This event inspired me to start a blog because after tweeting the day (and being recognized as one of the top tweeters of the day), friends asked me what I thought of the event. I think my tweets communicated what was presented more than what I thought of what was presented. If you’d like to get caught up with the tweets, I Storify’d a selection here.
Crossmedia TO 2013 is produced by Jumpwire Media. It took place February 21, 2013 at the Appel Salon of the Toronto Reference Library. The idea is to bring together people from film and tv, mobile, gaming, publishing and marketing into one room to learn from each other and meet each other. The format is a few keynotes but mostly presenters who have 7 minutes to present what they’re working on to the room. There was a wide variety of projects but they were all somehow linked to digital media.
The best part of the day perhaps were the moments when Gavin McGarry (host and founder of Jumpwire Media) forced the audience to turn to the people around them and meet new people). No one else does that and it is SO useful. I met people whose name I knew but had never met and someone I hadn’t done business with in years. Honestly – I wish every conference did that but particularly those who bill themselves as networking events. Meeting people is hard. We need help!
But back to the content.
There were technology pieces, such as the bendable tablet from Queen’s U. Media Lab and the 3D printer from 3dphacktory, which were cool but unlikely to have immediate impact on most of us. A lot of apps and plugins that will help us understand our digital activity and learn from it were either presented or mentioned: Chartbeat (realtime site analytics), bit.ly+ (analytics of bit.ly links), If This Then That (automation of online tasks), Rapportive (plugin for Gmail and Chrome inboxes), and Openslate (valuation of YouTube video audience) were ones that caught my attention.
I’ve written up a few highlights of the presentations that I found the most useful or interesting. You might have enjoyed others.
I was intrigued by Vodo, which is exploring the business and distribution model of creating a film or television series on the cheap and then distributing it through BitTorrent and requesting donations. They are making enough money to pursue this model on an increasingly larger scale. The big problem with the model for most film and tv people is that financing generally is dependent on exclusivity of a territory or two so that the financier has some assurance that they’ll get their money back. If you are able to finance production on your own (angel investors or ultra cheap and with your credit card) then this might be a model to consider. It is likely to be of more value to you if you are after a well-defined niche audience who can be more easily found and interested than a general interest audience. A key takeaway from this was that content creators should not be afraid of ‘free’.
As an aside, when users rights advocates would tell me that content creators should give their content away for free and make money other ways I would point out that it’s not as easy for film and tv people as it is for say music. No tshirts. But perhaps they weren’t completely wrong – for some people.
Most of you have probably heard Corey Vidal, YouTube star, speak on a panel. He was at Digital Dialogue a few weeks ago and at Prime Time a few years ago and many other places in between. His work has matured and so has his presentation. He quickly glossed over the a capella Star Wars theme video which went viral and launched his business and started talking about how brands have reached out to him now that he has an established audience that he (and his team) feed daily with videos. The case study that I was most intrigued by was the Contiki travel company. On behalf of Contiki, Vidal invited a number of successful vloggers to go on a Contiki tour for free. They went, they had fun and they vlogged about it to their audience, telling them all how great Contiki was. It was organic and honest and likely more successful with the target youth audience than standard brand marketing. So, think about who your audience is and think outside the box as you try to reach them.
Get Set Games talked about what they had learned to stay in the Top Ten mobile apps. It isn’t enough to build a good game that people like. You have to create new content, more levels, new features, to bring them back. Cross-promote with other game studios and access ‘free game of the day’ profiles to gain new customers. Even successful games need to be regularly supported to stay successful.
Trendrr talked about measuring social media to get a better picture of the engagement that an audience with a television program. You can then go beyond that to use social media to influence the television program. This works best with factual or competition programs but there may be applications with fiction. Don’t rule anything out. Related to that was the planned new versions of the Personal People Meter (PPM) that BBM will be releasing. They will be able to passively measure content where ever the user is and on whatever platform. As it does not rely on the user recording their activity in a journal it is much more reliable. Broadcasters and producers will have a much better picture of viewing (and engagement).
Location-based marketing to date has been based on Foursquare check-in coupons for the most part. But now marketers and content creators are moving to providing entertainment content when users are identified to be in a location based on their GPS co-ordinates or they check-in. One of the examples that I found most intriguing was opening up exclusive levels to Angry Birds when checking in at McDonalds. The line between entertainment and marketing is very unclear.
I know that I was not the only one who really appreciated the presentation of Rhonda McEwen, U of T prof, on how technology is helping autistic kids. She has learned that these kids are just as social as other kids but harder to reach. She has successfully used iPads to help them play games, learn, interact and communicate. The iPad use has improved their intellectual and social abilities. It felt really good to learn how technology could be used as a force for good and not just to make money.
My key takeaways from the day are these:
- Creators and consumers are moving away from content silos. Funders and producers have to stop thinking in silos or they will be creating insurmountable barriers. Breaking down the funding silos is most likely to be the hardest task.
- The internet might be global but people engage on a local level. Create ways for communities to develop locally. They probably like their stories to be local too.
- Success measurement is much more than page views. What matters now is engagement measured by length of visit, shares, likes and return visits.
- “Don’t think you know, know you know”. This quote from Adam Clarkson of Chartbeat may have been the most tweeted. There are a lot of tools out there to help you know what is going on with your digital content. Use them.
It was a good day, though a very full day. I learned a lot though I think most of it will sit in the back of my brain and come out at unknown times. I met people both in the room and virtually – my fellow tweeters. I’m really glad that I attended.