MAD Perspectives Blog

Real-time Takes on New Meaning

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The sense of immediacy that occurs at live events is now pervasive online. We expect to find information immediately. We connect to our friends via social networks with an expectation of instant response. Brands and marketers have been focused on understanding the impact of real-time data for the past few years. The broadcast industry has also been ramping up its capabilities for real-time. Where once upon a time we could wait until the evening news to review the days events, that is now unacceptable.  Social media has forever changed this paradigm. Now, broadcasters are incorporating real-time capabilities across their operations, in the form of breaking news news incorporating user-generated content, real-time voting, real-time audience engagement or real-time advertising.

There was significant focus on real-time at the NAB show last week in Las Vegas. The adoption of IT solutions such as Cloud and Big Data are in one part due to content producer and broadcaster need for real-time solutions. These solutions will help them become more efficient and advance their capabilities for audience engagement. How is real-time related to these big trends?  Let's consider a few examples.

     - Avid announced its Avid Everywhere. Recognizing the demand and need for geographically dispersed teams, while taking advantage of the best talent available, Avid Everywhere provides new ProTools capabilities in the cloud enable connectivity and collaboration with remote team members in REAL-TIME or offline.

     - Never.no, a leader in Social TV technologies, showcased new products Story and Spots. While cloud-based Story was the "big story" with its ability to integrate real-time posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine into live broadcasts (think chat shows or talent contests), I found Spot to be quite interesting. Social Spots provides the audience with the ability to submit its pictures to be inserted into a pre-defined advertising spot. What may have been a anonymous ad now becomes immediate and relatable due to the real-time insertion of real people.

     - Decentrix, provider of Media Business Intelligence Solutions, introduced programmatic ad buying for broadcasters. Their solution not only collects static data from traditional sources, but aggregates and correlates data from real-time sources to define the true value of ad inventory.

     - AMD's FirePro workstation graphics cards provide performance enabling creative talent to develop and edit 4K content without typical latency concerns. Their technological focus on speed and responsiveness enables the next generation of ultra-high speed visualization environments.

These solutions impact the technology and business of broadcast. They improve operational efficiency of workflows. They invite greater audience engagement through audience participation or enhanced content development. They allow broadcasters to identify opportunities to capitalize upon their own assets. Isn't this what any business desires?

The focus on real-time is the result of the world we now live in where immediate access to information is the norm. The adoption of smartphones and the availability of content via 4G LTE networks has influenced our psyche. As a result, our expectations in the workplace or at home are for solutions that support our need for instant gratification. As an industry whose fortunes are intricately dependent on its audience, the ability to provide real-time content, whatever form it takes (news, advertising, engagement, dialogue, etc.) will continue to influence the creation and advancement of enabling solutions. I expect the discussion around real-time to become as dominant as those around cloud and big data.

What's your perspective?



What's Trending at NAB2014?

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 07, 2014

I'm en route to NAB 2014 in Las Vegas. Since I'm not a vendor I can enjoy a less frenetic NAB experience.  For the uninitiated, The National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas is "Where Content Comes to Live" - to borrow their tag line. Anyone involved in the creation, management, monetization, distribution and consumption of professional content attends. It's a LOUD, BRIGHT industry event. It's also an opportunity to understand the nuts and bolts behind the content that we enjoy at the movies, on broadcast or cable TV, or on the Internet (e.g., Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others).

While the broadcast industry still utilizes a lot of proprietary solutions to capture, produce and manage content, it is increasingly adopting IT solutions.  As an IT gal, given my past history at Hewlett-Packard, I'm always interested in seeing how the big IT trends impact this industry. As I arrive in Las Vegas, I know there will be a lot of discussion about 4K or UltraHD content. This is an industry specific conversation that impacts the consumer marketplace in the shape of TVs, the telecom industry due to bandwidth required for distribution and the IT industry due to demands on server and storage products. But, 4K is hot topic unique to this industry.

What about Big Data? What about Cloud? What about Social Media? Yes, they all impact this industry and are increasingly shaping the future of this industry. 

  1. Media companies are investing in platforms to gain greater insight into audience desires. Why? To create the content that will attract an audience that attracts advertisers. 
  2. Cloud solutions are evolving for live production as well as post-production. Why? To provide greater flexibility, manage operational costs and improve time to market. 
  3. Social and Second Screen solutions are integrated into existing platforms and workflows. Why? To increase audience engagement and optimize the consumer experience…and create an incremental advertising revenue stream.
I'm interested to see how solutions i've seen in the past have continued to evolve (e.g., Never.no, Forbidden Technologies, Aframe). I'm curious to see the rebranding of several broadcast stalwarts (e.g., Harris/Imagine Communications, Grass Valley/Miranda). I'm looking forward to uncovering new solutions related to advertising, licensing and rights management as will as multi-channel content management & distribution. I'm happy to see former colleagues and meet new ones. 

It's NAB 2014!

What's your perspective?



Big Data Uncovering Audience

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 24, 2014

When thinking about big data, it's easy to get lost in the statistics and forget that this data actually represents people. It is an amalgamation of demographics, sentiment, issues, and interests. Big data is the combination of structured data captured by systems and unstructured data found online. When all this data is aggregated and analyzed, the goal is to gain a better understanding of customers, collectively or individually. Is it any wonder that the media & entertainment industry is hungry for data?

The symbiotic relationship that exists across the media & entertainment industry reflects the interdependencies each segment has on the other. Broadcasting cannot exist with advertising. Advertising cannot exist with broadcast or publishing. Studios and their theme parks reinforce key brands. All of them are focused on audience, which means they need data - and lots of it. Using TV as the example to prove the point, the underlying value of the TV audience is to enhance the value of ad inventory. In fact, the advertising industry's investment in big data is significant.

GroupM, part of WPP, announced the creation of a new unit to focus on data driven audience buying. They want to achieve sophisticated audience targeting by analyzing the highly granular data that is now available about what the TV audience is doing on and off TV. audience behavior on screens other than the TV now provides greater insight into audience sentiment and needs.  In addition, WPP has a pan-company practice called the Data Alliance that is responsible for helping brands and their agency partners connect diverse information sources.

However, big data is not just about audience as related to TV and advertising. Shazam, the mobile app that identifies the music and media playing around you, is using the data about what songs or media users upload, correlating that data with critics reviews (positive or negative) to make predictions about which artists are up and coming or what styles of music are appealing to consumers. The music industry is acknowledging the power of big data with three recent announcements that reflect the desire of the music labels to identify future artists - and subsequently new revenue.

Other participants in the media industry such as cable networks, satellite operators, communication service providers, publishing firms collect and analyze data to:

  • Improve media business insight into subscriber/viewer behaviors and preferences
  • Increase subscriber/viewer acquisition and loyalty
  • Exploit revenue opportunities across multiple distribution channels
  • Improve management of royalties, copyrights and content security
The bottom line is that big data, for media, is all about uncovering the audience. Investing in ongoing, deeper insight into audience behavior is critical to defining new revenue models and continued success. Without these revenue streams, the industry cannot continue to invest to meet the demands of its audience. It's a bit of a catch-22, but there is obvious commitment, from all segments across the industry, in collecting big data, applying relevant analytics and acting upon resulting business intelligence to influence content development, marketing, scheduling and distribution. And it all starts with the audience.

What's your perspective?



Adopting Disruptive Technology? Manage Expectations!

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 17, 2014

In a world where new technologies are emerging every day, there is now an expectation for immediate success. However, that is simply not realistic. Innovators of the past benefited from the lack of social networks sharing speculation, much less leaking technical specifications, as to the purpose, benefit or proposed business model for new products or services. Today, the stock market turns on a dime if Twitter usage is not as hoped. One of the biggest challenges for management, sales and customer service, is managing expectations.'

The same is true when adopting new technologies or using new solutions. As I've attended conferences addressing the benefits, adoption and use of social media, cloud services and big data there is one common theme - manage expectations. This is a two way street. Both providers and adopters of these services must manage expectations as there are many examples of solution deployments that disappoint. In some cases it is the inability to translate numbers of followers into tangible leads, and subsequently revenue. In other situation its the failure to clearly understand new processes required to optimize a SaaS (software-as-a-service) offering.

As with the creation of any strategy or adoption of tactics, well defined desired outcomes are a critical part of success. When adoption social media, organizations often forget that this can be a multi-stage process. The Altimeter Group has been at the forefront in providing insight on business use of social media, providing a common sense framework for adopting, incorporating and formalizing social media into existing processes. Their reports, such as The State of Social Business 2013, helps businesses set realistic goals, identify required training or process improvements, and yes, manage expectations.

I listened to broadcasters, at the recent Broadcast & Video Exposition in London,  talk about their adoption of social media. In every case they talked about trial and error in their use social media. They spoke about how social networks such as Twitter had changed the nature of broadcast by becoming the "channel" for breaking news. As a result, networks now use Twitter to break news in real time. Their tweets direct followers to their online or scheduled broadcasts for more detailed information. At the same time their online destinations and live broadcasts invite viewers to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. They also utilize the social networks to raise awareness of special programs or ongoing series. 

Every content or social media strategist emphasizes the "trial and error" nature of social media, not in terms of actually using the networks, but in determining the content that will drive engagement. While data can be collected to identify key topics of interest to an audience, the manner in which those topics are discussed often influences the level of engagement. Understanding that the use of social media is an evolution not a miracle cure is critical to managing expectations. Understanding that social media is part of a greater content strategy is critical to managing expectations.  Understanding that policy and training will help employees understand how and when to use social media is critical to managing expectations. Get it? 

Whether you are in the broadcast & media, financial services, manufacturing, high tech, pharmaceutical or other industry, you must consider the impact of ANY new solute. Whether it is social media, cloud, big data analytics or other disrupting solutions consider how the technology will impact people and process. Share proposed goals, benefits, concerns, training and anticipated changes.  In short - manage expectations! Success will come more easily!

What's your perspective?



Look to the Clouds if Seeking Flexibility

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 10, 2014

The debate regarding the benefits or pitfalls of cloud solutions in the media & entertainment industry continues to evolve as businesses throughout the industry test the increasing variety of options available to them. From solutions to offload CPU intensive elements of broadcast workflows, review dailies or manage rights and contracts for distribution of content across multiple platforms, there is a solution. They come from enterprise technology companies adapting their platforms to the needs of their media clients and from privately held businesses who create solutions to address a specific need in the market. Their solutions exist for just that reason - a need in the market.

As with other industries, the media & entertainment industry is under pressure to improve operational efficiency. In short, this is code for doing more with less. Content producers, be they Hollywood studios, ad agencies or broadcasters, must still create original content. This process requires the production of content which ultimately results in dailies, that must be reviewed by the director and other decision makers. The cloud improves the efficiency of reviewing the dailies by allowing them to be shared via services such as box.net rather than physical delivery of a DVD. As long as their is sufficient network connectivity on both ends, the key benefits are the saving of time and effort, thus allowing the post-production process to move forward more quickly. And, as long as the cost of connectivity does not surpass the cost of physical express delivery, this scenario is cost effective.

But, content production is about more than storytelling, it is about the management of the contracts and rights to monetize and distribute content. The area of business management is one that is ripe for cloud solutions. Functions such as finance, reporting, rights & royalties, program planning, scheduling and CRM are critical to the success of media companies. However, these functions often exist in organizational silos with disparate systems supporting their specific needs. As business models become more complex, so do the requirements for the functionality of these systems. While in-house solutions have been available for years, new or enhanced functionality is required. All media companies are seeking solutions to break down silos, integrate systems and simplify access to and management of media assets. 

They are seeking workflows that allow talent to access systems from wherever they are located. They seek solutes that simplify the distribution and monetization of content through a wide range of channels to and even wider range of devices. They demand solutions to manage complex rights and licenses. The business of media has become increasingly multifaceted as content owners seek greater insight about their audiences, while striving to increase global reach for their content. Cloud based solutions provide operational flexibility and efficiency through their easy deployment software functionality while virtualizing hardware functionality. Software to manage contracts, licenses, rights, schedules, avails, assets, data, marketing, etc. is now accessible via the cloud. Imagine enabling your sales teams to access relevant data to impress clients, placing orders and validating schedules, all in real time. Add in the ability to gather, analyze and share audience feedback, based on integrations with leading ratings and social media measurement firms, and a media company is not only pleasing its consumers, it's fulfilling the needs of its advertisers.

The business of creating and monetizing content has changed dramatically. The cloud is the enabler for overcoming many of the challenges created by prior technological limitations which created organization silos and cumbersome workflows.

What's your perspective?



Don't Discount the Importance of Connectivity

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

For the past several years telecommunications providers have expressed concern about being perceived as "just a pipe" that provides no value beyond being a conduit for internet access. They have considered, created and offered value-added services that would differentiate their services, beyond mere bandwidth, to consumers and enterprise. But the bottom line is that that connectivity is increasing valuable.

Let's look at just a few recent announcements.  First and perhaps most public, is the Comcast - Netflix Agreement, whereby Netflix is paying a fee to Comcast to ensure reliable delivery of their content to consumers. Given the apparently impending death of net neutrality, recent streaming quality concerns and the continued success of the Netflix series, House of Cards, Netflix struck a deal focused on last mile delivery of the content to consumers. We, the consumer, demand access and uninterrupted consumption without understanding or thinking about how that content is transmitted across internet backbone and local internet service provider (ISP) networks. Connectivity is taken for granted and we are frustrated when there are issues. Netflix struck a deal with a variety of implications, but one of which was ensuring connectivity for its consumers.

Now, consider the announcement out of Mobile World Congress last week regarding Vodafone's testing, in Germany, of live LTE Broadcast technology from Ericsson, Samsung & Qualcomm. "LTE Broadcast can stream popular content demanded by multiple subscribers to multiple devices at the same time. A more efficient use of network capacity than transferring multiple data streams separately, it puts no additional load on the network, enabling smartphone users in device-dense locations to watch TV channels in high-quality."(WSJ) As we become an increasingly mobile society, we expect connectivity to watch ANY content on our smartphones and/or tablets. Studies from industry watchers such as ComScore, Nielsen, Gartner and others consistently point to the increased consumption of content on our mobile devices. Network providers and content owners are responding to that anticipated demand in pursuing and testing services to provide the necessary connectivity.

And finally, behind the scenes, content producers are evaluating cloud services to capture, manage and distribute content. For example, post-production houses who take raw content and manipulate it into the finished product we see on screen, are using cloud based workflow solutions to ingest, render, edit, review and distribute content. The critical bottleneck is often connectivity. While the post house may contract for substantial bandwidth to ensure its receipt and upload of content. Editors and managers who must review and approve content may be in offsite locations with limited bandwidth availability. This impacts their ability to download, review and send comments or approvals. Again, bandwidth and connectivity are of paramount importance.

Let's not diminish the role of ISPs, rather let's recognize the valuable role they play as we increasingly demand access to video content in home and on our mobile devices.

What's your perspective?






Trust is Critical

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Trust. It is the most important aspect of any relationship. Be it a personal or business; B2C or B2B or B2B2C. The challenge for B2B businesses is that trust is impacted by many direct and indirect factors throughout the pre-sales, sales and post-sales process. While a sales person can establish a fantastic relationship with their client, a supply chain issue or poor customer service can quickly shift the nature of that relationship. Now, with business communicating and engaging with their customers through multiple channels and via different platforms, their are increasing opportunities to build or break trust.

As Satya Nadella, the newly named CEO of Microsoft, said yesterday in his webcast with customers and partners, "Mobile First, Cloud First".  These new business channels are a mandate, but  trust may be the single most important concern for customers utilizing these technologies. Although, this concern may not be stated explicitly. When analyzing cloud vs. on-premise solutions, the focus is often financial. The discussion revolves around technology, business need, business process, accessibility, reliability, scalability and security. The word trust is not used, but it is the underlying concern. At the core, can the SaaS, Iaas, or PaaS provider be trusted to protect data and guarantee performance.

Interestingly, it is services that we take for granted like email, social media or messaging that provide a context for trust. They all take place in the cloud. They enable communication, collaboration, immediacy - and we trust them. Sure, there are notable, publicly announced breaches. Yet, we access email and social networks from wherever we are. We trust that we can post and share updates. We trust that our business or personal email will find its way to the intended recipient. We quickly connect with friends and family without concern for some random stranger intruding.  

On a larger scale, social media has proven to be a source of great insight for companies. It provides them not only with a channel through which they can connect with their customers, it provides customers with a method for increasing visibility to their needs or concerns. When implemented with thought and care, corporate use of social media has allowed business to enhance their perceived trustworthiness. 

Businesses need to apply that same thought and care to their use of mobile and cloud. These technologies provide for 24x7 access to data and information by employees, partners and customers. This creates demand for the right content at the right time in the right format. The opportunity exists for for business to create deeper customer relationships and greater customer loyalty through the development of apps and services.  And, it's all based on trust.

What's your perspective?




The New Buzzword for 2014 - Context

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The goal for every business in 2014 will be to understand or provide context. What is context?  It is "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed". We've often heard of the news taking a celebrity or politician's statement "out of context". We know that this causes confusion,conflict and possibly alienation. When applied to business this can be deadly. The goal for 2014 is for companies to put their products into context for their customers.

How can they do this? Or, why aren't they doing this already? The focus on context has escalated thanks access to more data.  Yes, Big Data provides us with greater insight about the obvious and not so obvious needs of our customers.  How?  By tapping into the online, real-time conversations available thanks to Social Media. The challenge is figuring out what to do with all that data once we have it. The first step is establishing a goal as to how the data should be used. If we imagine that we want to sell a product into a specific vertical market. We may want to understand how our customers: 

     - would use the product or what problems the product may address

     - with what other products or solutions our product would integrate

     - market forces driving customer need for the product

     - financial factors 

     - individuals or business influencing the buyers decision making 

While the functionality of a product or the use of a service may be well defined, the perception from the customer's side may vary based on their business. For example, addressing the needs of storage solutions for media companies versus life science business requires putting the features of the storage solution into context. Both businesses require storage as they must retain high volumes of data. Both businesses collect, analyze and utilize stored data within a defined business workflow.  However the use of data that describes media assets or of data that impacts patient care is dramatically different. The context in how a storage company may position their solution for each industry must align with the needs of the customers within that industry.

We have been anticipating personalized products and services for years. With greater data sources (more on that in a future blog), improved analytical capabilities and increased focus on the customer (finally!), context is finally front and center. Marketers, product developers, entrepreneurs and customer service professionals must put their customers first.  Context is a two way street. For companies to succeed they must understand the context of customer need and then reflect that need in their communication and interaction with customers.

What's your perspective?



Hyper Real Time - the New Normal

Peggy Dau - Thursday, January 02, 2014

Remember the Starship Enterprise from the "Star Trek" series shifting into warp speed? The tech sector has arguably been benefitting from consumer and commercial desire access to information at warp speed since the rise of the Internet. Each technological development has been focused on access to, sharing of or management of information and data. Whether it is advancements in communication tools & devices, collaboration solutions,, data analysis or location based services, the goal is to increase and accelerate intelligence about customers, products, markets, industries and events.

As we embrace 2014 and reflect upon 2013, it's natural to consider what business needs will drive technology developments and which technology solutions will dominate the business landscape.  For me, the desire for delivery of information and content, in hyper-real-time, is the cornerstone for continued focus on data, social, mobility and cloud. Our desire for persistent connection, as evidenced by our intimate relationships with our smartphones, will drive development of enterprise apps designed to improve productivity, enhance CRM and simplify information access. These apps are only possible thanks to existing advancements in both cloud and mobile technology. 

Enterprise technology behemoths such as SAP, Oracle, IBM, Saleforce.com, Microsoft are all offering cloud solutions that will soon, if not already, be adapted for mobile access via smartphone. Social networks and start ups are already focused on the power of data, mobility and location. Sales reps, solution architects, consultants, media buyers, broadcast journalists, healthcare professionals, traders - they will all be accessing role and industry specific content for themselves and on behalf of their customers. They will place and track orders, access pricing, competitive data and product roadmaps, receive alerts, review and approve content…and more.  This will all be accomplished via smartphones and tablets as well as the continued expansion of 4G/LTE networks and free Wifi access to ensure connectivity wherever and whenever.

Whatever role you play in your organization, think about how you access, use and provide data. In 2014, get ready for increased expectations for hyper-real-time insight. Our desire for instantaneous gratification will continue to frustrate us, but it will also drive us to develop and adopt the tools that will become the new normal.

What's your perspective?



Big Data - Revealing the "WHY" for Media Companies

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Discussions about big data are everywhere. In fact, the data surrounding big data content validates the volume, velocity, variety and complexity of information about the topic. It is exactly these attributes (volume, velocity, variety and complexity) that brands are analyzing in order to fulfill their goals for engagement and interaction with customers. For media brands ranging from broadcast to studio to publishing to advertising, big data delivers informed insight about their content and its relevance to their audience.

The challenge for media companies is to analyze owned data, derived from internal sources such as subscriber, transactional, payables and other historical databases, in combination with real-time data found online through social networks, search engines and other online sources.  There is an endless volume of data available, revealing why an audience enjoys a program, article, video or why they engage and respond to an ad or marketing campaign. It is understanding the "why" that drives investment in big data capture and analytics platforms.

Today owned or structured data is voluminous, yet it only represents 20% of the customer data needed to make business decisions. It's the real-time, unstructured data that is the game changer. Accessing and analyzing consumer comments and actions, correlating actions to content, understanding sentiment - it is all available. Yet, real-time data requires real-time analytics if it is to be valuable. The benefit for media brands lies in their ability to use data to reinforce their trusted relationship with their audience. As these brands migrate from delivery of physical assets (e.g., magazines, newspapers, books, videos, CDs, etc.) to extending stories across multiple platforms in various formats for different devices, they must understand how the audience will consume their content. 

Today consumption may take the form of binge viewing or media snacking.  It is likely that the consumer will interact with or engage around the content, whether they are binging or snacking. It is the data related to audience consumption, engagement and interaction that uncovers "why" consumers take actions to pause, delete, click, share or search. The analysis of this data allows media brands to tailor their programming, marketing, storytelling, pricing, visualization and more. 

With competition for audience eyeballs growing thanks to growth of user-generated content, data driven content (e.g, Netflix House of Cards, Amazon's Alpha House), crowd-sourced content, media brands must understand the practical and emotional needs of their audience and then deliver the content that addresses those needs. Big data is the answer to the biggest question driving audience behavior - "Why?".

What's your perspective?




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