Drupalcon Keynote

gahrrrr… I LOVE it when someone gives you a kick-in-the-pants!

Karen McGrane

I gave a keynote at Drupalcon Portland, and here is the video, my slides, and my speaking notes, which I formatted using the convenient WYSIWYG toolbar at the top of my editing blob. My talk starts around minute 24 of the video.

I owe a lot of my success to Drupal. Let me be clear, I’ve  never installed Drupal, I don’t know my Drupal username, if I find myself on the command line it means something has gone terribly wrong. I’m not a Drupal developer. But understanding Drupal—how it thinks about content, how users interact with it—has deeply informed and inspired a lot of my thinking around the future of content. I wouldn’t be where I am today without this community. I’m not just saying this to flatter you. I’m really humbled and grateful and super excited to talk with you about the future of content today.

It’s impossible to talk about…

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Death by Numbers

I like to think that I am a well rounded marketeer; able to balance creativity, technology and analytics.  I take great joy in sliding seamlessly from the big idea to the metrics but I’ve had it up to here (finger slashing across my throat) with numbers.

I have come to believe that numbers are the enemy of any good marketing plan.  They suck the life blood out of creativity, are the bamboo shoots under the fingernails of originality and are the knife in the hand of the bored boogeyman lurking at the bottom of your basement stairs.

But wait, before you judge me for these comments, please understand – I said “numbers” –  not useful insights.  And this is where I get to the point: numbers in and of themselves are nothing.  The important thing is the RIGHT number.  The right numbers can paint a picture of your audience, the right numbers are the voice of your customer, the right numbers can spark a brilliant idea and solve a complex problem.


From interruption to integration: are we at scale yet?


I love change, chaos and disruption.  In my industry (media and marketing), disruption happens frequently (yay!).  A case in point being the change from single channel marketing to multi-channel  / omni-channel  marketing or whatever term you use to indicate that the marketing message is FIRST and the media/platform is viewed as secondary delivery tactics.

Since I love change, I am always on the look-out for areas in the media/marketing world in the process of change. And not just micro-changes, but also big, revolutionary, disruptive changes that indicate someone may go out of business if they don’t change.

To me, the litmus test for really disruptive change is: can this change become mainstream?  In my world “mainstream” means that all small businesses and part-time marketers can do it. Not ARE they doing it (adoption), but CAN they do it (capability).  The key indicator of capability is the disruptive ideas ability to scale, since there are a large volume of small businesses.

Here is an example of how social marketing at scale lead the way for disruption:

  • Social platforms launch
  • A couple of small companies started using social for marketing (e.g., food trucks and twitter).  Guerrilla marketing, couldn’t scale.
  • The big companies with the big budgets and high tolerance for risk began the process of standardizing social marketing.  Nike was a real leader in this area.  Custom marketing + advertising, couldn’t scale.
  • A few years ago facebook and twitter introduced self-serve ad systems, and social marketing + advertising has now become do-able for small businesses.  Technology = scale.

From my perspective the next disruption on the horizon for the advertising and media industry is integrated advertising.  In this instance, integrated doesn’t mean a single message across all platforms, rather it means that the advertising is PART-OF or incorporated INTO the story.  Traditionally, advertising has been an interruption of the consumer experience:

  • The TV show is stopped so the ad can play
  • The magazine article is continued on another page to make room for a page of advertising
  • The web-content is reduced to 2/3 of the page in order to make room for ads in the surrounding areas.

In all instances the content (the user intent) is interrupted in order to accommodate the advertiser or sponsors message.  But this concept is changing. Advertising is no longer an interruption of the story, but is actually integrated into the story.  Here are some examples:

  • Yahoo’s Get The Look (see the photo inset). On yahoo!, when I scroll through photos of celebs at a red carpet event, I can roll over the photo and see a promotion for a similar product.  I see it, I like it, I click it, I buy it.  Moving from interruption to integration.
  • Branded Content or Branded Entertainment.  Product placement has existed in the entertainment industry for decades, Branded Content is just the next evolutionary step.  If you haven’t see it yet, then you have to see AT&T’s Daybreak as an example of what this really looks like.
  • Content Marketing.  Here, the brand creates the content as part of the over-all business value proposition.   The popularity of Sponsored Content on linked-in, facebook and yahoo supports this point.
  • Second-screens and Internet TV adds a whole other dimension of integration with the concept of t-commerce.  And my list could go on…

However, this raises the question: is integrated advertising just a bubble or is this a true disruption of the advertising system?  And to answer this question I will apply my test for disruption:  is it starting to scale?  Me thinks so, and here is why:

  • In my previous Product role, we introduced video production services to small businesses, and this business is still going strong.  Last time I checked we had created over 40,000 small business videos.  Video content at scale.
  • Last week at the Content Marketing World Conference I met the CEO of crowdsource.com.  They connect content creators with small businesses via an online interface.  Content at scale.

I think there are a few more pieces that need to be developed before I can put a check in the “done” box, but it looks to me like integrated advertising is beginning to scale, which means disruption is just around the corner.


Data Management in the Magical World of Transmedia


I just read a great article on the challenges of data management for Transmedia.  The articled touched on the need to track both for story continuity and for ongoing story development and optimization.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

” While transmedia is a great avenue for entertainment franchises looking to capitalize on new technology, content creators will need to take inventory on how they are keeping the generated content in synch across multiple platforms. Not only does the content created by developers need to be effectively managed, but these types of projects also produce large sets of consumer data.  With the expectation of active participants, content creators need to address subscription management and location challenges to deliver a more seamless user experience.[transmediacoalition.com].

Innovation Methods Mapping

See on Scoop.ittransmedia marketing: storytelling for business, art and education

This is a preview version of the Innovation Methods Mapping Book. Copyright OPEN Innovation Consortium & Humantific. This book will soon be published.

Tina Stock‘s insight:

I have been a fan of triz for many years, so I’m excited to find an overview and analysis of multiple innovation techniques under a single umbrella.  Definitely worth the time.


And – I gotta say – I LOVE the facility of this e-book.  From a market-eer perspective, it has a coolness factor that is worthy of mention.


Hmmmmm – good content AND engaging delivery.  Sounds like marketing nirvana to me.



See on issuu.com

Am I Still Watching TV When the Show is on my iPad?

Last week, I was sitting in my chair watching Season 1 of “The Killing” on my iPad.

My husband asked  “what ya doin’?” as he walked past the-killing-season-2-finale.jpgme.  When I responded “watching TV”, it dawned on me how ludicrous the response was – but how typical.  Most people (myself included) when asked “what ya doin” respond with “going to a movie, watching TV, reading a book, surfing YouTube”.  We use the technology or platform to describe the content we are consuming.

Similar to the days when we stopped calling automobiles “horse drawn carriages”, we are in the process of transcribing new ways of defining content without our historic, platform based context.  Which leads to the question – how will we describe content consumption when screens are ubiquitous?  Two ways I currently see this evolving are:

1) Branded content. Instead of naming the platform we name the content, as in “I’m watching The Killing” or “I’m reading The Help”

2) Re-purposing existing platform terms.  I already see this on Amazon: new movies available for purchase or rent are called “movies”, while movies that have devolved into the “Prime” membership are called “videos”.

3) New terms.  I know they are out there, but I haven’t seen them all: webisodes, v-blogs, web tv…

Personally – I hope we go to branded content, since this sparks lots of conversation and promotes the story, not the platform.

What do you think?

What it takes to be media agnostic

One of the core tenants of Transmedia Marketing is the development of a concept/story that is designed to be consumed across multiple media.  What I’ve come to realize is that there still seems to be some confusion between “media” and “platforms”.

> Some of this confusion is a result of industry evolution:  traditional media companies were often defined by the platform they used (newspapers delivered news via paper, television companies delivered entertainment via television, etc…) while newer media companies are an amalgamation of multiple platforms and/or media i.e., Google with YouTube

Here is my attempt to define the difference and why the difference matters.

1) “Media” refers to the consumer intent: watch a movie, read a story, play a game, share/contribute, learn the news, etc…

2) “Platform” refers to the manner in which the media is consumed: consumers can watch movies on their television, iphone or in a movie theater.

If we design a story for PLATFORMS, then we run the risk of creating a very mono-dimensional story, and getting lost in technical fads and operational processes.

>  YES, telling a story in a movie theater requires very different specs and technical considerations than the same story told via hulu, but in both instances, the consumer intent is to watch a movie.

>  YES, the interface on a news company’s web site should be different than the interface on a mobile site, but whether on web or mobile the consumer intent is still the same – learn the news.

If we design a story FIRST for different media THEN for different platforms we have the opportunity to create truly engaging, interactive and viral stories.



Create, Collaborate and Critique: Stages of Development

For the last ten years I’ve been saying: everyone can critique, but few can create.

This was a useful mantra for helping my product development teams get through the mire and pain of “executive feedback” which usually includes tons of opinions but teaspoonfuls of useful input.  Now I’m  in a position of developing content vs products, but my mantra remained the same.

However, I recently realized that I was skipping a step: collaboration.    I think my “skip” was actually a Freudian slip – I knew it existed, and I practiced it, but I sublimated this step into my sub-conscience because it is a grey area that exists between the seed of creation and the pruning of critique and because it is so difficult to define. Here are the stages of development that I am now using:

Creation is a singular activity.  Collaboration is a small group activity. Critique is for the masses.

  • When I say “creation is singular” I don’t mean only individuals can create (although there is a body of thought that supports this position), rather I mean “singular vision”.  Creation is both fragile and dynamic.  Singular vision during the creative stage allows the idea to coalesce, whereas too much friction can lead to an implosion.  Creation occurs best alone or with like-minded people.
  • Collaboration requires high levels of trust and selective diversity.  Some of my best experiences with collaboration have occurred with people who came to a similar conclusion from a different angle.  Our vision was the same, but HOW we reached it was very different, and it is in those differences that we found the opportunities for refinement.  Too much diversity during the early stages is usually more dilutive vs additive (and yes, I made up the word dilutive, but I really like it – so it stays.)
  • Critiquing is the pruning shear, large grit sandpaper, chisel and  hammer.  It shapes the idea into something more useful and fruitful than an idea left in the hothouse of like-mindedness, but if introduced too early in the process it can kill the idea.

My litmus test for “truth” is: does this principle apply to multiple areas?  if so, then it is a principle vs a preference.  Fortunately for me, I see the principles of creation, collaboration and critiquing in both nature (plant a seed – water and fertilize during development – prune when it hits a level of maturity) and family (2 people make the child, a family raises the child, the world shapes the child.  Exposing a child too early to the public forum of criticism may not kill the child – but often times seriously messes them up.)

In transmedia marketing, a key step is the inclusion of your audience into the creative process.  When should they be added? I think fans are added during collaboration, but the masses during critique.  The challenge here is; where are your fans (e.g. like minded people) and what is an efficient method of collaborating?  Things to be considered in a future post.

What do you think?  Am I stretching a preference into a principle or is this really a good way to view the development process?  Critiques are now welcome 🙂