Gamification or rewards: what do movie companion apps really offer?

13 Jun

In the past couple of weeks, a plethora of movie companion apps have been released, both for big screen and DVD releases.  But unlike third party applications, many of these applications don’t offer rewards.  Mainly, theses apps have a gamification aspect to them to get users involved and interested in the upcoming movie (or DVD) release.

But what exactly do these ‘gamification’ apps offer?

epicApps like “Fast and Furious 6” and “Epic”, which both came out prior to their big screen debut, are essentially gamified apps, that really have no rewards to them.

These apps, however, do let you become part of the movie experience.

The Epic app allows for you to build and protect the forest, like Queen Tara does.  You also train and fortify your army of Leafmen, and battle against the Boggans, as they do in the movie.  But in essence, the app is a game, and a game that is aimed towards those who will most likely go and see the movie.  There are some in-app purchases, and without offering any kind of reward, what is the point of buying something virtual?The further along you get in the game, the harder it is to beat your opponents.  You can also play against other players in the game center, or “other kingdoms” as its called in the app.  Along with increased difficulty is the amount of time it takes to upgrade items in the forest.  To harvest certain ingredients for potions or upgrade to a higher level, it can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes or more.

Like Epic, the Fast and Furious 6 app tells a bit of a story.  You interact with well known characters from the movie, like Roman and Tej.  The app also brings in elements from previous movies – like Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.  Within the app, you are expected to make your car drift in certain spots, as the characters did in the movie.  You earn points for shifting gears perfectly, or having a perfect launch.  You can also upgrade your car, specialize it, and more.  However, to unlock the full potential of the application, you have to buy gas for your car with in-app purchases (or wait for the app to refuel on its own).  That makes me want to see the movie even less than I already did.

But what really has me questioning these most recent movie companion apps is the Man of Steel app.  In a brilliant marketing move, the movie partnered with Kellogg to produce the app.  In order to “unlock” all of Superman’s powers – flight, strength, and heat vision – you have to find the Kellogg products with the QR codes on the back (Townhouse crackers, Poptarts, and others) and scan them.  Only then can you play with Superman’s powers.  Here is an example of the Man of Steel app: http://youtu.be/2owMLNpab84.  Besides the ability to have some fun with Superman’s powers and share them with your friends, the app doesn’t quite offer much.  I see it having a very short life cycle.

man of steel

Unlike Viggle, GetGlue, and other rewards apps, I have yet to see any other benefit to many of these apps other than engagement.  If engagement is the point, then aces, they have done their job.  Other than that, I see no long term strategy to keep users engaged with the applications.  Perhaps gamification isn’t the answer to big screen debut companion applications.

Advertisements

The rise of movie companion applications

29 May

I’m not quite sure when movie companion apps started to appear, but recently, with the rise in popularity of TV companion and third-party applications, they have become more of a “necessity” when releasing a blockbuster movie it seems. The recent releases of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Smurfs, and Dark Knight Rises have all had movie apps accompany them, in an effort to drive more people to the theaters.

My question is: how much traction are these apps gaining with the general public? Early adopters, like myself, and die hard movie fans would jump on these like spots on a dog.  However, I don’t see the “average” smartphone user gravitating towards these apps – they might not even know they exist.

epicIn the past six months, eleven movies have been released with companion applications.  About half of those movies have been released in the past month and a half (or will be released this weekend), including Epic, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Iron Man 3.  As an avid second-screen and social tv junkie, I didn’t know about half of these applications (and I only saw two of the eleven movies).  If that’s true of myself, what does that say of the general public or late adopters of newer technology?

photo (1)

My sticker from checking into Star Trek Into Darkness opening weekend

In the iTunes store, it’s not that easy to find movie companion applications. Unless you know what you are looking for, or if the app is the featured application on the home screen, I doubt you would even know the app exists.  As a marketing strategy, it doesn’t make much sense to make people work to find your application.  If you know that there is a large audience on a second screen application like GetGlue, why not advertise there? You know people are going to check in when they go see the movie so they get the sticker.

Over half of cell phone owners in the US own a smartphone, according to a 2012 Nielsen study. Seeing as now it’s midway through 2013, I’m sure it’s more than 60% by now.  That being said, the App Store recently passed 50 billion app downloads – including apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod.  In my brief research, I noticed that a few of the movie companion apps that came out in the past few months were iPad only. I don’t know the percentage of people that have iPads, but I can guess that it is much less than the percentage of people that have smartphones, or even iPhones – but more than any other tablet.  (I did look at apps available on droid – not all are available for both platforms).

Some new movie app releases are intended to drive hype for box office hits, while other movie companion apps are released in conjunction with DVD releases to drive in home purchases.  If the purpose is to get the public excited about a movie or DVD release, and willing to pay the $10-$12 to see the movie in theaters (or the $20-$25 for a DVD or Blu-ray release), maybe having a more thought out marketing strategy would help.

I’m looking forward to seeing what upcoming movies will be coming out with companion apps.  I can already tell you that both Man of Steel and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire both have companion apps.  Hopefully, with the proliferation of movie apps, they will grow in popularity, like social TV apps did eventually.  Only time will tell.

What is the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie app like?

17 May

Over the past couple months, I’ve become familiar with third party TV and movie apps, like GetGlue and Viggle, but with the upcoming release of Star Trek, I wanted to learn more about movie companion applications.  I took some time to get to know the new app.

home screen

The Star Trek Into Darkness movie app, as a way to promote the upcoming release of the movie, gets users to interact with the Star Trek Facebook page, as well as the original Star Trek TV episodes.   It is essentially a virtual scavenger hunt, dragging you around the web to uncover exclusives and behind-the-scenes content.  Every time you interact with the application – scan a photo, listen for audio and more – you earn points, which brings you higher up in rank.  The rank system is exactly like it is in Star Trek: New Recruit, Cadet, Crewman, and so on.  Additionally, you can take quizzes and answer poll questions to test your knowledge of Star Trek history and Starfleet rules and regulations, which also gets you points.  You do have the ability to “skip” a mission, if you are unable to complete it, or like me, you’ve spent too much time searching for a video that you just can’t find.

star trek news

The app also forces you to interact with the 2009 movie, so if you hadn’t planned on re-watching it before going to see Into Darkness, this is a good excuse.

The app also streams news and exclusives to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening behind the scenes.  Or it says it does.  In reality, the “news” button just shows short links to sponsors and partners of the app and the movie, like Hulu Plus and Mazda (although you can get a free month of Hulu Plus through the app if you don’t already subscribe).

After moving up a few ranks, you start to earn rewards.  So far, I’ve made it to Captain, I’ve earned rewards such as exclusive behind the scenes photos from Star Trek IV, videos from the actors of Into Darkness, and character bios.  Although the games are fun, and the interactivity is great, the level effort I am putting in is not being rewarded adequately.  You don’t get rewards after graduating to a higher rank, they come sporadically and randomly.  They come only when you do certain interactions, scan specific photos or take a specific quiz.  If the point is to get consumers excited about the movie release and interact with content on multiple platforms, I don’t believe the app is getting that done.   I applaud the levels of interactivity, though the reward system needs some work – more engaging exclusive content or the occasional physical reward, even a poster would do (it shows that my efforts matter to the creators of the app.)

The further you get in rank, the more of a scavenger hunt the game becomes.  You have to dig harder and look in more places for content if you want to earn points.  Content is no longer just on the Star Trek Facebook page, or on their partner sites.  For some, this would pose as a turn off.  After getting to Captain, the only missions I have left to accomplish is to physically go to locations (Seatle Space Needle, Hollywood walk of stars) to complete the game.  Right now, it doesn’t seem as if there is an end in sight.   The dedicated Trekkie would keep on to earn the rewards to finish the game and see what’s in store for them at the end.

For the Trekkie, this is a great companion application.  It matches the level of interest most Trekkies have in the series, as it integrates the original series with the upcoming movie release.  However, for the casual observer, I don’t believe this will maintain interest over an extended period of time.

Researching #SocialTV and the #SecondScreen

1 May

This semester, I conducted research for my Social Media Theory and Practice class on Social TV and the Second Screen market.  Due to my past experience in entertainment and social tv, I was interested in what it could offer, and recently, there were a lot of changes.

The hardest part was trying to figure out where to start my research.  With the amount of information out there, I was a bit overwhelmed to begin with.  I had to take an angle in order to filter out the information, and obviously I couldn’t present everything in a 20 minute presentation.   I began gathering data from industry sources like Lost Remote, Second Screen Society, Trendrr, and more.
I decided, after looking at all the data I gathered, to examine the state of the industry.  As so much has changed so quickly in the past few months,  I wanted to represent what Social TV is like right now, as it could change in a week.
After determining what I was going to focus on, I needed to find industry leaders and experts to talk to and get their insights about the state of social tv.  At first, it was difficult to find experts to speak with. However, after I began tweeting about social TV, I started getting responses to my inquiries.  I had the opportunity to interview Mick Darling and Amy Greenlaw at Tomorrowish, as well as Michael Cupo at ESPN, and Kimber Myers at GetGlue.  Being able to connect with individuals from different aspects of the industry was a great experience, and gave me a different perspective on how each sees social playing a role in what they do.
As part of the collaboration process, I had a G+ hangout with my professor, Dr. Ward, to discuss the progress I had made in my research, who I had talked to in the industry, and other such things.  After going through my presentation, and making some notes, we went through the features that a Google Hangout can offer.  I had never really seen the add-ons before, but being able to watch a video together online, for example, is a pretty cool feature.
google hangout
In organizing and getting prepared for my presentation, we were encouraged to use pearltrees to organize the content we found.  Although many of the websites and articles never made it into my final report, it was useful to have all the content I curated in one location, so I didn’t have to dig through a folder to find everything I wanted to reference.  Below is my pearltree for Social TV.
pearltrees

socialmention metrics

After presenting on April 25, my #2ndscrntv presentation hashtag had almost 70 thousand impressions, with 56 thousand accounts reached.  But what does that mean?  Reach is the total number of unique Twitter users that my search terms were delivered to (#2ndscrntv).  Exposure is the total number of times tweets about these terms were delivered to Twitter streams.  There is no guarantee that everyone who was delivered tweets saw them, but the potential for audience is there.  Below is a Tweetreach and SocialMention report for #2ndscrntv less than 4 hours after my presentation.
tweetreach metrics

The State of #SocialTV and #SecondScreen

28 Apr

The State of #SocialTV and #SecondScreen

A look at the current state of Social TV and the Second Screen

 
  1. Last presentation of my #newhousesm6 class, and my graduate career!
  2. Waiting for the next teaching presentation by @sblumen about the state of #socialtv and #secondscreen #2ndscrntv #newhouseSM6
     
     
  3. Around the same time that Social TV apps started being adopted by early innovaters, Social TV – in general – was being adopted by the wider social population.
  4. Second screen is the idea that the tab or smartphone becomes a TV #2ndscrntv
     
     
  5. The second screen allows for more layers of interactivity and engagement that adds to the primary content on your TV.
  6. Of the entire Twitter user base, about 2/3 tweet while watching TV.  That means that TV content providers and advertisers have an additional way to engage and interact with these viewers while they are watching their favorite shows.
  7. ESPN doesn’t look at second screen applications, but looks at influencers on social #2ndscrntv
     
     
  8. .@espn doesn’t think of “first screen” & “second screen”- but in terms of best experience for fans! @allcupo #2NDSCRNTV #Social4FanExp
     
     
  9. When it comes to live sporting events, “real-time” is more important that anything else. Second screen apps don’t play a big role in real-time events, however, influencers on social do.
  10. To enhance. To discover. To share. To Control. The four main reasons for a #secondscreen app #2ndscrntv #newhousesm6 ow.ly/koMeQ
     
     
  11. GetGlue uses social media to engage viewers on the second screen #2ndscrntv
     
     
  12. GetGlue rewards viewers for tuning during a broadcast.  But more than that, the check-ins act like a “barometer of what you should be watching live”, according to Kimber Myers of @GetGlue. 
  13. Tomorrowish curates the content of the convo of the show that you missed #2ndscrntv
     
     
  14. @Tomorrowish, a DVR for Twitter, curates the social conversation about a show your watching, whether its a day, week, or month later.  It also makes re-watching more interesting, as more is always added to the social conversation. 
  15. Right now, Twitter is a big player in Social. However, their focus is not TV. Mick’s opinion is that if they do not focus on innovating in that, they will lose out as the industry evolves and becomes more widely adopted.
  16. What does it matter if you can’t measure who is talking, and when?.  Analytics companies like Bluefin, Trendrr, and SocialGuide do just that.  
  17. What’s to come in #socialtv? “there’s no one size fits all solution” #2ndscrntv #secondscreen #newhousesm6
     
     
  18. The industry is still in the “early adopter” phase.  There is still so much more to come as Social TV and Second Screen mature, and become adopted by the social community.  There is no way of knowing what will happen a year from now, let alone five years from now.  All we can do is see what users now are doing, and innovate the best we can.

Learning from failure: Running a social media campaign Part 2

16 Apr

This year, I set out with a goal. It was quite simple really. All I wanted to do was raise money for the Special Olympics of North Carolina as part of the Duke MBA Games (and raise more than we did last year).  I thought that by using social media, I could raise awareness, and ignite passion in my followers to inspire them to donate to my cause.  I created a special Twitter handle and Facebook page for my MBA’s fundraising team to centralize our messages.  I thought, after doing all that, my teammates would assist in my efforts to raise awareness via social.  Perhaps it was a combination of my teammates lack of enthusiasm, or low interest in Special Olympics on social, I can’t be sure, but my campaign never really took off.

Before heading into this venture, I knew how to utilize twitter and implement hashtags, I knew that I should mention people that were influential in the cause (IE Special Olympics, Special Olympics of North Carolina), and influencers on campus (Syracuse University).  Some of my posts got good responses, but for the most part, there were only a handful of  people that interacted with the posts on a regular basis (including myself).  I rarely got responses from the university, or the Whitman school, even though I constantly mentioned them in my tweets. More often, I got interactions from the Special Olympics of North Carolina or Duke MBA Games.  Below are some key highlights.

april 11 tweet april 3 tweets march 19 tweet April 7 tweet april 1 tweet

In terms of Facebook, the key was getting people to like the page.  I thought that my classmates, especially those who were on the team in the past, would immediately like the page.  I was surprised to learn that very few of them took the effort to click “like”, even though it was such a simple thing.  Although many more of my interactions took place on Facebook, I thought they would reach a larger audience, with more people sharing, liking and commenting on my posts.

I had high hopes when starting.  I believed in the power of social media, and thought that I could use it to reach out to others who believed in this cause and encourage them to donate.  Perhaps, due to my naivete, I wasn’t fully prepared to handle what I was trying to do.  I also believed my school and teammates would be more involved in the effort, and would help try to spread the word on social.  Keeping people updated on what we are doing and our fundraising progress is what I would think people would what to see when donating to a cause.

Key learnings:

  • Have a plan, before starting on social
  • Reach out to key influencers to amplify message – create digital street team
  • Post multiple times a day, on multiple platforms, to remain top of mind – people don’t always see the post the first time
  • Create a campaign, not just messages, to create support

Although I essentially “failed” at running my first social cause campaign, I have learned what ‘not to do’.  In many ways, I believe that is just as – or more important – than running a successful campaign.  When doing something wrong, the lessons stick with you more, because you don’t want to fail again.  When you succeed, although you want to succeed again, you don’t know what it feels like to fail.  In a way, this might be the bigger win, and I’m glad it happened.

What exactly does ‘Global Innovation Management’ mean? A look back at a week in Seoul

1 Apr

For spring break I went to Seoul, South Korea to study “Global Innovation Management”.  Before going, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after my trip, I think I have a good understanding of what global innovation means.

We spent the week going to companies like Korea Telecom, Amore Pacific, and YG Entertainment, as well as Hyundai, LG Display, and Samsung. I learned a lot about the challenges that global brands face when targeting multiple countries, and how they have to alter their marketing message (perhaps even their brand image) to match the values of that country.

Amore Pacific

Amore Pacific, a Korean cosmetics company, operates in multiple countries, including Japan, China, France, and the United States.  Marketing in each country is not a one-size-fits-all strategy.  As the company has learned, each country has different needs, and is more likely to be open to different products.  In Korea, Amore Pacific offers all their products and product lines.  When expanding to different countries, they have to understand the limitations of what they can offer in each.  In order to understand this, they conduct market research, surveys, and other types of research before launching any new product in a new market.

Welcome to Samsung

While in Seoul, my class just happened to visit Samsung the day before the Galaxy S4 launch.  Besides the fact that this was enormously historic, we were able to see how Samsung views itself in the global marketplace.  In most countries, Samsung is the number one in the mobile phone market.  The exception, of course, is the United States, where number one is Apple.  Additionally, the company shared with us other ways in which they market themselves, including experience stores.  In addition to getting a tour of Samsung Digital City, we also got a tour of the Samsung offices, and were able to see the history of what is now one of the largest technology companies in the world.  Seeing where the company started, and where it is now was one of the most enlightening experiences of the trip.

Welcome to Korea Telecom

Korea Telecom, one of the three main telecom companies in Korea, mainly functions within Korea.  However, they are ranked 5th in global markets in mobile smartphone usage.  In addition to providing mobile communications networks, they do work on other additional projects that reach outside of Korea and into the rest of Asia.  Some of their projects include a K-pop music app that is very iTunes like, and could possibly be a strong competitor in the Asian market.  Some others are education technologies that would take learning into the digital age.

Being able to go to a country that I most likely would never have visited of my own volition was amazing.  Being able to see how these companies view themselves versus how we in the United States view them was truly educational.  Additionally, being exposed to Korean culture was, most likely, a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Although I’m not exactly sure what “Global Innovation Management” means, I am inspired by what I saw and learned during my trip, and I understand that global brands have a multitude of challenges facing them when serving the global market.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Social media and higher ed at Syracuse University

28 Feb
  1. .@Just_Kate, Syracuse native, talks to use about her background. She started @SyracuseU in Aug of 2011! #Newhousesm6
  2. After business school, a tech start up in Boston, Kate came back to Syracuse to head up the school’s social media.
  3. .@SyracuseU, as a university, follows a “best practices” policy for #SoMe, doesn’t necessarily have rules #newhousesm6
  4. 8 students work on SU’s SM accounts under the guidance of @Just_Kate, empowered to handle crisis situations! Cool! #newhousesm6
  5. Kate built a model in which students essentially run the social media accounts.  In crisis situations, students have the option to step off, but they are encouraged to stay on and are empowered with PR skills.  The only exception: campus safety. In those situations, Kate takes over and works directly with the appropriate department.
  6. The idea @Just_Kate says it’s about the student perspective as well as administration #NewhouseSM6 http://pic.twitter.com/GKenje3Rdn
  7. Social media in higher ed is about what your students what to talk about just as much as what the institution wants.  Both perspectives are necessary.
  8. Your social media team should go through extensive training before even touching the SM accounts via @Just_Kate #NewhouseSM6
  9. The social media team at Syracuse goes through training before ever touching a University account.  This includes tone of voice, and how to respond to users.
  10. To keep and nurture your audience, you need to create valuable content via @Just_Kate #NewhouseSM6
  11. “We RARELY put up anything on our FB that doesn’t have a visual element to pull the viewer in” says @just_kate #NewhouseSM6
  12. Kate defines “value” as visuals (photos, video) or linking to external sites.
  13. ROI = return on investment. In social, it’s difficult to measure. Kate measures it in Alumni donations, responses to individual posts, etc.
  14. Talking @Foursquare and @SyracuseU now – @just_kate in #NewhouseSM6 http://twitpic.com/c7kt7y
  15. Syracuse is on Twitter and Facebook, but also on Google , Foursquare, Pinterest, and Instagram.  That’s a lot to manage, but her model has it well covered.
  16. We hear @Just_Kate is dropping some knowledge on @DR4WARD‘s class, #NewhouseSM6. Take some notes, kids. She’s knows her stuff.
  17. Best branding techniques = Don’t be too obvious with content. Subtly goes a long way via @Just_Kate #NewhouseSM6
  18. have a plan, and plan your content BEFORE getting on #SoMe says @Just_Kate #newhousesm6
  19. Kate’s words of advice: always have a plan. Social media takes time, and takes content. Lacking in either will make your social campaign suffer.

What do you do with a Masters in New Media Management, Part 2

21 Feb

In July 2011, I began my masters program at Syracuse University thinking that I wouldn’t graduate with two degrees until at least May 2013.  As of December 2012, I have completed all the requirements for a Masters of Science in New Media Management, and have since received my diploma.  Despite the fact that it is somewhat unreal to already have a degree before actually graduating from graduate school, I’m surprisingly relieved that one of my masters degrees is already completed.

New Media Management

My New Media Management Masters degree, which I received yesterday

For the past two years I have focused not only my studies, but my outside work on social media marketing and strategy.  Last summer, I interned for the digital advertising agency 360i as an Account Management Intern.  During the summer, I learned how to manage a cross-functional team, work with a client, and manage a campaign on budget.  I was able to see the agency from all perspectives, as I spent a day with each department learning what they do.

This year, my MBA program is fundraising for the Special Olympics as part of a competition against other business schools across the country.  To raise awareness, and possibly to get donations from outside our own community, I created a social media presence for our team, and have been tweeting/facebooking about our events and fundraising efforts.  Through social media, I was able to get over 200 people to come to our first fundraising event, which raised over $200.

As part of a school project, I am working with an outside company, and examining the state of their advertising practices and social media presence.  Although the project is in its infancy, I am looking at how to best create a social media advertising campaign for a start-up with a clear brand message.  In addition to that, I am looking at how social media will be useful in expanding knowledge of the brand in our target market.

Now that graduation is less than three months away, and one masters degree is done, I’ve started applying for jobs in advertising, social media, and marketing.

What do you do with a Masters in New Media Management?

9 Feb

i gots a degree

As of December 2012, I have officially completed all the requirements for the Masters of Science degree in New Media Management.  With graduation only three months away, and one masters degree completed, I am thinking about what I want to do afterwards.  Many of my projects and outside work this past year have focused on Project Management, Community Management, and Market Research.

Although I’m debating between Social TV and Sports Social Media Marketing, I believe both areas of social media are innovative, and have a lot to offer.  Both TV fanatics and avid sports fans want to be connected all the time to their favorite show or team, and always want more information (whether its from the actors or the athletes).  I can see myself in either area, as both are fast paced, and are constantly pushing new boundaries.  No matter what I do, I want to be continually challenged in my career.

Applicable Skills:

Social Media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, WordPress, and Linkedin, as well as others

Knowledge of Analytics sites such as ComScore, Wildfire, Google Adwords, Google Trends and Google Analytics

Social Media Strategy

Account Management

Community Management

For more info, please see my resume, visit my Linkedin page, or contact me

%d bloggers like this: