gutenberg’s printing press and a musician’s world tour

Most scholars put the Gutenberg printing press high on the list of mankind’s great inventions. His printing press changed our world. It was an enabler of the Renaissance, accelerating the spread of advances in arts, sciences, religion and ultimately, personal beliefs. Similarly it triggered an eventual step-change in the evolution of media. Cave drawings, oral histories, scribes, then BOOM!…broadcast. Now we have the web; I think Johannes Gutenberg would be a fan.

Let’s consider another breakthrough development in media, specifically the impact of blending traditional entertainment or media with online platforms for social sharing. The usage of social networks as mainstream production, distribution, and experience platforms may not be not as extraordinary as the introduction of Gutenberg’s invention, but it is allowing us to experience media in radically new ways. In most cases, however, it still falls short of creating a genuinely human experience.

We vote, we share, we recommend, we participate, but few of the connections or dialogues carry the emotive power encountered when swaying with the crowd at a live concert, watching a televised football game with a group of buddies, or even participating in a book club. Yet, human connectivity can be amplified through effective use of digital platforms. I find the example that follows to be a particularly powerful case.

Recently, singer songwriter (and media pioneer) Daria Musk held a new years concert and streamed it live over the internet. In a period of 24 hours, she gave nineteen individual performances coinciding with the countdown to midnight at almost every time zone across the globe. Her stage was an intimate set, yet her audience was worldwide. Over 100,000 fans from over one hundred countries participated.

Livestreaming a virtual concert is nothing new, but she went one step further and metaphorically brought people together spanning distance, language, and culture. By utilizing the hangout feature of Google+, where up to 10 people can simultaneously converse via video chat, the audience was able to participate from almost any where in the world. Starting in New Zealand and ending 24 hours later in Hawaii, she celebrated each new years countdown with people in the G+ hangouts from each respective time zone.

Fans spoke with one another, they shared new years traditions, they sang, danced, and rang in the new year – a house party in Scotland, fireworks in Dubai, a family waving sparklers in Latvia, the ball drop in New York – these people connected, conversed and exchanged their in-the-moment experiences with others. It was an intimate event on an enormous scale. For those who participated or viewed via livestream, the audience interaction was moving. In many ways, the hangout forum, combined with the atmosphere and Daria’s energy, removed barriers to connecting emotionally.

For a performer or producer of entertainment, Daria’s world tour demonstrates how a well-executed program can create a shared experience on a truly human level. For marketers, advertisers, and brands it delivers on the promise of the web as a place to establish powerful connections at a scale and pace unachievable in traditional environments and channels.

This story and others represent an emerging model for production, distribution, and audience engagement, but few, with exception of artists like Daria Musk, have harnessed its power. I think Mr. Gutenberg would be a fan of Daria’s; I dare say her world tour is an extension of his vision.

mobile in the middle

No longer should we be thinking of mobile as a channel, we should be thinking of mobile as an enabling tool – a central utility to our life. It has become a node between our digital and physical life. 

This is a take on how brands should view the role of mobile in effecting consumer behavior… Below is are some thoughts I put together for a recent speech.

If one mention’s mobile, then one should mention the grand-daddy of it all. This picture is of Matrin Cooper, the inventor. Lore has it that this is the phone he made the first public call on in 1973 – which was, by the way, to his competitor at another company. No wonder he’s smiling.

The potential of mobile? We’ve all heard it  -“This is the year for mobile.” Whether or not it was last year, this year, or next, there is no question that it’s part of the mainstream and the associated consumer behavior has huge implications to marketers and brands.

The crux for marketers: Mobile is in the Middle. No longer should we be thinking of mobile as a channel, we should be thinking of mobile as an enabling tool – a central utility to our life. It has become a node between our digital and physical life. 

What do I mean by mobile in the middle? Mobile devices are ubiquitous tools that connects many parts of our life – not just a communication and media consumption vehicle.

The smartphone is less a phone as it is a love object! My best friend is a supercomputer in my pocket! …A friend with 4 of the 5 senses. A speaker to talk, a mic to hear, a touch screen to feel, and a camera to see. It is embraced emotionally.

So food for thought… marketers who think of mobile devices as part of a consumer journey, as a partner in the day-in-the life, will win. A creative brief and strategy written with this emotional perspective will create a very different approach than a brief with stats about usage and marketing engagement points.

welcome to the blurred

The intersection of our physical and digital lives continues to blur.  Some believe this means less human interaction – I disagree.  This intersection is transforming our very being and presents tremendous opportunity to augment and amplify emotional engagement and experience our world, interactions [and brands] in radically new ways.

This blog focused on the blurred intersection and its influence on consumer behavior.

In an evangelism and development role at Google, I work closely with the leadership of creative and media agencies.  My years in marketing, advertising, and strategic planning have nurtured my passion for understanding basic human truths and how we form beliefs, perceptions, and preferences.

This is my private blog and it represents my personal views and opinions.  In no way is it intended to reflect those of Google or its partners.

Enjoy – Kevin