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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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Interactive Entertainment is evolving

I was thinking about something a bit this week and thought that I would share it on my blog.  Apologies in advance if the ideas are still in the less than solid state.  Basically I have been thinking about the future – that the web, emerging technologies, cell phones, social networks are not really trends, as some people think of them as.  They ARE trends, in that when a new example of one comes around, it’s all anyone talks about for a while (can you say iPhone? Facebook? Club Penguin? Webkinz?).  But the fact that the larger population is even paying attention to these sorts of things, let alone the amount of attention those people are paying, in greater numbers is the phenomenal thing.

It’s this move, from trend to habit, that I have been thinking about lately.  No longer is it only the early adopters using new technology, websites and gadgets.  Now, in ever-increasing numbers, the rest of the population is starting to early adopt as well.  Trends are assimilating themselves into peoples daily lives.  I received multiple emails and messages today from friends that claimed the only way they remembered my birthday was via Facebook or MySpace alerts.

It’s because of this assimilation that we, as producers, need to move ahead in our thinking.  We have to have innovation of product and service on our minds at all times.  Me-too products and services are too old the second they come out.  We have to think about cool ways to take this new tech culture our societies are adopting and make new ways of learning, entertaining and existing. 

One example is mobile.  Mobile has come to mean cell phones.  But the new iPod Touch released yesterday has a wifi browser on it.  Still a small screen, but browser capabilities.  Many people are adopting this portable, surf anywhere mentality – but the devices and sites aren’t keeping up.  We need to think about how that switch will affect our content offerings and how we design.  Normal cell interfaces that access online are still around and will be for a while.  We have to design for that as well. 

But we also have to think about how the future users will use it.  Are the users using their phone browser for different activities than their normal browsers?  If they are watching video, is it certain kinds of videos?  Are there demographic differences in the kind of content consumed?  What are new ways that we can use this more portable means of accessing the Internet that will work for any phone interface that the user uses?  International cell users can give great insight here, as can pre-existing, albeit small US cell content networks. 

How can we move past simply identifying the next trends and start predicting habits?  How will we help future users to push the boundaries of how they are communicating?  What are you doing to this end?

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YPulse Tween Mashup – 9/28/07 NYC

Ypulse.com, the leading independent blog for youth, teen and tween media and marketing professionals, today announced its lineup of speakers for the Ypulse Tween Mashup. The Mashup conference, produced by Ypulse.com in partnership with Modern Media, will help media and marketing professionals understand how to reach tweens using technology in a multi-platform world.

Kyra E. Reppen, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Nickelodeon MTVN Kids and Family Group’s Neopets will provide the opening keynote focused on the original youth-oriented virtual world, while Renee Hobbs, Professor of Communication and Director, Media Education Lab, Temple University, will present the luncheon address focusing on MyPopStudio.com, a media literacy project for girls. Additional confirmed speakers include:Our speaker lineup just keeps getting better and better – these are media and marketing professionals who are immersed in what tweens are doing digitally every day.

* Jim Bower, CEO Numedeon (Whyville)
* Bryon Cahill, Editor, READ Magazine, Weekly Reader Publishing
* Molly Chase, Executive Producer, Cartoon Network New Media
* David Card, Vice President and Senior Analyst, Jupiter Research
* Mark William Hansen, Director, LEGO Group
* Mattias Miksche, CEO, Stardoll
* Daniel Neal, CEO, kajeet
* Izzy Neis, Online Community Manager for Kids/Tweens/Teens, Star Farm Productions
* Joi Podgorny, Kids/Tween Internet Community Expert
* Erin Reilly, CEO, Platform Shoes Forum (Zoeysroom.com)
* Denise Restauri, CEO, Allykatzz.com
* Addie Swartz, CEO, B*tween Productions

This is the first b2b event to specifically focus on how 8-13 year olds
are using technology and what media, marketers and .orgs are doing to
reach them,” said Anastasia Goodstein, Ypulse founder, editor and
co-producer of the Ypulse Tween Mashup. “Our speaker lineup just keeps
getting better and better – these are media and marketing professionals
who are immersed in what tweens are doing digitally every day.”

In addition to the growing roster of esteemed speakers, the Ypulse
Tween Mashup will include a panel with tween boys and girls who will
share their top tech picks, likes, dislikes, and more.

Ypulse Tween Mashup to Feature a Keynote From Neopets and Speakers from kajeet, Cartoon Network, LEGO Group, Whyville and B*tween Productions

Great conference at which I will be speaking/facilitating. Definitely come if you are in te NYC area.  It is being done in conjunction with Digital Life NYC, so tons to see, hear, etc.

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Notes from Argentina…

Quick notes, as I am very much into 2 different books right now and want to get back to them this evening. 🙂

Cell phones
Argentinians – They are everywhere. The most impressive aspect of cell phones are all of the cell phone stores. We have tons of them in the states, but they seem to be more plentiful in the cities here. Buenos Aires, Salta, Tucuman all are overflowing with them. We even saw some small huts similar to hot dog stands (called panchos here), butselling cell phones. My favorite brand name is Movistar, which is a cell phone store, not a rental place. The other observation is how crowds of people stand in front of the cell phone stores (and most stores, for that matter) staring longingly at the phones.
My international group – I have a couple brit gals in our group, both 19 years old, who are very connected. SMS´s have been flying on one of their phones whose still works down here. Our guide uses SMS all day to keep in touch with her friends. The brit gals say that the 8-12 year olds in the UK mostly have their own phones and they see it´s use as more for SMSing than actual calls.

Internet cafes
This oasis for the foriegn traveler and local alike is so sparse in our US cities. Why is this? I usually travel the US with my own computer, but if I didn´t, where would I go in the average US city. I can think of only one or two cafes in Chicago off the top of my head. I passed 4 on the way back from the public square here in Tucuman, a couple blocks from our hotel. This was true in every semi-big town we have been in so far. I find it so odd we don´t have as many.

Facebook and other Social Networks
Facebook – I was able to sit next to the aforementioned brit gals in the last internet cafe I was at and watch them use Facebook together. They were sure to edit their status daily on the trip, check for messages, return any wall comments, check who had tagged them in photos and, of course, search for others in our tour group and promptly friend them. On gal was shocked when I was less than creative in my “how do you know this person” response.
Hive – One of the Dutch gals on the trip was not familiar with FAcebook and only by name with MySpace. She said that everyone is “hiving” in Holland. I intend to ask the same question to the others on the trip as well.

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