My quick thoughts on NAB2011

My three-day trip to the NAB Show this week in Las Vegas was a tiring one. My feet and back won’t forgive me for going through all the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. So, what did my Motrin-craving wandering among those booths of visual overload make me think?

Weather is a bright biz. There were quite a few large and small weather services companies. Even NOAA was there. It seems like consumers are eager to consume all the real-time weather-related information out there, whether (woo, gotta watch my spelling!) via TV, web or mobile.

Hardware is still the king at NAB. You’d think that as the Generations X, Y, and Z (yes, Z, those born between 1992 and 2000) embrace more and more web-related content, these broadcasting-related companies would make the move. But not quite. NAB2011 was still about these slick and serious-looking cameras, camcorders, server boxes with rows of blinking lights and gold-plated cables, editing suites with zillion buttons, satellite dishes, and yeah, neck massage gadgets.

3D was “D”efinitely IT. There were 3D cameras, monitors, conversion systems, content and more. It felt like at every corner, you’d see some booth that had “3D” on its signage. Wow, I thought I had headaches only at the 3D theaters, but NAB2011 taught me otherwise.

Interactive streaming. What’s that? I found it profoundly interesting that whenever I mentioned interactive streaming to these broadcasting biz folks, many were just unaware of how “powerful” it is for people to “interact” with web and mobile content, eh hem, unlike on-air one-way content. Streaming? Yes, they knew. But interactive streaming? Not exactly.

All in all, it was an impressive display of technology. But I felt that NAB2011 was about “more new ways of doing the old things”. Broadcasting in its most general sense is experiencing a dramatic paradigm shift from on-air to web and mobile, but you wouldn’t know it by being at NAB2011.

I think it’s time for an “interactive revolution” at NAB. Wanna be the “bad boys” of NAB next year?

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Real-time marketing: As we know it.

WHAT IS REAL-TIME MARKETING?

Real-time marketing is all about event-driven marketing where your consumers get to interact with your brand, products and/or services in a creative and interactive way in real-time via web. Recently Mashable.com mentioned several high profile real-time marketing events – Mitsubishi Outlander Live Drive, Toyota Prius Projects and Kraft Mac & Cheese Tweet TV ads – and dealt with the potential impact of this newest marketing tool.

Limited only by your imagination, real-time marketing can take on any shape and size to suit your business. The bottom line is that it is meant to be a buzz-generating web event that your consumers would be interested in “virtually participating” at a given time and date. To engage them, it needs to be fun and creative. It also needs to be perfectly integrated to various social media platforms to generate online and mobile buzz.

It usually has video streaming elements and interactive elements such as creative chats, cam selections, remote controls, etc., all happening in real-time.

WHY REAL-TIME MARKETING?

It’s live. There’s something about being in the middle of something live, and real-time marketing brings your consumers to the event up close and personal via web, so wherever they are, they can participate and be a part of your event via computers, tablets and smartphones. Because it happens at a scheduled time, there is also an element of anticipation that you can take advantage of building pre-event buzz.

It’s interactive. The proliferation of social media has shifted the paradigm of the relationship between brands and consumers. It’s no longer a one-way communication, or shall we say enticement, through traditional advertising, but a two-way interaction. Moreover, real-time marketing is about brand experience, rather than simply told about your brand, a real-time marketing event enables your consumers to experience your brand firsthand virtually.

It’s creative. You can do so much more with real-time marketing than traditional advertising, so you can get really creative in providing your consumers a memorable web experience.

HOW TO DO REAL-TIME MARKETING?

First, you would need a great idea! Look at your product/service and see how creatively you can demonstrate its USPs (Unique Selling Points) through a fun and memorable event. At this ideation stage, you shouldn’t worry about the technicalities involved. You just should come up with the best idea possible and let a company like Influxis, that provides interactive media server hosting and developer support, help you fine tune your idea into reality.

Usually, you would need some kind of live streaming element to stream the entire event. You may want a number of camera-setups to capture various aspects of the event, and you can let your consumers to control what they want to watch.

The interactive elements involved will entirely depend on your idea, such as Facebook or Twitter chat, mechanical devices with electronic servos to connect with interactive media servers for “live-control” and other interactive web applications.

As difficult as it sounds, when all these elements come together, voila! You have a kick-ass real-time marketing!

Now, just to get you thinking about real-time marketing, here are some of the recent ones that we, at Influxis, were fortunate to be a part of:

Mitsubishi Outlander Live Drive: It was a first-ever event where web users were able to remote control a real Outlander SUV via the Internet, using the keyboard!

Saatchi & Saatchi LA Nog Pong: It was a unique holiday season game where web users were able to remote control a ping pong machine via the Internet to try to sink ping pong balls into festive glasses filled with, what else, egg nog!

PlayStation Little Big Planet 2 So Many Games One Little Big World Record!: It was a 3-day game play marathon where web users were able to control various cameras to watch players play for Guinness world records!

Toyota Prius Projects: It was a 2-day record-setting event where participants attempted to set sometimes whimsical records involving the Prius hybrid vehicles!

Real-time marketing as we know it…works!

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Southwest’s grounding of its 79 Boeing 737-300s is a well-grounded move.

I took my mother-in-law to the Tucson International Airport this morning for her flight out to Los Angeles. We soon discovered that all Southwest flights from Tucson were cancelled at that moment. I quickly browsed on my BlackBerry and learned that Southwest had grounded 79 of its Boeing 737-300 fleet to inspect for their airworthiness after their yesterday’s emergency landing in Yuma, Arizona.

Soon, the ticketing booth became a Southwest employees’ nightmare. A long line quickly formed inside the terminal, and people were, obviously, confused and unhappy. I had to wait in line for about 30 minutes to change the flight for my mother-in-law.

On the “ground-level” where I was at, things didn’t look good for Southwest. But when I thought about it, they were doing the right thing. They were moving rather quickly to ensure the safety of their operations for their customers and employees. Now, I heard that their move to ground these many of those colorful blue-and-orange planes caused about 300 flights to cancel, which of course made a lot of people upset. But it made an impression to millions of other people who would probably fly Southwest in the future that they are committed to something larger, more important, than a day of flight schedule nightmare.

So, although I was one of those who were directly impacted by Southwest’s decision today, I give kudos to their “well-grounded” move.

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Real-time marketing is the buzzword.

Although this will be a short post, I had to get it out. I’ve been thinking a lot about real-time marketing lately because it’s becoming clearer and clearer that what differentiates my passion called Influxis IS real-time marketing. There are many streaming companies out there, but we are the super nerds known among developers and ad agencies alike who can transform a web event into one heck of fun and engaging interactive extravaganza!

In my next post, I look forward to getting into it and sharing some case studies of real-time marketing that we’ve recently been involved with. You may have heard of some of these brands.

Real-time marketing is indeed the new buzzword of digital marketing because it sure is buzzing my brain with excitement!

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Is the quality of your online video delivery on a par with your brand quality?

Streaming Media Magazine recently had an article titled “Social Media Strategies: Video Is the Killer App” by Jose Castillo (read the full article here: http://bit.ly/gacDWJ). In it, Mr. C provides three mythbusters: One, we need a viral video! Two, if we just put all our existing video online, people will watch that! Three, people want to hear about us and our products! He subsequently elaborates on these points and concludes that online video is indeed effective in engaging the consumers.

Now, what he seems to take for granted in this article is the QUALITY of video streaming. You can have the most sound marketing strategy for your online video, but all the back-end stuff such as your media server, its hosting network, etc. needs to work flawlessly to realize the desired result from your consumers. Not just the quality of your video content, but is the quality of your video content DELIVERY on a par with your brand quality? You can shoot a 1080p HD video on one of those super expensive camcorders that George Lucas would use, but if you are delivering it online as a choppy 360p standard video streaming where your consumers are seeing that dreaded “buffering wheel” spinning perpetually, your hard work (and money!) is for naught!

So, when you are ready to deploy a web and/or mobile video streaming campaign, be sure to have all your ducks in a row as far as the streaming capabilities are concerned.

As we marketers always say, it’s all about perception! A good content delivered greatly is perceived better than a great content delivered poorly!

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Kudos to Influxis

I just learned last night that we, as in Influxis, was chosen as one of the five Hot Companies to Watch by Streaming Media, a leading publication for the, what else, streaming media industry and community. We appreciate their kudos to what we’re always trying to do, providing the best possible interactive streaming solutions that make sense!

You can check out the article right here: http://bit.ly/fzEI5P

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Video streaming in the midst of disasters…a necessary evil?

Watching and listening to the gasps of those at the edge of the Japanese tsunami through video streaming was heart wrenching. It’s so unlike those black-and-white photos that we used to see on daily newspapers. It’s so much “closer” and more emotional, and immediate. Just a few hours – in some cases, just a few minutes – after the disaster struck Japan, the whole world was “virtually transported” to the coastlines of Japan where the tsunami waves mercilessly wiped out entire villages. We were right there, with those terrible crashing noises and all. In one sense, I’m grateful to live in an age where we’re so “connected”. Yet there’s something overwhelming about it as well. Video streaming in the midst of disasters like this is resulting in us two conflicting emotions, a burning desire to help or an apathy fueled by news – unfortunately, mostly disasters – overload. A human heart is a mysterious thing.

Photo by Associated Press

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