Good Content Wins
Posted Mar 04, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
These days, it seems that every week brings the world a new way to experience media content. In February alone, the world of entertainment has been shaken up by some significant events. Netflix released its first piece of original programming, House of Cards, which is only available through their paid subscription service. Sony announced the new Playstation 4, as well as a service that will allow gamers to stream games instead of purchasing physical discs. And Microsoft showed off the Surface Pro – a fully-functional PC that can be used like a tablet.
These are some of the newest platforms for delivering entertainment content, and with them come new opportunities. Laurie Dean Baird works with IPaT as a strategic partners officer, and is a research fellow with Futures of Entertainment. “Well, there’s certainly a wide range of emerging opportunities for the media industry,” Baird says. “We are entering an age of ‘nimble media’ where content can be delivered through multiple channels, enhanced through several applications and spread through a variety of voices. It is a big time of change with lots of new players vying for position. In the digital world, second screen and companion apps are becoming popular. We see media companies experimenting with things like HBO Go and ‘Live from the Red Carpet’ to increase audience engagement. I am excited to see where all this leads.”
With the emerging new platforms, many media companies may find themselves unsure how to reach their audiences. In some ways, Baird says, the fundamentals haven’t changed. “Ultimately, how do you get more eyeballs? It’s finding things that resonate. Number one is, and will remain, the quality of content. Number two is making sure people know about it.” If the content is compelling enough, she argues, “A media company can leverage new platforms, applications and models of engagement to transform their audience members into evangelists. Layer in analytics and you have some compelling opportunities.”
Baird mentions Henry Jenkins’ book Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture and its concept of turning fans into brand advocates, where greater attention is paid to the social relations between media producers and consumers. “It’s a way of enriching those connections [to the content]. In the early days, we had Lostpedia giving a voice to fans of the TV show Lost. We are now seeing even more attention towards user participation in their media experience, whether that is through social media, fan sites or direct contributions such as with CNN iReport. In fact, Twitter has aggressively joined the ranks of social TV companies through their purchase of Bluefin Labs in hopes of capitalizing on the relationship between social media and ratings. I do think there are benefits to giving people more of a participatory role with content.”
Before coming to IPaT, Baird worked at Turner Broadcasting, where she researched new media and would make recommendations on what technologies to pursue. There, she says, they looked to the future of entertainment in two ways. “If you were talking to a sales team, you need to be able to say what was coming up in the next contract cycle, which could be three to six months’ time. But in the R&D department, we were looking 1 to 3 to 5 years out. When we got a request of, say, ‘What interesting thing is coming out?’ we could go into our labs and go, ‘All right, here it is! You’re not following it, but we’ve been working with this for years now and it’s about to go mainstream.’”
Whether it’s social media, transmedia, mobile, casual gaming, or second screen apps, Baird says that it’s still just about figuring out the right platform to get the right audience. “You should think of how you want to resonate with your audience,” she says. “Ideally, for a media company, you want to be able to resonate with an influencer who can then share your message broadly, and draw more fans back to that original content. But, to me, it all comes down to good content.” Next up is thinking about the ‘nimble business model’ that underlies the success.
Georgia Tech's Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) connects industry, government and nonprofit leaders with Georgia Tech’s world-class researchers and innovations to transform media, health, education, and humanitarian systems. IPaT integrates academic and applied research through living laboratories and multidisciplinary projects to deliver real-world, novel solutions that balance the needs of people with the possibilities of new technologies. For more information about IPaT visit www.ipat.gatech.edu