Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, mobile, MySpace, television, tween, web business

Researching digital distribution this week

Thinking about digital distribution this and wanted to brain dump and hopefully get feedback from you all.  I am trying to compartmentalize digital distribution so that I can explain my understanding of it to others in an easy way.  Any help would be appreciated.

I see the strategy being simultaneously very different and very similar for independents and corporate company endeavors online.

INDEPENDENTS:

If you are an independent person, with something to say you have a variety of options available to you.  Focusing online, you can post your thoughts on someone else’s site or blog, join a forum or community and voice your opinion or many other outlets for you express yourself.

If you want a bit more involvement, you can decide to manage it yourself in a variety of ways and formats.  You can start a blog and rant in written form, you can start a podcast and rant in verbal form or you can start a video cast and rant in physical form.

If you decide to go this route, you may want to increase your audience, so you can add your content to aggregators and feed lists so that more people can search for and find your content.  You can add tags to entries that are cross referenced on other sites.  You can offer other ways for your users to find your content, like feeds or social bookmark tools.  You can also syndicate your content and put it on multiple platforms and other sites, depending on the format. 

CORPORATE:

What if you are a producer of someone else’s content, like your company, and you find yourself in the similar situation above.  As an independent, it’s easier to determine how big and wide-spread you want your content to be, it’s your choice, that’s all you are thinking about. 

But with a company, you have tons of other issues to think about:

  • Which pieces of content are you going to offer to the world?
  • Do you have rights to put this content online?
  • Where are the borders of those rights? Formats? Clip length? Countries?
  • Should you offer downloads or streaming? DRM or not?
  • Are there overlaps with different channels? Mobile? Web? VOD?
  • Will you have a Handheld Gaming Device strategy?  Does it work on wifi and non-wifi enabled devices?

I have been watching these issues for years now.  The market is moving so fast in every way, that I never really get a chance to focus on these channels.  So I am reaching out.  Correct me if I am wrong in classifications or defintions and add if you can where I don’t have enough info.

Licensed video distribution channels:
– These are companies that you either pay to be on or they pay you, but there is a formal contract/deal/aggreement drawn between the producer of the content and the distribution site/channel. 
– They stream most of their content and normally do not allow for cross pollination of the content on their site. 
– Because of their association with the networks, these are also sometimes referred to as IPTV or Internet  protocol television.

Examples include
Joost
Hulu

Independent video distribution sites
– These are sites that allow anyone to post their own content after agreeing to a simple “click here” sort of terms of use. 
– They stream their content, but encourage cross pollination of the content on other sites by use of an embed code. 
– These are also sometimes referred to as IPTV or Internet  protocol television, although not as much as the examples above as television implies networks and programming.
– Some of these sites are using “Channels” to group similar content in an effort to help consumers used to the more congruent programming on television.

Examples include:
Youtube
CurrentTV
Myspace TV
Revver
Vimeo
Crackle
Vuze

Video on Demand (VOD)
– These are distribution methods that are usually tied to network content, where the network will offer selected programming in a cache that the consumer can watch at their convenience.
– This is a highly demographic driven distribution channel.  Preschoolers and older adults tend to use this at higher rates.  Tech thought leaders use DVR devices in lieu of VOD.

Examples include:
Comcast offer an area on their set top box where individual networks can offer VOD selections. 

Mobile Distribution
– This is where I need an infusion of who are the leaders now.  I studied the market in early 2006, but with how quickly things are happening, who knows who is the leader now (actually, one of you knows)
– I DO know, that format-wise, mobile content, at least non-interactive content like videos, needs to be within the under 3 minute mark.
– This will change as soon as the new high-tech phones (iPhone, Nokia N95, etc) start becoming more of a mass market reality, but the marketplace is by in large still flip phone based.  I do see more and more people getting the qwerty keyboard phones (ala Sidekick, helio, etc) for ease of texting.
– What is very big still is ringtones and all derivatives of ringtones.  Ringbacks are even spreading in popularity.
– Games seem to be holding steady as well.  I personally do not know anyone who games often on their cell, but I see them often enough where I am able to accept the statistics that talk about mobile gaming on the rise.
– But who are the leaders?  Are the mobile networks still paying for content or are the producers paying to be on the network?  Not sure where this stands currently.

Examples include:
– Help me, who is big now?  MobiTV? VCast?

Handheld Gaming/Internet Devices
– This is a relatively new area to look at for digital distribution (unless you are a game developer 🙂 ).  But more and more handheld devices have wifi enabled.
– Is anyone taking advantage of this medium besides the hardware/software companies that ?  Are there any independent distributors utilizing this medium?  I know the PSP plays mini disc movies – is there downloadable content as well?
– How is optimization for Internet handheld going?  Is the market big enough to justify the resource time from your staff?

Internet Capable Gaming Consoles
– Same sort of questions as above, is anyone taking advantage of this outlet, or is it locked down by the indiviudal game companies?

Correct me if and where I am wrong and add where it is needed.  Thanks!

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Proactive online content for kids

Those of us who understand the positive aspects of online play need to help shape the climate online in the next couple years. Gone are the days of bragging about how your child knows so much more about technology/computers/internet than you do. More and more of our lives are being spent online. Let’s treat that sea change with a bit more respect than simple awe/wonder.

If we don’t want EVERY brand space online to be blatant consumerism with no message or goal, we have to be proactive about preventing that from happening. We must work toward not just calling out the bad sites, but creating and commending the good sites. And not just ones that give lip-service to more holistic goals – ones that actually step up and do it.

I ducked out of the Kids and Teens talk at the Virtual Worlds conference last week in order to see a young girl doll brand case study. Oy vey, was that a hard one to sit through. The developer giving the talk continually talked sarcastically about the girly brand that he developed, which showed me that he didn’t respect the audience and community the site was trying to develop. How can you create a great community if you don’t care about them?

Through his talk, he talked a couple times about the core values of “Empowerment” etc that the site’s founders wanted to convey in the virtual world. But almost in the same breath, he would reiterate multiple times that the only purpose for the site was to “sell more dolls.” Makes you wonder if the brand managers of those dolls know and care how their brand is being conveyed to conference audiences and their online community.

If “to sell more dolls” is truly the reason that the parent company wanted to launch this world, fine. They certainly are not alone. But that doesn’t mean all the other sites that will be developed in this category have to be like that.

Sesame Street’s Panwapa world is a cool approach to get into a space that is bound to be crowded in the next 2 years – preschool to early readers, 4-7 year olds. Kudos to them for being there before anyone else with a solid idea for a world (and not just the mindless wandering and silly games that make up almost every world in this space).

Whether we like it or not, a child is assimilated into the tech space earlier and earlier as the years go by. To pretend that this isn’t happening or block the kids from sites on a micro level is not the way to improve the situation. It’s the ostrich effect and doesn’t improve anything for anyone, especially the kids.

People who grew up with technology are now having kids. These younger generation parents have less or no aversion to introducing their kids to the online/tech coolness that they have grown up with. As producers of content (be it for a marketing purpose or pure creative), we have to develop for the parents AND the kids. These younger parents will still want the educational aspects that the past decade of attentive parents wanted, but the younger parents understand all of this on another level. Many of them understand that you can have fun, build relationships, and develop as a human online. They also understand the importance of design, navigation and user interface in your online experience. AND they will, directly or indirectly, teach these concepts to their kids.

Hopefully the content will start to catch up with paradigm shift that is happening world-wide as I type. Is your content up to the task?

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Virtual Worlds 2007 – Designing Stickier Virtual Worlds Talk

Technical Perspective: Designing Stickier Virtual Worlds Builds
What are the key elements of a truly engaging build that can attract and retain significant avatar traffic, and what level of technical complexity is involved in creating them? This presentation will explore how design and ongoing creative programming can keep digital tumbleweed from blowing across an island, and specifically describe some of the technical challenges and solutions associated with innovative programming. It is intended to help brand managers and developers get a behind-the-scenes sense of the work that goes into a virtual world campaign, along with costs and technical complexity associated with various activities. This presentation is for technically sophisticated brand managers, creative staff with technical experience, and developers. It will require an intermediate understanding of basic principles and technologies underlying virtual worlds. Attendees will gain perspective from the intersection of creative programming and technical logistics, learning: -the technical possibilities and limitations of virtual worlds platforms -how near- and long-term technical advancements will expand the possibilities for creative programming.
– Christian Lassonde, President, Millions of Us Inc.

Wht is sticky?  What makes the experience sticky?  What have we leaberned from previous media

Classic example – ebay
– sticky from auctioneer nand buyer perspective

Now we act synchronusly and face to fave (avatar)

principle #1 – change and make it obvious to user
– people form a theory about whether an experience will change within the first few moments
– as designers we must convey that an experience will change and how a user can participate

principle #2 – percieved popularity
– nodbody goes there nymore, it’s too crowded

What to do? – Events?
– events clearly spike traffic,
– can be costly,
– user ownership and particpationis more effective,
– open ended storytelling most effective

how do you make the users come back afetr the events

storytelling is key and letting them help develop it

user-driven change
– how do you show the user that change has happened.  you have stats, but the user coming in needs to see that otehrs were there if they are not immediately apparent

2.5D isometric worlds
– gaia, zwintopia,

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Virtual Worlds Forum Interview

Lizzie: What do you think draws children towards immersive environments and virtual worlds?

Joi: I think role playing, that playset, that play house thing and
that play pattern has always been there. And I think what’s happening
now is that technology is just allowing that experience to be played
out in a different way…Allowing them to go into those virtual worlds
and actually be that character, be the doll, be whoever they were going
to be as opposed to just holding the dolls and playing so….

Lizzie: This is a natural extension?

Joi: I would say so…I think virtual worlds are very much at the
beginning and of course kids are always right there in all the stuff.
Kids are always right there, right at the beginning when something
comes out. I don’t think the virtual worlds that are out right now have
really figured it out. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Lizzie: What needs to be there to get children going?

Joi: I definitely think games…I think the video games right now,
especially the first person, real time, strategy type of things? Those
ones are really hitting it…If you need that complete immersion you
definitely have to have game play, you definitely have to have
interaction between the users, they have to communicate with each other
and not be hindered by a specific list of words or pre-defined chat.

Lizzie: Should businesses launch their own virtual worlds?

Joi: Is your audience, you know, screaming they want to get to that next level or is it just because it’s in the news right now? I think there’s a lot of those really basic questions that people have skipped over. Do you need a virtual world? How are you going to justify the costs? These are questions…I don’t see people having those kinds of conversations. I think the hype is making people skip some basic strategy questions.

Virtual Worlds Forum Blog » Blog Archive » Interview with Joi Podgorny

Even though my name is spelled wrong (the “r n” DOES look like a “m”) and I have a tendency to say “you know” way to much, still fun to show off another interview.  🙂

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Unedited YPulse Mashup notes

ypulse mashup

Kyra Reppen, SVP and GM Neopets

5 keys to tweendom
– control
– social
– safety
– self expresion
– fun

JAX is toy partner with special codes that unlock things

trends to watch for
– media convergence
– hybrid business
– mobile is everything
– shared entertainment experiences

expanding into neo studios
– developing new vws

Question re: where did learning go from neopets now that viacom bought
– handled well – talked about how the games are more covert learning – web design, html, critical thinking, etc

—-

Old School to New School

Byron Cahill, Editor, read Mag

—-

Tweens Online: Permission is Key

Denise Tayloe, CEO, Privo, Privacy Vaults Online

YAY!  I Love her

—-

Kajeet

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OCR Interview

This month’s Online Community Expert interview is with Joi Podgorny of Ludorum, Inc. Joi’s area of expertise is the post-Facebook crowd, Tweens and Children.

OC Expert Interview: Joi Podgorny, Ludorum, Inc. – Online Community Report

Wanted to post a link to an interview I did with Bill Johnston at the Online Community Report. I was able to talk about tons of different areas that I am interested in, in our industry.

Also, working on finishing Izzy and I’s first podcast. I will post when we are done with that – audio editing is hard! 🙂 Big week!

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Kids online podcast

I’m jumping the gun– but I’m giving ya’ll a weekend heads up. Ms. Joi Podgorny and I will be starting a podcast regarding kid communities, kid media, online media, and entertainment. Why? Because I strong arm her into thoughtful chats nearly every day (or vice versa)– and (if you’ve followed this blog at all you’d know–>) I love to ramble, and she does too. So, between me & joi, you’re gonna get a HUGE dose of everything-ness (and yes, that’s my new technical term).If you are interested in participating in our adventure, let us know.

We’ve already started a “wish list” of contibutors (and if you and I have previously spoken, or you’ve ever come into contact with this blog –> you’re probably already on that wish list).

Podcast. Modcast. Tween Cast. Kid cast. Us-cast? « Izzy Neis

Brilliant Suess-esque title of this post from Izzy and of course wanted to alert everyone that this is what we are thinking. I am a podcasting junkie and thought it was high time I added my (and Izzy’s) voice to the dull murmur of voices online. Plus, I have yet to find a good podcast about the kids online business. If you know of one, please let me know.

So, starting this week, Izzy and I are going to record one of our weekly chats about kids online and share it via rss with all of you. Like Izzy said, the format we want to try is the two of us, a guest and a online-kid-centric topic, so if you are interested in also being recorded talking about kids online, let one or both of us know.

Wish us luck and stay tuned!

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