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The Canadian Digital Living Room research

Do you have kids? Are you a 5-screen household? If so, you aren’t alone. That’s the number of screens (TV, mobile, tablet) that the majority of Canadian families with kids have according to MediaCom research. It’s a far cry from the lone TV in the living room most Boomers & Gen-Xers grew up with.

I recently attended a conference that presented a ton of great stats from Microsoft Advertising and Rogers Connect based on research they conducted in November – December 2011 of Canadian parents with kids under 18.

For anyone in marketing or advertising that is looking to market to the next generation of families, multi-screen programs are an absolute must. Gone are the days of focusing on one device or medium. Your content and campaigns must be adaptable to various mediums.

Some key stats that were revealed include:

Canadian adults consume 190 hours of media per month

Which devices are they consuming it on?

-       99% TV

-       53% laptop

-       48% Gaming system

-       30% mobile device

-       6% tablets

88% of families use their TV simultaneously with another device so the opportunities for seamless-content and advertising is abundant to create emotional connections through multiple devices and cater to the screen they are looking at.

As well there is a slight difference between how parents with younger children (Digital Natives: 0-10yrs) vs. parents with older children (Digital Adopters: 11-18yrs) view the role of tech in their family dynamics. Digital Adopters tend to become educated about tech by their children; they are influenced on purchase decisions, are educated about new technology and are using it more frequently to communicate with their children, even when they are in the same house together. The Digital Adopter families spend their time together in the living room primarily consuming media that breaks down as follows (82% TV shows; 81% movies; 37% playing video games; 10% using social networks). Integrating campaigns around these various activities makes perfect sense and can serve as a media multiplier with multiple touch points to reach the audience with functional and emotional content.

While the research didn’t focus on the specific types of content or brands that resonated with the various groups, it is valuable to get a baseline understanding of the growth and spread of platforms that is now becoming part of the fabric of how families interact in their daily lives. I can see this playing out with my own family and how, as my children grow they start to use things such as my tablet while we watch TV and I’m on my smartphone. This will only continue to grow and advertisers and content creators should pay attention.

Thanks to Microsoft Canada & High Road Communications for the media pass; it was a highly informative day for someone who lives and works in the digital space.

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Can we stop being so defensive about the tools we use?

This is a bit of a rant about something that is occuring all too frequently these days on my favourite social tool – Twitter. Yesterday an article in the Globe & Mail by Margaret Wente appeared that questioned, in her particular snarky tone of voice, the value of Twitter. You would have thought she questioned the cuteness of puppies by the vehement reaction by the Canadian Twitterverse. Update after update sought to match her snide tone and “set her straight”. It was an over-the-top reaction to a piece that in the grand scheme of things was just one persons opinion based on the plethora of mainstream media attention Twitter has been getting recently as the “next Internet phenom!!”. 

We really need to stop being so defensive. It’s a tool some of us use. It’s not for everyone after all and none of us own stocks.

Sure, it would have been nice if Wente had spent more time getting to know the tool before writing a piece about it, but let’s not forget that not every one has hours to spend figuring out the ins and outs of what is a highly charged, established community who are quite vocal when they deem you aren’t using it right. Not every one wants to either. If we cheer when Twitter makes the Wall Street Journal or The Star, are we not asking the general public to join based on what they’re reading? As with anything in life (and marketers should really know this already) people go through phases before deciding to buy (or join). Sure, we’d *like* them to take a test drive, but sometimes we have to rely on the dry specs and pretty pictures to even get on their consideration list. So Wente (who most likely has been hearing about the wonders of new media and Twitter from her colleague Mathew Ingram for months now) checked out the public stream and wasn’t impressed. Not surprising, there’s a lot of updates there about what people are having for lunch, and unless you have a group of people for whom you care about what they’re having for lunch, it really would seem silly for the lay person if we’re being honest. Of course that isn’t the *only* thing happening on Twitter, and not the reason I use it (I’ve explained before here and in an interview on CityNews recently why I use Twitter), but it takes a lot of time and energy to build that network… and maybe that isn’t time some people want to invest, or know they have to. Twitter works when it’s a conversation vs a monologue and perhaps, just perhaps, someone may have other channels they use when they want to converse. 

Let’s also add some perspective to the time investment using Twitter properly is – some people may not be able to bill clients for the hours upon hours they spend using the tool each day either, because they aren’t in marketing communications, PR, or customer service (or an entrepreneur, artist, etc.). Let’s keep that in mind when we jump all over people for not “getting” the tool.

I’m not a fan of Wente’s writing (or opinions) for the most part, but I recognize frustration with over-hype when I read it, and that’s what her piece felt like to me. I also wonder why no one called out the most glaring thing in regards to her article — she asked @biz (the guy who OWNS Twitter) for a chance to interview him the day before the piece ran. Did he care enough to defend it, or even respond? Perhaps her view of Twitter may have been different if the guy with the vested interest in getting positive coverage of his business by Canada’s largest daily paper had gotten back to her.

Twitter is for some, not for others, and it would be productive in my view to allow that there is more than one way to use the tool, or not. 

Also, that everyone is entitled to form an opinion based on what they read/ see. It’s up to the community to convince people the tool is right for them if we are going to get so defensive when they don’t “get it” and vocalize that, question it, or poke fun at it.

[photo credit: merwing via Flickr]

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Social networking traffic continues to grow: Nielsen/NetRatings

Social networking traffic grows

Via Mashable comes the latest Nielsen/ NetRatings report on web traffic in August for social networking, video and blog sites. Of particular interest is that while FaceBook leads in growth amongst social networking sites at 117% growth to 19mm uniques from August 2006, MySpace continues to dominate traffic and usage with 60mm unique visitors in August and 23% growth. For marketers, as much as we have come to view MySpace as “so last year” it is important to note that the public in general continue to find it useful.

[photo credit: maddog on Flickr]

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Day 1 of mesh 2007

I’m at the second version of the mesh conference as I type and it’s been an interesting morning. I missed the keynote with Mike Arrington, but made it for the always inspiring panel keynote with Tom Williams and Austin Hill

What Austin and Tom are doing online is truly inspiring and one of the key points I took away from their discussion was the notion of charity being absolutely conducive with UGC in order to engage and provide a sense of community to the donors. It isn’t just about being a credit card. (more thoughts about this later, and UGC in general)

The first panel discussion of the afternoon was “The Web and Politics” with Scott Feschuk, Garth Turner and Phil de Vellis (Phil of course being the paid consultant on the Barack Obama campaign who mashed up Apple’s ‘1984′ ad with a speech of Hilary Clinton). I have to say it was entirely more cynical than I expected and really take issue with the myopic view expressed by Scott and Phil. But then again, they are allied with specific campaigns, I suppose their view of what politicians and campaigns should be doing online is, out of necessity, tied to getting a vote from the “constituent”.

What struck me as quite narrow minded is the thought that most people who comment on blogs are stupid and should be ignored. Wow. I can imagine how well that thought would carry over into a townhall meeting for example. Yes, there are trolls who will always only seek to disrupt, but the majority of people are not and have views and opinions which shouldn’t be ignored. The web is not a giant press release, nor a news conference on CNN. Garth at least seemed to recognize and embrace that notion.

A common thread that emerged was that politicians would only want to use these new social networking tools if it could be shown they could persuade someone who may not have voted for them to do so. The panel was in agreement that it probably couldn’t be done.

Phil mentioned dailykos.com quite a few times as being a site worthy of attention by politicians, but went on to state that most of the commentators there (vs. those who post ‘diaries’ or in non-blog terms, articles) should be ignored as crazies. If that is the take of the folks advising politicians then I suppose it’s not surprising the candidates feel they can or should ignore what the voters have to say. Obama for example posted a highly contentious ‘diary’ last year on Daily Kos and when large numbers of the community disagreed with his position he and his staff ignored, rather than engaged, and subsequently appeared to alienate a hell of a lot of the American voters (who may be Democrats but hadn’t declared which nominee they would support for President) who took the time to post passionate comments in disagreement.

Does that serve the goals of the campaign? Maybe. Does it undermine any subsequent fundraising or outreach efforts Obama will need for his run? Probably.

Interesting discussion all in all, and it says a lot about the state of politics that a politician, Garth Turner, came off the best in the panel.

I may post updates to these thoughts as we go, but I’d like to hear from other ‘voters’ how they would like to see their politicians or candidates interact with them online.

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The Family Guy disses UGC

I have a love/ hate relationship with the show The Family Guy… sometimes I love it, sometimes it makes me cringe…and it’s certainly no Simpsons, but I digress. It is a hugely popular and mostly witty show that holds a coveted spot in the Fox lineup on Sunday nights. A night known for poking fun at the doings of the parent company.

Which is why it was no surprise, but quite poignant and laugh worthy, when they tackled user-generated content, or content by committee in certain instances, in their episode on Sunday. I wrote about the potential pitfalls of over-doing UGC back in the euphoric Snakes on a Plane days, and the point still stands – some things really do take expertise to make them great, and art is one of them, as the Family Guy writers sarcastically reminded.

At two points during the episode the frame freezes and a voiceover comes on asking for viewers to vote on what the character should say next – “text 1 if Stewie should X”. In each case, after the 3 options were presented (2 being a logical extension of the plot and 1 being completely unrelated), the “audience” chose the nonsensical that detracted from the story, but was “cool”.

Before being accused of being elitist, there is a great value in input, integration, and participation across the board, as I’ve been harping on since I started the blog. But… there is a downside, and it is great as well. Diluting artistic vision, and in the case of a TV show, a collaborative partnership of creative folk, by force-fitting audience/ user participation can end with an inferior product that under-delivers. That can damage reputation, sales, loyalty, future endeavours, employee morale – the gamut. It’s a balancing act and demands as much strategic planning as any other portion of a campaign. Does asking for UGC add value for the consumer and the brand? Does it make sense? Will it stand the test of time? Does it need to? Etc.

When done right (ala the Bengals or Nike) it’s a beautiful thing. When done wrong it’s, well, stupid.

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