A Literacy of the Imagination

a deeper look at innovation through the lenses of media, technology, venture investment and hyperculture

Filtering by Tag: audience development

Participatory Publishing

As some of you already know, yesterday Alvin Djunaedi and I launched a new BETA version of Paperlet, the “world’s first participatory publishing platform” that allows you to develop a story with your audience -- the audience being your friends, family and other people in your social network.

What is participatory publishing?

Well, we hope that the concept was explained to some extent above (and in the video). How this functions as a market behavior, now and in the very near future, is something we find most intriguing.

The ecosystem of online or digital publishing looks something like this, and has what I call a “double diamond” effect:

Double Diamond.png

Basically, this construct puts users (people) in the middle of a wonderful web of service interrelationships. As market disciplines like advertising and publishing become more and more disintermediated by a host of utilities and exchanges (real-time curation, programmatic buying, mobile-enabled and geo-targeted content creation, etc.), creative, strategic and distribution services become more dependent on each other, and their networks, to provide value.

In that sense, the “diamond” is the nexus of providing behavior that allows the creator or storyteller to leverage the best of the ecosystem to serve their needs and that of the market itself. As this hybrid service becomes an actual product, the diamond doubles down on the direct and indirect relationships that the ecosystem provides. There’s a reciprocal and sustainable effect, if you will.

For example, imagine that you are a storyteller -- specifically, a journalist -- and you develop a piece on urban farming. You have a means to write the story, a way of editorializing it, even a way of turning it into a product of sorts. Why and how? The story has potential value in its uses across social or digital networks, as well as your value in the fact that you wrote it, you have experience in the field and you've provided unique insight. Inversely, the marketplace is empowered because that insight can be used to tell more stories like it, and place you in a position to make connections with more publishers who are looking to place or curate good stories. So, whether the story originates from you, a publisher or an agency is almost irrelevant... what matters is that present or realized value can be tracked and measured within the ecosystem.

It's interesting to note the effect on publishing itself; I have referred to 'publishers' here as anyone or anything that publishes content, online or off (newspapers, magazines, portals, etc.). Self-publishing has emerged as a means to democratize distribution, but I would assert that without network services, this is just another tool or channel to create more content without the right readership. Further, the bar on storytelling quality is challenged as more content is created and 'pimped out' across media channels. Therein lies the core logic behind Paperlet's business model.

Where platforms have historically acted as destinations (“Over here! Come check out our great content!”), the ubiquity of creation and distribution has enabled a shift in how platforms come to be. This essentially means that the macro services of purchasing, storytelling and utilities (applications) reconfigure themselves as people customize and partner with each other -- as they become participants in the development of new markets.

This is why companies like Amazon are so formidable, because they are figuring out that their real power lies in how quickly they adapt their service products to the needs of the marketplace, and that of course hinges on who is operating within it.

Valuable.png

It’s a brave new world for storytellers and publishers alike… that is, if they can look at their networks and actually see the possibilities.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

RELATED POSTS:

Content’s New(ish) Context

The Real Money is in Ecosystems

Connecting Brands and Networks to Make Content Matter

The Future of Advertising Isn’t Advertising (As We Know It)

On Storytelling & The Challenges of Multi-Platform Media

5 Really Important Shifts in Media & Technology

What All Multi-Platform, Cross- or Transmedia Initiatives Need: Data Rigor & Strong Revenue Models

As someone who builds content & analytics systems for a living and helps develop strategies for their use – particularly in various marketing capacities – it’s been a bittersweet challenge: How do we prove out value and identify what success looks like?

As co-creators and producers of multi-platform narratives, we can be equally confounded: How do we sustain those successes?

What All Multi-Platform, Cross- or Transmedia Initiatives Need: Data Rigor & Strong Revenue Models

The folks I advise, from content producers (such a branded entertainment companies) to technology ventures (such as branded applications), constantly ask me why funding is so hard to come by at times, or, how they can sustain relationships with brands that are unsure about spending “experimental” dollars on multi-platform initiatives.

My pushback is commonly this: What problem(s) are you actually trying to solve for these companies?

Is it a consumer problem? A marketing problem? A business problem? A brand problem? Does it satisfy a market need? All of the above?

Here’s another angle: What’s the true purpose of your idea?

From a storytelling perspective, the challenge is no different from any other we’ve faced in the media world for decades, only now the issues are more complex -- for one, “new” approaches to storytelling have been brought forth with the intention to liberate the media spaces we operate in and provide some sense of scale; for another, these same approaches seem to have us scrambling for new, more effective ways to source creative material, to create revenue and in some cases, to develop viable “franchises”.

And while creative approaches to storytelling continue to evolve – and methodologies around them arguably become more abundant – very little discussion has gathered around the data and analytics frameworks associated with things like audience composition, fandom, market segmentation and media attribution.

Further, few creators seem to be serving up the one thing any media buyer, studio, network or brand really needs: a revenue model, or a business plan (not just a media plan or pro formas tied to exhibitor relations, for example).

Now, I’m not at all suggesting that this is a new concept.

In fact, there are quite a number of folks who have been pushing this agenda forth for years and have even enjoyed some success in doing so. There are also a good number of ventures across the globe that have developed platform offerings to include media asset distribution, cross-channel measurement, product integration techniques and the like.

What I’m suggesting is that revenue modeling, business planning, product scalability, what have you, are no longer solely in the domain of the media, network or studio stakeholders... It’s our domain as creators.

So, if we want to sell our innovative storytelling wares to the money folks and partners that own the distribution and supply chains, we need to develop and own the disciplines regarding how we cultivate data, how we provide meaningful analytics and how we can apply them to adaptable revenue models.

And that goes for independent producers and studio, agency or network divisions alike.

Cases in point: Many of the great transmedia or multi-platform initiatives discussed over the last 10 years were either amazing “bolt-ons” to studio or network production efforts that were already well under way, or, they were wildly inventive independent film, web or TV efforts that somehow took on creative life of their own, partially adopted by fans within social media environments and/or by way of good ‘ole word-of-mouth.

Similar to problems we’ve faced in areas such as online display and rich media, the data challenge in its own right is multi-fold: click behavior alone isn’t going to cut it.

We need to dimensionalize behavior. We need to understand what the cultural triggers are behind sharing and purchasing. We need to get a lot smarter about who we engage and why we engage them. We need to contextualize what makes a good story, a good product, or a good story product.

I would assert that the respective media we serve up – whether in the form of film, TV, webisodics, games, apps, graphic novels, music, consumer goods or otherwise – must be packaged as scalable product, in and of itself, or, as platforms with indefinite scale.

Perhaps this is why stories (in the form of messages or longer-form narratives) tend to come and go, and why media assets tend to be laid to waste. But all of this can be preempted with smart, integrated planning... And a little bit of chutzpah.

Think about it: In an ideal business context (say, to build a storyworld with specific product opportunities and integrations), we, as creators and producers, want to be sitting at the same table with other writers, directors, studio heads, web developers, brand managers, merchandisers and product engineers... Yet, most often we are not.

We speak different languages and operate with different intentions, but more specifically, we’re managing different P&L sheets (or different P&A budgets).

The upshot?

Creative context equals business context.

It’s the world we live in now (the 21st century), and it’s what drives our commerce systems via social means. Let’s remove the money issue by developing solutions to address it from the onset.

So as a storyteller, constantly ask yourself these questions:

What consumer, brand or business problem am I solving?
Specifically, what’s the market need?
What am I really offering (of scale)?
What do I need to know about my audience?
How can I sustain their interest?
What can I offer them (or what can they offer each other) in return beyond the “product” itself?
How can this scale to new stories and through new media (beyond established buys)?  

Then there are the questions to ask that are specific to data and analytics:

What does engagement really look like? (remember: every situation is unique)
What constitutes fan behavior?
How do I attribute these behaviors to purchasing patterns?
What patterns are direct? What are latent?
How can my media plan or my product plan be adapted?
What are some likely scenarios?
What are some key learnings I hope to find?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Join us in San Francisco at the StoryWorld Conference + Expo, October 31-November 2, as we tackle these issues head-on and explore myriad solution sets...

What All Multi-Platform, Cross- or Transmedia Initiatives Need: Data Rigor & Strong Revenue Models

New Edition of StoryCentric Focuses on the Role of Data in Multiplatform Storytelling | InteractiveTV Today

[itvt] is pleased to present the latest edition of StoryCentric, our video column from Brian Seth Hurst, CEO of The Opportunity Management Company and former second vice chair of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. StoryCentric focuses on the business, technology and art of interactive storytelling, and highlights new technologies and other industry developments that have the potential to fundamentally change the way we create and interact with stories and narratives--in television and beyond.

This edition of the column features the first part of a two-part discussion in which Hurst and Gunther Sonnenfeld, SVP of Cultural Innovation and Applied Technology at Omnicom-subsidiary RAPP, focus on the role of data in multiplatform storytelling.

North America

via

itvt.com

Here is the video to the conversation...

A Literacy of the Imagination: Storytelling Approaches for the Collaborative Economy #transmedia #reinvention

This was a fun virtual talk I gave recently for the Reinvention Summit led by Michael Margolis. In it are some core concepts I will be introducing into a new book of the same name, “A Literacy of the Imagination”, as well as a sneak peek of the collective intelligence and dynamic publishing platform we are building in Canada, called UBIQUID.US. I am also working with Scott Walker on blowing out the elements around a new media model, a publishing-based construct that would allow stories to develop and flourish (somewhat) agnostically. It would be great to hear your thoughts in particular around co-creation, IP development and rights management, as our conversations with attorneys and media executives have produced an array of perspectives around these topics, and we would like to see this thinking reflected in the frameworks we are building.

[here is the source Prezi with the YouTube video embeds]


The Merger of People, Technology & Ideas #analytics #storytelling #strategy #creativity #innovation

Early in my career as a creator of film and television content, I quickly found myself confined by what media allowed me, or didn’t allow me, to do. My transition into the interactive space alleviated some of these hurdles, but I soon realized that there was a much bigger issue at play, one that called to the reality that media ecosystems were becoming exponentially more complex, and that no one medium could replace or define our roles as marketers.  

I tell this story often because it is important that we understand the meaning and value of what creativity is, as well as what it can do for us when we look at it from a more holistic perspective.

To me, creativity is the process by which intent and action passionately align. It is a part of everything that we do well, and represents both the successes and failures of innovation. We are all creative beings, who, whether cognizant of this dynamic or not, constantly pine for the opportunity to connect, particularly through storytelling.

I started building social technologies because I wanted to acutely understand the ways in which we could help generate insights and empower the storytelling process. I suppose that I will always be a writer and an artist of sorts, but the more challenging proposition is how I can become a better sponge. The beautiful part about technology development is that it provides illustrative, colorful journeys into the unknown. The discoveries we make along the way are what give us a sense of accomplishment, especially when we can share our insights as “gifts” to others.

One platform I’m proud to be a part of that represents the power of community is eCairn. Its founders, Laurent Pfertzel and Dominique Lahaix, spent over 20 years at HP using various proprietary technologies to advance research methodologies for extracting and cultivating business intelligence, and were among the first to do what is now considered to be “social media data mining”.

While Laurent and Dominique are pioneers in the business intelligence space, the platform itself is not exactly “best-in-class”, nor does it have the sexiest or most intuitive interface. But that is not the point. The strength lies in our approach to data, and the insights we want to come out of it. We can always sync our technology with those that have complementary features and functions, and that is part of the plan to scale as a business. This also applies to how we think as strategic entities.

As strategists, it is imperative that we act swiftly and humbly in organizing intelligence frameworks that can move the needle of our business and our clients’ businesses. When you consider that most problems we are tasked to solve are of a wicked nature and are regenerative (meaning that the solutions we provide ultimately lead to new, more complex problems, and this cycle is ongoing), we must be interdependent in our thinking, the ways we create and how we utilize resources.

One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to learn from people. I have unique windows with which to observe their behaviors, and in various ways, I have opportunities to collaborate with them on a daily basis. These elements are also a constant reminder that anything we build must be adaptive; in other words, strategic methodologies must creatively inform technology functions and vice versa.

It is also critical that we think on the part of others – brands, agencies, audiences (consumer groups) and technology vendors must all be a part of the same conversation. This is a common issue I see with the start-ups and middle stage companies that I advise; all too often we build according to perceived “market value”, as opposed to understanding the needs and desires of people.

We’ve tried in earnest to apply this approach to Heardable, an online brand health platform I started co-developing about 18 months ago. Co-Founder & CEO, Jon Samsel, is a former marketing executive who has logged serious time building innovative solutions at Bank of America, Countrywide and Ford. Another co-Founder, John Sharp, is a seasoned entrepreneur and investor who also just happens to be a programming ace. The things I get to see and learn as an agency strategist by sitting in a room with these guys is invaluable. Here is our latest iteration of the offering:

Naturally, Heardable is still in its infancy and will continue to evolve. We plan to build more functional utilities around it and make the intelligence collective.

In a larger sense, technologies serve as organisms that help define, complement, refine and create human solutions. If you look at “platforms” as solutions that can leverage the amalgam of people + technology + media, then as marketers, we have social objects and ecosystems that are very special.

The “wicked world” forces us, even as competitors in the same space, to come together. Fact is, as marketers, we cannot afford to operate in our own, proprietary vacuums. Just look at the struggles of the automotive industry as one glaring example of this.

The bottom line is that there is room for anyone and everyone who is eager, humble and willing to expand their own piece of the pie and create new markets. Human needs are ever-present and ever-evolving. Needs are the new markets. Utilities are the solutions we can provide.

And there is also plenty of money to be made through altruism. But I suppose that is the subject for an entirely different conversation.

In the meantime, go forth, my friends, and innovate ;)