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Posts Tagged ‘digital’
To those of us who remember school as a distinctly low-tech experience, it may come as some surprise that teachers are turning increasingly toward digital content to make education more engaging and effective.
A report on THE Journal highlights a recently-released study showing that more than 75% of K-12 teachers were using digital tools in the classroom last year, up from 69% in 2008. Meanwhile, 72% of teachers reported they stream or download content from the Internet, up from 65% in 2008.
According to the study, “A majority of preK-12 teachers indicated they strongly agree that TV and video content is more effective when it is integrated with other instructional resources in the classroom. A majority of teachers are more likely to use five- to 10-minute video segments rather than entire programs. This is one indication that teachers are becoming more strategic in their selections and targeting use for specific purposes.” Or it could just mean that they are reacting to the fact that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.
This means that companies will need to rely on digital content more and more as the next generation graduates into the workforce. I’ll avoid the obvious pun about an Apple for teacher…
Ray Welling, Content Guy
I have been reading quite a bit of late about the concept of content curation, a term coined by marketing strategist and blogger Rohit Bhargava to describe the role of “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word ‘continually.’… (It is s)omeone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward.”
He writes that, “In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for…. The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers - creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.”
Robin Good writes on the Master New Media blog, “I think, that at least for now, curating content is the one thing that Google can’t take your place in doing. When it comes to researching, selecting, picking, editing, juxtaposing, illustrating, complementing, referencing, crediting, commenting and introducing, Google can just pack its stuff and go home.
“….Unless there is a growing number of active newsmasters, content curators and editors/publishers checking, digesting, filtering, grouping and organizing information inside vertical information silos you will be either submerged by information or you will be left behind when it comes to staying on top of the information you need to operate in your field.
“Business-wise, content curators could also offer an interesting marketing opportunity and a new business model that makes a lot of sense to me.”
Meanwhile, Australian digital recruiter David Jackson writes on the Digital Ministry website, “There are already a few people performing this task for companies, and it will only grow in importance. The problem I see with content curating is that most companies find it hard to place much value on the role. Although it requires a skill set that combines the sharp mind of a research analyst with the communications flair of a journalist and the commercial nous of a marketer, curating content, like creating content, often attracts a wage more akin to a junior administrator.”
Links on this topic:
Looking back at past writings, I came across this one I originally wrote more than 10 years ago. Surprisingly, it still has currency today. Pleasantly surprised because many of the insights (such as the emphasis on interaction and community) have stood the test of time; not so pleasantly surprised because of some of the things that still haven’t changed, such as the continued use of the term “user” to describe web consumers - can’t we come up with something that has more humanity? So here it is:
The World Wide Web takes channel surfing to heights only imagined by the most hardened remote control jockey. If your site is boring, of no use, or takes more than a moment to download, people will click away from your page faster than Homer Simpson can scarf down a doughnut. But if you can deliver what your customers want and expect from your Web site, you’ll have a very useful tool for your marketing armoury.
Working out what consumers expect on a Web site is still more of an art than a science. As Fox Television and QVC home shopping executive Barry Diller says, “There are no mavens to be found and no research worth its salt. There are no guideposts, no divining rods to tell you what to do. It’s only with patience that you can develop a fluency in a new medium.”
The online environment is young enough that it’s still being used as an extension of old media. It’s like the early days of television, when it was just radio with pictures. Television producers simply stuck a camera in front of the newsreader, radio serial performers or an orchestra (In fact, the Microsoft Network’s first foray into online news in Australia was exactly that - downloaded video of news editor Jason Romney reading out news headlines on a Web page).
It was only when people like the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow started taking the camera out of the studio and into the street that television evolved into a medium distinct from radio.
Or to use a non-media analogy, the Internet is still a horseless carriage and not yet an automobile. Interactive new media are largely viewed as incremental improvements to traditional media, when in fact they represent entirely new ways of looking at the world. They are capable of doing things that have never been done before.
The online world is still looking for its Edward R. Murrows. The successful pioneers will be the ones who listen carefully to their users and give them useful interactions that they can’t get in any other medium. (I use the word “user” reservedly, as an inadequate term waiting for the right term to evolve. They’re not readers, or listeners, or viewers - they’re all those things. So for now the word user is a term favoured by the IT industry until we come up with something better.)
So how do you work it out? Here’s the current thinking on what consumers want and don’t want from a Web site, based on what’s working on the Web and what’s not. Some of it is simple logic, while with others you need to turn your head slightly and look at the world from another angle.
They expect a personalised experience. The ability to serve up customised information has been a big selling point of the Web, and people have been listening. It’s now expected that a Web site will be littered with opportunities to shape their experience, by selecting types of information to be served up, whether to have sound on or off, etc. Personalisation can include building an analytic ability into a site, such as the database capability of commerce sites such as Amazon, which serves up lists of other books in genres in which you’ve performed searches. The greatest Web sites provide on-on-one specific, valuable information to one person.
They expect it to be interactive. If you don’t give visitors the opportunity to contribute to a discussion, play a game or at least send you an email, you might as well have just printed a brochure.
They expect to connect with others. Bulletin boards, discussion groups, chat rooms, mailing lists - there are plenty of ways to include features which enable people to share ideas with other people through your site.
They expect a response - now. A Web site is a prime opportunity for service-oriented companies to offer full-spectrum customer service. However, you need to ensure that your response, even if it’s an automatic email acknowledging their request, is rapid.
They expect it to be easy to find what they want. People are looking to the Web for information that is sorted and organised in a useful way, though not necessarily a conventional way.
They expect depth of information (but not breadth). It’s much more useful to offer comprehensive information on a limited range of topics on your Web site than a little general information on a wide variety of subjects. Since a Web site has no limit to the pages it can carry, it offers an opportunity for hyper-focus not available to other media. The Web is a place where people can find information they can’t find anywhere else.
They expect to use the Internet for research. The 1997 Price Waterhouse Consumer Technology survey found that Web users spent 43% of their time accessing the Internet for research.
They expect compelling content - laced with entertainment. Consumers are drawn to the Web by content - content that is presented in a way that makes it easy to find, use and understand. It is becoming clear that content without usefulness, fun and interactivity is not going to keep people coming back for more. The information must be dynamic and instantaneous. Compelling and engaging content will always be more powerful than showing off technology. If you can combine enough technology to enhance the experience of studying your content, you’ll hold a user’s attention long enough to get your message across.
They expect security and privacy. Users need to be told - and shown - that the reports about lack of credit card security, online stalkers and spammers littering the Internet are just that - reports.
They expect to be able to buy things, safely and easily. Despite the general public’s fear on security issues, current and potential Internet users agree that there are a lot of items and services they would be prepared to buy online, once their concerns about security are addressed.
They expect to be given a reason to return. Most Internet users only visit five sites with regularity -the rest are visited only infrequently or as a one-time link from another site. If your site is not going to be on your customers’ top five list, then you’ll need to employ devices such as email newsletters to keep your site top of mind and remind them why it’s worth coming back to your site.
They expect value for the time and money they have invested. True to its anarchic origins, in the present online culture, there’s very little on the Internet that people feel is worth paying for. They’re already paying for online access, time spent visiting your site is an opportunity cost, and so much information is freely available. Therefore, think very carefully before trying to charge users for information.
Having said that, consumers today are well versed in the concept of give and take - you give me something of value and I’ll provide you with something in return. The keys to long-term customer satisfaction are to provide each individual with truly useful information, presented in an appropriate context. Information that enables an individual to gain greater enjoyment or productivity from their home- or work-life will be valued, and you can command a price for it. The critical difference between useful and useless information is that you have made an effort to understand the needs and interests of your customers.
They don’t want to be treated like idiots. Most Internet users can tell the difference between objective, non-commercial information and “sponsored” information. Don’t insult them by dressing up corporate data as objective fact. Admit your bias up front and focus on giving them something useful. They’ll remember you fondly for that.
They don’t want to wait. This is the strongest reason for not loading your pages up with big graphics and animations. Make sure your design is economical and keep in mind that many users will not be using the fastest computers and modems.
If you focus on giving your customers what they expect and want from a Web site, you’ll be on the way to viewing the Web as an automobile instead of a horseless carriage.
Despite all the gurus like us blagging on about the importance of social media, the message hasn’t gotten through to most people in the C-suite. The Tangyslice blog has produced a good summary of the reasons “Why your boss hates social media.” They include:
Commenters on the blog point out other factors such as the fundamental reversal in marketing thinking required to understand social media, and just plain fear of change.
Dave Evans, author of “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day”, wrote a guest post in ClickZ last week about one of my hobby-horses, the importance of measuring digital media impact.
He says a key point when measuring social content is establishing a baseline. “Before you do anything else, measure what’s happening right now,” he says.
“Quantitatively measuring social content is the simplest, easiest, and lowest risk approach to getting comfortable with the social Web. Once you get a solid handle on the current conversation, you can measure the change in this content over time. This is the most important step toward a defensible ROI.”
But it’s in for a penny, in for a pound. If you’re going to measure, you have to be comprehensive, Evans says. “Sampling a few points on the social Web does you no good. Like a lone fighter surrounded by swordsman, you’ve got to watch them all. You can’t do this without a robust dataset. Sooner or later a comment or some other content will catch you off guard.” He cites the example of Janet at Exxon, someone who posed as an authorized representative for the company on Twitter. Not only was she not an official representative, she may not even be an employee of the company.
Evans points out that “What you learn on the social Web may not translate directly into a marketing campaign. It may, for example, inform future product revisions or your definition of an emerging service. This again shows the important connection between operations and marketing when engaging customers socially.”
He concludes that “Unlike traditional media - where you set the terms of engagement - your customers define the interchanges on the social Web. Operations - including a concerted effort aimed at your own internal behavioral changes, or external (visible) changes to the products and services you offer - effectively influence conversations on the social Web. It’s not what you say (traditional marketing), but rather what you actually do (socially-based marketing) that defines the conversations that enhance or challenge the balance of your promotional and brand-building efforts.”
Those recent predictions about the growth of the market for online advertising and marketing which said digital would continue double-digit growth despite recent financial turmoil have now gone the way of most US investment banks after the carnage of the past week.
Yahoo’s share price is tanking and earnings for all major digital companies have been revised downward.
As reported on Clickz, UBS bank slashed Google’s 2009 anticipated revenue by 4%, Yahoo’s by 9.1%, and ValueClick’s by a “stunning” 19.3 percent. Estimates for Q4 2008 were also lowered, though not as much.
Reuters, meanwhile, reports that another investment bank, Wachovia (which if I recall correctly was just taken over the other day to save it from going to the wall) is now predicting that Web ad spending will grow by 10% next year rather than the previously estimated 15 percent. As well, Lehman/Barclays shaved a full $3 billion from its 2008 U.S. online ad estimate, pegging growth for the year at 16.9% rather than 23.4 percent.
But at least they are predicting some growth. The one thing all news analyses agree on is that the overall advertising market is going to contract next year.
UBS analyst Ben Schachter said that “We see no business model based on advertising or consumer spending that will be immune to a downturn…As corporate profit forecasts come down, we expect planned advertising spending will be delayed and/or cut.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that venture capital firm Sequoia called their clients into an emergency meeting and when they came into the conference room they were confronted with a large tombstone which said “RIP, Good Times” on it. They were then subjected to a lecture about how bad things were likely to get and what they needed to do to retain Sequoia’s investment.
An executive who attended the meeting was quoted as saying it was not a “doom and gloom” message, but a serious one. “They basically said: ‘This is a business. This is not an excuse for you and a bunch of your friends to have a pool table and goof around with something you think is neat.’ I didn’t come away thinking that the sky is falling or that I have to move to Canada, just that these guys are taking this seriously.”
That’s a good takeaway - the sky is not falling, but it’s time to get sharp. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Rebecca Lieb, writing on the ClickZ website, rightly observes that it’s high past time that the advertising and media industries fully embrace digital solutions. She writes, “It’s not just old-timers on the traditional agency side of the equation who are stubbornly resisting the shift to digital. It’s an issue across the media landscape. Their reluctance was perhaps somewhat understandable in the go-go ’90s and in the sober, austere, bleak era around 2002. But now?
“Still, I’m seeing traditional publishers cut back on digital endeavors (and digital staff) in a desperate and futile effort to sustain their flagging, dead-tree legacy brands. I’m seeing digital executives going to senior management with requests for back-end tools, such as content management systems and social media software, only to learn their corporate overlords have no idea what all that stuff is, much less what it’s actually used for or how it can benefit the business.
“And I’m seeing some of those print publications flatline. Friends who have been print journalists for decades are panicking in the face of cutbacks, early retirement, consolidation, and plain old extinction.
“But they’re not learning digital skills. A critic friend stays up nights over the fact his paper is due to shutter at month’s end. When I inquired about his online skills, he replied that even the most fundamental elements of a story, such as hyperlinks, were determined and executed by the online editor. He doesn’t know how to do any of that stuff.”
I’m happy to report that not everyone in the advertising and media industries in Australia over the age of 30 is a techno-Luddite. But a lot more needs to be done to encourage them to embrace digital formats and produce new ways of communicating ideas that capitalise on these new formats, rather than continuing to produce digital creations that are still rooted in traditional thinking.
Gen Y is not reading newspapers anymore. They’re watching TV without ads, via DVD or DVD recorders, They’re staying away from websites that throw pop-up ads at them. Those of us who grew up with traditional forms of communication are still in the majority - but we won’t be for that much longer. As Lieb says in the headline of her article, “Digital or die”.