Intergrated media

2009, What a Year It Has Been, and What a Decade It’s Going to Be.

The 1956 House of the Future

Last New Year’s Eve if someone had walked up to me and told me all the things that were going to happen in the next 365 days to me, I would have laughed. Seriously. One year ago today I had no intention of moving from my Union Hill home of 10 years to Kansas City Kansas. I had no intention of buying a new car, or getting a second dog. The trip to South Africa was still in its infancy, and I had serious doubts about having the finances to make the trip. All of this did happen though, and it has made for a very interesting year. Well interesting last 6 months because literally all of this has happened since July.

I have to say that I am very grateful and thankful for how amazing 2009 has been for me personally. Many of my friends and colleagues have lost jobs, or had other personal set-backs in their health and finances. I have been lucky, and fortunate to not be in that situation. My heart goes out to those that haven’t been, and I wish for them a happy and prosperous 2010 and decade ahead.

I really believe that the next year and the next decade is going to be an explosive period of growth for everyone. The last ten years have seen phenomenal growth in technology and science, and in the last half of this decade design has once again been recognized as a major factor in shaping business growth.

In 1999, who would have thought that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook would have become major online gathering spaces for millions of interconnected end users? Not many. In 1999 the hottest things going were lengthy animated Flash intros for your website and online shopping experiences that didn’t suck. Things like convergence media were really just dreamy ideas that many thought unfeasible due to bandwidth and other technology issues. But as this decade closes out those dreamy ideas are rapidly becoming a reality.

Many people disagree with this, but by the end of the next decade the way you experience television, the internet, your phone, the dashboard of your car, and other devices will have changed completely. Verizon’s FiOs is a current example of the beginning of real integrated media. The widgets that run on your TV while you watch connect you to the internet. To things like Twitter, or your Fantasy Football league, so you can tweet, and check how your team is doing, all in real-time while what ever you are watching plays in the background. Blueray Live is another example of this. Who would have imagined ten years ago that you would be able to talk to the director of the movie you are watching via your DVD player? Not many, but Blueray live not only allows this, but much more, all because of the net connection on the player itself.

As these technologies continue to emerge and expand, their ubiquity will guarantee that media convergence is going to happen.

A scenario to think about goes something like this. You are driving in the family car with your kids. In the back seat your two children watch movies that are streamed via Netflix to your car. In the driver’s seat you use the integrated GPS unit to make sure you are going the right way, then you connect to your phone which is talking to the GPS. You call the hotel to make sure your room is ready. In the meantime your spouse sends a text message to the kids in the back seat, (They have headphones on and are engrossed in the movies) the text pops up on-screen telling them you’ll be at the hotel in 45 minutes. Each can reply via the touch screen monitor. After texting the kids, your spouse pulls up Twitter, tweets your trip status, pulls up Open Table, makes reservations for dinner, then with picture in picture loads a film on to the screen with the GPS giving navigation on the side. Using the chat widget your spouse also starts a chat session with friends in the town you are going to making plans for tomorrow’s fun. In the back seat, one of your children’s monitors receives a phone call via it’s paired phone, they touch the screen to answer, and the movie pauses…

This might sound a bit far-fetched, and the description is a bit over the top, but the reality is that much of this technology is available today in one form or another. The trick for the next decade is the seamless integration of all these technologies. Seamless integration that allows you to be connected to all forms of communication, entertainment, guidance, shopping, etc. at any given point in your day. And while it might seem odd to think of people actually wanting this and using this, 10 years ago it would have been hard to think of people shopping online from their smart phone.

So as 2009 rolls out, and  new decade rolls in I see amazing things in everyone’s future. As a designer, I am so excited the possibilities, and looking forward to all of it.

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The Power of Using the Right Media Channel, and Social Networking

Last year as the economy faltered, a lot of people in the integrated advertising and marketing community started rethinking just how important their brand was to their consumer base. Consumers with less money to spend, less access to credit, and less confidence in the U.S. economy, started rethinking when, where, and how they spent their money. The question people in the marketing communications field began to ask in response was simple: “How do I become a brand consumers can’t live without?”

After a year or so of watching consumer actions, what we learned was a very simple and very compelling thing about consumer loyalty: it’s probably not your brand they’re loyal to in the end. While most people think their brands have a loyal following, what they really have are a group of habit-driven consumers. And when a serious shock occurs to that consumer’s economic base, it doesn’t take much to break that established “habit” they have formed with your brand.

So If it’s not the brand consumers are loyal to, then what exactly is it?

We all know and have seen that emotional attachments to brands certainly do exist, but that kind of devout loyalty usually starts with some kind of “shared value” that consumers believe they hold with the brand. A common shared experience with the brand itself.

This holiday season in an intriguing way, Best Buy is putting Twelpforce ( A collective force of Best Buy technology pros offering tech advice in Tweet form )at the very center of its big communications push for the holiday drive period.

What’s interesting is that if we look at data from the 125 companies that have all taken Business Week’s Marketing Leadership Council  “social media maturity diagnostic”, you find out that only 11% of marketer communications planners have integrated social media into their overall communications planning processes.

Most advertisers take the “biggest bang” approach to their media channel planning.  Traditionally they will work backward from the business growth goals and what the volume targets are to plan their campaign targets, and the traditional models tell them how much money they need to dump into broadcast, direct mail, print, promotions etc. to hit those volume targets.  Social media and experiential channels have taken a backseat, at best. But, as we are beginning to find out, the true promise of social media lies in the relationship experiences that a brand can create—and scale for their target consumer. Because of this media planning will look very different in the near future.

If we think about this, planning campaigns shouldn’t work back from growth goals, but instead they should look at what the desired social experience is that we want consumers to have ( ideally with one another ), and set the course around how the brand helps establish that.  People developing social media channels should start by identifying what that critical experience is, and then leverage a broader media experience to play specific roles around, and support that overall social media experience.  by leveraging social media , the role of broadcast media is to help scale that brand experience.

As we start to see signs of an economic turnaround, the idea of brand loyalty is just as important as it did during the economic recession.  If consumers feel more attached to your brand, or a shared value that they believe your brand embodies then you are in a position to spend less on your messaging, and you quite possibly have a larger surface area that allows you to explore new products and services that previously seemed out of reach.

Earlier today, Coca-Cola announced the largest social media campaign in the history of their company, “Expedition 206”. The campaign “will send three 20-somethings to 206 countries and territories where Coca-Cola is sold in 2010. The trio sets off on their 275,000-mile tour from Madrid on Jan. 1, stocked with laptops, video cameras, smartphones and plenty of other gadgetry, in order to document for the masses their search for happiness.”

The entire journey will be tracked on not only the website, but though Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and via mobile devices. According to Coke the challenge was to think about the social and digital media space as a new venue for driving good public relations for the company, and extend the brand presence. Unlike Best Buy and Twelpforce, Coke is extending their reach into the social media channel on multiple fronts. What will be interesting is to see how they expand the “Expedition 206” campaign into traditional media channels over the course of the next year and how both the social media channels and the traditional channels drive traffic to the product and build customer loyalty.

The future of all of this is going to be very interesting over the next few years. Especially as social media giants like Twitter and Facebook grow up, and