#TrendSpire2013 – Four Ideas For The Future of Television

I was honored to be a speaker last week at Trendspire 2013 in Atlanta, which was the brainchild of Native Marketing working with Turner Media Group (TMG) Insights & Inspirations.  Native Marketing has been doing trend research and presentations for Turner since 2011, but this is the first internal company-wide conference to explore trends in media, entertainment, technology and pop culture.

It was a terrific day of inspired panels and presentations, filled with very smart people. Since it was held at, and for the benefit of, Turner, much of the talk revolved around television programming.  From what I heard from others, plus ideas of my own that I’ve been knocking around in my mind for a while, I’ve come up with four ideas of what the future might hold for a more interactive future of television*

1. Have a TV show host a hackathon, use winning idea in show

Television and hackathons makes a lot of sense. In fact, there was a TV Hackfest in San Francisco earlier this year, and I’ll be a judge at the upcoming TV Hackfest in London.  The 2nd Screen Society is also producing an AppHACK event with AngelHack in Los Angeles on November 2nd/3rd.  These events tend to focus on creating tools to make the consumer experience of watching television better. Here’s how the London event describes itself:

What is a HackFest? The aim of TV hackfest is to provide a range of tv technologies, SDK’s and API’s  as well as briefs and competitions – to developers, designers, agencies, creatives and entrepreneurs  to build design and show how future video entertainment could be delivered within an interactive multi-screen environment. From first and second screen apps, to social tv mashups and broadcaster / content centric content briefs , the TV Hackfest is a way to get creative and build future mutli-screen TV concepts with some cool prizes for the winners.

But here’s what I’d like to see: What if a show like ABC’s new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. held a hackathon? Ask the developer community to create a cool new piece of tech and incorporate the winning idea into the showI’m sure that a developer or start-up would kill to have their app or tool integrated into a primetime television show. The PR for the network, the show and the winning developer would be enormous.

I could also see a brand integrating into this very easily.  A mobile phone company would be great for this sort of thing, or really any brand that has a tech focus, or a brand that wants to develop that perception. You could build an entire season-long campaign around this, plus in-show integration and sponsorship of the hackathon.

2. Create spin-off as mobile-only mini-series during off-season

People have a voracious appetite for the shows they love. From Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead to Sons of Anarchy and House of Cards fans count the days until the new season starts. The idea of content made for the web (webisodes) isn’t new, but it’s time to develop content that is mobile first. Why not make a 5-10 episode mini-series set within the world of an existing show? Twelve to 15-minute episodes could be created to develop secondary characters (for a possible 1st screen spin-off?) or wrap-up plot lines that weren’t given enough time during the regular run of the show. In a similar vein, check out USA’s Burn Notice graphic novel. Each episode could end with an interactive survey, poll or questionnaire that could provide valuable data to the writers and show-runners.

3. Kickstarter + Gamification = Pilot Picker

One of the tenets of new marketing revolution is the importance of building communities and engaging people on a deeper level, getting them invested in your offering. Kickstarter is a perfect example.  Every year networks offer up a host of new programs, yet very few of them survive. Perhaps if people were more directly invested in the success of the show the network could develop a new dynamic with its viewers. Here’s how it could work:

  • First, properly integrate game mechanics into a network’s website.
  • Set up a page on the network’s site in Kickstarter-style, where writers/producers can “pitch” their shows.
  • As viewers accumulate “points” through various activities on the site, allow them to “invest” in new show concepts (prior to shooting pilots).
  • The shows with the highest investment (which represents potential viewer interest) get greenlit for shooting a pilot.

This has the capacity to completely disrupt several current industry models, potentially saving money for the nets and generating a higher percentage of successful new shows.

4. 2nd Screen App + Augmented Reality = Character in your room

At TrendSpire 2013, Steve Brown, Chief Evangelist and Futurist and Intel, spoke about what he’s expecting to see soon and I was truly excited about an idea he threw out. Computing power is going to be so big and fast that we’ll be able to bring characters from the first screen into our living rooms via a 2nd screen app, and they’ll be able to recognize and adjust to the environment. Imagine Walter White sitting next to you on your couch discussing the finer points of meth dealing. Or a horde of zombies suddenly stumbling around your bedroom as you pan around the room with your tablet. This sort of 4D experience could open up a host of creative opportunities and truly change the viewing experience in ways we can only begin to dream of.


Mobile, interactive and off-screen are all ways TV can reinvent itself to benefit from the changes in culture and consumer behavior we’re currently experiencing. The question is, which networks will jump in and grab first mover advantage.

Kickstarter Project: MAP 005 CHERNOBYL, a publication.

If you’ve been following Y&R New York’s Kickstarter Program, you know there has been a focus on the real, the tangible, as opposed to the fully digital. This week’s entry is no exception. MAP (Manual of Architectural Possibilities) is the brainchild of architect David A. Garcia, who runs David Garcia Studio with base in Copenhagen and New York . Find out more about MAP here.

So many of the educational challenges in this country can be solved through design. MAP is a great example of this. As described on the project’s Kickstarter page:

MAP (Manual of Architectural Possibilities) is a non profit publication aiming to merge the fields of science and research on one hand, and architectural design on the other, to encourage discussion through design. The publication exemplifies this approach via its format. MAP presents itself as an A1, folded in the shape of traditional maps. Research and data are shown in one page, and architectural projects on the back.

MAP - Floods

MAP - Floods

Culturally, we are moving in the direction of visuals as a means of communication. Data Viz, Infographics, video, these are the language of the New Aesthetic.

Kickstarter Project: theNewerYork Lit Mag

Print is dead. You’ve all heard this, you may have even read the in-no-way-ironic book. But I don’t buy it. Here’s what I think is dead: Bad writing, poor design and crappy business models. Not coincidentally, most books, magazines and newspapers suffer from at least one, and usually two or three, of these things.

Proposed cover for theNewerYork - Numa Amun Citadelle des sens (Vert) 2007–9 Courtesy Illingworth Kerr Gallery

There are no traditionally print outlets that I didn’t read, that I now read because they are available online or on a mobile device. Pubs like Rolling Stone or Sports Illustrated stopped being relevant to me long ago, not because I’m not in their target demo, but because the quality of their product is meh.  Why would being able to read them on my phone change that?

Similarly, many newspapers suffer from poor design – they’re not visually appealing or informative. When you add the price, or the fact that they’re publishing the wrong type of content based on their distribution model (weekly, just once a day…), you begin to realize that it’s not the tangible quality (or at least not just the tangible quality) that is the problem.

I prefer to read great content like The Economist, Monocle, The Watchmen, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Fast Company and others in hard copy form.

So I was intrigued by theNewerYork Lit Mag, which is clearly trying to bring a different sensibility to the print periodical.  Here’s how they describe themselves:

This is our experiment. We publish lists, fictional glossaries, internet forums, classified ads, post-cards, love letters, aphorisms, fragments, punctuationless stories, upside down stories, and other absurdities. 

Our first issue, which was funded on Kickstarter, turned out wonderful, our second issue will be exponentially better. Having established a strong distribution base in independent bookstores and boutiques in New York City, Los Angeles, and Paris (see our website for details) as well as a good relationship with writers and printers, this next issue will have higher quality writing, higher quality art, and twice the amount of narratives.

For submissions we place ads in newspapers, online, in cafes, with stickers, over Twitter and also search through short fiction blogs. Our writers and artists come from all over the world.

Here’s their Kickstarter video:

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This is where creativity is fostered. Outlets like NewerYork are what let people take risks and be rewarded for those risks. It’s important for things like this to exist, because with them, we end up with a world of not just crappy newspapers and magazines, but crappy content regardless of format. Please swing over and consider giving them some of your hard earned shekels.


Kickstarter Projects: Portable Park IV

For the fourth week of the Y&R Kickstarter program I’ve chosen to back Portable Park IV by Bonnie Ora Sherk & artists from Otis. This is a really interesting project that combines contemporary space, historical environmental art and art education in an intriguing mix.

The fantastic thing about kickstarter is the amazing breadth of creative ideas out there. Yes, there are plenty of people looking for funding for an album or movie, but you also find projects like this that engage people and their surroundings in an interesting way.  Reassessment of environmental spaces is a theme we’ll continue to see more of, both at a govenmental level, but also from the private sector. Art also plays a role in this discussion and this project, along with Sherks’ work from the 1970s is a great example.

Keep tabs on all the Kickstarter Projects we’re backing on our Y&R New York Kickstarter Profile page.

Empire Avenue: Four Partnership Ideas

Every day I receive emails telling me that someone is “following me” or wants to “be my friend” on some social network. I don’t even remember signing up for half of them, and the reason is they didn’t do anything to really capture my attention or provide value. Some were initially intriguing, but never evolved into something more interesting.  That got me to thinking about Empire Avenue and what it could do to remain fresh.

I think the platform is pretty robust, but I’m betting a lot of people who are trying it out now will find another way to spend their time unless Empire Avenue continues to provide innovative experiences. To that end, here are four ways EA can extend the brand experience, both online and beyond:


1. Mashable

As the authority on all things social, a tie-in with Mashable would make a lot of sense. This might be something as small as a Google Chrome extension that allows you to roll over names of people or brands mentioned in Mashable stories and seeing their share price; or something larger like including EA share prices in the Topics To Follow information at the end articles.  What would be the benefit to Mashable? Perhaps they would get a ‘commission’ of eaves to their Empire Avenue account for all transactions that come from a Mashable-tagged click-through.


I would have the greatest share price in the history of the world.

2. Celebrity Apprentice

While a tie-in with Mashable makes sense and would probably be easy enough to do, product integration with a prime time television show would be ambitious. But a show like Celebrity Apprentice seems perfect. First, Donald Trump keeps score by measuring a person’s net worth, I bet he’d love the very idea of Empire Avenue.  For the show, at the beginning of the season, every participant would get a new account.  The Empire Avenue community would then buy and sell shares as normal, and share price would be figured into the decision on who gets fired.  I can just see The Donald telling a contestant: “You were a terrible project manager, none of your teammates trust you and your share price is in the tank. You’re fired!”


3. SXSW Interactive

This conference is the premier destination for people and brands involved in social media. Social tools like Twitter and Foursquare exploded onto the scene at SXSW and every year people place bets to see which hot new start up is going to garner buzz. Sounds like a perfect place for EA.  I’d love to see a Empire Avenue SXSW Index on a huge, digital, real-time board at the Austin Convention Center. Brands and speakers participating in the conference would be listed and the attendees, plus those following from home would get a true sense of who is really making an impact and generating buzz.


4. Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a great way for creative types to fund their artistic projects. But wouldn’t it be great if you could get an understanding of the social capital your funders had? That five dollar investment was nice, but knowing that the person had a Empire Avenue share price of 89.80 could be even more valuable. By knowing the share price of all their investors, the project creator might reach out to certain individuals for helping spreading the word via Social Media. In fact, real world value in the form of project benefits could be given based on an investor’s social media support of a project. Of course project creators could also list their idea on Empire Avenue as a way to build increased awareness as well.



Kickstarter Projects Worth Supporting

One of the great things about Social Media is the collaborative and supportive nature of the industry. Kickstarter taps into this beautifully by providing a platform for people to raise funds for worthy projects. I’d like to share two of those projects and encourage you to support both in any way you can.

First up is Massive.tv, a project created by some Northwestern University students. I was really impressed with the quality and ambition evident in their efforts and it’s great to see a new generation of inspiring people starting to create the future rather than just try to tread the well-worn path.  Take a look at what they are creating:

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You can help support their project here.

The other project I’m supporting is Voyurl (great name). This one is from Adam Leibsohn, an Anomaly dude. Voyurl allows you to share your clickstream and find out who is looking at what, where and when. You can connect to friends, find new sites, or just see what others are looking at in real-time.

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You can help support this project here.

I really hope you’ll take a moment to consider these projects, and when you go to kickstarter, check out other great projects that are worthy of your monetary support.