usually for the first time. But, there wasn't enough content or compelling experiences to justify the enourmous cost of the experience back then. The headmount display that we used cost $150,000 along; the computer was $750,000 and probably had less computing power than the Surface Pro 3 I'm using to write this.
Back in the 90's when I started, we had to create all kinds of tools to help people understand what we were talking about. For example, here's how we defined Experiential Advertising™ back then:
Experiential Advertising is one of the most innovative applications for virtual reality technology. For the first time, consumers will be able to enter and, more importantly, interact with a corporate marketing message. The possibilities are endless. From traveling through the human body to playing a virtual football game, consumers will be able to experience almost any marketing world. Virtual reality offers the ultimate sampling opportunity and will present a clutter-breaking event that will draw attention to any product. Experiential Advertising is an excellent opportunity to influence the buying decision of today's sophisticated consumer.
And with VR and AR estimated to be a $150 billion business, it's exciting to see all of the attention it's getting again.
Original Blog Post
Was using the Google search timeline function (which is pretty cool, BTW) and came across this article from 1995. I said some pretty smart things, if I do say so myself! And this was really a fun gig to work on, kinda' miss my event days sometimes.
"When Joe six-pack can sit on his sofa," a delegate at Apple Computer's recent New Media conference in Los Angeles, said, "with Cindy Crawford in one arm, perhaps for $2.99 an hour, virtual reality will make crack look like decaffeinated coffee. "
Virtual reality., with its 3D picture of a made-up world, is a godsend in persuasion, since it provides the user with his own path through an information universe. But are advertisers ready for virtual reality as a marketing tool yet?
Virtual reality can be a simple three-dimensional world on a computer screen, through which the customer moves using the keyboard or a joystick. Or it might be "immersive", requiring a headset that displays a panoramic world. Either way, objects on the screen can be viewed, queried, selected or bought.
J. Walter Thompson took up the virtual-reality theme in a Kit Kat commercial this year. The film's director, Matt Forrest, set the action in a virtual-reality shopping mall, which a character flies through on a hi-tech magic carpet looking for a snack. "Sooner or later, someone was going to do a virtual-reality ad," the JWT creative director, Jaspar Shelbourne, says. "And I am very pleased JWT got there first."
Involvement is important, but a more measurable facet of interactive media is the feedback it offers on how a product is perceived. By letting a potential customer drive a "virtual car", for instance, the manufacturer can find out how attractive it is before the car is even built, perhaps giving the customer a discount guarantee if they commit to buying at such a nearly stage.
From her base in California, Aimee Rosewall, an independent marketing consultant, has watched virtual-reality technology develop. She sees it as a fragile extension of the traditional one-to-one selling relationship. "Rather than coming and talking at you, I can involve you in my message." she explains. "The problem with the way most modern technology is handled in marketing is that it is too complicated, or expects too much from people to make it happen. The danger is you have customers who are more confused than they were at the beginning."
One of the most impressive virtual-reality marketing applications to date is the Cutty Sark rum stand. currently touring the US. Rosewall helped Anheuser-Busch put the project together with the New York-based tour managers, CyberEvent. A visitor to the stand wears a headset while sitting on a small wooden bench with a boat's tiller in one hand.
In this virtual world, they experience the voyages of Captain William McCoy as he sailed his rum around the world. Steering the ship with the tiller, the Cutty Sark -- with brand name prominent -- is guided into harbour. On either side, other rum traders unload their products and, the soundtrack explains, water down their rum before selling it. Captain McCoy insisted on keeping his rum pure and, in doing so, coined the phrase "the real McCoy".
Dave Polinchock, the president of CyberEvent, thinks the Cutty Sark campaign is successful simply because it does not confuse the brand with the technology. Early experiments with virtual reality made a point of showing off the latest state-of-the art developments, but campaign managers found they were outshining the very product they were supposed to sell. "In the early 90s, people were using virtual reality as the story, rather than using it to tell the story," Polinchock says.
The first lesson for using any technology in marketing, he says, is to make the technology invisible and work on the content, not forgetting that people like to have fun. (Emphasis mine)
And entertainment is one of the three core values Paul Holt at CIA Interactive puts forward for virtual reality. As a consultant to British Telecom's ICE (Information, Communications and Entertainment) project, which is researching how to deliver commercial services into people's homes, Holt sees the technology providing a new angle, but it remains secondary to the message. "Inform, communicate and entertain. As long as you do one of those, you'll be fine," he says.
There are some significant obstacles to using virtual reality, not least the fact that badly understood technology results in an uncertain message being communicated to the user. Over-complicated technologies, or computers for their own sake, promote technophobia and turn people away from the message.
To this end, Holt suggests that anyone considering virtual reality should be thoroughly familiar with two-dimensional interactive media, such as the Internet, before moving into three. Learning to be creative with the online medium is a valuable lesson in how to construct a path around information that would be too dense in a linear format. The user must also be able to retreat still carrying a clear image of the brand.
It's obvious really. Polinchock uses what is becoming a wellknown metaphor in North American marketing: "If you went to a book conference and said you thought content was important, they'd look at you as if you were a moron. Yet we're talking like content is something new." (Emphasis mine)
Europe has an especially reserved approach to cutting-edge technology. Rosewall thinks it could be an advantage: "Europe will take a different route, and a little reservation could be beneficial. America is always pushing for the new, but faster may not be the answer anymore."
This is not a warning to keep away, however. "Mix the technologies," she says. "You can't just invest in one technology because you'll miss someone, and that doesn't make business sense."
COPYRIGHT 1995 Haymarket Business Publications Ltd.
What do you do in the early 90's when your client wants 26 HMD's? Create an immersive animation theater!
Some of the key take-aways include:
As you know, they put together a survey that they sent out to friends and posted on various newsgroups and talked about the results during the sessions. We're still looking to continue the survey as we update the presentation, so if you can share with people under 25, please send them to this link.
Some key points from their survey:
Over 200 people stayed through the entire presentation to hear William & Sydney talk about their views on technology, privacy, content and other topics. Of course, they ended with some key do's and don'ts, but you'll have to download the full presentation to see those! You can click here to download the full presentation.
In all, it was a great SXSW experience for Sydney & William and the audience and we were thrilled by the response we got -- you can see some of the feedback below. We'd like to thank everyone who attended and please let us know if you'd like to be updated on the survey as we get more responses. Email me to receive those updates.
Some of the great comments we received:
If you're under 25, could you take a few minutes to take the Teens Talk at SXSW Survey. And please feel free to share this survey with anyone else who could help! We'd really appreciate it! This is their first big speaking gig and we really want to make sure it's a great session!
Conversations with Digital Natives - Teens Talk
Conversations with Digital Natives - Teens Talk
Gen Z is set to be one of the largest segments of the population and is very different than previous generations. They’ve grown up with tech & a very different media world. They’ve come off a recession, changing their view of work & money. They’re more connected than ever before, but in smaller circles. They are the DIY generation, coding, using 3D printers and not afraid of what tech can do.
Sydney & William, two 13 year olds from the NY Metro area, have been interviewing their peers to get a better view into how they live and their relationships with tech & media. You’ll hear first-hand what this generation, of teens, is doing, thinking and making. What are the trends they're seeing and what do they think the future holds? How do they feel about the pressing tech issues of the day? Do they share the same concerns of tech that older generations have? In addition, they will share video interviews with other students from their school, to show a broader range of thinking and opinion.
The problem is that they never really staked out a good position in the marketplace, especially the last few years. Even bigger stores, think Circuit City which closed a few years back and Best Buy, which always seem to be teetering on the brink, have had a hard time in this space. But Radio Shack had a fairly small inventory and they certainly didn't always have the best prices on things. And, as their situation got worse, their inventory got even worse.
To make matters worse, some stores had very good staff that really knew their stuff and other stores, well, they weren't that good. So, they just didn't have any point of differentiation. And yet, they did have something unique within the electronics chain business. They were the place to go when you needed some components, they were doing DIY before it was fashionable. And maybe, had they double downed on that role, they'd still be doing well.
For example, maybe they could've partnered with Maker Shed and created a real maker space. They had lots of great locations and they could've sold 3D printers, arduino kits drones and the like. They could've led the DIY revolution. They could've had employees as passionate about Radio Shack as Apple employees are about Apple stores. They might've had a passionate audience, coming to them to help with their DIY projects. Maybe a store where people would've gathered to share ideas, a place where there were hackathons on the weekends and people learned about arduino, Rasberry pie and robotics. It could've been the third place for the DIY community. And since they would've been way ahead of this trend, they could've owned that position.
True, they wouldn't have been mass market, so the investor community might not have liked the idea. But they'd be a smaller, better version of what they are today and they might still be successful. And they might not have filed for bankruptcy today.