Theory and Audience Analysis Portfolio ‐
Alisa L. Petitt
Table of Contents
Synthesis #1 Past and Future: An Interactive Media Chronology Synthesis #2 An Introduction to Interactive Media Theory
Synthesis #3 Reaching Interactive Media Audiences Research Paper Annotated Bibliography
Top Ten Personal Blogs
VII. Top Ten Interactive Media Thinkers VIII. Top Ten Interactive Media Readings IX.
Top Ten Interactive Media Issues
Top Ten Interactive Media Theories Top Ten Interactive Media Infographic Visualizations
XI. XII. Top Ten Interactive Media Resources XIII. Personal Vision of Key Overarching Concepts XIV. Conclusion
Past & Future: An Interactive Media Chronology
Upon reading this text, I gained a firm understanding of the origins of Interactive Media and its potential future. I was most surprised by past predictions of future forecasts. Many seem straight out of a science fiction movie. However, I know that however crazy, no idea is unfeasible. Today’s ingenuity at one time seemed like an absurd thought and was likely dismissed for ridiculousness. The birth of interactive design came in the 1940s with the dawning of computers. The US Army and Navy financed those computers, and a year later the first computer to run off of software was created by Thomas Watson of IBM. It would be just over 20 years before Intel joined IBM to create the microprocessor in 1970. It is interesting that it took such a long period of time to shrink down the size of these machines. We were able to send men to the moon before we were able to have a reasonably sized processor that could fit into common spaces. While some technological development seems far ahead of its time, such as thought behind Moore’s Law in 1965 which still applies today, certain developments took a surprisingly long time to come to pass. The idea of networked computers, and the start if the Internet, wasn’t discussed until 1962 when J.C.R. Licklider jumped aboard the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). A basic email concept was utilized in 1964, and research into creating an official real network for sharing information kicked in full gear from 1969‐1970. The seventies brought email by R@y Tomlinson, faster Internet with TCP/IP, Ethernet by Robert Metcalfe, and the first “computer driven candidate” in Jimmy Carter. From 1980 on, the number of sites rose drastically. And in 1989, a man by the name of Tim Berners‐Lee pitched his concept of a network for sharing information with everyone. That concept was a reality just one year later (WWW with hypertext debuted in 1990), and people began using it in 1991. Access to the public meant Internet service providers (ISPs) would be necessary to connect the population with the network. Mark Andreessen launched Mosaic in 1993, which would later be marketing by Netscape. By the mid 90s, there were 16 million users of the Internet. That number would triple in just one year to 45 million in 1996, 150 million in 1999, and 407 million in 2000. I suppose these numbers shouldn’t surprise me, but they do. It is surprising to me that the number of users grew at such a rapid rate over such a short period of time, especially in comparison to the rise of radio and television. But that is the thing about the Internet…it’s viral. Everything is instantaneous and the web now interconnects everyone on the planet. Prior to the Internet, we were connected by telephone, radio, television, snail mail, or travel. When the Internet launched, suddenly everyone was in our living rooms and we could talk to them at will. Now that it is 2009, I can’t believe it wasn’t until 1995 that the White House had a web page. 1995?! It seems like such a short time ago. Nowadays, our country couldn’t operate without the dependency of the Internet. That is a scary notion, and a topic on its own.
The development of the Internet wasn’t without flaws, attempts at corruption, or piracy. Just as it is able to reach such a large audience to share information and messages in a positive and productive manner, it is equally accessible for those with bad intentions. Some examples were the MafiaBoy attack of 2000, Shi Tao disclosing Chinese state secrets, Sony BMG’s installation of rootkits in 2005, AOL’s release of information of it’s customers in 2006, and the Sussex police and porn mix‐up last year. The internet has condensed the world into a tiny ball. Just like the telegraph, when the internet was launched, the world had high hopes for achieving world peace through this medium which could connect everyone and level the playing field. Division would be alleviated in the world and everyone would be equal. Also, just as with the telegraph and radio, people questioned whether or not the internet could work or was worth the money. The US government wouldn’t purchase the telegraph because it thought it cost more to construct than they could profit with it. Back in the 1800s, no one thought that radio was possible, and even those who thought it was possible, didn’t see that it could serve any purpose in the future. Statements like these are humorous now that we know how crucial such communications tools were and are. Today we predict where we think the future lies for radio, television, and Internet. We are no different from those who did this after the telegraph invention or the scientists forecasting interactivity and virtual realms 50 years from now. No idea is too outrageous. While I enjoy reading about “wearable computing”, robots, microchips, thought downloading, teleportation, cloning, and emotion control, two words come to mind “ethics” and “religion”. As individuals, we think and absorb messages based on our personal experiences and belief system. Being a religious person, I personally believe that things like cloning, altering personalities and emotions, and downloading thought processes seem like we are now toying with elements that are not meant to be altered. I am a supporter of virtual gaming and bringing experiences as true to life as possible, however I feel that the biological and chemical makeup of people are what make us individuals. When you start changing these things and everything becomes synthetic, no one is who they really are. To me, that seems unethical. But where do we draw the line? It will be interesting to see what is allowed and what is not allowed in the future as far as personalities and physical changes are concerned. It may have taken over 20 years to create a functional computer that did not occupy an entire room with vacuum cords, but today there are advances taking place at an alarming rate. In two years, there are plans to have a computers computational capability operate at a speed of 10 petaflops. This is a comparable rate to the speed of humans. As of today, we are still smarter than our computers. But this will all change. The day that a computer becomes more advanced and capable of performing functions than humans, humans will want to integrate these machines into their life at every moment.
As it stands today, it is hard to get through a day without using a computer for at least something. Looking up directions, finding a recipe, getting sports scores, finding the answer to a question, getting the most up to date news, etc. Currently, if you wish to access this information while away from a computer, you need to do it on another device...a cell phone or palm pad. Projections show that those same functions will soon be accomplished without the actual device, but triggered by thought to a microchip or sensor on the body. The human and the machine will merge where we BECOME the machine. Humans don’t sit at computers. Computers are embedded. We can download information, and books, and media instantaneously and The Everyware section of this book was by far the most compelling. It forces you to consider things that normally would just be dismissed. But we are at the cusp of a new way of thinking and living. As a human race, we will soon be outsmarted and outworked by technology and machines. In the beginning it will seem as if these advancements are simplifying life. Things like smart materials and smart appliances will prevent us from having to change outfits when it cools off at night, or run to the microwave when the popcorn is done popping. We won’t have to wait for the car to warm up in the morning, or the windshield to defrost. Many of the day‐to‐day problems and hiccups in life will be alleviated by technology. There will be no more sitting in traffic for hours, no more checking the turkey in the oven 500 times to see if it’s done yet, no more running the shower 20 minutes to let it heat up, only to lose hot water in ten more minutes, no more searching and waiting for taxis, or having to wait to check the weather to see if it’s going to rain. There will be a technological solution to all of the problems that we encounter daily. But with each positive growth, comes an equal opportunity for these technologies to be used in a negative way. Forming viruses and bacteria from scratch, being able to send glitches into a system and hack into information, countries being able to spy on our national intelligence are just a couple of examples. When the entire world operates on a network, and that network crashes, the world stops. When this technology becomes accessible anywhere at anytime, the landscape of life will change completely. Work will no longer need to be done between 9‐5. There will be no need for offices because all business and work will be accessible anytime. Business meetings and conferences can all be done in a virtual setting or through interactivity and networking. The 2007 Ipsos survey showed that people are more inclined to do work when they are spending quality time with family because they have a device that allows them to do it. I predict that in the future, there is going to be no more “Work time” and “family time”. There will be a massive convergence leading to “The Singularity” as defined by Ray Kurzweil. He says that eventually “economic, social, and political structures will completely change” and our environment will be altered because artificial intelligence will progress at a rate far beyond anything that humans can keep up with, even if we try. This is the “soft takeoff” approach.
Forward thinking is mind‐boggling and often hard to process. When there are no limits to what is possible, understanding the progression of these technological developments and how and when they will take place is difficult. The book “From Shaping Tomorrow’s Practical Foresight” provides ways we can acquire foresight to help us comprehend and prepare for the unpredictable. By looking at past trends, we can certainly get an idea of where things are headed and create a ‘possible outcomes’ scenario. However, there is a lot that cannot be accounted for. The Matsushita and Panasonic example is a perfect representation of what anticipating a future situation can do. No one believed that the yen would grow to such a high exchange rate, and then it did. As the text suggests, asking questions is one of the best possible ways to stay ahead. We have to consider why and how things can and should change, and beyond that, realize that the answer to those questions may be different tomorrow than it was today. Some of the skills necessary for determining optimal response to the future include trend assessment, pattern recognition, systems perspective, anticipation, analysis, and logic. In digesting all of the information and ideas surrounding futuristic philosophies and potential technologies, I find myself looking at the world around me through a different set of eyes. There is an iPod on my desk. But I don’t see it for what it is today; I now envision its successor. I find myself asking “what next?” constantly. Everything around us is changing. It’s changing right now: television, telephones, Internet, software, cars, learning, relationships…everything. I believe just as the Internet took off after its release, so will interactivity and virtual realms. The process for creating a solution and brief for the future has many steps. This process consists of: scoping futures, making a quick assessment, determining the desired outcome, identifying the stakeholders, securing audience support, utilizing the Strategic Thinking approach, creating a trends inventory and assessing those trends, gauging impact, classification, conduct quantitative and qualitative evaluations, reporting trends, developing perspective, creating scenarios, networking, futures networking, action planning, future briefings, editorial reviews, and getting buy‐in. In discerning which programs and projects are solutions to current problems, there are indicators to be aware of and on the lookout for. Caution flags should be raised if no scope can be established, there is no way to act upon the results, there is little or no support from key stakeholders, the projects cannot be financially supported or backed, or the work seems to mirror something that has already been done. Huge success does not happen in the blink of an eye, and if it is being presented that way, it should be questioned. Creating a quick assessment is important to laying the foundation for research and development and justifying the project. A purpose must be established before anything else and the questions of “what” and “why” must be answered. This sets a clear direction for the rest of the process. The book supports surrender over failure. I agree
and disagree here. I think when we allow walking away to be an option, it effects the way we think. Sometimes failing is a good thing. We learn from what didn’t work. The ability to think strategically about the future requires a trained mind. We can all sit around and dream up “what if” scenarios for fun. But to rationalize and provide reason in a systematic manner mandates research, analysis, and investigation. There is a wide gap between what is possible and what is probably. Bridging that divide can only be done using the Strategic Thinking approach. Gaining support for a probable future scenario is much easier than pitching an idea that may or may not come to pass. The four tier method is a good way to break down ideas into unlikely, possible, likely, and almost certain. Certain issues can be moved up and more evidence and trends support it, but tier 1 and tier 2 issues can also be shifted down when urgency, potential impact, or likelihood decrease or diminish. In order to implement a futures project or program, no matter how likely, can depend on how well it is communicated to stakeholders. The outcomes for such a product need to be clear, engaging, and positive. If I was a stakeholder and someone was pitching me an idea for the future, I would likely walk in with either a preconceived notion of the program, or skeptical that it could be effective. This is just because there are so many ideas out there today, and MOST are just far fetched illusions. But if an individual has conducted the necessary research, can explain to me what the need is, how they can improve upon a deficiency or adapt for a changing landscape, and propose having a significant impact for a large population, I would be more inclined to invest. I believe the best advice for gathering information and to avoid overload is to trust the gut instinct, keep a strategic focus, scan at first to pull out only the most useful information and avoid retaining useless facts and ideas. Horizon Scanning will play a large part in my thought process not just for this year, but likely for the rest of my life. I am becoming more aware of what is changing and understanding why they are changing. There is always a need for an upgrade, or a simplified way of doing things. As new technologies are produced, we can learn to apply them to either existing programs or create new ones that are more efficient, interactive, and serve a multitude of purposes. Taking daily mental notes and inventory of what is happening around us is important. What we see today, may look slightly different tomorrow. It will look slightly different in two days, and so forth. The philosophy behind the future says, “tomorrow will look a little like today” and “what people say could never happen, usually does”. I think this is well said. No two days look the same. Tomorrow we will know a little bit more than we do today. What was dismissed last year will be put into place next week. We cannot see into the future…yet. But we can make decisions that directly affect the outcome. We can fill the variable with any number and the output will change every time. So while we cannot predict the future, it is something that we can create and shape on our own.
All facts and quotations have been taken from Past & Future: An Interactive Media Chronology, edited by Janna Quitney Anderson.
An Introduction to Interactive Media Theory
“If the experience you create is not a compelling one, you will never find a large audience” – Nathan Shedroff
Defining “interactivity” is a complex matter. So complex in fact, that there is no single definition. Depending on which perspective you take, be it sociological or another, interactive characteristics vary. To illustrate this disparity, we can define two categories with subdivisions of characteristics under each. INTERACTIVITY Message Dimensions Participant Dimensions TIME CONTROL PLACE RESPONSIVENESS DIRECTION PERCEIVED GOALS Within each category there is also a deviation in levels of interactivity. For example, levels of control or direction can be high or low depending on the interface. Specific websites allow a user to be very interactive and control their experience in every aspect from layout and site architecture to blogging and altering information on the page. Other sites, while interactive, offer a less degree of interactivity. Perhaps we are unable to adjust any site features and text is embedded to create more of a one‐way communication. Another definition offered by Koolstra and Bos says that interactivity is “the degree to which two or more communication parties act on each other in an interrelated matter.” Those parties may be computers, humans, telephones, or any other device capable of sharing and transporting messages. One of the key aspects of interactivity is control…control over who, how, where and when a message will be sent. According to Koolstra and Bos, that control can be split in half: Timing flexibility and control over content. These are the ‘when’ and the ‘what’ factors. If I were creating my own definition, I would not limit the constraints of interactive control to just time and content. That leaves out the where it goes, who is sending and receiving the message, and how I wish to present that message. These factors add to my control over the output message and makes for a MORE interactive experience.
Interaction Design (IxD)
The interaction design process begins with conceptualization and research through presentation and conversation and ends with evaluation and interpretation. It involves working with systems that a user can interact with, and borrows theory from traditional design, psychology, and technical disciplines. Shedoff explains that it is imperative we know how to create valuable and empowering information in an interactive realm for others. He also explores the increased levels of the following in dealing with interactive design: Feedback Control Creativity Productivity Communications Adaptivity The passive approach allows little or no two‐way communication or control over a given environment. The shift to an interactive landscape is prevalent and will continue to be over time. Lev Manovich authored his own set of new media principles, which get at a similar point, taking a slightly different approach. His five principles are: Numerical Representation Modularity Automation Variability Transcoding Manovich’s ideas on variability were lacking in Shedoff’s notions. He explains, “a new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but can exist in potentially infinite versions.” A lack of confinement in time, space, or content is what makes interactivity the preferred style of communication. There are six steps in the IxD process: Design Research (investigate users and environment) Research Analysis/Concept Generation (storyboard, summary, vision statement) Alternative Design and Evaluation (wireframing, flow diagrams) Prototyping and Usability Testing (role, look and feel, implementation) Implementation (changes/modifications) System Testing (bug catching)
SOCIAL (SxD) WEB 2.0 Interactions among users and devices
AFFECTIVE/EMOTIONAL Convey positive emotions Good design = quality product Visceral, behavioral, reflective
The belief that good design equates to a quality product is very accurate. You can’t have one without the other. The objective is to have a good design AND back it up with a solid product. If you have a great design, but it represents something or someone who is not up to par, the user will not return. If you have a superior product, but poor design, the user will turn away before exploring the product capabilities. This idea enforces the consequence of sound design.
The following are a list of theories. Theories are used to explain observations and construct models of reality related to facts. They are not laws. Both qualitative and quantitative theories yield established theories and market research into uses and users of media. Separately each type of research is different, but both are necessary when striving for an accurate and thorough analysis. Systematic scientific examination employing
mathematical models, theories or hypothesis, and specific measurement
Investigation of underlying meaning and the matters of relationships. Focused on language, symbols, signs, and meaning. Includes interviewing, content study and observation.
Lasswell’s Model v. Shannon (and Weaver’s) Model
Over the years, communications theories have been created, updated, edited, revamped, and recreated again. They have been disputed and debated and evolve over time with the progression of communication and technology. One of the first to layout the flow of communication was Harold Lasswell in 1948. He proposed a who/says what/in which channel/to whom/ with what effect model. In that same year Claude Shannon would also offer his own model. The two men releasing differing models in the same year, would be joined by a third when Norbert Weiner published his Cybernetics document, which would address “feedback”.
Robert Craig would later suggest seven traditions of communication theory in 1999, consisting of: Rhetorical Semiotic Phenomenological Cybernetic Sociopsychological Sociocultural
Claude Shannon’s model, in conjunction with Weiner’s Cybernetics, shaped this theory, a branch of electrical engineering and applied mathematics. Unlike other theories, this source‐encoder‐channel‐decoder‐destination pattern included a noise source directed to the channel. It goes on to say that the more noise that exists in a channel, the greater the need for redundancy, which reduces the entropy of the message. Ideally, you wouldn’t want noise or redundancy. But since noise almost always exists, redundancy increases the chances of the message being received accurately and efficiently.
ACTIVITY THEORY (AT)
This theory began as a way to assess developmental processes that shape people and by which people shape their own experiences in life through their actions and choices. In other words, it examines how we become what we become and what we do to reach the highest goals and achievements that we can. When using AT, we need to take into consideration personal motivations and community role.
Human beings act towards things based on preconceived meanings that they have
The meaning of these things is the result of social interaction with society and others
Meanings are modified through interpretation by the person
SOCIAL NETWORK THEORY
I was surprised to learn that the “social network” phrase has been around for 100+ years! When we think of social networking, we think Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and blogging. None of which existed 15 years ago, let alone 100. Prior to it’s receiving it’s newer association with online networks, “social networks” were relationships between members of social systems.
The thought process behind the theory was no different in the 50s and 70s than it is today. A larger quantity of weak ties is more resourceful than a small number of very strong ties. Initially, I think opposite. I think, it doesn’t matter how many weak ties you have, none of them are going to get you anywhere. I will create a solid core of 10 ties that are guaranteed all the time and anytime. Expanding the number of ties that we each have, as far as we possibly can, extends our reach to create the “small world phenomenon”, where we are all connected to one other (either strongly or loosely). To me, what does a very loose connection with Kevin Bacon do for me? Even if I am just three ties away, I don’t know Kevin. He doesn’t know me. So how does that help me progress and network? When the Internet was booming at an alarming rate, this theory was used to determine that, in 1999, every single Web document was a maximum of 19 clicks away from every other one.
ONLINE COMMUNITIES THEORY
Before we called social networks, “social networks”, we called them online communities. These communities communicate via blogs, email, Second Life, etc. Without having to be physically present to have a conversation, online communities allow for a back and forth exchange of words and information. Today, online communities have seemingly all but taken over communication. The accessibility to such realms and the complexity of the experience makes face‐to‐face communication defunct. In what instance do we need to speak directly in a physical sense with another person? Those situations are rarities. What I do believe, however, is that something is lost in translation over all mediums excluding in‐person exchanges, and perhaps Skype and Oovoo type video conversations. And even when dealing with Skype, the noise level and background distractions are much stronger deterrents than perhaps they would be in person. Telephone conversations, instant messaging, email, Twitter, and blogging limit your ability to express a full range of emotion. Emoticons are supposed to aid in this expression, but you argue that “” is the same as me smiling in front of you. Emoticons are abused in conversation to such a degree that we are numb to their meanings. In 1998, Peter Kollack outlined three motivations for utilizing online communities:
Motivated to contribute valuable information to group in exchange for useful information and help in return
Desire for prestige and recognition of contributions boosts postings; “egoboo”
SENSE OF EFFICACY
Feeling of power and immense influence on the environment in which they operate. Supports self‐image.
In 1992, Marc Smith would add a very valid motivation of his own called “Sense of Community”. People enjoy receiving direct responses for their messages and this moves them to continue posting more content.
USES AND GRATIFICATIONS THEORY
U&G theory identifies how people are motivated to use particular communications tools to meet particular needs. It goes on to say that individuals may even use communications to achieve self‐actualization, or ultimate purpose and meaning in life. This gratification can be gained through the content itself through videos, music, information, or the dialogue between oneself and other users. I have an aunt who battles loneliness and mild depression and her personal therapy is to sit in front of her computer and watch YouTube videos. She watches inspirational videos of people winning Olympic medals or American Idol. She listens to songs that uplift her, and comedy acts that make her laugh. At first I found it weird, but then I realized the escape it creates for her in her life. For the time she is watching other people’s joy, she can share in that joy and forget her own sadness. Whether or not we agree that going to this created space as a temporary fix is a good idea, I can see the comfort in it. But at the end of the day, those lives are not our own and we have to come back to reality and face what we are dealing with. And for this reason, I see this theory as a catch 22. Many U&G theorists have defined their reasons for why people use particular communications in their lives, and to what degree. Here are some of those outlines: LASSWELL (1948) KATZ, GUREVITCH, HAAS (1973) DENNIS McQUAIL (1987) JANE SINGER (1998) COMM THEORY LITERATURE HA, JAMES (1998)
Media served functions of surveillance, correlation, entertainment, and cultural transmission for society/individuals Users have same five categories of needs: cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative, and escapist Common reasons for use of TV: Information, Personal Identity, Integration and Social Interaction, Entertainment Line between sender and receiver is obscured. Five common user‐oriented dimensions of interactivity: involvement, benefits, threats, inconvenience, isolation Five dimensions of interactivity: playfulness, choice, connectedness, information collection, reciprocal communication; self‐indulgers, Web Surfers, task‐oriented, expressive
KNOWLEDGE GAP THEORY
According to this theory, with each new medium, the gap (or digital divide) between the information‐rich and the information‐poor widens. This idea reminds me of the haves and the have‐nots in the financial sector. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is the same principle we see here. Segments of the population with a higher socioeconomic status acquire the information at a faster rate than the lower segments.
Social Construction v. Technological Determinism
Social constructionism says that social factors and technology tool features are intertwined. In 1984, Adoni and Mane proposed the following breakdown:
Subjective Reality Symbolic Reality
One of the research approaches on social construction of reality is the cultivation theory that examines the cumulative effects of exposure to media. These effects are then subdivided into first and second order beliefs, which concern both facts about the real world and extrapolations from these facts to draw conclusions about the world around us. I think of this as a lead‐in to the perception theory that is discussed later. Based on what we see or hear, we form ideas and opinions, some or many of which may be an exaggerated view of the truth. Technological determinism is the thought that advances in technology are a primary factor in social change processes. Marshall McLuhan would suggest that technologies we use affect our habits of perception and thinking. If we continue to become more dependent on computers and technology, does that mean we are less literate? Less cultured? Technical determinism would say yes, and social constructivist would say no.
DIFFUSION of INNOVATIONS THEORY Four main elements of diffusion: Innovation communicated through channels over time among members of a social system
Characteristics of an innovation that affect rate of adoption: relative advantage compatibility complexity observability I agree with Rogers in that if an idea is going to help me accomplish something and give me an advantage, and it is not overwhelming or so complex that I can’t wrap my head around it, I will adopt that innovation much quicker. I don’t want to waste time on anything that is going to complicate any aspect of my life. That’s not an improvement. In making that decision of whether or not to adopt an innovation, Rogers states that the mental process goes through these five stages: Knowledge Persuasion Decision Implementation Confirmation
SPIRAL OF SILENCE THEORY
People’s willingness to speak out about specific topics is influenced heavily by their perception of the surrounding opinion environment. Elisabeth Noelle‐Neumann said that people contain their opinions for fear of social isolation or reprisal. Taken into the online world, individuals may be “flamed” or have harsh comments directed towards them in response to a personal opinion or belief that does not correspond with the rest. Thinking about my own life, if I tend to lean more Democratic in my political view, but when I am surrounded by groups of Republicans, I don’t speak about my views. Not because I can’t defend myself, but because I am outnumbered and know that I will be met with harsh resistance. This goes for religion and other topics that are delicate among groups in society.
POWERFUL EFFECTS THEORY
In attempting to convey a powerful message that provokes change, Mendelsohn says there are four key criteria: Clearly define extremely specific, reasonable campaign objectives Pinpoint the target audience Work to overcome indifference of the audience Find relevant themes to stress the messages Many people are stubborn and stuck in their ways. They feel that their way is the best way, or are too proud to admit that there could be a better way of doing something. To have a powerful effect, you have to force people to recognize inconsistencies in their belief systems. This is not an easy thing to do. When communicating the message, it is better to not be distracted or interrupted so that the information can be received as it was intended to be.
Power Law Effect
When a system drives activity to reinforce the behavior that caused it to be there in the first place. When I am on YouTube and watching random videos, if something only has 500 views, I immediately think that the video is not what I think it is, or it is not as good as it sounds. My actions are dependent on the previous activity and actions of others. The more people that look at a video, the more I want to see it. Because I think that it is of good quality, or even if it’s not, I don’t want to be left out of the conversation. Example: Susan Boyle.
AGENDA SETTING and MEDIA FRAMING THEORY
We all know that the images we see and the news we hear on television shapes our beliefs. If we are not given opposing views and alternative perspectives, the pictures in our heads can be distorted. This theory suggests that the media we consume tell us what to think about and how to think about it. Agenda setting and framing can have an affect on how audience members interpret an issue. If a photographer is standing in a room and on one side is a man smiling and on the other side is rubble from an explosion, if he frames his photograph so we just see the man, we are getting one story. If he shoots just the rubble, we are getting another story. If we get all 360 degrees of what is going on, we are getting a third and most accurate representation of the story.
Come from physical aspects of stimuli to which we’re being exposed
Psychological factors that influence how we see things; introducing subjectivity
I was very interested in the “selective perception” section. It is very true that we all tend to be influenced by wants, attitudes, needs, etc. There are three factors: Selective Exposure – only watching/listening to things that support existing attitudes (ie. Republicans only watching FOXNews) Selective Attention – only pulling out messages that match, and dismissing opposing views (I only listen to people who support the EAGLES) Selective Retention – only being able to recall/remember information that coincides with beliefs
As we process new information and retrieve stored information, we tap into a cognitive structure of knowledge about people and situations that we have accumulated from prior experiences. According to Graber, when we commit something to memory, it is more likely a conclusion based on evidence and not the evidence itself. It is easier to remember the general gist and how we feel about something, than all of the little details and facts that shaped that conclusion.
Linda Scott says that pictures used in the mass media can be thought of as: Transparent representations of reality Conveyors of affective/emotional appeal Complex combinations of symbols combined to make rhetorical arguments Images can be more powerful than written word, and according to Scott, these pictures can be used to construct arguments. This makes sense. Photographs don’t lie. Assuming that no framing is taking place, we can draw inferences and form opinions equally in regards to a photograph as we can text.
Lasswell attempted a definition of propaganda in 1937 by saying it is the “technique of influencing human action by the manipulation of representations”. Alfred and Elizabeth Lee would present seven common devices of propaganda in 1939: Name calling Glittering generality Transfer Testimonial Card stacking Band wagon Those would be followed by Roger Brown in 1958 who would differentiate between the notions of propaganda (where the persuader is out to benefit himself, and not the persuadee) and persuasion (where symbols are manipulated to provoke action). While propaganda is not ALWAYS a bad thing, it has acquired a negative connotation over time. Moreover, propaganda is unbelievably powerful. When a professional athlete tells you that his shoes are the reason he won a gold medal at the Olympics, we believe. In these instances, the fault is both on the transmitter of this information and us, the audience, for taking everything at face value without conducting our own tests. We are all guilty.
Fear appeal is the use of a threat to arouse fear in the audience. When we see advertisements telling us if we don’t do this, we are going to get this worse thing. This approach can be very effective. It absolutely makes the audience stop and think twice when they otherwise may not have. But in Janis and Feshbach’s 1953 test, they
determined that a minimal fear appeal was most effective. When strong fear messages are received, they can seem too far fetched or outrageous, and so they are dismissed. Techniques of persuasion: Visuals (something that sticks out that we can remember) Humor (creates a positive mood and also makes it more memorable) Sex Appeal (creates a good feeling and we remember) Repetition (the commercial that plays twice in a row)
MEDIA RICHNESS THEORY
The richer, more personal means of communication are most effective way to share messages. Face‐to‐face is the most rich medium that exists, followed by video conferencing which simulates a face to face experience through a computer or device. Levels of interactivity, firmer understanding, and timeliness are three factors that can make an experience more media rich. A plain document, for example, does not have the impact or timeliness of a phone call. We can speak faster than we can read and we can absorb speech faster than we can read. So this means of communication is preferred. All of these aforementioned theories express how we interpret and respond to messages. This is dependant upon numerous variables including the mediums used to transmit and receive the message, our life experiences to that particular point, our physical environment and mood when receiving the message, the actual content of the message we are receiving, the associations we make with that message or a connection we make with the sender, noise or interference that is transmitted with the message, etc. There are endless factors that influence how we decode a message and store it into our memory. As technology advances, these messages may become more rich due to more vivid and complex systems by which we can send information over time and space. Or perhaps they will become increasingly less personal as face‐to‐face interaction becomes extinct and expression and emotion can no longer be created. Only time will tell.
Reaching Interactive Media Audiences
“If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”
Spreadable Media in a Digital Age
The words “viral” and “memes” are similar, but the term viral is overused and inaccurately invoked when describing anything from Word‐of‐Mouth Marketing to remixed postings on YouTube. Existing model: Viral media is explained as replication of the original idea. It lacks consideration of an altered message evolving as it is transformed and misinterpreted on a mass scale. Remember when we were children playing “telephone”? Everyone sits in a circle and one person says something to the person next to them who then tells the person on the opposite side of themselves and it goes all the way around the circle. By the time the message returns to the original sender, it is oftentimes nothing like it was intended. This is the phenomenon that exists in viral information sharing. Slightly skewed versions of the original message are being sent out and distributed through social networks. Minimal variation repeated over and over creates a message metamorphosis that eventually looks and sounds nothing like its original. Alternative model: Spreadable media model. It emphasizes multipliers, who expand potential meaning and opens up brands. This model assumes the repurposing that takes place adds value, not that it distorts the message. In a genetic metaphor, Richard Dawkins suggests that genes are to genetics as memes are to culture. Memes possess three important characteristics: Fidelity Fecundity Longevity A shift has occurred from the sticky model to the spreadability model. The Internet is limitless and this allows for many spaces that have yet to be explored. Not everything is branded and contained as suggested in the sticky model.
Models of Media Contact
Attract and hold viewers attention Concentrates attention of all parties on specific site through specific channel Create unified consumer experience as consumers enter branded spaces Prestructured interactivity to shape visitor experience Tracks migrations of individual consumers within a site Sales force marketing to consumers Outgrowth of push model shift to pull model Separate roles for producers, marketers, consumers Depends on finite number of channels for communicating
Motivate and facilitate efforts of fans to spread the word Create diversified experience as brands enter inhabited spaces Open‐ended participation as engaged consumers retrofit content to niche communities Maps idea flow through social networks Grassroots intermediaries become advocates for brands Restores push model aspects; customers circulate content within their own communities Increased collaboration across roles; blurred lines Capitalizes on infinite number of localized/temporary networks
Sampling Audience Approaches by Experts
The Power Law of Participation discusses the level of collected intelligence between low threshold participants and high engagement groups. It explains that low threshold participation does amount to measurable intelligence and high engagement is not necessarily more intelligence, but a different form of collaborative intelligence. For example, in Wikipedia, only 0.5% of the users account for 50% of the edits. There is a small core group of people that are doing half of the contributing and adjusting. According to Dosh Dosh, to acquire information about your visitors of your website, there are a few key metrics to examine in determining what they want and what is garnering attention: Visitor Loyalty, bounce rate, recency, time on site Visitor Location (Geographic) Visitor search terms/keywords Traffic Source
Retrieving information from your visitors to draw conclusions can be done by monitoring their activity, but perhaps there is a simpler way. By integrating polls, surveys, on‐site user features, and audience feedback, you can go directly to the source you wish to question and get their opinions or just general information. Personas are representations of user types that describe user characteristics that lead to different collections of needs and behaviors. Designers use these to: Determine what a product should do and how it should behave Communicate with stakeholders, developers, and other designers Build consensus and commitment to the design Measure the designs effectiveness Contribute to other product‐related efforts such as marketing and sales plans To build user archetypes, there is a range of research methods that can be utilized: Surveys Ethnographic Research Interviews Contextual Inquiries Web Analytics Numbers, numbers, numbers. Computational information design reflects reality, and data scientists are emerging from the sea of statisticians, computer scientists, graphic designers and mathematicians. They can do it all. Their knowledge base encompasses all of the others. And wearing many hats is a skill unto itself. If I search “”Philadelphia Eagles” in Google, the first results that show are not necessarily the team website. Rather, I get links to recent news updates, blogs, wikis, and Twitter feeds relating to or discussing the Philadelphia Eagles. Searching in real‐time is a new and popular way to find results. Because we, as humans, digest and rationalize information by its recency, this is an effective way of searching and navigating the web.
Collecting Valuable Data
Web analytics involves studying data in order to comprehend the influence and impact of communications
Web Analytics ON‐SITE
Assessment of visitors’ activities on site
Measurement of site’s potential audience, share, and buzz
Internet User Numbers and Site Stats
Sites like alexa.com are devoted to tracking traffic stats, reach, pageviews, bounce %, time on site, search % and many other variables. Nielson works similarly, delivering comprehensive, independent measurement and analysis of digital audiences. These numbers can help companies determine what is attracting their visitors, how they are arriving at the site, how often they are visiting, who their visitors are, so that decisions can be made to capitalize on these opportunities.
Conducting Usability Research
Verification tests are conducted to measure the usability of a product against established parameters. This ensures that the product is meeting set standards set by previous tests, surveys, interviews, and brainstorming. A matrix test design allows product testing (between 4‐5 people minimum, but 8+ is ideal) across a range of roles according to different classifiers or variables.
About Audience; Participants; CreatorConsumers
“Deep down we are all shallow people” True or False : Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Probably true. True or False: Beauty is skin deep. Probably false. True or False : Looks matter. While some people will provide the politically correct response of “false, looks don’t matter”, the truth of the matter is that when given a choice between something visually pleasing and something that is not, as humans we will always fare on the side of what is better looking. That’s just the way that it is. Something aesthetically pleasing screams “quality”. Whether it is in fact a quality product or not, it will at least draw in the consumer enough to dig a little deeper to see if the product matches the design. Noam Tractinsky conducted research that supported this thought.
The User‐Centered Design Process is just that. It is centered solely around the user when dictating design. The steps include: Define target audience – general descriptions User Task Analysis ‐ ID of end users goals and tasks Create a Prototype – Define how system will work; test on real users Test Prototypes with REAL users – ID problems; create design solutions Beta Release (Pre‐release) – Has all functionality of final version; not a prototype Ongoing Evaluation – feedback; customer service; gain insight and expand
These graphs, charts, and diagrams help explain concepts tied to interactivity, theory and audience. Rather than looking at lists and lists of information, the data is spread out in a meaningful way that more clearly illustrates a process or conversation.
Application Usage Trends
Social networking usage peaks between 9 and 10pm. This is no surprise, since during the day people are working or at school. They drive home, eat dinner, do what is necessary before the sun sets, and then have time to chat with others or boost their profiles. Facebook is an exception to the rule, showing a consistent stream of users throughout the day. This fact surprises me to be honest. This means that people are on Facebook at their desks during work or while they are in class. If I were a professor or a director of a department, I would not condone this unless it was specifically for a business‐oriented account. Through experience, Facebook has a similar wandering effect that YouTube does. When you sign in to check one message and send one note, you can’t help but be sidetracked by updates regarding friends and then their friends. This can be very time‐consuming and addicting.
Unlike Facebook, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer seems to be a sinking ship. With popularity only in Africa and an elderly demographic, it is being outdone by Mozilla Firefox and Chrome everywhere else. Google has become king of the hill with Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, and Google Reader all in the top 5. Makes us all wish we bought some Google stock on Day01.
Visual Design for the Modern Web
There are four factors that promote audience engagement: Self‐evidence
Speed Feedback Accuracy
If you wish to have a top‐notch interactive product, be sure it meets the following criteria: Easy to Maintain Aesthetically Appealing Easy to Use Technically Solid
There are seemingly endless numbers of demographics to consider when posting content and considering interactive design. Cultural Demographics Education Employment Economic status
Physical Demographics Gender Age range Health status
Design Expectations Critical Visual
Computer Experience Tech Knowledge Favorite Sites Surfing patterns and frequency Usage patterns
Internal or External Audience Company intranet Public Internet
Competing Sites What other sites do your users use and why
Location of Access Home Work Public access
Findability Will typical audience member find site from search engine, TV ad, banner ad, link, or friend.
Computer Equipment Profile Operating system System speed System Power Connection Speed
Frequency of Visits Infrequent visitors need a different approach from the frequent
Nielson’s Usability Heuristics
System and real world correlation User Control and Freedom Consistency and standards Error Prevention Recognition rather than recall Flexibility and efficiency of use Aesthetic and minimalist design Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors Help and Documentation
First Principles of Interaction Design Anticipation Autonomy
Use Status Mechanisms to keep users aware and informed Keep Status Information Up to Date and within Easy View Consistency o Interpretation of User Behavior o Invisible Structures o Small Visible Structures o Overall Look of a single Application or service o Suite of Products o In‐House consistency o Platform consistency o Inconsistency o Avoid Uniformity Defaults Efficiency of the User Explorable Interfaces Make Actions Reversible Always allow “undo” Always allow a way out Make it easy to stay in Learnability
“Tags are simple. Tags are flexible. Tags are extensible – you can keep adding more. Tags can be aggregated. This is why tagging works.” – Gene Smith
Tagging is people‐powered metadata that guides us as we sift through information. Del.icio.us is a social networking site devoted solely to bookmarking and tagging sites. Tag Clouds are clusters of tags that depict which tags are the most popular.
Gene Smith, author of “Tagging”, says that tagging falls into one of five basic categories: Managing Personal Information Social Bookmarking Collecting and Sharing Digital Objects Improving e‐Commerce Experience Other Uses
He goes on to say that tagging is a combination of information architecture, social software, and personal information management. Tagging allows for us, as users and surfers, to remember useful sites with information, and also see what everyone else is looking at as well. Sites that have high tag popularity are usually reliable, useful, and entertaining.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Making a website visible is everything. There is no point in creating a useful, creative, streamlined, informative site if no one ever finds it. This is why SEO is essential. The goal is to have your website be linked to as many others as possible, so the maximum number of eyes that can possibly see the site, see it. There are nine tactics that can be used to improve the visibility of a website: Page Title must be unique Meta Description – Precise summary URL Structure – simple and friendly Website Navigation – easy, accessible index Unique Content – be informative and keyword driven Anchor Text – internal links Heading Tags – only use when appropriate Alt Tag Optimization – use alt tags for images Robots.txt File – avoid “Search result pages to be crawled”
Website Accessibility is a Requirement
It is important to keep in mind and cater to the US population that is disabled. We have to be cognizant of their needs because they make up 8% of the population. The Internet is a tool for them as well, and when things like absent alt tags from images happen, it becomes difficult for them to get the same experience as those who are not disabled are getting.
John Owen on Twitter
“The content, the audience, and the ability to get the message to the audience dictates the value of any communication”
Battle of the Brands: The Future of Interactive Branding and Sports Merchandising
Brands are defined not by a company itself, but by its consumers. While four companies may fall into the broad category of sporting goods, that is where their commonalities begin and end. The missions, brands, goals, and audiences are diverse. With each new medium, comes an opportunity to delve deeper into creating an identity and connect more directly with the consumer. A brand’s value to a company is increasing exponentially on an annual basis. With more product selections to choose from, and less time to choose it in, in this fast paced society, having a consumer instinctively want to purchase your product is the ultimate goal. In the field of sports merchandising and sales, there are four brands that dominate the market: Nike. Adidas. Puma. UnderArmour. Four brands. One industry. We’ve all seen their ads. We all know their logos. We’ve all seen their products. Heck, we’ve all worn their products. And we all know that at the end of the day they are all after one thing – selling athletic gear. But when we step closer we see that despite having a similar goal in a common market, the approach, strategies, mindset, and personalities of each is unique. Each brand is completely different from the others. As consumers, we subconsciously think and react a certain way when we encounter each. But why? Over the past few years, interactivity through digital media has emerged as the most popular and effective way to connect with an audience or consumer. The communication process has been flipped upside down and now the conversation is a back and forth, an ebb and flow. This multi‐directional nature of message sharing has empowered the “specticipants” and now they are wholly integrated into the brand. They aren’t just receiving a brand message. They are the brand. Among the big four in sports merchandising, I have selected two to compare head to head. One bigger, one smaller. One niche, one all‐encompassing. One rookie, one veteran. Both successful. Just like in the competitive landscape, the only way to determine differences is to line them both up side by side with a level playing field and let them battle. So the lines are painted, the shoes are laced, and we’re off! Nike versus UnderArmour. The Battle of the Brands.
ROUND ONE Creating an Identity: What is a Brand, anyway? ‐ According to Marty Neumeier, in The Brand Gap, a brand isn’t a logo or an identity. It is the gut feeling that someone has when they think about a service or product or company (Neumeier, 1). This notion is echoed by John Lane, Director of Creative Services at Centerline Digital in Raleigh, NC. He explained that, “a brand is an emotion that people get as a result of visual cues (ads, logos) and products from a company. It’s a visceral response to the physical attributes (ads, logos, products, services, people) and point‐of‐view (their publicly agreed upon mission) an organization exudes.” If you ask Under Armour, they will tell you that at its core lives a “sports apparel and footwear brand. We’re also innovators in sports. Whether it’s a product, a piece of footwear or apparel, or a service or a technology, we always try to be innovators in the sports landscape and the athletic landscape.” I wanted to see how the vision of each brand was matching the consumer opinion on the web. So I tapped into a site called brandtags.net. It’s a site where you can enter a brand name and a word cloud appears, illustrating the most popular words associated with those brands–the larger the word, the more popular the association. For Nike, the most popular words were specific names of professional athletes including “Michael Jordan” “Tiger Woods” and “Lebron James”. It makes sense. Afterall, Nike is synonymous with top tier athletes. I then asked Nike how accurate is this in terms of how they are trying to portray themselves as a brand. Dan Alder, Nike’s North America Brand Connections Manager for soccer and basketball responded, “Very accurate I’d say. We’re a company built on athletes. We’re always telling athletes’ stories. We’re making products for athletes. And if you have a body, you’re an athlete. That’s one our internal Nike mantras or Phil Knight’s. If you have a body, you’re an athlete. “ But it’s not enough to just talk the talk. To thrive in the competitive sports merchandising space, each company has to portray an authentic desire to enhance the sports they promote. Alder explains how Nike does just this: We are an athletics company. We’re the biggest athletics company in the world. It’s all about an athlete or the athlete or you are the athlete. Whether you are famous or you are not famous, you are an athlete. So it’s all about that. If we have been associated with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and all those popular names, great.
As for UnderArmour, the most popular words or phrases that people associate with the brand were “football”, “sports”, “tight‐fitted”, and “stretchy”. Is that accurate to what they are trying to portray? Here’s what Nathan Shriver, Creative Director at UnderArmour, had to say in response to their word cluster: I mean sports, athletics, definitely. Anything along that realm. I mean apparel, we’ve been a thirteen year old brand that is, well 75% of those years have been in apparel so all that stuff is to be expected. We also, early on, were very perceived as a football brand. We still are. We still do get perceived as a football brand. So that’s all positive stuff to us but as we get bigger and more sophisticated we hope to open up that lens more to, especially to female athletes, and capture more mindshare around female sports, team sports, footwear, and running. Individual sports and training in some of the stuff that you see a product you see us putting out in the campaign so that’s all good stuff. That’s all great stuff actually, but we’re going to broaden that lens as we get bigger. UnderArmour is in an interesting position. While in recent years they have expanded and now sell everything from shoes to lacrosse equipment, it wasn’t always that way. People think of UnderArmour and they think of the tight mock turtlenecks or football training gear. So they have a constant fight to break down these ideas and get people thinking about them in a whole new light with equipment and gear that spans all sporting realms. To put this into perspective, UnderArmour current day competitors Puma and Adidas began strictly as footwear companies. German founders Adolf Dassler and Rudi Dassler started Dassler Shoes in the 1920s, and not until a family riff and the summation of a lifelong rivalry did they part ways and pursue individual brands. In doing so, both men began expanding their companies to include a larger variety of products (Smit, 2008). ROUND TWO: Branding Evolution ‐ Why are brands important? It’s not just because that is how consumers associate a product with a name. It’s because of their value. According to The Brand Gap, brands attribute more than half of a brand’s value to their name. For example, CocaCola’s market Cap including their brand value is $120 Billion. Without it? Only $50 billion. Brands are not only important, but they are the most important aspect to selling a product, service, or company. Can brands change over time? Should they? What are the repercussions of this change? UnderArmour believes in evolution. Shriver discusses their stance on the issue: Our brand has definitely changed. We have a saying that we’re a different company every six months and I think that definitely holds true. We expanded
the scope to include more athletes into our brand. We’ll always be the aspirational athletic brand. The way we like to be perceived is that it is the athletic brand of this generation. We want to be that brand that makes athletes better from youth all the way up through club sports.
ROUND THREE: Standing Out in the Crowd ‐ With so many companies battling it out in the same space, competition is stiff. Because of this, each brand needs to find a place to exist, where no one else can compete. Whether it is in how they present their brands, or who they target, differentiation is paramount. UnderArmour is aware of the situation. As it stands, they are the new kids on the block, having only been around since 1996. Nike dug its roots in 1964 and Adidas and Puma came into existence shortly thereafter. But these rookies seem to have found their niche. Shriver explains: Our differentiation is that we are founded on performance. Every product or service or innovation we provide, makes the athlete better. It’s not more of a fashion or commodity based brand. Our products are really coveted by athletes because they give them that extra edge that other brands don’t do. We’re a brand founded on performance and making the athlete better. Every product does something for you. ROUND FOUR: Target Practice ‐ UnderArmour has considered the wide range and abilities of athletes, and they have narrowed their focus to a specific audience. Shriver believes having a specific message receiver is key to successful marketing: We definitely target the younger athlete. We talk a lot about competitors at all levels like people who are really serious about all of their sports, serious about getting better, about training, about being at the top of their game. So it’s definitely a younger demographic, purely demographic speaking, but it’s male and female youth athletes. ROUND FIVE: Brand Enhancement ‐ Having visited the UnderArmour website, the interactive interface is inescapable. In contrast with Nike.com, Adidas.com, and Puma.com, their tools and software manifest the type of interface that aids in the consumer experience. Shriver says: UnderArmour.com today is the majority of our direct to consumer channel, meaning we’re using UA.com to sell our products directly to consumers from the website. So right now, in our strategy, we’re really focused on making the shopping experience easy, and informative and as educational as possible. At the
same time, we want to educate people on our brand, what we stand for, what our product stands for. So that’s kind of the original creative brief that I came up with for the current version of underarmour.com, which is basically make it easy to shop, educational, informative around the brand. Our primary objective is shopping and educating the consumer, but we are also using our website to really engage consumers on brand campaigns. Whether it’s ‘Protect This House’ or ‘ClickClack’ or ‘BoomBoomTap’ or one of our other brand campaigns, we’re really using the web as a storytelling device to bring people deeper into our brand campaigns.
ROUND SIX: Nothing is Perfect ‐ When a website boasts interactive features, and everything says ‘experience’ or ‘explore’, as a visitor, I feel engaged. I enjoy going to a site that is not just out to feed me prices and advertisements. I want to learn something that I didn’t know. I want to see something that I haven’t seen. I want to feel like I am in control. But what about the ‘soccer mom’ consumer who comes onto the site and just needs a mock shirt because little Johnny has a soccer game tomorrow and it’s supposed to snow? She has a limited amount of time to work with and one specific goal in mind. In these cases, can excessive interactivity detract from the experience at all, or is this variety always a positive? Shriver doesn’t think it hurts: I think it’s a positive but I think you have to have a clear definition between the two. I think that’s what someone looking at or navigating to our site should really get. That ease of use, the quick ability to get in, get some underwear and get out is there, but in addition if someone really wants to spend some time and delve deeper into the brand and into the stories that’s there as well. That dichotomy is what we are trying to accomplish and that’s sort of the main objective of the website. With all of these features available on Nike.com, videos and games, etc., one would wonder whether or not they are coming to the site in search of purchasing product, or just to look around and play some games. Due to this shift in purpose and mixed motivation for visiting the site, I asked Sue Halliday at Nike if people who are trying to get in and out quickly and simply still catered to? She says ‘yes’: The number one search that they still do is typically product oriented we’ve found, and they can do this simply and easily at any time. Facebook and Twitter are great for spreading positive messages or informational messages in a hurry. They are also a forum for angry individuals to vent, complain, and gripe about anything (and everything) that bothers them. Knowing this, and knowing the viral nature of Facebook and Twitter, it can be assumed that this negative publicity must negatively impact the company to an extent. If someone is upset with a pair of
cleats they bought from Nike, and then go on Twitter and rant about Nike, can anything constructive be pulled out? Alder responds: Well, you can’t please all the people all the time. I don’t think anyone thinks of the social avenues as a bad thing, like ‘ah no, we’re scared of what people are saying about us’. No one views it like that at all and it’s a big wide world. The whole world is like an open forum now with blogs and with different websites where you can write what you like and I think what people express is entirely up to them and of course if someone is writing a lot of like ‘oh, they hate this cleat and that’, we will definitely look at that and say ‘hey, how can we maybe make our cleat better? But we don’t really look at it as having a big huge negative on the company. Anyone can say what they like so, it’s fine. It’s a free world.” ROUND SEVEN: Turning Eyeballs into Dollar Bills ‐ With all of this online presence, it is difficult to know which consumers are buying as a result of the interactive elements presented on the site, and who is just buying because they need or want something. So how do you know? Is there a way to quantify the results? If I go onto a website and I play a game, or I watch a video clip which then gets me wanting something else—is there a way to track that I did that? How do the companies know that what they are doing is effective? Let’s talk numbers. According to Lane, Centerline Digital, for example, employs usability testing for larger projects and software development. Smaller projects get internal evaluations and changes are made by interactions with the client. Nike and UnderArmour agree. Shriver explains: [At UnderArmour] We use an analytics package, a pretty industry standard analytics package, that tracks the users experience and interface with our website. Whether it’s their likelihood or propensity to buy based on what they saw or abandoned carts conversions and sales we have a pretty real time dashboard full of those sorts of metrics that we can analyze and make business decisions based on that. Nike takes a similar approach: Well there’s different ways of doing it. Sometimes it’s easier to monitor and other times it’s a little more difficult. So obviously if you just log onto nikestore.com and you buy a product—easy to track. If we place advertising banners on a website, we can track obviously the amount of clicks and click‐ throughs they have to our site, so that’s an easy track as well. If you see a viral film, that’s placed on a Nike site, and you look at it, you watch it, you get excited, you click through to the site and make a purchase there, again that’s all very easy to track. I mean it gets definitely trickier if you are just on YouTube or you’re on a friends website and you see a cool Nike film there and then you think ohhhh
and then you go off and search? That can be a little bit trickier. Unless it’s pretracked. Like if it was a YouTube Nike channel, there’s ways to tracking that as well. But you can’t really quantify it if you just sort of watch a random film somewhere and then you think ‘ah, that’s cool’ and have decided to go off elsewhere. And that’s where really the power of strong content and advertising comes into the mix. And the branding itself. So that’s where we’ll go out there and sometimes just make really strong films that appeal to the consumer and just promote our brand. You put a tag on the end of it, nikesoccer.com or whatever it is and you pretty much just hope that people get inspired and then they come to your site. But that’s always been the same way with, you know, TV advertising in general over the years. “ Halliday added that the only way is to really just sift through retailers to figure out what the sell‐through rate is and trying to have a correlation between the timing of your advertising and success at retail. While Centerline Digital deals with a wide range of clients, Lane’s ideas regarding devising a numerical figure to prove or disprove a project’s value versus the investment echo the remarks made by both Nike and UnderArmour. Lane says: By tracking click paths from an interactive interface embedded within a site, you can monitor action from such an interface to quantify success. If someone is pushed from an online game feature to a product and then purchases, we can derive that there was a correlation between the game experience and the consumer’s experience to buy. I could go on a long time about this…There are a couple different levels of ‘measurement — soft metrics and hard metrics. The ultimate hard metric is ROI [Return on Investment]…did you make money by making the investment in your TV commercial, print ad, or interactive website? Soft metrics are a bit harder to nail down. It comes back to the intermediate goals you are trying to reach that will lead to ROI. Those may be things like “visits,” “registrations” or even “time of engagement.” But none of them are dollars. So they have to be well defined before you know whether or not they are a success. Questions like “How many leads do we need before this is successful?” are necessary before you can say things were successful. Even softer is studying use metrics for an interactive engagement. They can be measures of success (i.e. “We set up the site to drive people to this point and 80% of them made it.”) or failure (i.e. “We set up the homepage to expose people to our latest products, but no one is using that pod.”). In either case you’ve learned something…you’re either one step closer to ROI, or in need of serious adjustment to meet your intermediate goals. ROUND EIGHT: Trend Alert!
‐ How do those ideas come to be? Who decides and how do they decide what you’re going to put up there to engage the consumers? For UnderArmour: The dichotomy that I spoke of before, really manifests itself in business needs as well. From the shopping angle, it’s really a merchandising plan. So the merchandising plan basically dictates what products are coming out when, demands of those products, how well they’re performing, and so a good bit of the creative on the direct to consumer shopping side is really built around a merchandising plan. What products are now, and what products are next. As far as the more experiential side, or the marketing side, that’s based off a brand calendar. So we have sort of an overall look at the year, 2009, with big campaigns, big messages, per sport per category. Those things sort of manifest themselves through the experience parts of the site. Now a lot of times those two sort of gel. InstinctFast is a perfect example where we had a brand new merchandise line for baseball and we had a great campaign to go with it. Jose Reyes and Matt Wieters in InstinctFast so really what you do is you’re writing a brief and you’re building creative that satisfies merchandising and the brand campaign. ROUND NINE: Staying Ahead of the Curve ‐ Moving forward to 2010 and 2011, with technology constantly changing, how can anyone possibly stay on the cutting edge to make sure what they’re showing is cutting edge and what people are looking for? It seems like as quickly as you map out a new innovation, it is already too late. UnderArmour is constantly analyzing and reviewing what and how their site is perceived by consumers. Shriver explained that: We’re going and we’re actually envisioning a new version of the site as we speak. So we’re going to be looking to take and capitalize more on the community aspects of our brand by bringing more people into the brand and using UnderArmour.com as their de facto source of content information, educational aspects of the brand, we’re going to really ramp that up for 2010, and a site redesign. I can’t really say much more than that, but those two tenants of brand education and ecommerce will be there for sure but we look to sort of expand on that with more community and content‐based information. ROUND TEN: Social Networking and Marketing Strategy ‐ Social media and social networking. We hear these two phrases repeatedly on a daily basis. But what all does that entail? Social insinuates a conversation between at least two people. If you ask John Lane, the phrase “social media” is not even completely
accurate. At least, not how we use it today. His view is that it’s merely a slice of the digital (interactive) media pie…not a separate entity. In terms of marketing, it has become impossible to ignore the presence of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. Utilizing such tools is mandatory if a brand wishes to compete with its rivals and spread their messages. So how is this being integrated into marketing plans? For UnderArmour, Shriver drafted a social media strategy if his own: We are actually in the second phase of it right now, so we spend a lot of time on Facebook. We work with them directly, actually, in understanding what’s next for Facebook and how we can sort of build plans around that. So we have a pretty strong presence on Facebook right now with our brand page we’ve run advertising campaigns inside of Facebook’s Ad Network. In addition we’re building applications inside of Facebook that our fans can use to get some extended value out of their visit with their brand. I would say that Facebook is probably the lynchpin of that strategy. But the bottom line is our mission with our social media is to engage our consumers in a two‐way dialogue. You know, to gain mindshare, and more fans in the social media space so to speak, fans is a relative term. But also, really bring them into the brand family and keep them informed on what’s going on with us and let them know that we’re listening. We value their feedback. John Lane made an interesting analogy. Twitter as a “Firehose”. He said anyone can tweet and see someone else’s tweets. There are no limitations: This is unlike Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social network in that following someone or searching someone’s stream is not permission based. So it’s a different type of networking; a different type of interaction; requiring different thoughts about how people will interact with/control your brand. ROUND ELEVEN : Time is Money ‐ Up until this point I always thought the number one perk of social networking was that it does not cost any money. There is no ad space to be bought. No full time employees to pay for design work or a marketing department to spread a message. Once a message is created, it spreads itself. Right? Not really. After speaking with the experts, I now realize that it calls for a lot of management time to update and sift through information. Having someone do this costs money, so there is an indirect cost to a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. As Lane says, “Time is Money”:
Utilizing social media may not require the same type of costs as a big‐production TV spot, but to do it right there is some cash investment and a big time commitment. Just a couple reasons: it takes time to listen and respond; social networking can’t stand alone, it has to push to consistently good and constantly updated content…and the content has to be crafted. ROUND TWELVE : Find Your Voice ‐ Brands are finding that a lot, if not all, consumers want to be a part of the conversation. They want to be part of the brand, not just a financial supporter. And now, thanks to technology, they can be. Nike’s Shriver confirms this is the case: No question. That’s really the biggest thing we see. As I said, part of our mission is to be the athletic brand of this generation, and when people feel like they’re part of that, sort of, club, we really value those relationships. We want to hear what consumers really think about our products, how they feel about our campaigns, and that’s insight for us as well. When the dialogue turns negative, is it still encouraged? Shriver insists: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, we need to know good, bad, or indifferent, what the consumer sentiment is. It’s valuable insight, it helps us get better, and it helps us to be better for our consumers. TIMEOUT ONE : DON’Ts ‐ In speaking with my experts, a few universal themes that surfaced. It seemed that while Second Life had short‐lived potential, it was not popular enough to garner a financial investment on either brands part. Pulling together all of the conversations, this is the general consensus regarding the following interactive branding topics. DON’T Spend Real World Dollars for Ad Space in Second Life. Something else that is new and emerging is Second Life. Everyone has different feelings about the marketability of brands in this space. There is talk about firms spending real world dollars for advertising space in Second Life. But others consider it a fad and something that may have garnered attention in its release, has not really developed legs since then. Has either Nike or UnderArmour invested? Time in exploration, yes. Money? No. UnderArmour explained that they’ve gone down that road a little bit:
We’ve looked at it. We’ve studied it. My thoughts are that it’s not right for our brand, right now. That doesn’t mean that in the future it couldn’t manifest itself in some way. However, we’re looking for the real immediate communication ties to the consumer, and social media is a great venue for that right now. Something like Second Life just isn’t in our strategy right now. It hasn’t been ruled out as an option for the future, however because the fate of Second Life remains an unknown. In today’s economic situation, dollars will only be spent in arenas that are proven and predictable. There is not enough money to go around for any company to experiment with purchasing ad space in Second Life. Nike takes a similar stance on the issue: I think Second Life is something that has come and gone in our mind. It was something that was on our radar back in its hayday. But now it’s too far from the real world to be engaged in. I think there’s other platforms that have come up that are more worthwhile for us to be exploring. It’s not something that we’ve been focusing on. DON’T Try to Force Interactivity Into Your Project Just Because. Have a purpose. According to Shawn Lamons at Centerline Digital, some clients call and just want a YouTube video with nothing else. They see that interactivity can now be uploaded to YouTube so users can interact in that space. But they have no justification for the interactivity. Lane went on to say that a great example of interactivity on YouTube is the BooneOakley website (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elo7WeIydh8). BooneOakley is an advertising agency in Charlotte, NC. Lane comments, “they got a lot of press for this, and I’m sure some clients.” Part of the issue with the new upswing in interactivity is that some people just want interactivity for interactivity’s sake, without a real understanding of what its purpose and function is. Not every client requires interactivity. There has to be a reason to give choice and control to the user. If not, it will just complicate an otherwise simple user experience. Lane adds: I’d also say that even when interactivity is perfect for a client for some things, it’s not always the answer to everything. Interactivity is a tactic used to accomplish a goal…and goals come from a clear strategy. Regarding the demographic digital divide between older and younger generations. When interactive spaces are created in a simple form such as the iPhone interface, even those who are not tech savvy can adapt and find functionality in use. “There are notable exceptions, “ Lane explains, “but the best interactive experience someone can have with your brand is one that feels natural…no navigation tricks to learn. The iPhone interface is a great example.”
ROUND THIRTEEN : Enough is Enough ‐ For these brands to sit atop their respective industry, as if to guard it in a King of the Hill match, clearly they must be doing something right. But it is a crowded space with a lot of overlap in product offerings from various vendors. So how, specifically, do brands differentiate themselves in the marketplace? Halliday from Nike explains their mindset that keeps them on track: I think that the biggest way we have changed, and I’m not sure that our competition has changed with us or if they’re in the midst of doing it, but there’s a couple of things that come to mind. The whole idea before of ‘this is our content’. We invest in this content and we aren’t just going to give it to you Mr. Retailer and/or whatever partner. There’s this whole idea of hey, content is so accessible, kids are going to find it, you just can’t be so possessive about it anymore. So the idea of just sharing and it being a free society is a fundamental now. It’s something that you just have to kind of accept. There are no boundaries in the digital world, and everyone just needs to get a little more comfortable with that. Whether we put our URL on an ad or not, the kid’s going to come back to us somehow. You can’t keep them boxed in to only your area right? And I think the other thing, some very specific things for you that I think that Nike’s done in how we’ve evolved with kind of the ever‐ changing digital landscape and interactivity is right now if you go on to nikesoccer.com we are more frequently doing blog posts and just trying to keep our currency up there with being of the moment, and being very tactical about how we are elevating our athletes and telling in our stories. You know, is our story being the on field product they use when a goal is scored or how the US Men’s National Team has performed, or even a grassroots event. But how can we become a bit more of a destination where the consumer is coming to us more frequently. Not just to digest what the latest product is but to digest our brand. But then the upgrade that we’ve made to our site, you’ll now see there’s the ability for at one click of a button, you know you build your profile on Nikesoccer.com, we realize that’s not where this kid is going to live. They are going to live on Facebook, or MySpace, or Twitter, or whatever their social platform is. So whenever they make a profile on Nikesoccer.com, so whatever they do on there, with the press of a button can be uploaded to whatever their social community of choice is. So they don’t have to feel like they have to share it on Nikesoccer and then go to MySpace to share it and then go and then Tweet about it later, it can all happen at one time. So we’ve started to build that functionality into our own website which we think is just going to tremendously help the engagement that consumers can have with our brand and then to exposure that they can give us to their friends through their own personal brand.
She later explains that: I think that if we didn’t have the faith in our projects, and our experiences, we would be more nervous about it. But I think when your goal is to be putting premium products out there, and providing solutions that actually make the consumers get better, I think that automatically your risk is that much lower. But yea, of course this is a new way of working, and it’s still always going to have a risk attached to it. But we’re not going to beat it, so join it. You just have to embrace it and, like Dan said, if something does happen, alright. How do you turn it around and incorporate that into how can we do it better next time?” TIMEOUT TWO : DOs ‐ According to Nike: I think it’s the filter we try to run through our minds every time we ask ourselves the question that you are asking us right now. You want to make sure that it’s adding to the athlete’s experience. That it’s actually servicing the athlete and helping them get better versus just doing stuff to do stuff. You don’t want to pollute the purity of the game or the sport. So NikePlus is great because it adds to the consumer experience of running. If we look at the NFL right now, and how much technology has changed that game in regards to coaches challenges and the lines on the field. There’s a lot going on with soccer specifically right now, the sport is still pretty pure. Adidas got turned down by FIFA for their goal line technology due to some of these concerns. I think we all have a responsibility as brands to do the right thing for the athlete and for the sport, not just doing things. ROUND FOURTEEN : Big Dollars Don’t Always Yield Great Success ‐ Prior to the launch of social media networks, one of the biggest ways to get a mass number of eyes looking at your project was to create a commercial and air it during popular time slots on major networks or just during major televised events. The SuperBowl and Olympics continuously rake in money for a spot during their telecasts. The times are changing. Halliday exemplifies how you no longer need a television to reach the largest number of people: Another success story for us, just of how the media landscape is changing and how we interact with our consumers, in Fall ’07 when we launched our new T90 boot, we did not have any TV, but we had a lot of great digital content and clips to launch that boot and it was as if we had done a TV buy. It was our most successful boot launch in a while. And so just realizing that the days of spending the big dollars to have your big special TV ad is no longer a requirement to having a successful campaign and a successful product launch. It is absolutely
just different rules and I think educating our retailers to have confidence in that is sometimes I think our hardest challenge. It is getting them caught up to speed with where the technology of interacting with the consumer is going. They’re not just necessarily as innovative in this world.
ROUND FIFTEEN : Umbrella Theory ‐ This model came to me as I attempted to create a mental informational visualization illustrating the way a brand pushes out a message and then it is received by consumers. OVERTIME ONE : Looking Ahead ‐ The future of Interactive Branding. It’s tough. The future is so difficult to predict. Not only because we are apathetic to the technologies that are up and coming, but also we are unaware of which ideas and tools will catch onto the public and which ones will fall by the wayside. Many of today’s most successful tools were laughed at in their prototype days. And now we can’t imagine life without them. Dan Alder states: So, it’s a huge question. The reality is that no one knows the answer. As long as you start from that point, then everything becomes from one aspect, clearer, and on the other aspect, kind of scary because you don’t really know where you’re going. So in this new world of media we have interactivity. I think it’s broken down so many barriers between traditional and nontraditional media, and everyone is trying to really get to grips with it. Not just big corporations and their marketing departments, but also marketing firms and agencies. They’re having to look at their model and how they’re set up and how they’re going about getting success. Basically the whole rule is completely changed, and they’re being rewritten as we speak now. Nobody really knows the answer. Nobody knows what’s out there. Nobody knows the best way to do things. I think it’s all kind of trial and error. So it’s really been a kind of like a huge opportunity but a huge scare, I think, to marketeers to get to grips with interactivity. I think that Nike in particular has got a pretty good handle on it. I think there’s different ways of doing it. So from a commerce perspective, the amount of sales that go on online now, I don’t know if there’s statistics, but it’s absolutely enormous. I think having a very good commerce structure in place to sell your products is absolutely key, and most people do that well. I mean, a user‐friendly website. But then taking advantage of interactive media to push your brand I think is the trickiest one. And I think really the key to success will be not necessarily be where you do it, but how you do it. If you look at most firms’ interactive plan at the minute, and I think they’ll pretty much be very similar. You’re going to have Facebook on there. You’re going to have Twitter. You’re going to have your own site. You’re going to have a couple of other ones thrown in there as well. I think a lot of the innovation is definitely how you go about telling stories. That’s where I really
think the innovation is really going to come in. Of course, there will be different ways to get your message over, there will be little bits of variance, but at the minute everyone seems to be chasing the same kinds of avenues. But I think it’s going to be how you’re telling these types of stories is what is really going to win and lose stuff. It’s hard to predict the future but, how do we know how far we can take something like a Facebook? It just came out of no where and blew up overnight, so how far do they think an interface like Facebook and social networking can go? Do they think the day is ever going to come when it’s no longer going to be helpful in terms of marketing? UnderArmour doesn’t think so: No, I think social media is important because it gives consumers a voice that they haven’t had before. It gives them access to the brands they trust and they know, and I think that communication is vital and is key to all that. The consumers have more choice and control over the aspects of their life including the brands that they adopt and the brands that they want to be a part of. So I think that won’t go away. I mean, the technology aspects of it, how it’s rendered, whether that’s the Twitter or the Facebook getting bigger, growing up, going away or what have you, social media in and of itself is a really big and important aspect of just dialogue and communication with consumers and keeping them involved. As for Nike, they think that just because you can’t predict where this technology is going to go, what you can predict is that there is always going to be an opportunity to improve: So if an athlete says ‘I wish I could have this that would make my game better’ then that’s our starting point. It’s how to improve either your sport or your performance or your training or whatever it is. So it’s always based on opportunity but that opportunity is always different and it’s never clean cut on how you are going to get there or what you’re going to end up with. “ There has been a pick up in interactivity use in marketing and advertising over the past three years, with a strong boost within the past 6 months. In looking at these trends, it seems like a sure bet that interactivity will continue to grow into the future. Lane elaborates saying: Digital media (including social) is such a young field…it’s constantly evolving, growing and doubling‐back on itself. Interactivity (digital) will indeed continue to grow. And it’ll be something completely different in 6 months from now. But I reckon the key is that with the advent of mobile, social and augmented reality, interactivity is unavoidable — at least to some extent — for any and all brands. OVERTIME TWO : Potential Futures ‐
What does the future hold? Where can technology take us? If we had a crystal ball, what would we see? Perhaps smart bats calculating pitch speed, or pads that can sense a hit before making contact. What about shoes that sense blisters and instantaneously add cushion to those areas, or smart shoes to push the envelope of the current GPS sneakers, that can tell you where to run based on your criteria (flattest terrain, sidewalks only, etc.). Maybe there will be clothing materials which sense body temperature and can wick sweat or trap heat in depending on body temperature, getting the “in store” experience at home (not having to try on shoes, and hold things up anymore), or having the computer sense what I am wearing to suggest products best suited for me, embedding musical tracks into each brands site, and based on the tracks that I choose to listen to, the brand can identify my personality and hence select products for me, each site acts as a personal shopper, determining what I see based on previous purchases, likes and dislikes, price range, etc. Nike is on the cusp of creating such technologies. For example, their NikePlus technology that is out now is something that ten, maybe not even five years ago could have been fathomed or predicted. Just by placing a chip in my shoe, I can workout and upon completion, go and download it to the computer. From that chip I can record all of the things that I have done while working out. Everything from distance to weight loss and heart rate can be traced and charted for future comparison. While it’s impossible to predict the future, where can these types of features can go? For Nike: Wow. I mean, who knows. And that’s the great thing about it. That’s what curiosity is all about. That’s what innovation is all about. That’s what thinking is all about. Nobody knows. That’s what keeps people ticking. It’s what keeps Nike ticking. It’s what keeps the designers here restless. Always trying to improve. Always trying to think things up. So that’s basically the key to creativity. You don’t know what is down the line, but it’s the search to find it. Which is what keeps everyone on their toes I guess. John Lane believes that LinkedIn and Twitter should merge because their missions are similar. Is this a potential future for social media? He explains: LinkedIn is the most professional of the big social networks, built on the idea of networking, yet it is the hardest in which to network. Buying/combining with Twitter or Yammer seems like good synergy to me. It would provide a method to both keep your tight, invited network and establish communication with millions of loose ties which could extend your network. Thinking outside of the box in terms of futuristic technologies and potential capabilities to create a futures scenario in terms of marketing using interactivity seems impossible. But this daunting task is faced on a daily basis at both Nike and UnderArmour. The question ‘what will the landscape look like 20+ years from now?’ needs to be addressed today—at least for anyone who wants to sit atop the leaderboard in two decades.
For UnderArmour, they think 20 years from now, the ubiquity of the handset, the mobile phone, PDAs, and things like that will make a lot of things possible. Shriver predicts: I can envision a scenario where the PDA is a person’s only computer. They are using that for everything from taking photos and video to actually scanning and discovering biometrics about themselves as they workout. Not only commerce, I kind of think that’s a bottom line, I think commerce will get a lot more sophisticated on the mobile platform. So my sort of future vision is that a lot of this stuff, as far as getting better as an athlete, and being more progressive is going to be built around the handset. “ It seems that these two companies share several similarities and differences. They agree that keeping up with evolving landscapes and technologies is a universal struggle. They both feel that they are doing a good job at giving their consumers a voice and constantly are revamping their website. They both dabbled in Second Life and then abandoned their efforts for advertising in this space. Yet they are very different. One is a self‐proclaimed “brand of the future and of today’s generation” and the other ties itself to “the athlete” – be it recreational or professional. Their websites, strategies, and outlooks are different. I think after all of this I was able to see that there are more commonalities than I first predicted. What can we learn from this study? I’ve learned that maybe the technology unites us. Maybe it creates a universal challenge to conquer and reach the generation of tomorrow. No two brands will look the same, but at their core they are all after one thing, success—Success that can only be yielded through communication. And even if everything else changes, this never will.
Books Mathieson, R. (2005). Branding Unbound: The Future of Advertising, Sales, and the Brand Experience in the Wireless Age. New York: Amacom. The wireless marketing age has arrived. The dawning of the Internet was just the warm up act for what is and what is to come. Anywhere and anytime are the promise of the future. This book explains how technology and the Internet are changing the face of marketing, the second life phenomenon and use of advertising in it. It later discusses mobile advertising including mobile billboards and screens on grocery carts. Technology enabled companies to shape the brand experience by creating en environment conducive to selling more products. With this new wireless world comes a new set of rules and regulations. This article also looks at the potential branding future of 2020 where the “Net” works for us, instead of the current opposite. Services are provided to specifically suit our individual needs and innovations such as electronic ink some into existence. Meyers, H. M., & Gerstman, R. (2001). Branding @ the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave. Meyers and Gerstman say that strong brands will remain strong whether you experience it in store, on websites, through e‐commerce or otherwise. But the channels through which brands are conveyed are crucial because this is how the message is transmitted to the audience and how they are placed in consumer’s minds. They introduce the concept of e‐branding where long term visions are paramount and direct communication with customers is the cornerstone. An important point was that online brands are fragile because online loyalty can be lost with the click of a mouse. There is much greater competition only a click away, which is why offline branding still has value. Neumeier, Marty. (2006) The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. Based off of the popular slideshow “The Brand Gap”, this book outlines the five disciplines that take brands from strategies to execution. Those are differentiation, collaboration, innovation, validation, and cultivation. In a few short pages, the author crushes all preconceived ideas regarding what brands are and why they are important. He explains that brands are not identities or logos, it is the gut feeling that people have towards a product, service or company. This type of thinking changes everything. He visually showcases how CocaCola’s market cap with brand value is $120 billion, while its cap without the brand value is a mere $50. Quick math tells you that the brand is worth $70 billion, $20 billion more than the product itself. Brands are important. They are more than half of the product value. Neumeier, Marty. (2007) Zag: The #1 Strategy of High‐Performance Brands. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
In the sequel to “The Brand Gap” this book takes branding a step further. Today, competition is beyond fierce. Companies need to do more than the status‐quo. They need to stand out. They need to stand alone. They need to differentiate themselves enough to out‐maneuver the competition. That is what the text examines. How to be different, yet effective. Companies need to find holes in the market where no one else exists and pitch a tent. When everyone else zigs, in today’s economy we need to zag. That differentiation can be broken down into four disciplines: finding the zag, designing the zag, building the zag, and renewing the zag.
Smit, Barbara, (2008). Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport. New York: HarperCollins. Before we can understand where something is heading, we need to understand where it came from. “Sneaker Wars” is the story of the German born Dassler brothers who started Dassler shoes. Rudolf Dassler would eventually leave to start his own company, which would become Puma, and Adi Dassler started adidas. This book takes the reader on the journey of ups and downs of each brand. It talks about how they both came close to demise and bankruptcy, the changing of hands, the franchising, partnerships, sponsorships, and the impact each brand had on sports over time. It discusses the presence of Nike and each company trying to fit in and stake a claim in the sports merchandising arena. This book sets the stage for all that has occurred since and all that will occur in the future. Winkler, A. (1999). Warp‐Speed Branding: The Impact of Technology on Marketing. New York: John Wiley & Sons. This book deals with the rapid rate with which online branding is advancing. Many marketing professionals are technologically illiterate and this prevents them from using it to promote their brands. The organizational hierarchy for corporations usually has “techies” who handle all of the technology aspects, which leave marketers unable to utilize software and systems on their own. Consumers now understand and use these technologies to find products and companies, so the only way to reach them and communicate is to understand the tools and software that they are using. The Internet fosters brand communities, and this enables a global medium to deliver both the brand message and the brand experience simultaneously. Scholarly Journals Alba, J. A., Lynch, J., Weitz, B., Janiszewski, C., Lutz, R., Sawyer, A., & Wood, S. (1997). Interactive Home Shopping: Consumer, Retailer, and Manufacturer Incentives to Participate in Electronic Marketplaces. Journal of Marketing, 61(3), 38‐53.
This diverse group of authors looks at the implications of electronic shopping for consumers, retailers, and manufacturers. With technological advancements constantly being made, consumers have opportunities to find and compare product offerings from limitless sources. How does this change the industry structure? How can companies use this for their own benefit? This article discusses the consumer benefits to interactive home shopping versus physically going to a mall for the experience. What offerings motivate consumers to alter their present shopping behaviors and how are online benefits greater than the ones that are offered in the physical store? Variables like price, variety, convenience, portability and quantity are all examples of this.
Chan‐Olmsted, S. M. (2002). Branding and Internet Marketing in the Age of Digital Media. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 46(4), 641+. In a fragmented media marketplace, the Internet has enormous impact on tradition media. The Internet is growing at an exponential rate and the broadband distribution systems are constantly evolving and updating. This changes the rules of competition in industries that were already being transformed by the addition of more competitors. The Internet allows businesses to access global markets, provides mass customization, reduces overall marketing costs, and builds stronger business relationships. It is changing the nature of the media marketplace and the way companies and consumers operate and connect in it. This article talks about value shift from distributors to people in the content business. It also says that “’branded packagers’ hold the key to better profit potential if they can get viewers to recognize and value their brands in a crowded marketplace.” Chen, Q., Griffith, D. A., & Shen, F. (2005). The Effects of Interactivity on Cross‐Channel Communication Effectiveness. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 5(2). This study investigates the effects of website interactivity on the trust that a consumer has in a brand. It looks at purchase intentions that result from the interactivity. The study found that the more interactivity that exists on a website, the more the consumers trust that brand and the greater their understanding of the product offerings. Online interactivity has broad implications for multi‐ channel marketing, and if harnessed correctly, consumers will respond. Research findings also disclosed that most marketers only spend 3% or less of their media budgets on advertising on the web, even knowing that the web accounts for 10%‐15% of total media consumption. This study was conducted in 2005, so I believe those figures for the web have probably increased dramatically since then. Coyle, J. R., & Thorson, E. (2001). The Effects of Progressive Levels of Interactivity and Vividness in Web Marketing Sites. Journal of Advertising, 30(3), 65‐77.
This experiment set out to determine whether or not increased levels of interactivity and vividness in commercial websites would provoke more positive attitudes towards those sites. It also sought to find if a more vivid site resonated for a longer period of time with the user. It was found that the more vivid a site, the greater the impact it made. Generally, those who viewed more vivid sites had a better attitude towards them. Vividness creates a more real feel when viewing it. These findings had several implications for new media researchers and practitioners. Seeing what most viewers were attracted to and what they were able to retain, the need for animation, video and audio emitting advertisements and websites is growing.
Kierzkowski, A., Mcquade, S., Waitman, R., & Zeisser, M. (1996). Current Research: Marketing to the Digital Consumer. The McKinsey Quarterly, 1(2), 180‐183. Marketing targets are ideal when advertising on the Internet because people subscribing to these services are younger, more educated, and have more money than most. Interactive media revolutionizes marketing by allowing real‐time personalized services and content to individual consumers. Digital marketing allows for two‐way communication and tailored and customized experiences. The digital marketing model is based on what seemingly words in an interactive age. They include: attracting users, engaging users interest and participation, retaining users and ensuring they return, learning preferences, and related back to them to provide customized interactions. Merrilees, B. (2001). Do Traditional Strategic Concepts Apply in the E‐Marketing Context?. Journal of Business Strategies , 18(2), 177+. This study analyzes the marketing strategies of the online book retailing industry, including Amazon.com. Amazon is successful because it supports its market position with high performing and relevant capabilities. Those include communication and technology. Merrilees looks at generic marketing strategies types, competitive market position, and snake position maps. The most important finding of the study was that traditional strategic marketing tools are readily usable in the e‐marketing environment. Components of the marketing strategy need to be integrated to each other to flow correctly. Pavlou, P. A., & Stewart, D. W. (2000). Measuring the Effects and Effectiveness of Interactive Advertising: A Research Agenda. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 1(1). The growth of interactive advertising has been expedited since the Internet took off. Advertisers are now reliant on interactive technology to promote their products and services to customers. Unlike traditional advertising means, interactivity increases the efficiency and quality of consumers decisions, their level of involvement, the level of satisfaction with the product and the experience, and the trust grows through reciprocity in information exhange. In
terms of customer responses to an advertisement, empirical evidence shows that consumers react in similar ways to print ads as they do to online ads.
Schumann, D. W., Artis, A., & Rivera, R. (2001). The Future of Interactive Advertising Viewed Through an IMC Lens. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 1(2). This paper deals with the future of interactive advertising. This article was written in 2001, so their future is now our present, or at least their predictions for what our present would be. But I find this information useful to see what predictions were correct and which were off base. We can learn a lot by understanding what did not work and what was not accurate. Eight years ago the predicted that advertising would be in the hands of the consumer and users would decide what advertisements and promotions they would receive. It explained that if a consumer was only just aware of a company, the means utilized to develop a meaningful relationship has to focus on one‐on‐ one communication. Some of the Interactive Advertising (IA) new media forms include enriched email, wireless gadgets, interactive and replay TV, DVD technology, and voice interface. Schutte, T. F. (1969). The Semantics of Branding . The Journal of Marketing, 33(No. 2), 5‐ 11. This paper discusses the roots of branding. It explains the “battle of the brands” which dates back to 1969 and earlier. Issues existed with confusing terminology that was outdated. Market share data was being collected and analyzed to explain current trends of consumer products, but the language that was being used to explain such patterns was imprecise and vague. This effected much of a the marketing research being done at the time because studies were being duplicated or not able to be completed. Magazines Aaker, D. (2005, January). DAVID AAKER’S PERSPECTIVE ON The Future of Marketing. The Marketer. David Aaker, the Vice-Chairman of Prophet, and branding specialist explains that with the number of business always on the rise, marketing needs to be more strategic and look further into the future. Building branding assets is an integral part of the marketing model and, according to Aaker, one that should be capitalized upon. He highlights that connecting to the customer and building stronger one-on-one relationships boosts confidence in consumers and loyalty to the brand. Rather than just shoving product down their throats, now a conversation can take place. And this conversation can be excuted anytime and anywhere thanks to technology and interactivity.
Gregory, S. (2008, May 15). Under Armour's Big Step Up. Time, 1‐2. As the new guy on the block, Under Armour has found it’s niche with performance apparel, but adding footwear to their arsenal has been an uphill battle. The $18 billion Nike competition swallows up it’s competition before it nibbles at the market share. Gregory interviews Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, to see what route they are taking to stay alive in a tough economy. Plank explains that going through Nike isn’t an option, but there are ways around Nike that they plan to exploit and garner capital. Sorrell, M. (2000, Summer). Branding the New Era. Foreign Policy, 61. Sorrell explains here that branding, and branding alone will not hack it in today’s world, or in the new technological era. He goes on to list the trends for the future and tallies areas where he sees change occurring. In terms of branding, Sorrell believes that franchises must be global and rooted in North America. News Articles Press. (2009, September 18). World's 2 Most Valuable Brands: Coca‐Cola, IBM . New York Times, pp. Business. While this article does not directly deal with sports merchandising retailers, it gives meaningful comparisons between brands sharing a common market— banks, automakers, mobile devices, etc. Videos YouTube Nike Vs Adidas. (2006, September 17). Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TnG7jyfoWI&feature=related This 30‐second video features an adidas ad showing the difference between a person who wears Nike and one who wears adidas. It accurately depicts the fight for consumers in the same market. They declare that brands are promises of trust that people depend on to make quick decisions in a quick world. This notion applies across all industries and fits perfectly within the frame of which I am comparing the big four sports suppliers. Websites Aaker, D. Prophet Insights by David Aaker. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.prophet.com/insights/authors/aaker.html This site offers a collection of articles written by branding expert David Aaker and deal with branding in every aspect. He discusses which powerbrands are struggling and why, the value of a brand, why people choose to use one brand
over another, how to attract more consumers to a particular brand, remodeling a brand without losing capital, the ins and outs of brand portfolios and more.
adidas Soccer Autograph Cards. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://motointeractive.com/profiles/print/adidas/autograph‐cards Moto Interactive is an agency located in Portland, Oregon. They have created ad campaigns and collateral for brands including adidas. Much of their work deals with interactive web design and connecting with an audience by having them manipulate a site. I have contacted Moto to speak about their work with adidas, maintaining their brand, and use of interactivity to lure in consumers. BrandKeys. "10 Branding Trends for 2010: Value is the New Black." MarketingCharts: charts and data for marketers in web and Excel format. 2 Oct. 2009. 20 Oct. 2009 <http://www.marketingcharts.com/>. When the veil is lifted on the recession we are currently in, there is going to be a need for revitalized strategies in branding. In this article, Dr. Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, outlines the ten consumer values and needs for the next year. Everything from “’Because I said so’ is over” to consumers talk with each other before talking with brands” is covered. Brier, Noah. "Brand Tags." Brand Tags. 20 Oct. 2009 <http://www.brandtags.net/>. This site is simplistic in its design. It lays out an identifiable logo, and based on that trigger visual, you need to type in the word or phrase that you think of first. This is a good way to measure a gut instinct from a large number of people regarding a single subject. Obviously there are problems with the system with no true measure for honesty. Drogba, D. Puma: The Puma Index | Interactive (video) | Creativity Online. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://creativity‐online.com/work/puma‐the‐puma‐index/17332 This site has less to with content, and more to do with ideas. This is a new App from Puma. It is a modern-day stock ticker, minus the numbers. Promoting its new Index line of underwear, Puma’s App measures the stock market increases and decreases using models with layered clothing. Using the slogan “If you lose your shirt, so do we” the App does exactly that. As the stock market values decrease, the models take off articles of clothing revealing the Index line underneath. As the stock market rises, articles of clothes go back on. It is a visual, and unique, way of getting information while promoting a brand. Mulder, S., & Yaar, Z. Y. (2006, September 25). Research & Metrics - Branding iMediaConnection.com. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from http://www.imediaconnection.com/branding/index.asp
Mulder and Yaar discuss prioritizing brand attributes to identify which of those attributes are most closely linked to customer loyalty. They are looking at how much money people are spending on your particular business as opposed to competition and other businesses that are in your industry. This would be like why a customer would buy their sports equipment from Dick’s as opposed to shopping at Sports Authority. They have devised a process that surveys customers on current brand perceptions, surveys customers on share of wallet, and conduct statistical analysis to find correlations between the two to draw conclusions. These conclusions can help business and brands decide which attributes are causing customers to buy from them and which are not so that no time and energy are wasted on something that is not garnering business. Nike – Home. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nike/en_US/? Nike’s homepage is a portal into countless other pages. It displays the newest “Alter Ego” commercial campaign as well as links to shopping, women, videos, and the future products that are on the horizon. There is a variety of interactivity that currently exists on this site, and this site can be contrasted to previous site versions to show progress and upgrades. The Nike+ sensor can be added to Nike+ sneakers or downloaded onto an iPod to record distance, time, calories burned while running. This information can then be downloaded and shared through Nike’s website as part of a greater running club. You can then connect with others and share stories and experiences. All through nike.com. PUMA. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.puma.com/us/en/pindex.jsp;jsessionid=FFFD3793 Puma.com has made an obvious effort to become interactive on it’s website. Dubbing itself the “Sportlifestyle brand”, they incorporate this identity into their appearance. Features such as L.I.F.T. where you can weigh common objects in an interactive setting against the new 173 gram sneaker, and an interactive game that allows users to race Usain Bolt using their keyboard, are just two features that makes spending time on Puma.com enjoyable. On this main page, there are links to new products, music, videos, Facebook page, pictures, and more. Under Armour ® Official Site. Performance Sports Apparel, Footwear, and Accessories. Free Shipping Available. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.underarmour.com/ Under Armour’s site displays two scrolling menu bars that allow the user full control over what to view. There is a feature video story that shows kids of all ages playing football and wearing Under Armour compression gear, and then it cuts to shots of the NFL Combine and college games to show the versatility of the product and the wide range of audiences that it appeals to. You can read reviews of product and also explore the new technologies being implemented on new
product and apparel. I will draw inferences about the advancements being made to the site and get a visual sense of how Under Armour is branding itself and the perception it is attempting to portray. Welcome to adidas. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from http://www.adidas.com/us/homepage.asp Adidas does things a little different. With a plain white backdrop and movable image icons, their home page is visually pleasing and interactive. It is a mashup of professional athletes and glam product shots. Once you roll over each button, a menu appears to take the user from one page to another. The site includes links to contests being run on Facebook and MySpace, product links, training videos geared towards each sports, an interactive shoe finder that customizes searches for each individual’s needs, etc. Interviews Alder, Dan | North America Brand Connections Manager | Nike, Inc. Halliday, Sue | North America | Nike, Inc. Nike is seemingly the leader in the sports merchandising industry. The swoosh is the most distinguishable logo in the world. Why? How did they get here? The sponsorship of professional athletes has been a key marketing tool for the company, with the most accomplished international athletes sporting the brand. How do they remain king of the hill when there are so many trying to take them down? I will ask about the development of their brand through interactivity and choices made to stay in tune with their audience. Lane, John | Director of Creative Services | Centerline Digital After working with clients such as IBM, Carolina Hurricanes, Sony Ericsson, John Deere, The Cliffs and countless others, John is the resident guru in terms of branding and creative strategy at Centerline. He oversees all creative campaigns and works to ensure the client goal is achieved while enhancing the brand. Maixner, Molly | Adidas The original athletic brand, adidas was founded in Germany in 1924 under the name Dassler shoes, by two brothers. When one brother chose to leave the company to begin his own, which would later become Puma, Adi Dassler changed the name to Adidas. I want to investigate how adidas can keep that tradition alive while updating with new media. Can you still be authentic through Facebook? How can the experience be created in the future to further develop the brand without changing identity? What are the future plans as of today?
Newman, Jeff | Puma. Puma terms itself a “sportlifestyle” brand. This is very different from Nike, adidas, and Under Armour. Of all of the websites, Puma exhibits the most out‐of‐ the‐box thinking. The creativity is evident and the site is very interactive. Is this a focus for the company? What things will be happening in the next year? Plans for five, ten, and twenty years down the road? What innovations are in the works and how will technology amplify the brand and its image? Man on the Street Experiment – Athletes. 100 athletes. Ranging levels of ability. They will give words that describe what comes to mind when they see or hear Nike, Puma, adidas, and UnderArmour. Hypothesis: Many athletes think of Tiger Woods and other professional athletes associated with Nike. adidas triggers words like “tradition”, authenticity”, and “old school”. Puma will be thought of as more of a lifestyle brand, maybe “cool” or “trendy” will be words used to describe. And Under Armour will be described as “warm”, “edgy”, or “NFL”. Shriver, Nathan | Creative Director | Under Armour We will discuss how Under Armour was developed in it’s infancy in 1996 and the evolution of the brand since then. With Nike, adidas, and Puma already established and booming in the market, how did UA find a place to live and succeed? I plan to ask about the future interactive development. How can they enhance their brand by utilizing technology that exists and that will exist in the future? This includes website development, ad campaigns, social media, etc. Extras Foster, R. J. (2007). The Work of the New Economy: Consumers, Brands, and Value Creation. Cultural Anthropology, 22(No. 4), 707‐731. McCarthy, D. (2009, August). MIGRATING A BRAND STRATEGY FROM MARKETING TO CONTENT: A CASE STUDY. Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, 38(8), 38‐42. Retrieved September 19, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.
Top Ten Blog Posts
Top Ten Interactive Media Thinkers
1. Brian Solis
Most famous for his Conversation Prism which breaks down how we listen, learn, and share information. Solis has committed his life to technology and social media. He has a background in Public Relations and has put his expertise to use working for FutureWorks. He also is responsible for coining the phrase PR 2.0.
2. John Lane
At Centerline Digital, John is the Director of Creative Services. He has become a mentor and invaluable resource to me throughout my research. He is a thinker, a strategist, a manager, a devil’s advocate, a designer, and a planner. Lane likes to follow trends and spends his professional life trying to figure out where they are heading to keep himself and the company he works for, ahead of the curve. I have never met a man who is more aware of what is going on in the industry around him than John.
3. Tim Berners‐Lee
Originally from England, Berners‐Lee was a professor at the prestigious MIT. Recognized for his undying achievement in development of the WorldWideWeb as well as the World Wide Web consortium. He has fought for his belief that ISPs should supple connectivity with no strings attached (Wikipedia).
4. Mark Luckie
Founder of the 10,000 words blog, Mark is on the cutting edge of technology and networking. As he explains on his website, he is a “Reporter. Blogger. Interactive designer. Web designer. Photographer. Videographer. Coder. Trainer. Journalist. Awesome.” As you can see, there is not much that he HASN’T done.
5. Marc Andreeson
As the co‐author of the Mosaic web browser,and found of Netscape Communications, Marc is the man responsible for a couple of tools we use or used frequently. He has dabbled in everything from blogging to web hosting, giving him a broad scope of knowledge and experience. There was a time when Netscape ruled supreme. Now Andreeson is linked to the creation of Twitter, Loudcloud, and Digg. And he serves on the board for Facebook, ebay, and the Open Media Network.
6. Seth Godin
A ten time best‐selling author internationally, Godin has an impressive and lengthy resume. He discusses web design, the future, spreadability of ideas, business strategy and more. Godin isn’t just an expert in one area, and he doesn’t know a little bit about a lot of different things. He is on my list because he knows a lot about a lot, and there are not many people who could say the same.
7. Steve Jobs
This CEO and Chairman of Apple is responsible for creating one of the very first personalized computers. He has been named the most powerful man in business and received the only National Medal of Technology ever to be distributed by a United States president. He also started Pixar, which now creates box office hits.
8. MIT Media Lab
I realize these are supposed to be individuals, but I can’t help but add the MIT Media Lab with all of the cutting edge work that they do every year. From innovation to inventions, patent approvals are commonplace here. MIT has the premiere technology learning facility in the country, and draws the brightest individuals to join and try to advance technology and the world around them. MIT Media Lab is a place where ideas can become tactile.
9. Henry Jenkins
Jenkins devotes much of his time to bridging the gap between new and old technologies on his weblog. His forte is transmedia storytelling. He delves deeply into conversations pertaining to spreadablility and continuity. He is currently a professor at USC in their Cinematic Arts department. Through some of his research, Jenkins sought to prove that there is a boundary between text and readers.
10. Andrew Kramer
Kramer has created multiple VFX tutorials called Video Copilot. He specializes is video effects and motion design work. Having worked in the industry for so many years, Kramer is able to draw from experiences to show others the way in technology and editing.
Top Ten Interactive Readings
1. Information Design Handbook
This book, by Visocky O’Grady, Jenn and Ken, is a comprehensive guide to creating information graphics packed with essential design principles, case studies, color palettes, trouble‐shooting tips, and more. It explains the do’s and don’ts for beginners or experts that only someone with experience could share. It is an easy read with several illustrations and clearly defined sections.
This is my favorite read of the year. This book, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, explains the methodology of social networks and how and why they work. The world is different with all of the hyperconnectivity and Groundswell seeks to explore what it all means and how valuable interactions are in our new “human network”.
3. The Brand Gap
Marty Neumeier hits the nail on the head with this book. It was my preimary source and motivation for my graduate research and is everything brands. It discusses everything from marketing brands to value of brands, and design and definition and history of brands. All of this potentially mundane information is clearly illustrated in a simplistic black and white format.
4. The Cluetrain Manifesto
This is the book that I love to hate. While there are times when I felt as though Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger, and Rick Levine were lecturing me about dated theories, this book also provides the deepest thought provoking content and ideas. It doesn’t matter how old they are, because they form the foundation for everything that is going on today.
5. Designing Interactions
Bill Moggridge introduces the reader to 40 different designers who have played key roles in technology development over the years. There are a large number of illustrations to help understand what is occurring and with 40 different studies, you can choose which one you wish to delve into. Very helpful when trying to understand both interaction and interface design.
6. Born Digital
Until now, we haven’t had a generation that has cell phone at age 7, know how to use the internet at age 5, and have Facebook accounts at age 10. This work by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser is a project that is trying to understand today’s youth as they grow up surrounded by advanced technology.
This is Neil Postman’s attempt at explaining the increasing dependence on technology. Because he is not a “techy”, the conversation is easy to read and understand as he goes over complex material. The main message of this book is that the computer undermines the old idea of school and takes away from overall enriching experiences that we had prior to the digital age.
8. Branding at the Digital Age
Herbert Meyers and Richard Gerstman present 12 essays from people who spend each day on their own specific aspect of convergence. Companies and brands are being forces out of their offices and into a virtual space which is unchartered for many. This book offers a glimpse into what some brands are doing to stay not only afloat, but competitive as e‐brands.
9. Warp‐Speed Branding: The Impact of Technology on Marketing
Technology companies are being used in a variety of ways to market both themselves and others. This book, by Agnieszka Winkler, explains how technology’s presence has changed the role of the brand builder. It dissects many myths and combats them them truths from the world today.
10. Be the Media
This was a great read because it reads like a workbook. There are lessons lined up that are a few pages in length each, so you can absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. It is a useful resource for authors, designers, and any developer of content that wishes to be present today. It works well as a teaching tool as well as a desktop quick reference guide.
Top Ten Interactive Media Issues
In today’s open network environment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect your right to privacy. While most social network sites offer walls that can be put up and it seems that you can choose who sees and doesn’t see your content, it seems that there is always a way to get in the back door. Everything from digital credit card forms to personal profiles are at risk of being hacked into.
Bit torrents are everywhere. When one gets shut down, two more start up. There is a way to download for free every song, video, book, etc. While the debate continues as to whether or not this should be legal, due to the large amount of people who provide these services and the larger amount of people who benefit from these services, shutting down the entire system seems impossible.
3. Credibility While social networking provides us unlimited access to real time information about anyone we wish, credibility is at stake. There is no way of knowing who exactly is typing each Twitter feed, or posting messages on Facebook walls. When news sources site Twitter updates as fact, this raises the question as to whether or not that can be deemed as truth.
4. Intellectual Property
Can we put a copyright on our thoughts? Industrial property and Copyright law do exist, however they are in jeopardy when they are on the web. There is not always a clear distinction between who owns what and ideas are often slightly adapted to appear different on the surface, even though they are rooted in someone else’s mind.
5. Openness Not everyone needs to share everything. And the web creates a mask for people to hide behind. No one needs to be 100% open anymore, and they should be. When interactions take place in person, you are going to receive a completely opposite result then if you were able to just push select information and opinion.
6. Digital Divide
The concept of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer translates in the digital world. People with access to technology have an edge in the world because they have that unlimited ability to get information whenever they want it. Those without that access are unable to learn as fast because they can’t just look something up when they want to.
7. Citizen Journalism
This links up with the credibility issue. News today comes predominately from news bureaus, but there is a citizen photograph, or video in every single newscast. Because everyone has a camera phone today, people can send in their own news that otherwise would never be seen because no one had a way to send in the visuals.
8. Spreadability Everything is viral. Messages can be spread internationally at an exponential rate. Negative messages and untruths can be dispersed faster than they can be addressed. This can have a positive spin as well, however since people know that they can get to such a large audience so quickly, they aren’t afraid to push out anything they want.
Building off of the previous point, people make false statement anonymously nowadays and can belittle another individual. The web hides identity, and this makes everyone more brave to just say derogatory remarks without regard for another person’s reputation. Anyone can say anything about anyone else at any time.
10. Submersion Technology is such an experience that it is easy to get sucked in. It’s not just children, but everyone has addictions to Facebook, Twitter, online games, Second Life, online gambling, etc. It is easy to get caught up in a world that is not the real world and lose sight of what is going on in the physical space around you.
Top Ten Interactive Media Theories 80
1. Symbolic Interactionism Human beings act towards things based on preconceived meanings that they have
The meaning of these things is the result of social interaction with society and others
Meanings are modified through interpretation by the person
2. Social Network Theory
The thought process behind the theory was no different in the 50s and 70s than it is today. A larger quantity of weak ties is more resourceful than a small number of very strong ties. Initially, I think opposite. I think, it doesn’t matter how many weak ties you have, none of them are going to get you anywhere. I will create a solid core of 10 ties that are guaranteed all the time and anytime. Expanding the number of ties that we each have, as far as we possibly can, extends our reach to create the “small world phenomenon”, where we are all connected to one other
3. Online Communities Theory Today, online communities have seemingly all but taken over communication. The accessibility to such realms and the complexity of the experience makes face‐to‐face communication defunct. In what instance do we need to speak directly in a physical sense with another person? Those situations are rarities.
4. Spiral of Silence
People’s willingness to speak out about specific topics is influenced heavily by their perception of the surrounding opinion environment. Elisabeth Noelle‐Neumann said that people contain their opinions for fear of social isolation or reprisal. Taken into the online world, individuals may be “flamed” or have harsh comments directed towards them in response to a personal opinion or belief that does not correspond with the rest.
5. Knowledge Gap Theory According to this theory, with each new medium, the gap (or digital divide) between the information‐rich and the information‐poor widens. This idea reminds me of the haves and the have‐nots in the financial sector. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is the same principle we see here. Segments of the population with a higher socioeconomic status acquire the information at a faster rate than the lower segments.
6. Uses and Gratifications Theory
U&G theory identifies how people are motivated to use particular communications tools to meet particular needs. It goes on to say that individuals may even use communications to achieve self‐actualization, or ultimate purpose and meaning in life. This gratification can be gained through the content itself through videos, music, information, or the dialogue between oneself and other users.
7. Diffusion of Innovations Theory Four main elements of diffusion: Innovation communicated through channels over time among members of a social system Characteristics of an innovation that affect rate of adoption: relative advantage compatibility complexity observability
8. Information Theory
Claude Shannon’s model, in conjunction with Weiner’s Cybernetics, shaped this theory, a branch of electrical engineering and applied mathematics. Unlike other theories, this source‐encoder‐channel‐decoder‐destination pattern included a noise source directed to the channel. It goes on to say that
the more noise that exists in a channel, the greater the need for redundancy, which reduces the entropy of the message.
9. Activity Theory
This theory began as a way to assess developmental processes that shape people and by which people shape their own experiences in life through their actions and choices. In other words, it examines how we become what we become and what we do to reach the highest goals and achievements that we can. When using AT, we need to take into consideration personal motivations and community role.
10. Powerful Effects Theory
In attempting to convey a powerful message that provokes change, Mendelsohn says there are four key criteria: Clearly define extremely specific, reasonable campaign objectives Pinpoint the target audience Work to overcome indifference of the audience Find relevant themes to stress the messages
Top Ten Interactive Media Infovisualizations
1. The Me Model
2. Conversation Prism
3. Google Earth From street level directions to flying over your house, Google earth provides a 360 degree view of the world.
5. Communications Theory
6. CLAWS model
7. Feedback Model
8. New York Times
9. Digg Labs
10. Digital Dialogue Diagram
Top Ten Interactive Media Resources
3. Stumble Upon
8. 10,000 Words Blog
9. New York Times Interactive
Personal Vision of Key Overarching Concepts 97
The Umbrella Theory