User collab key to success: OMDC Digital Dialogues

The Disruptive Consumption panel, moderated by Arise Communications president Andrew Rosenman, agreed that focusing on the user experience is the future of digital content creation.
OMDC

Quick – how many types of screens will you look at today to get your news and entertainment fix? If the answer is two or more, check out the clip below.

With the rapid ascent of mobile and tablet devices, the message across the Disruptive Consumption panel at the OMDC Digital Dialogues conference Thursday was clear – the user drives the experience, and the user has the power. To that end, media companies are reframing their approach to content creation to include user collaboration.

“The user experience is what it’s about,” said Trevor Doerkson, Mobovivo founder and CEO. “Storytellers, content creators around the world are competing for those eyeballs. It’s about gameifying the user experience – making sure the user is tuned not just to the first screen, but to pull in the second screen as well – not being distracted by it.”

Chris Unwin, senior strategist for Bell Media specialty channels, said that Bell invests in their staffing – the people who manage social media accounts and who have contact with their audiences – in an effort to bridge the gap between brand mediums.

“One can view social media as a distraction towards another screen, but we’re now looking to build applications that grab eyeballs back. We want our brands to harness the competition for eyeballs.”

Pary Bell, VP and GM of digital media at Rogers Media, agreed.

“Disruption [of mediums] has not been a bad thing. The digital platforms have given the audience a voice. Mediacos, broadcasters and publishers now need to listen to our audiences – that has really transformed the relationship that was had before, when it was really one-way,” he said.

“Social media is the epitome of that – if you don’t listen, you’re dead. The user determines how they’re going to engage with you. That concept of just regurgitating content from one platform to another – although it may have its uses, it’s often not enough,” he added.

Monetization is still a hot button issue – how do ad dollars and sponsorships filter across these platforms? And how do you measure the success of a property when it’s available across multiple platforms?

“We’re part of an ecosystem that’s really humming because you’ve got this huge audience buzzing about it, but not necessarily watching the thing that creates the drive to monetization,” said Michael McCarty, president of independent music publisher ole, of the always-troubling gap between “analogue dollars and digital dimes.”

And what of self-publishing content creators as competition for the cross-platform audience eyeballs that are up for grabs?

Comedian Louis C.K. was cited as an example of successful independent digital publishing and the use of the social web. In December, he self-published and sold via video download one of his shows online and without protection rights, asking only for donations.

While the Louis C.K experiment isn’t necessarily the norm, there are countless content creators who have thousands, even millions of loyal and established Youtube, Twitter or blog followers who tune in, sometimes multiple times daily.

While the barrier of entry to market may be lower, Bell said, there’s still a barrier of entry where quality is concerned – these creators don’t necessarily have the dollars to create something that will compete with bigger brands.

The larger view across the panel was that even with the sheer volume of content that’s now available (and often for free), lower barriers to market entry, plus the shift away from linear offerings, 2012 is still a good time to be a content creator and a big brand. Mediacos will look to take advantage of their long-standing presences in Canadian culture and take the lead in packaging and directing content to rally around the user experience.

“We can think of ourselves as curators of culture,” said Unwin. “More than ever before, brands will be collaborators with more people.”

Photo (left to right): Michael McCarty, Pary Bell, Chris Unwin, Trevor Doerkson