UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 11 December 15, 2005

Let Me Entertain You

So 2.5 million Muglets ( here’s me ) have been viewed since we launched it a couple of weeks ago. Our servers are bleeding through the nose, our bandwidth bill could fund a small space program and it’s not slowing down. Little bursts of (very silly) entertainment are happening globally, constantly, 100 times a minute. Not really what our founding father was expecting surely…

Entertainment on the web has exploded, we’re now faced with more stuff to watch than even the most overzealous cable provider could offer. 300 channels? Pah, I’ve got sites which offer me anything and everything in byte-sized chunks I can digest over a coffee break. My entertainment is not contained in 3 hours in front of the TV before I go to bed, it’s everywhere, in my e-mail, on the web, even on my bloody phone. Whether it’s this guy partying the night before the big interview , some “flying squirrel”http://www.orisinal.com , great cartoons or a very rude joke in my inbox I get entertained con-stan-tly.

The thing is that we’re not relying only on the traditional content creators to give us our fix. I mean, if we did they wouldn’t be able to keep up and quite probably try to stop it so we have to pay for an expensive cable package. No, now everyone’s a producer from Burger King to a couple of Chinese students . We’ve got our new studios: webshops, dorm rooms and everywhere else. We’ve got a new megachannel, it shows millions of hours of programming a day, it’s called the web. Remember your first experience with being able to watch TV non-stop just by flicking channels? Well this is its big, ugly, uncontrollable, somewhat erratic brother.

There’s an interesting post on Organic’s blog (thanks, Howard ) that talks about viral marketing which, as you may or may not know, we are quite partial to. On getting people to watch your “ad”...

“The interesting shift here is that we don’t really “drive” people to our experience when it is presented in this manner… we offer consumers the right distraction at a time/place that is relevant to them.”

Yes, and yes. In a way it’s far more democratic marketing. You like it you watch it. So we, the content creators and the brand owners have to have the insight and courage to try stuff out that is relevant and entertaining to the right people to get the message out. People don’t watch it, it goes offline, people watch it, it gets spinned off. It’s an old model that seems to work well. Soap operas started as glorified soap ads which became so popular that they turned them into actual shows.

TV shows are no more than vehicles for advertising, so you could have the next Friends or you could have the next Joey, “viral and web marketing are (sic) no more hit or miss that traditional media.” Indeed. The numbers can’t be quantified, it’s a completely creative (some would call it gut-instinct) process. You know or you don’t. The Sims flopped with test audiences, so did shows like The Office. It’s not a case of you never know exactly but it’s not predictable in any traditional sense. Brands need to take some risks .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

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Alex is CEO of Sideshow , an award winning creative agency. You can read his blog here.

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