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Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Video Day 5: Social Medium

It's Thanksgiving. I enjoyed a delicious meal of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, rolls, green bean casserole and all the food I love on this holiday.  Then we had pie. (YUM!)

And now, there's a football game on in the living room, but I'm sitting up at the table in the kitchen. The TV is in the sunken living room area (out of shot on the right).

Not everyone is watching the game but it's definitely the hub. Most of the guys are watching, the women are doing a puzzle, and the kids are in and out playing. But we're all talking about it (helps that Dallas is playing and we are in Texas) and it's bringing a kind of cohesion to the house.

This is definitely one of televisions strengthes -- the ability to create shared experiences across dispersed audiences. That's why so much watercooler talk is about a game, or a show, or a movie. We are able to easily relate to people we might not otherwise have much in common with because of our shared television experiences.

There's also been quite a bit of chatter about movies that we might watch. (I might have to sneak away and play some more Wii.)

What social experiences have you had with video? Do you notice how much it affects your social interactions?

No Video Day 4: Extrapolation

I've been having a very strange thing start happening to me today. I'll find myself thinking that I'm not allowed to do other, basic, things. 

Things like: reading blogs, listening to music, using my computer, and eating.

Yep, I was about to get some snacks from my drawer at work (yep, I have a snack drawer) when I stopped and thought "Oh right, I'm not eating this week."  And then realized how ludicrious that thought was.

But it's really made me ponder what the role of video is in my life. It's definitely become something that's nearly unconcious for me, so much so that I equate it to some of the typical pieces of my daily routine. That scares me a little.

Has video really crossed the line to ubiquity? Are we a culture that is so innundated that we don't even know that we're soaking it all in?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Video Day 3: Defining the Terms

When I was talking with James about doing this experiment I laid out some of my TV watching habits and asked if it was enough for me to provide meaningful data. And immediately after sending that email, I dashed off another one that asked:

Does not watching video include not playing video games?
He decided that was up to me.  And today, I had to define the terms of the experiment because I went over to a friend's house for dinner and we played Wii afterwards. This may be rationalization but here's my argument for why video games would be acceptable.

My first thought was that 'no video' was equivelant to "nothing that moves". But where I nuanced that train of thought was in the consumption of the media.

Video is static consumption. You watch the video content as it is presented to you without any ability to affect it. (Of course, there are some interesting experiments happening with Qik-based interative live video.) But in terms of pre-packaged content, video is pretty much a linear, non-interactive experience.

Gaming is specifically designed to put you in control of some aspect of the experience. How much freedom of choice you have is dictated by the structure of the game but there is always some action required on the part of the player. Rather than consuming the content you're engaged, you are participating in creating the experience.

(Also, Wii games are ridiculously fun, who could pass up a chance to play.)

What do you think? Is there a difference between Video and Video Games?

Monday, November 24, 2008

No Video Day 2: Keeping My Sanity

It's only day two but I'm beginning to feel like a plane wreck survivor on a deserted island. Keeping this daily journal is partly to document what I'm going through for others and partly to keep myself sane. 

Also, I may be exaggerating slightly.

The biggest challenge that I faced today was avoiding the Twitter links and embedded video in blog posts. The ease of using video, especially at conferences, is allowing it to crop up in many places I wouldn't have paid attention to if I weren't trying to avoid it. 

What I'm realizing is that video is becoming just another option for me to consume content. It's doesn't stand out anymore but on the other hand the linear-format doesn't dissuade me so much now either. 

As James is probably seeing more clearly than I am, the proliferation of video is not because it's gaining acceptance but because it is accepted and now companies are looking to make it ubiquitous.

And, for a marketing take-away, this means that you don't need to create something viral for YouTube. Create video that is relevant to the audienc you want to speak to and embed it where they'll find it.  Video no longer has a barrier to entry either for production or consumption.

What content are you currently producing that could be accentuated by using video? What resources do you have internally to produce video?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Up Video Cold Turkey

My friend, James McQuivey, is doing an experiment and I'm the guinea pig. Actually, I volunteered but I'm wondering what I got myself into now.

The experiment: Don't watch any video (TV, movies, online) for a week.

Well, that sounds pretty easy. Which is exactly what I thought since we just moved the TV to a room without a cable hook up (and even the attennae reception is pretty poor). My goal this year has been to watch less TV anyway. For example, I didn't even turn on the TV on election night because I had Twitter to fill me in. 

I am less than 24 hours into the trial and I'm reconsidering how simple this will really be.

First, while I'm working on slimming down the number of TV shows I follow, the ones I am still interested are easily accessible on My typical routine since I'm using my laptop anyway in the evenings is to have a Hulu window open in the corner and work around it. (If I weren't doing this experiement I would probably have one open while typing this post.)

Second, I'm not going to be able to watch any football on Thanksgiving. I'm going down to my relatives in San Antonio. My uncle and all his sons have played football. It's a tradition to sit down after Thanksgiving lunch and just relax with a game (or two).

Third, my wife is out of town and my dad is coming into town. Because of the former, I was planning to go catch a movie that was highly rated and recommended by a co-worker (but not really my wife's cup of tea) and going to the movies around the holidays is a tradition in my family -- maybe guy's night to Bond.

What am I planning to do with my time instead? Well, for one I'm planning to write about how it's going on my blog. I also have plenty of house cleaning to try and get done while there are no little kids wrecking the house. And, I might even take an hour or two to sit down with a book -- that completely gets me away from the screen.

What would you do with a week without video?  Could you even do it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

E-mail: King of Tactics

E-mail maven Jeanniey Mullen wrote an interesting article this week in her Clickz column about e-mail's role in the digital revolution.

Every so often I get an itch to write about the future of digitial communications and my thoughts on e-mail in the new world order. Reading this sparked one of those itches and gave me some good context for it.

Many times a revolution is initiated through the introduction of a new way to do something or a new product. A revolution isn't justified until people can't imagine life without that element or product. That's when a revolution becomes a true success.

The great thing about revolutions is that they change people: culturally, socially, and even economically. And in this case, the digital revolution changed us all. It made us digital consumers.

In terms of driving digital consumerism, e-mail has been at the forefront. It allowed for mass, personalized marketing delivered as a digital version of analog direct mail. E-mail fulfilled the transactional communication needs when selling without meeting face-to-face in a brick-and-mortar store. And, e-mail wasn't competing with other online communication channels.

E-mail became a strategy. So much so that an entire industry built up around using email as a marketing tool.

Where I see the change with the rise of the social web, is that the strategy is changing to "Communicate with customers in the digital channels they use" and e-mail is shifting to a tactic within the larger group. Because most online communications channels are still relatively new, the fare of early adopters, the e-mail channel is still king.

And I do expect that it will remain the king for a while. But as other technologies reach their tipping points and gain mainstream adoption, I also expect that e-mail will target a more narrowly defined segment rather than the general population it is assumed to reach now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Best Buying Experience at Best Buy

I received an email this weeked from Best Buy about private shopping hours for their Reward Zone members. Figuring that I had some Christmas shopping to do anyway and the email offered double points in the loyalty program, I decided to go.

And the reason that I'm writing this post is because Best Buy pulled this off amazingly well. When I arrived, they checked my card which I was expecting. But then they also gave me a raffle ticket (held every fifteen minutes) and offered me a free drink. 

The drinks were inside on of their higher-end fridges that had been set up at the front of the store. It had all the information about it, as well as the price tag. If you were in the market for a fridge, they got you to engage (yes, I know I'm using a buzzword) with it by opening and seeing how much room was inside.  Very clever.

The next thing I noticed was that I couldn't turn around without practically tripping over a sales person. Best Buy had the place staffed like it was the busiest day of the year. Every few steps I had someone asking me if I was finding everything alright, and if I'd heard about this deal, or if I had any questions.

After being there for a little while, and carrying around more stuff than I had intended to buy, I realized the true genius of the plan. Everyone who went into the store that night was intending to buy something. Yes, they had to pay for the staff to be there, the $50 raffle prizes, and drinks but in return they were getting a very high-intent group of customers coming in.  And, without the pressure of running in over lunch, or just running in to grab something specific, I browsed and came out with a wishlist on top of my purchases.

What are you doing to put your customers into high-intent situations?