Consumer Perceptions of the Content Characteristic in Digital Media

This is a quick video presentation that covers the basics of my research topic.  This research is something I’ve been working on since I started graduate school.  I hope to one day roll it into my thesis research.  I would like my thesis to be related to consumer perceptions of content marketing.  I started following content marketing about a year ago, and I haven’t looked back.  I find it not only interesting, but innovating as well.  I firmly believe that content marketing is the solution to advertising in the digital age.

I wasn’t able to actually upload my video to this post.  The version of WordPress I’m working on doesn’t allow .mov files to be uploaded.  So, I just uploaded the video to my YouTube channel.
  I have another video related to content marketing that explains a little more in-depth.  The other video by the way does say digital issues, so don’t be confused.  The title is Content Marketing Research.  I made the other video for a different class.

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Future Issues and Trying New Things

This is the last post I have to write as a class requirement.  I have really enjoyed this aspect of the class.  I didn’t like it at first, but now I genuinely enjoy it.  It made me practice writing, and get over 10 posts under my belt.  I want to take what I’ve learned from this practice and start a new blog.  I want to write about TV and anime because I spend so much of my free time with it.  I figure that because I’m always talking about it; I should write about it.  If nothing else comes of it at least I’ll be writing about things I enjoy!

I actually tried a couple of new things this week.  I went swimming for the first time in the headwaters of the San Marcos river.  The rivers back home are all muddy and filled with alligators.  It was nice to swim in something I could actually feel safe.  Although we did see a pretty large snake swim right in front of us.  So, it might not be totally safe, but I had fun.  Okay, back to reality.

Today I joined Vine.  I have had Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the usuals for a several years now.  I don’t really have a particular reason for not having a Vine, but now I do.  I was familiar with it before, and have seen its use.  It worked about as well as I expected.  It went through all the usual steps when you sign up for a social media related app.  I linked it to my Twitter profile, integrated my contacts, and allowed push notifications.  The first Vine I made was a video of me on my balcony realizing I’m the only one on my row without a tree.  It was just a practice video, but I did realize that it is probably nicer to not have a tree in my face every time I step outside.  I guess I never really looked down the alley on the back of my apartment complex.

All-in-all it is a neat little app and it had some good moments on the home feed.  I will probably continue to use this, but it won’t change my life if I don’t.  I think I’ll probably use it the most just videoing insults back and forth with my friends.  I did like how it had a news feed, and sports feed.  They didn’t really have much, but at least I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time doing nothing.

Most of the time I spend on social media feels like wasted time.  Unless I’m reading something related to academia or research.  The future of digital media lies in the ability to capitalize on opportunities.  Content marketing is the future of digital advertising.  I believe that content is king.  Content is what rules the realm of digital media.

The biggest problem facing the Internet and digital media is compression.  The amount of useless information that people refuse to delete out of the cloud will soon overload.  The number of people with access to the Internet and digital media is growing rapidly.  People are constantly exposed to digital media on a daily basis.  By exposed I really mean surrounded.  The New York Times said in 2009 that people spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at screens.   The amount of information that is just floating around the internet will soon reach zettabyte levels, soon meaning now, 2015.  The largest file size I’ve ever seen was 1 terabyte.  Zettabytes are two sizes larger than terabytes! That means we literally have TENS OF THOUSANDS of years of HD video online.

“A zettabyte is roughly 1000 exabytes. To place that amount of volume in more practical terms, an exabyte alone has the capacity to hold over 36,000 years worth of HD quality video…or stream the entire Netflix catalog more than 3,000 times.”

In context this means that we already have overexposure to digital media.  If you want your product or service to stand out among the billions of other options out there you must invest heavily in a content strategy.  Brands that choose not to invest in their strategy usually fall by the way side.  Just look at any famous YouTube video, no matter how great it was at one time, they always end up lost in the weeds.

In my research paper I reference Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, several times.  He offers great advice to those organizations looking to create a content marketing strategy.  If you haven’t already started giving your content strategy some serious attention you’re falling behind.  Pulizzi offers ways to get serious about your strategy.

Overall I learned a lot from this class.  The blog assignments forced me to practice writing, and the articles forced me to read more.  I have always enjoyed reading, but I get distracted from ever finishing the articles I start reading.  I would definitely recommend anyone looking to join the Texas State University Mass Communication graduate program, or anyone interested in mass communication to take Digital Issues.  It covers all aspects using theory and skill.  I learned to enjoy writing again because of this class.

Legal and Copyright in the Digital Age

Copyright laws exist to protect the rights of creators.  This is the biggest legal issue in the age of digital media.  Whether I’m writing a paper, creating a video, or making a presentation, I worry about using material illegally.  Copyright laws were much easier to understand before the digital age.  Now, it is difficult to discern when fair use/creative commons might apply.  The way I understand creative commons is like a junkyard.  The one difference is that creative commons is free!  A place where you can find creative material to be recycled into new material, creative commons.  It was someone’s stuff until they gave it up; now it belongs to everyone.  I’m not saying I dig around in junk yards either.

This video from the creative commons website explains its use.

Fair use is very different from creative commons.  Stanford University defines fair use as,

“…any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work.”

Fair use would apply only if the person uses a portion of the copyrighted material.  It cannot be use in a commercial context.  I always wonder about fair use when I make video presentations.  I always check the source and make sure they are given full credit for the material.  I always make sure to use only portions of the material, or as little as possible.  In video it really is better to try to use as much free material as possible before moving on to copyrighted material.  Research papers can rely more on copyrighted material because of the literature review.

Before this week I don’t think I knew what Girl Talk was.  After reading about him online and listening to a few songs I realized I’ve seen this before.  This seems to be a common theme for this wave of new music.  Girl Talk is not necessarily new, but neither is what he does.  There has been a wave of DJ music that uses other genres to create songs.  I personally don’t see anything wrong with it, but I don’t really like the music.  It’s hard to say if what he does specifically falls under fair use.  I can see an argument for both sides.  I think it would be better to let the legal system handle it. Even his website is named Illegal Art.  If the original creators of his music have a problem they should take action.  Personally, I don’t like the idea of mashups or anything like that.  It sounds great in a club/party setting, but I can’t imagine people on a relaxing drive listening to it.  I’m probably wrong, but it’s just my opinion.

Niche Marketing with Long Tail theory and Freemium

One of the greatest aspects of the WWW is niche users.  The Internet has created a series of niche sites that specialize in certain areas.  This means that the Pareto Principle doesn’t always apply. 

The Long Tail theory is gaining traction as a valuable marketing approach.  The idea is that there is a market out there for 99% of all products and services.  Traditionally, organizations have focused on top sellers using the 80/20 rule. The Long Tail focuses on the huge amount of niche products and services available.  This is how Amazon operates. They offer a large range of products from top sellers to very specific products. For example, I know Amazon is the only place that has new Manga in stock.  Manga are Japanese comic books.  I can find them at Barnes and Noble sometimes, but Amazon always has them.

Places like 2nd & Charles and Hastings Entertainment are brick-and-mortar examples of long tail theory.  These places buy back used media and sell them in store.  They carry the latest products along with a large quantity of niche products. 

The Internet is changing how we deal with consumers.  The consumer is much more informed than in previous generations. Consumers can search information about your organization before you’ve even had the chance to start a dialogue. 

The future of online business lies in its ability to monetize content.  Content Marketing is the way to do this. At least, from a personal perspective, I believe that is what will save advertising and internet companies. The creativity and design aspects of online marketing are extremely important. Adobe Creative Suite offers tips and tools to create effective designs. Creativity is very important in digital media.

Designing a Mobile App: just for kicks!

The app I have, “designed” is not real.  I do not own the rights to design anything for KissAnime or KissCartoon.  This was a class assignment and just for fun.  I used similar ideas from the YouTube app and the KissAnime website.  This blog post is not intended for commercial use and is only for an assignment.

I love anime!  I have been watching Japanese cartoons since I was a little kid.  I’m sure most people are familiar with Dragon Ball Z, one of the most famous anime shows of all time.  There are literally thousands of anime shows and movies in the world.  Most anime are easy to find in both English and Japanese.  However, there are many titles of anime with which many are unfamiliar.  The problem presented with fandom of anime is the ability to watch them.  It is especially difficult to watch on-going new releases, most of which are airing only in Japan.

So, how does one address this problem?  The answer is KissAnime!  The best thing about KissAnime is that it is free.  You can create your own account and save video settings.  They are constantly updating the page, and have most of the current anime of the season!  I’ve been watching Plastic Memories and Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation this spring-summer season.

Well, all I did was draw up a design for what I think a KissAnime mobile app might look like.  It should have HTML 5 to work on iOS devices.  iOS doesn’t support flash.  There would need to be a way to work in advertising into the app.  KissAnime has them on their mobile site, but it wouldn’t work the same way in mobile app.

The home screen of the app would have a login and popular tab.  This would provide users with easy access to their account and quick links to the popular anime on the site.  In the top right is a magnifying glass to provide quick search capabilities.  The top left has a menu button to access other parts of the site quickly.  The top center would have a sponsored ad.  Below the ad would be the recently updated series links.  Users could quickly access the current shows as they are posted online.

This is the home screen of the app.

This is the home screen of the app.

Once the user tapped the menu symbol the menu would slide across and cover the home page.  This would eliminate the need to load another page after the home screen.  On the menu tab would be tabs to different functions of the mobile app.  Users could access their favorited shows, change settings, or report an error.  Just swipe left to go back to the home screen.

This is the menu bar pulled across the main screen.

This is the menu bar pulled across the main screen.

The video player would be HTML 5 so that iOS users could access video.  The video player is a typical HTML design with the time remaining, play/pause, skip ahead/back, volume control, and fullscreen/shrink window.  I just drew this up referencing the KissAnime website for specific details. Again I say that was for a class assignment and for fun.  I do not plan to do anything with this.

This is the video player similar to the mobile site design.

This is the video player similar to the mobile site design.

From Print to Digital and Display to Sponsored: The Future of Journalism

Journalism is changing rapidly.  Previously, we relied on the printed newspaper to give us the daily news.  Now, most metropolitan dailies have a digital edition, and a print edition.  Readership has steadily declined in print editions for the last decade or so.  Readership fell 18 points from 2002 to 2012 to 23% readership in 2012.  Decline in readership leads to a decline in revenue.  This is because the advertising model of display advertising is outdated for digital editions.   The advertising model shown to generate revenue in the last several years is Sponsored Content.  Sponsored content can come in many forms, through sponsored banners, ads, and native advertising.  An umbrella term for sponsored content is Content marketing.  This is the future of journalism.

Sponsored content is advertising content that is part of editorial content.  It is intended to add to the user experience, not take away from it.  The New York Times has had some recent success with their native ads.  The T Brand Studio, The NYT ad agency, have managed to create advertising content that is just as compelling as editorial content.  The future for journalism is already here.  However, most organizations are unsure of how sponsored content can generate revenue.  The key is to creating content that is consistent, valuable, and relevant.  This is what the Content Marketing Institute says about creating effective content marketing.  One of the NYT sponsored articles was the most successful and compelling content.  When compared to editorial content, Orange is the New Black generated impressions close to the same as some of the top editorial articles online.  Below are some other examples of successful sponsored content.

Sponsored Article from BuzzFeed with popular HBO drama Game of Thrones

Sponsored Article from BuzzFeed with popular HBO drama Game of Thrones

CNN World with Sponsored Ads

CNN World with Sponsored Ads

As we can see, journalistic culture is changing.  As organizational culture shifts to digital editions with sponsored content so must the educational system.  Personally, I would like to see universities implement digital journalism into the curriculum.  Most have already done so, including us at Texas State University.

The article from the reading that really stood out to me was The State of American Journalism Education.  The section containing the statistics related to the decline in journalism enrollment was especially interesting.  The fact that many students are forgoing graduate school because it isn’t worth it is a little scary.

“I considered going to Stanford and Columbia for their graduate programs, but I couldn’t see wasting those two years’ worth of income and life to get another journalism degree when I can get a similar job now that pays around the same.” Lindsey Cook

Once I considered what the article is really saying I was able to gain a little more confidence in myself.  The decline of journalism in general is why I chose strategic communication as my concentration.  Not only am I interested in the the strategic process of mass communication, but I honestly hate news writing.  Public relations and related fields are growing by the year as traditional journalism declines.  U.S. News and World Report says public relations is a growing field, even ranked #1 for most creative job.

I think that the future of journalism is dependent upon the success of the new advertising model for digital editions.  The aspect of data journalism is going to become more and more important in generating readership and revenue.  News organizations MUST pay attention to the data.  The success of news organizations is dependent upon using statistics of design and content to create valuable, relevant, and consistent editorial content.

Gender Impact on Digital Media

For the longest time, basically until the 1960s, marketers ignored gender and ethnicity.  Women only bought products and services to draw a man’s attention, or so they thought.  This is what the characters of the popular advertising drama, Mad Men, could tell you.  In 2015, we know this is very, VERY, inaccurate.

Gender in 2015 is a sensitive subject.  Gender roles are being redefined almost on a daily basis.  I work at a customer research calling center.  I’m explicitly told to never ask the gender of the person.  I’m only allowed my best guess.  The growing transgender community is also very strict about gender restrictions.  The gender issue is clear in advertising.  Products and services are separated into groups based on what gender they are perceived to be.  This blog post by Randi P. shows several examples of how stores are categorized into boys/girls, men/women, and even cleaning products are marketed in genders.  Flowery smells for females and earthy smells for men.  We know that this isn’t always the case. The gender dichotomy that we grew up with is changing.

The question is, how does this affect online?  Do digital marketers understand what is happening or are they biased?  This article by Ginny Marvin says, yes.  The advertising firm WordStream actually conducted a study of Google Adwords written by females and males.

“…the study concluded that there is, in fact, quantifiable evidence of gender bias: Women are undervalued by 21 percent compared to their male counterparts.”

A big issue for gender in this country has been the salary amount of men vs. women.  Women still earn lower salaries on average than men.  This is especially true in the field of marketing.  This link directs to the full Industry Survey 2014 that MOZ completed.  This article by Cyrus Shepard contextualizes the findings.  Even with experience women earn less than men in marketing positions.

MOZ

MOZ


MOZ

MOZ

Women are filling roles previously only men were allowed to fill.  The image that we see is the 1950s housewife.  Honestly, that isn’t just the 1950s.   It should encompass anyone that was influenced by the nuclear family culture.  My mother has had a job for over 35 years and so has my father.  However, I can still remember that my mother took care of the children and housework, despite the fact that she earned more money than my father.  It was expected of them because that is how their parents raised them to be.   Women were caretakers, men were providers.  Men made all or most of the decisions in the household.  This is not the case today.

This article from Pew Research shows how decision making is shifting to women in the household.  The following photo was taken from the research done by the Pew Research Center.

Pew Research Center 43% of household saw women making the decisions.

Pew Research Center
43% of households saw women making the decisions.

Does this mean that we have achieved equality?  Not by a long shot, I’d say.  We still have much further to go before the, “glass ceiling,” is shattered.  The impact of women in marketing will continue to gain traction and influence.  Gender diversity is not going away anytime soon.

Facebook, Google, and the future of social network sites

This week’s lesson is about the history of social media and the future.  The question has been posed by many media experts and researchers, are social media valuable?

The simple and complicated answer is yes.  Social network sites have created a new way for the world to communicate with one another.  Facebook, the largest social network today, is actually competing with Google.  It seems strange to think that two somewhat different sites are in competition with one another.  It may seem like apples and oranges, but it is closer to oranges and satsumas.  Satsumas are similar to oranges in size and climate, but they are just a little bit sweet.  This is close to the Google-Facebook relationship.  It isn’t a full blown competition yet, but Facebook isn’t afraid of Google.  Google at one time tried to acquire Facebook, or at least invest in them and failed.

It may be lazy, but an article from the chapter’s readings really stood out to me.  So, I’m going to reference it here.  I will be honest and admit that the Google-Facebook competition never crossed my mid.  However, after reading that article I realized it only makes sense.  The article was written in 2009 around the time Facebook began its meteoric rise to stardom.  Since then, Facebook has grown significantly with over 1 BILLION members.  That’s right, Facebook has over 1 billion, with a B, active users. This means that if Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd most populated in the world, passing the United States of America.

Here is a timeline of Facebook’s history detailing their rise to global dominance over social network sites.

The article from the reading had several interesting tidbits of information about the direction Facebook was taking in 2009. The amount of information that Facebook and Google have been compiling over the last decade is significant. The only problem that exists is how to turn all this personal information into targeted ads.

The one thing that still separates Facebook from Google is the amount of freely shared private information by its users. Millions of Facebook users post private information on a daily basis.  This is still much in debate for Facebook.  Facebook has tried on few occasions to use the information for marketing purposes.  These efforts were seen by users as an invasion of privacy, and ultimately were retracted by Facebook.

So, what is the future for social networks?  That is much more complicated than most people think.  I personally don’t believe there will be another Facebook for the next 10 years. Unless something as revolutionary comes along, I see Facebook remaining on top.  The only thing that is stopping them is revenue.  Facebook still doesn’t generate the revenue that Google does, even as a public company.  Google still reigns supreme in terms of global advertising revenue.  This article written by Vikram Nagarkar shows several fields that Facebook is expanding faster than Google.  However, Google still holds a significant lead in the overall amount of global ad-spends.

eMarketing

eMarketing

Personally I believe each social media platform serves a different purpose.  Each of them contain the social aspect, but they are used in many different ways.  In the Great Wall of Facebook article the author writes,

“It has a massive storehouse of user data, but every time it tries to capitalize on that information, its members freak out.”

This line stands out to me because this is the HUGE problem that marketers have in the digital age. Digital media have created new ways we communicate with consumers.  However, can we access that plethora of information without an invasion of privacy is the question.  The reason that Facebook users always have problems with their data mining is because Facebook is still viewed by users as private.  Believe it or not, but most Facebook users think of the site as a place where you can put your offline social life online.  So, marketers that use Twitter and Google information aren’t seen as invading privacy because it isn’t personal.  Facebook is personal.  Users create a Page unique to their interests and life.  They can also find other people from their lives to communicate.  Facebook isn’t the place to directly communicate with users.  The best way to market to Facebook users is to create content and then have them find you.  Facebook offers tips for businesses.  Google is just a search engine; it serves a specific purpose.  You can find factual information on Google. Facebook is mostly opinion.  If you want to know when game 4 of the NBA finals starts you go to Google.  If you want to see what people are saying about the game and the match up, you go to Facebook, or Twitter.  Facebook and Google are information gold mines, but for different reasons.  People don’t put their thoughts, feelings, and emotions on Google.  Nobody is being trolled for an offensive search history; they are trolled on Facebook.

Google and SEO Marketing

At different times many of us have wondered. How does Google make money? The answer is actually fairly complicated, but Google says it isn’t.

“We generate revenue primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising.”

Google wasn’t that much different from other search engine sites in the year 1998. In fact, some of you may remember that Ask Jeeves was the leader in search engines. So, what exactly did Google do to change history and become the worlds leader in online searches?

“In a word, AdWords. In some respects Google is essentially the world’s largest bus shelter, deriving 96% of its revenues from ads.”

These quotes were taken from an article written in 2012 by Greg McFarlane on Investopedia.

I’m not sure if their business model is something that could be implemented elsewhere. Google really have established themselves as the leader in Search Engine Optimization and online searches. The competition for Google is almost nonexistent. Sure, there are Yahoo and Bing, but they aren’t producing the traffic that Google is. I doubt there is another company that can sustain success with 96% of revenue coming from advertisers.

The problems that exist with the Google model are pretty easy to identify. They don’t make anything concrete. The only thing Google manufactures is advertisements and most of the time the advertisements aren’t Google originals. They are created by the organizations themselves. Google just posts your advertisement online and then charges your organization each time a user clicks the ad. Graham Jones an Internet psychologist on behalf of an external contributor cites 6 disadvantages to using Google Adwords

However, this is also an advantage for for your business.  If no one clicks the ad you don’t pay a dime. In older media models, organizations paid for advertising in hopes that the target audience will see it, without a guarantee that anyone will. There are 5 advantages to using Google Adwords according to Joshua Graham Internet Psychologist. Those 5 advantages are: reach, cost, timing, flexibility, and tutorials.

Here are some examples of Google placing advertisements in their search windows.

David Gould

David Gould


David Gould

David Gould

Search Engine Optimization is something that has been growing over the last several years in digital marketing. So how can you improve your organization’s SEO? This article by Erin Everhart says more than I ever could. She offers 7 different ways to improve your organization’s SEO. They range from keeping your URL’s consistent to speeding up your load time.

Digital Media Research: Interactivity in Marketing

My last post was about Content Marketing and how the innovation has evolved.  I’m going to continue to make Content Marketing a theme throughout my posts because it is both relevant and interesting.  I am thesis track so, eventually I would like to turn in all the work I have done previously as part of my thesis.  I’ve been gearing my research toward content marketing with the end goal of including it in my thesis research. The most challenging aspect of digital media research is the ability to access older information. Anything that doesn’t exist in some online form is very difficult to find and often is hard to pour through. The major advantage to research in digital media is that the online community is growing. It is practically endless. Most topics can be found in a journal database and having the Alkek access makes things much easier.

My definition of interactivity is any communication that requires the receiver to take action to participate in the communication process. The sender must include the information in the message that ties it back to the receiver. Some communication involves no interactivity and some is reactive. This means that the receiver reacts to what the sender is communicating; they take action only after receiving the message. Interactivity allows the receiver to be part of the formulation of the message, leading to more involvement in the communication process. It also involves communicating the relationship between previous and current messages. This is what creates two-way communication, and what makes digital media so very special. It has even created a new career field related to interactivity.

Drexel University offers Interactive Digital Media as a major.

Ha and James (1998) cited five aspects of interactivity: playfulness, choice, connectedness, information collection, and reciprocal communication. The article cites several differing definitions of interactivity, but they all include one important aspect, the consumer. The most important aspect is reciprocal communication. Consumers need and want to feel involved and that their perspective is special. Digital Media have created communication that is interactive with the consumer.

“Interactivity is a critical concept in computer-mediated communications, because it is seen as the key advantage of the medium. ….To involve consumers and encourage feedback, a company must provide content useful to the consumer” (Ha and James 1998)

I’m not sure if the link will appear because I accessed the library database, but here is the Ha and James article.

Below are some examples of interactive marketing. The first is a floor sticker that was placed in a mall in Indonesia to market Frontline products. The second is a Domino’s app that allows customers to make pizzas in a game. This is the type of interactivity that comes with digital media.

Perwanal Saatchi & Saatchi in Jakarta, Indonesia

Perwanal Saatchi & Saatchi in Jakarta, Indonesia

Domino's

Domino’s

These are the kinds of research that are interactive. Creating social media pages for products and services is another way to create interactive marketing research.  You just need to involve the consumer in the content to make it interactive. If you can manage to get the consumer or receiver involved then you have succeeded in terms of interactivity. Creating one-way communication is not the way to research interactivity. I think that the Uses and Gratifications theory is a good theoretical approach to take when researching interactivity.  Consumers have different reasons for consuming content and digital media have created even more ways to research interactive communication.