Posts tagged ‘interactive’

making toast

If I could be like that
I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes
If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

From the time programmers first tried to interact with the CPU, we have had several paradigms for human computer interaction. From switches, through paper tape to cards to CRTS to field verification to form based transactions to GUIs and even styluses (or should that be styli?). Through this evolution, two fundamental approaches to human-machine interaction have emerged. I’m sure the Interface Engineers out there will offer the appropriate terminology, but the two approaches are characterized by being ‘application-centric’ and ‘object-centric.’

Application-centric, really focuses on ‘loading the application, to access or create the data from within the application environment’, whereas object-centric is more in line with GUI approach of ‘activating the document/object and having the operating system instantiate the application and the environment to use the data.’ The latter is a very content-centric approach, one that I subscribed to until quite recently. Let me explain my change in thinking…

It all comes back to toast.

In the days before toasters, people put bread near a source of heat to make toast. It didn’t matter whether it was a wood fire, electric elements, gas burner etc. Take bread, add high heat, bread gets toasted. Toasting was a technique. A verb that subsequently became a noun, the inverse of nouns becoming verbs like Fax, Fedex, Google.

One day, as energy was channeled via a mass market utility called electricity, the ‘toaster’ was invented. It was a good appliance. It got better over time with more features to prevent burning, to defrost frozen bread, to understand different thicknesses etc.

But for all of it’s newly inherited capabilities, the toaster transformed bread into toast. And the consumer liked the toaster.

People like appliances. They are easy to use because their role is well defined. Just think of the plethora of successful inventions – invariably they have resulted in appliances or devices that are ostensibly single purpose. Cars, refrigerators, phones, ovens, lamps, cameras etc. In fact, if you have seen those combination appliances such as the coffee-maker/breakfast cooker, or the hot-dog maker (cooks franks and toasts buns), you’ll find that they are not best sellers. Why?

I think that the consumer is prepared to pay for specific functionality, not for stuff that they don’t need or understand. Also, they generally use more complicated (or potentially dangerous) appliances in a single threaded manner. Drive car (doing other things at the same time is dangerous). Microwave food (not metal, careful on timing). Saute food (make sure gas is lit, not too high, watch contents or it’ll all burn). Speak on phone (rude to not give the other end focused attention, otherwise why call?). Twitter (and listen to music, or just hear ear candy?).

It’s about focus.

Contrary to contemporary thinking, for effective, focused deep communication, the human brain is generally single threaded. Engaging in effective communication and processing deep concepts requires focused cerebral compute power. Yes, you can multi-task and time-slice your way through many things at once, but at what price comprehension?

Back to application-centric machines.

The iPhone is a perfect example. It is what you need it to be at that point in time, phone, browser, diary, etc… you don’t care where the data is stored – as long as it is! So you don’t need a file manager. Same for the newly released iPad. I believe we are seeing a new era of interfaces – more than just ‘app’ centric, it is really appliance or function-centric. Dare I say ‘wrkflow-centric’? Keep the tasks very focused, do a really good job for the consumer, then enable them to change appliances effortlessly. We’ll see some appliances running in the background, like music players, communications, content downloads etc. just like the refrigerator keeps things cool, and the bread maker makes my next loaf for more toast, while the coffee maker makes the coffee. I’ll still need a toaster, and then I have to pour the coffee and add milk from the fridge. Multi-tasking will not go away, but how we focus on our tasks will need to become more efficient and less disruptive than clicking all over a desktop, or rummaging through unruly digital filing cabinets…

The appliance-centric model provides us a clue to the future. A future that is focused on using information, rather than ‘managing information’. This needs to be the goal of computing for the mass consumer marketplace.

Now, we just need a standardized information utility grid to plug into the information… or is that the ‘cloud’?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

February 4, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

the seven pillars of media

And I see things
That no one would ever glimpse
As your eyes roll back
And the real party begins
And I feel things
That I’m not supposed to feel
As I reassure myself
That I’m nothing but a jewel upon your crown

This week I discuss a new tool that I have developed in exploring mediums. It enables classification of mediums from both the perspective of consumers as well as that of the business and marketplace. I have called it the 7 pillars, because I am unashamedly trading off T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the themes of change, challenge and sustainability contained therein.

This framework contains seven pillars which support the media business and is weighted to look at things from a consumer perspective. Why? In the end, media is about the consumer, the audiences, demographics and psychometrics to which the consumer belongs, to their purchasing power and their consequent aggregated ability to endorse or demote marketplace media preferences.

Back in April, 2009 in why target, I made reference to the fact that consumers have three things to trade with a media company:

  1. Privacy (P) – by identifying their attributes, consumers add value by enabling the medium to build monetization cases by clearly measuring and demonstrating value to purchasers of advertising and sellers of content.
  2. Money ($) – either directly through paid subscriptions or subsidies, or indirectly through purchasing advertised content, goods and services.
  3. Time (T) – the amount of time that they spend with the medium and thus building equity in the audiences that are subsequently monetized.

Each of these are shown in the table below…

Consumer Dimensions

Business Attributes

I have started mapping these attributes across clusters of similar mediums, and present TV mediums as the first in this series.

The Lounge room TV experience

Clearly displayed is the technical dominance of and consumer potential that IPTV promises as a medium. However, being better does not count too much if you don’t have market share, and this is where the traditional players of cable, satellite and terrestrial TV shine. Note that IPTV encapsulates my thinking on both walled-garden as well as Over The Top, but in all cases, this is the ‘lounge-room’ experience.

Each of these mediums displays a footprint that broadly reflects the ongoing business model viability ‘at present’. It shows comparative capabilities and offers a quick visual to suggest potential areas of competitive improvement.

It is not perfect, but it does provide a very useful discussion tool, a common language for dialog and a real way to connect with the customer who is now driving the business.

I have analyzed all mediums in greater detail, and explained my justification for the scoring. These scores will be updated each quarter with new observations, press coverage and anecdotal information.

Change is certain, but guessing the future is still very precarious – especially in the media business. As stated by Edgar R. Fiedler “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.”

Nonetheless, it is a tool that hopefully you’ll find useful.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

October 29, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

who, or what is the target?

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

Today, a target audience largely depends upon the capabilities, processes and systems employed by the medium doing the targeting. The following summarizes the primary marketing (targeting) approaches.

  1. Demographic – This is traditional targeting of consumers based upon commonly accepted media currencies such as their age, gender, income and ethnicity.
  2. Geo-targetingTargets a consumer in a certain geographic area using location data mined from the ISP or IP address. This is a powerful tool for local businesses to leverage new rich-media ads. This approach enables the display of local product inventories to customers and is especially valuable for promotional and impulse type buys.
  3. BehavioralSometime called ‘profiling’ and it works by tracking the actions large numbers of users as they surf the web and aggregates their behavior for trends. These patterns signal behaviors that become the basis for targeting and often include purchase history. For example: A visit to an on-line car site can be the basis for serving an auto ad after a consumer moves onto a non-auto-related site. Behavioral targeting allows a Web publisher, for example, to charge premium rates for a luxury-car ad even on a lightly visited site about needlepoint, especially if the user’s previous Web activity shows an interest in buying an automobile.
  4. ContextualThis matches the ad to the content actually being consumed regardless of format. For example, an article about buying homes serves up an insurance ad or a documentary film on animals provides a good place to inject a public service ad for animal protection.
  5. AffinityThis is very similar to contextual but tends to match ad to the theme or genre of the published content. For example, a digital camera marketer may choose to advertise on sites or video channels dedicated to consumer electronics.
  6. DaypartThis is used to focuses on people’s work and lifestyle schedules. For example, serving ads for coffee to commuters between 7-10 a.m. This type of targeting also works well for impending product releases and roadblock campaigns, but is generally directed to an audience to increase the candidate consumer base as prospects for more refined future targeting. Alternatively, it may also me used in conjunction with other approaches to refine those consumers being targeted.
  7. Purchase-basedTracks the purchase history of users to establish trends, much like behavioral. People who bought one brand’s shoes might be interested in more of the same or of another brand.
  8. RetargetingAims to locate consumers who dropped off midway through the path to a purchase and serve them a new ad in the hopes they will complete the purchase. Called remarketing in the offline world and sometimes classified as part of behavioral targeting online.

Note that the above approaches, along with their highlighted examples make no mention of medium specific subtleties. Often these have been institutionalized by work practices or by consumer-medium interactions, but they have also been imposed by the constraints of the medium’s infrastructure capabilities. Consequently, the more different mediums consolidated by an organization’s business model, the more difficult it is to price, offer, deliver and measure multi-media advertising offerings to buyers. Even more difficult is to create meaningful cross-medium targeted buys.

Even more difficult is getting close enough to the consumer to be relevant at an affordable transaction cost. Today, the web is clearly most efficient. Why? Because the consumer’s web device does the targeting! IP is marketing magic. IPTV will become the way of the future, eventually surpassing broadcast in terms of cost/reach efficiency.

And for a change in humor, check out his video on the state of the media industry’s (in)ability to cope with this mess…

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

June 11, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

really, what is targeted advertising anyway?

Tell me, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who? )
cause I really wanna know (who are you? who, who, who, who? )

Much is being said about ‘Advanced Advertising’ in the trade press, articles, marketing papers and suchlike. It is often used so casually, almost with the underlying assumption that the listener has a thorough understanding of what is meant by the term. Speak to a few different media organizations, vendors and media buyers and the disconnect becomes readily apparent.

All advertising is not created equally, and neither is the technology required to deploy it. This is especially true of targeted advertising. And, it really gets hard to create a common business eco-system if everyone’s understanding is different!

Recently, the term of “Advanced Advertising” has slipped into the technology vernacular. It is a very clear euphemism for Targeted advertising, but seems to be trying to mask the very personal, perhaps intrusive nature of advertising, portraying it as somehow a sophisticated, more user friendly, less threatening, high-tech way of selling the same old pimple-cream. Let’s get basic here. This is about marketing. Marketing is about defining and targeting the right audience for the product or service – plain and simple. No need for window dressing in the vain hope that we can slip something in on the unsuspecting public.  Till then we may well be obfuscating, describing different problems and solutions, all nicely disguised as Advanced Advertising. We’ll be creating different standards,  different solutions and different busines practices. Each one better than the next, and all ultimately unusable because none have sufficient critical mass.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

PS. So what am I doing about it? Creating a common framework for classifying multi-media targeted advertising. Stay tuned.

March 27, 2009 at 2:34 am Leave a comment

when tv grows up…

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young

Typically, convergence is discussed in terms of technology. But let’s talk about money.

The most amazing thing about media is it’s ‘stickiness’. Print hasn’t gone yet, nor has radio, nor TV. What has changed is the usage patterns of mediums relative to each other. And that affects how much money is invested in different mediums. And that varies with the age and attitudes of the consumer. There has been a lot of discussion that TV is dead, and that the computer has won. Frankly, this is just posturing. It is a matter of definition. Today we define TV as we have known it, tomorrow ‘TV’ will be different. In all instances it supports moving pictures with sound, and in many cases much more. So in ten years, we may habitually (or endearingly) call it TV, but it will be characterized in the following way, it will be:

  • a rich media environment that enables the consumer to be passively entertained, or interactively immersed – the consumer will choose.
  • tethered to the lounge for a family theatre experience, or portable in the pocket or car for a personal engagement – the consumer will choose.
  • the appliance that enables the payment of bills, shopping, playing games, connecting with distant family and friends, and the sharing of memories as photos, videos and voice – the consumer will choose.

Above all, ‘TV’ will remain a prime vehicle that connects the human experience – within and beyond the local community. The main difference between today’s world of TV and that of tomorrow’s, is choice. Today, choice is measured in number of channels and our individual lack of control. It is measured in the things that I “can see” as a viewer. Tomorrow’s choice will be measured in number of services and the things that I “can do” as a consumer.

The 80’s were a tipping point in media. Collectively, the media made more reference to us as consumers than as citizens. Seducing us with, and immersing us in wanton consumerism. And think of the money you could make by tracking these consumers across any device they were attending to at any given point in time. You see, that’s the holy grail of convergence. That’s the money in convergence.

My hope is that with all these choices we’ll become a little more socially conscious and consume less, or at least what we need. And that’s got to be good for our children’s future. These choices will enable us to actually find something worthwhile to do with our time. No more thousands of channels with nothing to watch.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm 1 comment



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