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Mobile is Not a Platform

Mobile is Not a Platform

In the 90s, when our search debate was relegated to Yahoo! vs. Alta Vista, a friend of mine returned home with a new pair of running shoes. As a Canadian triathlete, running shoes weren't "sneakers;" they were equipment that might help - or hinder - his ability to shave seconds off the tick-tock-tick-tock of the clock, a clock which would determine his eligibility for the national team. But those new shoes were a disappointment. Instead of throwing them in the trash, my friend put them back in their box and sent them directly to the manufacturer with a handwritten note expressing his frustration. A few weeks later, a letter arrived from the manufacturer, expressing their disappointment that they had let down a customer. Not only was there a letter, but the manufacturer sent several additional styles of shoes for him to evaluate.

At the CTIA Wireless Show in Las Vegas, one of the most thought-provoking ideas discussed reminded me of that story: mobile is not a platform. The irony, of course, is that that idea can be expressed in less than 140 characters, and today's replay of the shoes incident would be something like the following:

@johndoe Bummed - don't like my new shoes from @manufacturer
@manufacturer Sorry to hear that! DM us your details. "Bummed - don’t like my new shoes from @manufacturer" 

Mobile is a Lifestyle
As consumers - whether of content or commerce - our expectations for how, when, and where we consume has changed, affecting how providers - programmers, pay television providers, and OTT providers - engage with us to deliver content onto our screens, whether it be in the office, "on the road," or on us via "wearable" technology. With the availability of new device form factors and enhanced connectivity (the proliferation of public Wifi, 3G, and 4G LTE), our lifestyles have evolved to an always available, anytime, anywhere attitude both in what we expect and what we do.

From email to messaging; from messaging to Tweets. From articles to blogs; from blogs to Tumblr. From Kodak to Flickr; from Flickr to Instagram. We've essentially moved from publisher-to-consumer experiences that were once private and siloed to ones that are public and mass disseminated.

Mobile is not a platform; mobile is now a lifestyle.

Media publishers and brand marketers need to evolve their video strategy to participate in this new model of real time responsiveness, mass dissemination, and 24/7 engagement.

Twitter: A Video is Worth More than 140 Characters
Wall Street and Silicon Valley have been waiting anxiously for Twitter's evolution from text to other forms of user interaction and for Twitter to establish a more direct and predictable revenue model. Six months ago, Twitter started that transformation with the introduction of Twitter Cards, including the ability to embed video for Flash and HTML5 experiences (more about Brightcove's built-in support). With the introduction of Twitter Cards, the engagement model has improved a step function. Engagement is no longer limited to 140 characters. Instead, Twitter Cards has introduced not only the concept of a video Player Card, but Summary, Photo, Gallery, App, Product, and most recently the Lead Generation Card.

With the broad reach, near instantaneous delivery, and opt-in nature of Twitter, the ability to engage with video has created a strategic opportunity for publishers that warrants consideration.

One of the more most obvious uses is promotion. With the "in-the-moment" consumption model, publishers can create easily digestible video content (new or from existing assets) to promote upcoming content (video or other content types, including events) or to recap recent content.

For live streaming events, publishers should consider creating real-time highlights to promote the live streaming event, with the added benefit of the "halo effect" for their on-demand content. While this may seem to be the most relevant for sports and news use cases, publishers should think about it in the context of content augmentation: behind-the-scenes of an awards ceremony, Q&A with cast and crew of a film premiere, audience interviews during a conference, and more.

Cross Channel Synchronization
For media and broadcast publishers, Twitter has often been used by their viewers to discuss a program during broadcast. As the definition of the "second screen" living room experience continues to be debated, it's clear that one of the derivative models of "second screen" is the notion of "social television." We've seen a specific behavior emerge in the living room: television users are using smartphones while watching broadcast television, and they are often engaging in social activities including Twitter, commenting, sharing, and consuming 140 characters at a time.

While it's terrific to see a healthy, real-time dialogue grow organically from viewers, there's no reason why publishers shouldn't take advantage and proactively engage viewers with in-progress highlights and/or augmented content.

In-Progress highlights could include

  • Recaps of the musical interludes for shows such as "Glee"
  • Recaps of key scenes to help the audience find Rosie Larsen’s killer or to second guess Detectives Linden and Holder (yes, it's back for Season 3!)
  • Highlights from a sports broadcast: a terrifying crash in the Super G, LeBron James' OT layup for the win in the Eastern Conference finals (for those following the LeBron vs. Jordan debate, LeBron drove left), or determining whether Sergio Garcia was distracted - or just complaining - by Tiger Woods during the Players Championship

Augmented content could include

  • Secondary content to enhance the primary storyline and character development, similar to HBO's desktop and native app experience for Game of Thrones
  • Topical clips from related programming, such as "Mad Money" clips linked to companies highlighted during "Squawk Box"
  • Historical clips, such as highlighting David Beckham's best goals over the years to salute him farewell during his final games

Video doesn't have to be one-way. While Twitter allows a rapport between those who create and those who consume, the default relationship is decidedly one-sided, as the model lends itself to a one-to-many relationship or - in the case of The Biebs, a one-to-thirty-nine-million relationship.

However, video enables publishers to establish a bidirectional relationship with consumers. Inside of just letting consumers comment with characters, publishers can encourage social engagement through video - from asking viewers for their best dances moves during the opening weekend or television broadcast of the new Footloose (similar to their online film campaign) or their own renditions of songs during the finals of "The Voice".

Amplifying Value?
Recently, Twitter announced Amplify, the initial foray to establish a "social TV conversation with real-time, dual-screen sponsorships and in-Tweet video clips from broadcasters." While Amplify provides advertisers with a more expansive - or potentially intrusive - model for measuring broadcast reach via this digital ecosystem, the benefit to publishers is indirect at best.

The announcement of Amplify makes great press, but publishers already have the monetization, measurement, and messaging tools in place on Twitter. Most publishers are satisfied with the brand and audience loyalty capabilities of Twitter, but - similar to their previous trials with Facebook - they are most interested in the potential for creating a sustainable and scalable model for direct revenue generation. This means that publishers must transform their use of Twitter from social monitoring and dialogue to messaging and measurement.

With Twitter Cards, the capabilities exist today and the opportunities are based on whether publishers are willing to isolate and define Twitter as a new platform for engaging with their mobile audience. Since Twitter Cards can now embed a publisher's video player, this means that all the associated video player functionality - from branding to advertising to analytics - is available on all Flash and HTML5 compatible devices. Publishers measure the effectiveness of content promoted and consumed within the Twitter ecosystem and consequently use this for targeting in-stream advertising campaigns.

Campaigns could be as straightforward as Dunkin' Donuts sponsoring "dunks of the game," or the Solo Cup Company sponsoring moments from a music concert, to Starwood sponsoring highlights from a travel show such as "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." 

Amplify's model will be an intensely watched model for brands and broadcasters, as we wait for comprehensive data to determine whether consumers accept this potentially intrusive model or begin to retreat from the in-your-digital-face approach of promotion.

Publishers have the capabilities today - in both Twitter and their video platform - to focus on the fundamental need at hand: using the real-time distribution capabilities of Twitter to fully engage their audience as they consume, share, and engage in a mobile lifestyle. By leveraging these tools, publishers can intensify their Twitter dialogue by extending it across the traditional channels and beyond the 140 character limit.