Jul 302009

Running the Australian Laboratory for Advanced Media production I often have to provide a broad contextual background (as well as detailed insights!) to many of our seminars and labs. Over the past few months I have presented across a range of topics suggested in the blog title and lucky for some these have been captured in video form! So the player below contains (for now) seven separate presentations, a mix of free informal evening ones through to more formal full day workshop intros. The video production value is variable so I add the audio only versions at the bottom too and there are links to the other many great speakers at each session, detailed below the video box. These are unedited and contain the usual umms, arrs, errors, coughs & pregnant pauses, oh and I hope some great content. All are 16by9 apart from the serious games in 4by3, Enjoy

  1. SOCIALIZED TV 2.0 – 17m © Gary Hayes Director LAMP @ AFTRS and CCO of MUVEDesign (slideshares here)
  2. GAMES: SERIOUSLY – 35m © Gary Hayes (slideshares here)
  3. VIRTUAL STORY: THE ART AND CRAFT OF MACHINIMA – 42m © Gary Hayes (slideshares here)
  4. (Seminar Intro) THE RISE AND RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA – 13m (slideshares here) © Gary Hayes
  5. FREE AND EASY (seminar intro) – 10m © Gary Hayes
  6. IPTV FUTURES – 20m © William Cooper Head of Informitv (live Skype video interview with Gary Hayes)
  7. MULTIPLATFORM INNOVATIONS – 22m © Giancarlo A. Mori Senior Vice President, ANIMALLOGIC Interactive. (live Skype video intro interview with Gary Hayes)

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Jul 162008

Interesting. I have a screen here at work spiting out various random on the spot blog posts from the Future of Media Summit . Looking at the themes and points coming out forcibly takes me back to the mid to late 90s and even earlier. At today’s conference there is lots of discussion about how media is fragmenting, democratization of distribution, how personalization (your personal media cloud) is really where it’s at, the live web and a plethora of points about how video on the web has erm, generated a new advertising model. Yawn. Now I remember why I avoid ‘Future of…” conferences…

Seems all I have read from the Future Exploration Networks innovative and ground breaking (video link up – really, a video conference link…I did one of those in 96?!) between Sydney and San Francisco are not really exploring the future but each others guess as to what is really happening at the moment – cause no one really has a clue. It is deja vu, a recap of many European/Far East versions of the future from 10-15 years ago. In fact looking at most of my presentations and posts from years ago on this and other blogs cover most of the points, especially about personalised media (oh yes thats the title). For example Ross Dawson’s‚ future of media topics I covered in presentations circa 1999 – a few recents are in my slideshare group which I rarely promote or on this PDF page which has some earlier ones and notably in this fun view of 2009 I did in Perth back in 2000 (compare the two). First here is oft self-promoted Ross Dawson’s vision of what is shaping the Future of Media…

Ross Dawson 2008

Media and entertainment industries growing massively. Seven driving forces shaping media

  1. Increasing media consumption – ‘we want to swim in an ocean of media all the time’
  2. Fragmentation – proliferation of new channels (mobile, video, etc)
  3. Participation – people sharing their stories
  4. Personalisation – of content & advertising, issues with privacy
  5. New revenue models – advertising networks
  6. Generational change – younger people becoming dominant in marketplace
  7. Increasing bandwidth – shifting what is currently being delivered over other channels > iPhone mania

Personal Cloud – content we own and create – From this rains down the ‘precipitation of participation’ – sharing our photos, stories and lives with others – To what extent do we control our Personal Cloud?

Yes these are and have been shaping the future of media for the past 15 years at least – and then 2) my slightly cheeky predictions…drum roll…Future of Media in 2009 (from 2000’s Small Screen Big Picture)

Gary Hayes 2000

The World in 2009

  • Every individual can become a producer of content which is available to everyone else – if they want it.
  • Now anything is available on demand from anywhere over vast broadband networks.
  • Everything is ‘pulled’, only personally relevant content is ‘pushed’.
  • Everything can be made portable & kept forever
  • The home becomes a personalised entertainment and life system where everything is centralised – games, video, shops, audio, text, email & vmail & banking.
  • CD collections, home movies, personal photographs are stored here too
  • ‘Open Standards’ killed off all proprietary platforms in 2005 and the large ‘trusted’ traditional broadcasters collaborated and produced one navigation system that all companies adopted
  • All ‘content programme brands’ have elements in all of the above
  • The words ‘TV’ ‘radio’ & ‘internet’ disappeared from our vocabulary. Even the word ‘interactive’ went – everything is now interactive
  • The World Wide Web of early 2000 is regarded as a ‘low resolution’ pilot
  • Scheduled ‘live video’ becomes a special group shared event – there is only one broadcast channel in each country – these events generate most online discussion
  • True to all predictions the ‘interactive’ fridge becomes the most popular, connected device in the house

OK as with all “Future of Media” conferences we come to expect lots of waffle, fluffy guesses as to where Social Media or New Gadgets (iPhone, yawn) will really take us. Most talks I did for TV-Anytime and BBC around 2000-2003 covers most of the discussion around future of privacy, targeted ads and personal content systems. But bottom line it really it is about paranoia on the part of traditional media makers able to afford turning to high fee ‘futurist’ consultants who rarely produce anything apart from a ‘compelling’ stage presence and a book or two to sell. OK I am possibly being cruel but if the content industry is going to grow up it should stop looking for shiny jewels from crystal ball gazing, web trawling, big picture, space cadets and look to hands-on strategists who live and breathe this stuff. Most of the former are jumping on any myth/hype they can use to leverage interest in their ‘expertise’ but it is rarely about the future and often about regurgitating the past within the boundaries of this fresh new high bandwidth, on-demand, two way network. I have talked long and hard in the past about the separation between commentators and producers around cross-media and I have also pointed out academia needs to up its game. I don’t bother to win friends, as you can tell.

Unlike several folk at the Future of Media conference I rarely self-promote as being worthy of title of visionary (and any one up pens their own websites with those words in the title should be seriously steered clear of). But to be like them I thought I would throw in a bunch of my own quotes I normally pull out for wall stickers on LAMP courses: (Some others here)

“If you are not passionate about the empowerment potential of your interactive creation or find something new in it yourself at every turn, you should not call yourself an interactive producer” Gary Hayes 2005

“True interactivity should require users to give something of themselves and for the ‘system’ to resonate with that. If all you ask them to put in is selecting a series of vacuous pre-built options, their engagement is minimal and all they will truly get out is a series of vacuous outcomes.” Gary Hayes 2005

“Over a 15 year, medium term broadband future terms such as Film, TV, Radio & the Internet will start to disappear from our next generation’s vocabulary. Audiences will interactively share & access video, audio and games across a sea of devices, partly oblivious of appointment-to-view in the 20th Century.” Gary Hayes – Snr Producer, BBC. 2000

“The ‘My Media Generation’ are experienced multitaskers. They are used to browsing, jumping between devices and physical locations. Services that do not integrate this in to the design will be lost in the noise. One must create story that permeates their world, playing with the fact that they are already enjoying self-induced, parallel experiences.” Gary Hayes 2005

“The future may be cross-media but it is also interactive multi-modal devices at home and on the move that connect to every source and every media type” Gary Hayes 2005

“Just as humans eventually were unable to tame the complexity and scale of the physical universe so it will be with our media universe. The only course of action will be to send personalised intelligent agents, reconnaissance drones, deep into the content cosmos to capture relevance. The personalized future will be a world where rich audio visual and game media orbits around the digital you – occasionally being sucked into your ‘realm’ like stars pulled by forces unknown into black holes” Gary Hayes, Space Cadet 2004

We are all guilty of Weasel Words when we are asked the ‘where is it all heading question’ but there are others who base their careers on them. Typical ones heard in many a consultation session, “Social Media has enormous implications, it will change the business forever” or how about “Video on the web will produce a sea change of advertising models” or “These social virtual browser based web worlds could be very important for your brand” – client: yes we guessed that, but please tell us how it will in detail, what we need to do to change, in detail and by the way, have you ‘lived’ our business.

But lets make this post interactive, which one are you hands-on strategist or space cadet weasel word waffler?


Jul 162006

Update article: Networks in crises – from the Australian about the tsunami about to hit Oz shores, a region entrenched in the old advertising model…

original post…
Two articles about the fraught changes in advertising caught my attention this week that reinforced many things that I had been talking about during a major curriculum review at the Australian Film and TV School, namely the decline of traditional broadcast TV ad models to such an extent that budgets for film and TV across the board are going to drop considerably. I know that I and many other thousands have blogged about this over the past year or so but I think as we are at the tipping point, and there are a few who still hopefully believe the balance may go back the other way perhaps time to re-blog. This first item from the Sydney Morning Herald (Meet the Always on Generation) talks about the always on generation and includes some useful statistics about the transfer of advertising models, as well as generation y and tech habits (which I will not cover).

Internet advertising has also seen exponential growth as advertisers go online. The Australian online advertising market grew nearly 50 per cent last year, with $605 million in revenue. The figure is expected to increase significantly to more than $1.5 billion by 2009, according to a report by research group Frost & Sullivan.
The report attributed “the online industry’s growth to the rapid migration of eyeballs from traditional media to the internet and the increase in online media consumption across all demographics; strong uptake of broadband by Australian households; the evolution of wireless technologies such as 3G, which allows for digital advertising across both online (large screen) and mobile (small screen); and an increase in online spend by major advertisers and agencies”. (snip)
According to Bob Peters, young men are the hardest market to reach as they watch less television than young women. Online gaming sites are enormously popular with this group; for example IGN Entertainment, which has sites such as ign.com, and gamespy.com, says it averages 15 to 20 million unique users a month, 91 per cent of them male, with an average age of 22.
Brand communications specialist Neal Latto says that, while gaming offers a lot of exposure to advertisers, the younger generation of gamers are “pretty cynical” about product placement in games.

That last line must cause ad agencies blood to run cold as they see decline in TV ad sales but the potential saviour online gamers being pretty sensitive (as in my earlier posts) to ads in their ‘worlds’. One can therefore see the real ad battleground as being the variants around Google ad words and as much top and tail short form ads inside online video content as possible. This was echoed earlier in the Hollywood Reporter article TV in Trouble without Revamped Internet Strategy – which says that everyone agrees that the crude measurement system of broadcast TV means there is no turning back to that model as advertisers insist on measurement now as well as the younger generations cycnism about advertising generally:

Already, the only way advertisers can connect with large numbers of key male consumers ages 18-35 is by following them to the many media platforms and devices they are using: downloading and playing video games, movies and music, and interacting with peers on social networking sites. The fact that television does not widely have the process or technological infrastructure to go there is sending shock waves through an advertising community that always has relied on mainstream media for neatly packaged mass audience sales bundles.

There has been much said about the need to follow consumers around their media platforms and I have talked about it at great length to commercial free to air broadcasters who perhaps saw it as a nice strategy but unworkable. They must think more at a personalised level across platforms they currently have interests in – it is an absolute must do if they are to survive the decade. The report talks about the internet ad spend around search in the US almost doubling over the past year yet against this the ‘heritage’ media broadcasters sit and do nothing or dip their toes into a raging torrent of change:

By comparison, broadcast and even cable television overall are in stagnant to declining ad spending modes that should surprise no one.

In recent years, most of the larger media company owners of these traditional properties have arrogantly ignored warnings to reinvent their system of measuring, pricing and selling advertising before it is consumed by the new interactive mantra. “The $61 billion consumers are expected to spend on new media products from iPods to DVRs will seriously erode what remains of broadcast network viewing and advertising strength,” I wrote in this column early last year. (snip) internal consultant Tim Hanlon observed: “Given fragmentation of media — the global media companies can no longer be relied upon to aggregate consumer behavior in mass market hits.” Their consensus: There is a dire need for the immediate construction of a fully interactive, universal television advertising infrastructure overlay that will bridge so-called new and old media and, more importantly, advertisers and consumers. Without it, television is destined to only flagellate, not thrive, in this new-media world.”

I can only imagine the commercial broadcasters are holding on simply because of the massive profits they still make against investment and of course we will see a decline in the quality of programming as they buy even cheaper and load even more ads until the bubble simply – deflates. When that will be no one knows, but I suspect it will not be a dot com blowout rather a slow, invisible leak followed by a pull over to the side of the road when they realise their tyres are flat. At the moment they dont seem to have any spares in the boot.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Oct 202005

Joshua Tree Shadow ©Gary Hayes 2005Humans are clan-like beasts – we like to get in our Neolithic cave dwelling huddles and share. On the road towards truly personalized TV, ‘ultra-local’ services are now being studied, quantified and delivered to, by those who up until now have preferred the blanket approach – the commercial FTA broadcasters.

“Ultra-local’ is a simple term used in the industry to refer to media channels aimed at specific community based audiences (as oppposed the the long-tail niche groups). We are familiar with local newspapers, local ads on billboards on busy roads, localised radio services and of course the local versions of a zillion web pages and portals – TV though has always been slightly behind the ‘local’ curve. In some parts of the world like the US, local TV or community TV has been commonplace for some time, but in bandwidth starved regions like most parts of Europe or Australia not so. Should these regions do the’local’ thing? We need to ask “go local or go individual”?

I was privileged when I was Senior Development Manager at BBCi to be part of the group that launched the Kingston VOD local interactive service
(more on the range of this service later but for now just the community element). This was a real eye opener in terms of understanding the appetite for community-based services and content. This went way beyond simply pointing a camera at some local folk in a rather dodgy college TV studio (most US comm. TV – no flaming please, I spent two years looking at it!) – but as this flavour of Broadband TV was in the VOD domain there was much more dynamism in the way the audiences shared. It became quite simply early vBlogging via the TV set – and with the guaranteed upsurge in user generated content, this particular TV version was way ahead of the Brightcove/Akimbo-type curve.

So the BBC and now iTV are starting to move down the localised road (read: not quite personalized). This article from a few months ago covers some of the key issues about delivering broadcast services to as many as 60 cities across the UK via the three networks that have capacity to do that – broadband, satellite and cable.

The corporation claims there’s growing evidence of an un-met demand for more localised programming.
Local news proved one of the most popular aspects of a separate pilot scheme for broadband services in Hull, and similar initiatives are apparently enjoying success overseas.
“Research shows that people are most interested in what’s going on in within 15 miles of their homes,”
says David Holdsworth, head of the BBC’s West Midlands region. “Newspapers and radio have always been able to provide a localised service, but the technology has constrained the localness of television.
Now the technology’s there we should grasp the opportunity and use it.”

So we like to know what is going on in the immediate universe perhaps more than the other side of the world. There is a clear and present danger that becoming too personalized and too local leaves us ignorant of anything outside our small circle. To move into laymans philosophy, I think that one of the most powerful benefits of understanding yourself and those close makes you far more open to understanding and having empathy with communities much further afield (grasshopper say “to know thyself is to know the world”) Back to article that also points out that like community TV in the US it opens up opportunities for many new entrants who would, as I suggest in the previous post, jump straight into broadband distribution.

The arrival of ultra-local will presumably be warmly welcomed by all those students trying to break into television. They’ll be expected to work hard – setting up, shooting and editing their own stories – and for salaries that might not fully reflect the fact they’ll be doing a job that two or three people often find hard enough to share between them.
But at a time when regional newsrooms are putting the brakes on recruitment, local TV will offer the aspiring stars of tomorrow that vital first step on the ladder.
Assuming the governors do approve funding, organisers of the BBC pilot hope to recruit up to 35 VJs –

But this is the BBC and as every person I meet (well most) tells me “oh the BBC can do that because it has loads of cash…blah, blah” and of course it needs to reach all of the audiences that it is ‘mandated’ to, those who pay the the UK license fee. So why, we ask is the large independent free to air consortium ITV moving to provide localised services? Using broadband PC the service called “ITV local” the trial follows the same model as the BBC broadband TV services – lots of local VOD, weather and news about those around you. The killer app for me though is that as well as the ability to user generated content viewers can also do their own classifieds. This is interesting. Here we have the largest commercial FTA broadcaster in the UK setting up portals allowing local businesses and viewers to tell their own stories and also advertise. I wonder why? There can be only one explanation – they have decided that the old broadcasting advertising model is waning fast and they now need to move. The old model as we know is not dead, it still wraps many execs in Ferraris and Mansions, but perceptibly waning. This I feel though is a sure sign of change when the cFTAs start down this particular path. A good thing. Create a community of interest and catch them when they are most active – and ready to watch partly relevant ads. Here is their upsum:

ITV Local is a unique service that takes television to your community using broadband television.
We’re trialling with Brighton TV and Hastings TV in the ITV Meridian region. All the channels will be updated daily with the best and latest local entertainment, news, weather, travel and sports.
You can let us know what you think of the service using the ‘Give us your feedback’ button below.
Soon, you’ll be able to upload your own content and advertisements.

I used the word partly in the previous sentence because local is only ‘partly’ personal – community TV as many US folk know is rarely ‘deeply’ personal, much of it is vanity publishing (like this blog ;-), but local TV with high production value can have real resonance if it is done right. Local TV with a good churn (daily, minute by minute updates!) of user-generated content can be very compelling.

Some way from truly individualized services, ‘ultra-local’ at least connects us to our immediate physical world in more meaningful ways, which is never a bad thing. Now back to life, back to …

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005