Tech innovation and enthusiasm is clearly alive and well in our nation’s capital. Last Thursday, I attended the Digital Capital Week 2011 Core Conference, an all day affair at the Artisphere, where entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, marketers and communicators from around the world came together to network and share information.
One of the highlights for me was the Disruptive Entrepreneurs panel, where Ruha Devanesan introduced us to PeaceTones, a nonprofit that supports talented, unknown artists from developing countries build their careers while giving back to their communities. PeaceTones trains artists on their legal rights and marketing techniques, and helps them distribute their work internationally.
The music industry has changed so much in the past decade. Music today is digital and easily shared, making it difficult to monetize less direct consumption—even for the big record labels and well-established artists. For musicians from earthquake-ravaged Haiti or the impoverished favelas of Brazil, the struggle to “make it” is nearly impossible to overcome.
PeaceTones leverages the power of social media platforms to spread these artists’s work globally. They film personal narratives and create music videos for their artists and then teach them how to self promote using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. PeaceTones also uses Kickstarter, the world’s largest platform for funding creative projects, to raise funds to launch the artists’ albums. This effort has been tremendously successful in helping these artists share their music with a global audience. And the best part is that 90% of all product sales go directly to the musicians and their community’s development goal.
Later in the day, I attended the Responsibility in Media in a Global Age panel where Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media declared identity to be “the biggest issue of the digital age.” The group discussed how, when working a story, today’s journalists need to be “data scientists” and know how to tap into the ever-evolving tools that help verify someone’s identity. Food for thought: networked identity – what qualifies as an individual in a new media environment? What happens to self-identity when presented through networks of social connections? For example, does an enterprise Twitter account with multiple authors presenting a single “voice” qualify as an individual? I’ll let you chew on that…
We all know that it’s increasingly challenging for media to manage breaking news and fact check for accuracy, but as this panel discussed, the social tools being used to share information in real time (i.e. Twitter and YouTube) are having a massive impact, especially in areas of extreme conflict, as we saw with the Arab Spring uprising. Anthony De Rosa of Reuters shared, “especially in the developing world, the notion of responsibility is changing. You need to know when to burn access in order to get the story out fast. You either report what’s happening now or you get left behind.”
Also in this session, Google’s Caroline McCarthy (formerly of CNET) shared one of her favorite Twitter handles: @MrDisclosure, a whistleblower who tweets when investors don’t disclose their investments in their tweets – check it out!
Toward the end of the day, I attended the Winning Mobile Campaigns, hosted by Ogilvy client, Ford. Panelists agreed that it’s unclear if QR codes have a future. “It’s a bridging technology, not the final destination.” They also shared their thoughts on some of the exciting technologies we can expect to see used in mobile marketing campaigns of the future. Some of my favorites:
I was delighted to see one of my very favorite startup CEOs on the Winning panel – the mind-blowingly brilliant Brian Wong, of kiip, a company that offers marketers an entirely new model for in-game advertising. Kiip’s long-term goal? To “own every achievement moment on the planet.” For example, people are rewarded for exercising for a certain length of time or for leveling up on a game they play on their smartphone. As Wong says, “we think of happiness as a resource. We’re trying to mine happiness rather than create it. We’re learning more every day about how to tap into those key moments and create affinity for a brand.” Pretty impressive thinking for someone who isn’t yet legally old enough to rent a car!
Overall, a fantastic conference, and I look forward to attending again next year. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the most exciting technologies you’re looking forward to in mobile marketing campaigns of the future.
Media, often chastised for their slow recognition of the impact of technology, is now embracing the digital world and rapidly reinventing its business. That was the theme shared by a panel of media representatives at DCWEEK yesterday. A case in point offered by Angie Goff, with NBC Washington: she raised eyebrows from bosses two years ago when she solicited input from viewers through Twitter, but now it is the station that actively promotes her Twitter handle on-screen while she broadcasts.
Insights from the panelists on the state of media today in a digital world:
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Crowdsourcing: “What people like drives our news content. Whether a journalist or not, everyone has a voice. We are crowdsourcing with people that know more than journalists. We make people feel like they have a piece of the news. I’m surprised that more news outlets don’t have social media reporters that sort through content and data.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Audience-Building: “Moving from a general content provider to a specific content provider is challenging. You have to know what you are best at and you need a concentrated strategy. We are for Washington and about Washington, we are not a national paper of record.”
• Susan Poulton, National Geographic, on Quality Journalism: “As we opened up to other audiences, some at NatGeo worried whether the quality of photos and the quality of writing would be the same. What we found was that the level of curation was raised by attaching the NatGeo brand and some of the photos submitted were just absolutely amazing.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Monetization: “Everyone has been focused on building audiences and there has not been much innovation around monetization. There will be a flood of innovation surrounding monetizing original content or it will get smaller and smaller. Those are the only two options. The key for the music business when it went digital was to own the total experience not just the music.”
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Content Creation: “More than ever now, there is a need for constant content. We don’t care where it comes from, but the key is making it relevant and something our users have shown an interest in. We don’t want to be a commercial.”