Netflix Challenges the Status Quo with House of Cards

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

House of Cards

House of Cards

Over the past few days, I have been watching House of Cards on Netflix. My two cents… if you like smart political dramas in the style of The West Wing and Newsroom, then you will likely enjoy this.

However, as much as I am enjoying the show, I am fascinated by the implications of Netflix original content, pushing the whole show out at once, and how social and digital lifestyles are embedded into the fabric of the show.

Netflix Original Content: I have been fan of Netflix’s steaming service for a while and it has been a great platform to catch up on old shows. It is not robust enough to replace cable, but now is part of my stable of content providers. If Netflix continues to develop a relevant and fresh content library – along with first-class original content, they will probably have me as a customer for life. Moreover, at roughly the same cost or less than adding an HBO, Showtime or similar channel to an existing cable bill, Netflix can be complimentary versus competitive. While most consumers are not ready to give up cable, they may be ready to add a new type of channel to their line up. I think this is strong step in that direction and IPTV and entertainment platforms such as xBox only make it easier.

Pushing out the Complete Series: This is genius to me. Like others have noted this is very experimental, but not off the charts.  I have enjoyed for years watching shows in marathon format, but you can always tell how the show is designed around commercial breaks and episodes. While the episodic notion of House of Cards is very much there, the flow of the show is much improved. Furthermore, I think House of Cards does a good job with keeping segments of the show moving, than say Newsroom, which can feel a bit monotonous over the course of an hour.

Some folks are commenting that this style of release will have challenges around spoiler alerts, but those don’t watch TV in real time are already used to that. Others have commented that social TV watching  is not possible. Yes, that is true, but we really giving up anything by paying less attention to what we are watching so we can read clever quips from strangers. Lastly, I am hearing comments that House of Cards will not create weekly buzz the way other shows do. I think there is some credibility, however, producers might find more balance in seasonal buzz versus episode-to-episode buzz. Furthermore, I suspect that producers will come up with some hybrid models that release shows in quarter or half seasons to gain best of both worlds. Remember, we are experimenting here.

Embedded Social Context: Many shows about politics and news are quick to have the stereotypical blogger character, but this shows goes deeper. One of the main characters is not just blogging, but challenging the current publishing model and finding that a staid paper is not evolving fast enough.  The shows main political operator also recognizes this and uses the fresh face of emerging media to drive his own agenda. Of all the TV I have watched lately, House of Cards does the best job of highlighting new media models and the resistance of the press to change. I think this is noteworthy story line in the show. I would say more, but don’t want to be a spoiler.

So…check out the show if you like political dramas and check out Netflix if you were waiting for a good excuse to add a new channel to your line up. Would love to hear any thoughts.


My SXSW 2012 Schedule

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

February 29, 2012. With just over a week to go before making the interactive pilgrimage to Austin for SXSW I am very pleased that I have a rough schedule in place. What I learned from my last experience is the importance of a plan and to have multiple options for each time slot. Often events are too packed to get in or simply too far away to make it in time.

I am excited to attend events on the use of marketing data, customer experience, responsive design, social media, and more. I am also excited that one of the after parties has Miike Snow playing live.

For anyone that is planning on attending, here is where you can find me. I will also be posting updates here and on Twitter (@newcomer).

Sunday, March 11

3:30 PM
3:45 PM
Texas Ballroom 4-7
4:15 PM
Texas Ballroom 4-7
4:30 PM
Texas Ballroom 4-7
5:00 PM
Capitol View North

Simple Interactive Agency Operating Model

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

October 4, 2011. Earlier today I got a copy of the eMarketing Textbook from Quirk, an interactive agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. The text book is an extensive overview of digital marketing practices and currently on its fourth edition. I got wind of it from a source I trust in the industry so I plan to work my way through it over the next couple of weeks.

As I began reading though the introduction by Rob Stokes – CEO of Quirk, I became stuck on the operating model he introduced for the agency about a year ago. Essentially, the agency began organizing around four core functional areas with discrete, but interrelated responsibilities:

  • Think: research, plan and develop strategy
  • Create: build digital assets – web, email, mobile, social properties
  • Engage: driving traffic to assets
  • Optimize: make assets work better « Read the rest of this entry »

Spotify and The US Digital Music Landscape

September 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

September 12, 2011. Over the last decade, like many things, the music landscape has changed dramatically. However, I think we are finally at a point of emerging stasis. There are several digital distribution ecosystems that seem stable (i.e. iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc), digital music adoption is incredibly high (by 2012, according to Yankee Group/Internet Retailer, more music will be sold digitally than in stores) and the supporting technologies are everywhere (i.e. any device that can play or stream music. which is just about everything these days).

In thinking about my experience over the last decade…here is what I recall, where I think we will end up, and my thoughts on the disruption I expect Spotify to cause:

« Read the rest of this entry »

How BzzAgent is Reinvigorating its BzzAgents

September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

9.7.11. I have to open up this post with the fact that I am hoping to join the the BzzAgent campaign for the Kindle 3. However, for a company that does word-of-mouth marketing, they seem to have found another nifty way to create buzz – earning your way in.

Let’s start at the beginning, for those of you that don’t know BzzAgent, they are a word-of-mouth marketing organization. They have a database of BzzAgents, who are everyday consumers, but ones with a penchant for talking about the brands they use. To be a BzzAgent you simply sign up to the site, take some surveys to develop a baseline of preferences, and start providing opinions on products and concepts being tested within the BzzAgent world. Once you complete these activities you become eligible to be invited to campaigns.

This is where the other side of the business comes in. The BzzAgent campaign managers work with brands trying to learn what people like (or don’t) in their products, while trying to create buzz at the same time. The campaigns are pushed out to individuals based on likelihood to  use a product, and if they sign up, they are given access to the product (mostly free or heavily discounted), along with some direction on what to do (host a party, share samples, etc). In doing all of this BzzAgents create social interactions and impressions that influence awareness, sales, product development, etc.

However, BzzAgent just decided to change the game a little. Instead of BzzAgents passively waiting for an invitation, BzzAgent will now be promoting upcoming campaigns and asking people to earn a spot through creating content, sharing a video, etc. If this campaign is good enough…will people do it? I say yes…using this as a case and point.

So…let’s replay the last 25 minutes:

  • I see the link on Facebook and its explanation to WOW them (and “like” it).
  • I follow the link and sign-up for consideration
  • I check out for more details on the Kindle 3
  • I write this post
  • I post to Twitter with a hashtag (imabzzagent)

As for the so-what…this campaign approach is creating great buzz well before the campaign hits the ground. I think it is an inventive way to get people excited about a campaign, insure you get the right people involved, and stretch the limits of when word-of-mouth gets started.

Nice job BzzAgent and Amazon on creating great buzz and stirring the BzzAgent community to act early, and socially, to win a spot.

Now…pick me too!


How Should Advertisers Deal with Multiple Personality Disorder?

June 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

6.14.11 While doing some research for work around personalization I stumbled across an interesting phenomenon with a colleague of mine. In short, depending on which browser I use, I may look like a totally different person to the site I am visiting. For example, as advertising networks are collecting information on me and building a profile based on my interests, location, and demographics I might be throwing them for a loop by using more than one browser AND using them differently.  « Read the rest of this entry »

American Express Homepage Redesign – Centricity meets Simplicity

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

April 20, 2011. A couple of days ago I noticed that American Express debuted a new homepage. At first I was ecstatic…I am literally not kidding. I have been an American Express client for over 5 years and in that time the homepage has remained largely the same.

While the rest of the logged in site remains intact,  the homepage now offers a very warm and inviting experience. It feels clear that the owners of the site (and those responsible for the redesign) took a user-centered  approach. By this I mean thinking about 3 simple rules.

1) Who is the user,
2) What are they trying to accomplish, and
3) How will the site help users achieve those goals. « Read the rest of this entry »

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