Thoughts on the Future of Mobile Video

Robert LaskyGigaOM author Janko Roettgers did a write-up of startups Showyou and Vidora titled with the question “Is the Future of Mobile Video all about apps?” which served as a catalyst to organize some thoughts on the subject that I’ve been mulling over the past couple of weeks (thanks Janko).

Many TV networks have standalone apps that offer some amount of streaming video programming. Given the current life stage of TV everywhere and a la carte TV being in its infancy, this is a necessary but transitional strategy for a variety of reasons:

1. Clutter: Consumers don’t want a dozen or more “TV” apps on their devices buried in one or more “TV” folders, they want a single go-to for the programming they want to watch.

2. Loyalty: Consumers are only loyal to a network based on programming. Consumers don’t think network first, they think “programs I want to watch” first and want a single place to find them. Consider, if this weekend’s “Game of Thrones” season finale were to magically end up on Showtime instead of HBO. Millions of fans would scramble to their respective program guides to find the listing so they know to tune into Showtime at 9pm.

3. Interface: Consumers don’t want multiple app user experiences to get to programming, and there’s currently no UX symmetry across any competing networks’ offerings. The app part of the experience needs to be as simple as possible, and play second fiddle to the programming the consumer wants to watch. And because loyalty lives at the program level, there will continue to be a need for a cross-network “programming guide,” which consumers won’t want in yet another app.

4. Support: Content producers and networks won’t want to be on the hook for having to develop and support applications across existing and emerging platforms over the long term. Supporting apps requires being in the customer service and support business, putting the network in the QoS crosshairs at both the feed and user device level.

Whether Showyou, Vidora, MSOs, a existing leading tech company or a TBD startup become an 800lb. gorilla in mobile video is to be seen, but there will be a dedicated delivery layer between the content creators / networks and consumers as the mobile market matures.

Hey Look… Up In The Sky…

Conan BlimpIt’s a bird. It’s a plane. No… it’s super… wait a minute. Yay, it’s Conan!!!

Over the New York City skyline is a piece of one of this year’s most well thought out cross-channel marketing efforts: a drive to the premiere of Conan on TBS.

Flying over the 5 boroughs is a bright orange blimp (that has nothing to do with Nickelodeon). If you see it in the sky, you can check into it using Foursquare, at which time you’ll receive a special Conan “blimpspotter” badge. The badge has no real value, but offers one-click bragging rights when you announce to your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter that you got something they don’t. I got it on October 20,2010 at 3:34pm. Conan Blimpspotter Badge

Not surprisingly, the Team Coco had the blimp heading over to Yankee Stadium (big audience with open sky access, free TV coverage, you know the drill).

This also benefitted Foursquare, which took advantage of the crowd by distributing a “Swarm” badge to everyone who had checked in once the total reached 50. They even used marketing speak in the email, by calling it a “flash mob” for all us early adopters.

Another piece of the Conan program is a live webcam (that started yesterday — October 20,2010) in the “stairwell of [their] comedy bunker.” You never knows what you’ll get on arrival, but it’s clearly improv in his planned, but random style. As I’m writing this, I’m being serenaded by a 3-piece mariachi band. If only there were margaritas.

They’re doing a wonderful job building buzz, and are demonstrating a much clearer understanding of how to use digital and social media. I’d also wager they are doing it for a fraction of what the Peacock Network spends marketing The Tonight Show.

Conan, Bravo… er… I mean TBS!!!

I look forward to seeing you again on November 8th.

Daily Cancer – The Flintstones

Fred Flintstone Smoking WinstonAt first, it’s frightening to see The Flintstones so grossly hocking cigarettes, but consider two things:

1. If you do a little research, you’ll find that The Flintstones didn’t originate as a kids program.  It was primetime television’s first successful animated sitcom… allegedly patterned after The Honeymooners.

2. A generation ago the health risks of smoking weren’t a concern.  Big tobacco is banned from TV advertising today, but was much more pervasive and acceptable just a few short decades ago.

We have vintage ads on the walls at my company Porterhouse Advertising that include cigarette ads… for us it’s in no small part for the irony and juxtaposition. Two that come to mind… one features Rube Goldberg, the other a Norman Rockwell style image of a Pediatrician with a boy and girl matched to a headline that promotes the brand as the number 1 cigarette choice of pediatricians. Brands withheld from this post.

Times may have, thankfully, changed but this is valuable as a social commentary of 1960 America.

My SXSW Proposal: “Breaking Hollywood Free From Traditional Marketing”

I received great feedback from the SXSW staff on the proposal I submitted (“Breaking Hollywood Free From Traditional Marketing”):

“…Good fit for SXSW (given how many marketing, film and technology people come to the event)… the movie business still has a long way to go in terms of embracing 21st century marketing models.”

Now I need your help. Starting today (August 11th), all panel submissions are open to public vote for 2 weeks to ensure their relevancy.

1. Please take 2 minutes to register if you don’t already have a SXSW account (it’s really 2 minutes and is free)

2. Confirm your registration by clicking on the link in the email you receive

3. Vote for me and my proposal “Breaking Hollywood Free From Traditional Marketing” (the thumbs up will turn green when your vote is recorded)

If you feel like going a step further, you can also leave a comment explaining why you feel my proposal would be a good addition to SXSW 2011.

Thank you so much for your support.

Robert