We’ve been very big advocates of Social TV for awhile, so it was quite surprising to see a recent high profile Social TV launch fail. Fast Company has the details here. Cliff notes version:
“Fox ran reruns of Fringe with Twitter integration so people watching the show could comment on the show in real-time. The Twitter overlay took up 1/3 of the bottom portion of the screen and as would be expected, drew outrage from viewers.”
While Fringe has been a show that’s not afraid to use the latest innovative interactive marketing programs such as ARG’s, it did seem odd that a show built on the success of these types of innovative and alternate interactive marketing initiatives would receive the backlash it did. However, it’s not the idea that’s the problem here but rather the execution.
As the screenshot above shows, Fox was going for a VH-1 Pop-Up Video Style Integration. Big mistake. Anybody who’s ever watched this show (which is basically X-Files 2.0) knows that you have to pay attention to keep up with the plot so any type of animated interruption in the form of oversized graphical tweets, is of course, going to hinder versus enhance the interactive viewing experience.
Fox should be commended for recognizing a trend with Social TV and trying it out with one of their most popular new shows. However, Fox does need to revisit how they’re using Social TV with a program (and genre) like Fringe. I don’t think just reducing the size of the Twitter integration and focusing on Fringe trivia will help overall. Nor will using viewer’s Twitter conversations that are just feeds pumped into and overlaid on the broadcast itself.
Fox should be using Twitter integration (ala Social TV) to provide sub-stories on the characters in Fringe and continue using alternative marketing methods that appeal to the core demographic. Fringe is a unique show (like Lost and the upcoming Flash Forward) that has a built-in audience that is expecting to find and participate in alternative story lines, engaging puzzles and other enhanced content to create a richer, more satisfying interactive story driven experience.
On a side note, I thought the Observer / MLB All-Star Game integration was great and showed how a subtle cross promotion can help spread awareness and build an audience for television series such as Fringe.
Crowdsourcing has become a new and sexy target in the interactive marketing world when a project brief lists ‘engage the community on a limited budget’. Unfortunately, it seems that lately, both brands and agencies have been exploiting crowdsourcing thinking they can have their cake and eat it too. In essence, crowdsourcing is an attempt at trying to get professional and premium results for amateur pricing. (Note: for this blog entry I’m not referring to legitimate attempts at crowdsourcing such as the Netflix initiative but rather attempts at crowdsourcing that are blatantly trying to commoditize specialized services relevant to marketing and advertising.)
Cripsin, Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) is at the heart of a current controversy involving the design community and CP+B’s intent to crowdsource a logo design for their client – Brammo. Not only has this put CP+B in a poor light (both in the design community as well as interactive marketing community) but it’s not making their client look so hot either. CP+B sent out an RFP for logo design and is offering $1,000 for the winning logo. How much money CP+B was paid is anybody’s guess, but this again shows how crowdsourcing is being exploited for monetary gain. Not to mention, why would a brand need an agency if all they’re going to do is create a RFP and post it on a site for community submissions? Does crowdsourcing even need a middleman in this instance? The irony here is that as crowdsourcing becomes more popular it makes an agency less relevant.
Then you also have another form of crowdsourcing exploitation that are thinly veiled ‘community contests’ which offer little to no prizes in exchange for the glory and prominence of associating a designer or developers name with a popular brand. Gap is the latest culprit here using an iPhone App crowdsourced contest whereby the winning developer ‘wins’:
Their app to be noted as the ‘official’ iPhone app for Gap
2 months of free office space (which was recently added to most likely entice more entries)
The winning developers name in a Gap press release
Yes, you read that right, the big prize for spending all that time and effort is a name along with Gap in a press release. And what could the 2 months of free office space be for? You draw your own conclusions there… Furthermore, the second tier prizes range from $100 to $500 gift certificates which is really helping to ‘commoditize’ iPhone App development in general. Has any development platform in recent memory (iPhone App in this instance) gone from premium pricing to commoditized pricing in such a short time span?
Most professional designers and developers are already aware that by basically performing these crowdsourcing initiatives, for free, they’re in effect helping to commoditize their craft. Even if a designer and / or developer is in it for the glory of having their name associated with a brand, how would other agencies or companies view the winner when it comes to real world pricing? My gut tells me that any agency or brand would figure if the winning designer / developer would do something for free, they’ll be more than happy to do a paid initiative even if it’s ridiculously low budgeted and barely above the cost of ‘free’.
Crowdsourcing is just another example of User Generated Content but in a more controlled manner and specialized environment. With any brand sponsored contest, prizing / monetary value is always key to attracting the best talent and most qualified entries or results. In addition, it is also important to offer monetary value that correlates to the effort of work involved. It seems in these recessionary times, there’s an attempt to skip over that small detail. Unfortunately though, as the last 3-4 years have shown for UGC, some things still hold true – you get what you pay for.
Augmented Reality is pretty hot right now and is looking like another evolutionary step not only for the web but for mobile, retail, print and other marketing & advertising channels. But for the web specifically, Augmented Reality is going to have to overcome a pretty large barrier to adoption in order for it to become mainstream.
Can you guess what that might be?
If you said, “Webcam” that’s only partially right and not the main barrier to adoption. Here’s why:
Most webcams cost less than 50 bucks and are also coming standard in laptops so without doing too much math you can see that webcam usage is skyrocketing.
The main barrier to adoption for Augmented Reality on the web is something that’s proven time and time again to be the death knell of many web based software programs – the Internet Browser Plug-In. Software reliant on a consumer installing a plug-in when visiting a site to view it won’t increase it’s adoption rate. Anybody remember Shockwave? I can tell you from first-hand experience over the last 10 years that it’s very rare if we ever present any web based technology to our clients that requires a plug-in as it’s become a form of taboo in interactive marketing circles.
Right now there are 3 competing technologies in the Augmented Reality space specific to the Internet Browser. (Note: I know there are more but the 3 main ones I’m going to list for now.)
Those 3 are:
1. Total Immersion. Requires a proprietary plug-in.
So right from that list you can gather that options 1 & 2 require the consumer to download an additional browser plug-in from an unknown source while FLARToolkit only requires the Flash plug-in that’s pretty much standard on everybody’s browser. It’s no secret that consumers do not like installing plug-in’s to view content on a website, so this issue might be insurmountable for both Total Immersion and Metaio’s proprietary plug-ins to overcome. Unless of course they have the type of cash that Microsoft has to pay developers and sites alike to try and force feed adoption of a technology like Silverlight.
Finally, there is one final barrier to adoption if you’re using Augmented Reality on the Web. Making sure your tech is actually working. This is from the Coraline site and somehow my top of the line Dual Core, 2.16ghz, 2gig RAM Alienware PC is not compatible. No bueno…
One of my pet peeves lately is how our industry doesn’t seem to have a consistent name attached to it. Ad Age usually refers to Interactive Marketing as Digital Marketing while other advertising pubs sometimes refer to it as Online Marketing. I’ve even seen both terms used interchangeably when it really doesn’t get to the essence of what matters most. That Interactive Marketing isn’t just digital and it isn’t just online.
Interactive Marketing is just that. Interactive. Our job is to entice people to interact with the marketing or advertising initiatives we provide. Interactive Marketing isn’t just about creating websites, ‘online’ banner ads, etc. etc. Interactive Marketing is much more. It is a unique medium that allows instant interaction between a marketer and his/her consumer. I would also argue that social media falls under Interactive Marketing because creating a dialogue (social media staple) is synonymous with creating interaction (interactive marketing staple.)
Interactive Marketing can be online. But it’s becoming a greater part of event marketing, mobile marketing, and even television advertising and marketing through social media integrations.
Interactive often is digital, but not always. Digital Marketing often implies again that our industry is about ‘computer’ and ‘code’ related marketing initiatives when it’s so much more than that.
Interactive Marketing is about dialogue, conversation and interaction.
When I think of digital marketing, I think of this:
When I think of online marketing, I think of this:
But, when I think of Interactive marketing, I think of this:
And it’s about time the Traditional Media and Trades did the same…
Augmented Reality is all the rage in Interactive Marketing nowadays and it’s come full circle back to the Nintendo DSi. As reported by Kotaku, there’s a game coming out for the DSi that allows you to, “Use the DSi as a portal to the astral plane to find and collect ghosts that exist all around them (you).”
Though I can see why AR is popular in advertising and marketing circles, AR has actually been around for awhile in the gaming world. Has everybody already forgotten about the PlayStation EyeToy? Of course, the EyeToy wasn’t mobile so maybe there will be a greater interest in mobile AR type games that can somehow even be tied back into marketing and advertising campaigns. Now we’re talkin’…
In terms of Interactive Marketing history, this could very well be the start of a new era where brands promote their social media activities ahead of their main portal sites or one-off promotional sites.
As seen in the commercial above (apologies for the video quality but was all I could find), you can see that VitaminWater is promoting http://www.facebook.com/vitaminwater. It will be interesting to track how effective this turns out to be but VitaminWater is off to a great start so far.
Their Facebook presence is very well done and they already have close to 50,000 fans before the promotion started. I’m going out on a limb and predicting they’ll at least double that fan base to 100,000 by end of this month. The only negative I can find is that their YouTube presence is lacking and it’s odd they don’t have their official video spot (also promoting the Facebook URL) on there yet.
As always, All Facebook has great coverage on VitaminWater’s Facebook page here.
LBS (Location Based Service) and Mobile Transactions (e-Commerce / Couponing) are often cited as the next big growth areas / tech for mobile devices.Video is another growth area, but outside of viewing Film/TV content and capturing very low res video, there hasn’t been much to get excited about.That’s why this recent announcement from Ustream (courtesy of Techcrunch) that they have gone mobile, IMO is going to be one of the next big things that combines the best elements of Mobile, Interactive Video and Social Media.This will be big not only in Mobile Marketing but in overall Interactive Marketing as well.As the article mentions:
“The broadcasting app, however, is what we are excited about. It includes integrated chat, audience polling, and GPS mapping. The polling lets broadcasters ask their audience what they want to see or what actions they should take in a live broadcast situation. Another key feature: mobile video broadcasters can send out a message via Twitter or Facebook to their audience to tell them when they are about to start streaming live. (See video below). Under the hood, Ustream has developed its own low-latency streaming technology which reduces the amount of transcoding that needs to be done on the server as well as the amount of buffering that needs to be done on the phone.”
What’s exciting about Ustream heading over to mobile (and iPhone specifically) is that this now allows for real-time ‘interactive’ live streaming.Add in the ‘audience participation’ and you have a mobile version of EdTV.Vacation photos and videos are huge for just about everybody – now imagine streaming your walk up Machu Picchu live to your parents or friends and have them direct a virtual tour? Or doing your own version of ToddTV and illicit instant feedback on what your audience thinks you should do in certain situations (note: this could be dangerous for that 18-24 year-old male demo – why didn’t we have this tech when I was that age???)
Most importantly, this will also be huge for brands that want to use innovative interactive marketing methods for future campaigns.You could easily drive brand awareness and engagement for your product through a real-life, instant ‘webisode’ that adds in a promotion / contest type element for the engaged and active viewer.This is the UGC version of American Idol. This is a future game changer…
P.S. If you haven’t heard of Ustream before think of it as YouTube but for live broadcasts via webcam.Whereas YouTube video is uploaded and then streamed, Ustream is streamed live all across the internet.Ustream was recently in the news for one member’s Shiba Puppy Cam which generated over 14 million views – http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shiba-inu-puppy-cam.This is just a bunch of puppies in a cage – over 14 million views!!
We Are Organized Chaos (WAOC) is Zugara’s (www.zugara.com) interactive marketing and advertising blog where we’ll be featuring some great projects and discussing upcoming trends in the digital world. Work — good and bad — will be critiqued. Hope you’ll enjoy reading our insights and thoughts on interactive.