Media Trends 2018
I’ve spent the last two days at the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina del Rey, and caught up on the state of media and technology right now. Here are a few headlines: Cord cutting is on the rise (i.e. disconnecting from cable). Everything is moving to mobile – we all expect to be able to watch whatever we want to watch, whenever and wherever we want to watch it and technology can keep up with this desire. Netflix is spending literally billions of dollars for original content, and traditional media companies are consolidating left and right.
All this is generally good for consumers, although gating content behind subscription services may prove problematic in the long term. The true take-away, however, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Storytelling is more important than ever and content producers are always on the hunt for original voices.
Casting for Talent in New Places
Guess where all that new talent is being discovered? Not in the theater or television, but on YouTube and Instagram. In traditional Marxist terms, the “means of production” have become available to more and more people (i.e. cameras are affordable and anyone can broadcast their work online), so the volume of content is increasing exponentially. Talent doesn’t always have to wait 18 months for a television show to be developed; anyone can produce a short-form video and put it online. This poses an issue of curation – with so much content out there, what is worth watching? But it also democratizes the process of getting discovered. Your kids are probably following a wide swath of creators on YouTube and Instagram. There is plenty of young, original talent out there to be discovered in untraditional places, and panelists with children told us they mined their children’s preferences as research. Many successful game designers and content programmers are much older than their target audiences, so it’s pretty convenient to have arbiters of what the next generation thinks is “cool” right at the kitchen table.
One example of “old media” taking up a “new media” star surfaced in The Florida Project — Bria Vinaite (above, right) was discovered on Instagram and did a remarkable job holding down the center in her first movie. Here’s the story of how director Sean Baker cast both these parts. (And be sure to see the movie – it is really good!) Although Vinaite wasn’t recognized by the Academy, this type of casting is only going to be on the rise. Your kids will know the next star before you will.
Generation Z and Gaming
The other interesting thing I learned about the next generation came from a panel about Roblox and Minecraft, two important platforms for interactive and creative gaming. (Click for Common Sense reviews of each platform). Turns out, game designers are wildly enamored of Generation Z (kids born from 1998-2016 — or, millennials on steroids). The folks in charge at Roblox and Minecraft and Riot Games and Super League Gaming say that this new generation is highly collaborative and wildly creative. They’re creating games with kids in other countries — connected virtually — and rave about the egalitarian nature of the creativity. These digital natives socialize and interact through the games. Gen Z kids are spending their weekend competing in gaming tournaments (think AYSO for gamers).
Virtual and Augmented Reality
I listened to a few VR panels and must admit that “immersive technology” is not ultimately appealing to me personally. I love going to the movie theaters or curling up on the coach to watch a show or movie. The VR evangelists believe they are creating a brave new world but just as many folks (including traditional advertisers) think that Augmented Reality is more likely to be a common tool in the marketer’s toolbox.
The best VR experience I have had was an artistic one: I was very moved by Carne e Arena at LACMA, which you can read about here. Heavy tech and considerable manpower is required for consumers to have these experiences, which are unique experiences. In fact, you have a chance to experience a new one starting this weekend in Century City.
Dreamscape called Alien Zoo – which opens in Century City this week (February 7 – March 2). Think Spielberg/Jurassic Park as an immersive video game with all the scares and thrills. The first several days time slots are already sold out, so book quickly -but, only if you can take 40 minutes of heart-stopping entertainment. Here is the sales pitch from Dreamscape – and, click here for more information/ticketing.
In this unique experience you will walk side by side with massive beasts, play with adorable and exotic creatures, and fight the most deadly predator in all the cosmos. ALIEN ZOO uses an entirely new VR technology that engages all of your senses in the thrill of an epic theme park adventure and the awe of a great film. It challenges you to work together not only to survive but to prove that there is still hope for humanity in our exciting, yet unpredictable, universe. So please, don’t come alone.
Get ready for a completely new type of immersive experience. You are about to enter a world where you can touch, feel, and smell your surroundings. Where digital is real. A place where time and space have no boundary. A Dreamscape
Apple Retail Expands User Experience
Finally, I heard about another new “experience” that you can have at Century City from Angela Ahrendts (former CEO of Burberry) — an old-school experience that Apple is using to get you to spend more time (and money!?) in their gorgeous stores. Ahrendts took over Apple’s retail stores four years ago and on her listening tour of Apple, learned that over half of the folks who visit the Genius Bar are there to learn about the many ways they can use their product; they’re not there to make a purchase or repair. So, as of January 2018, you can learn things about the platforms as part of Today at Apple, a project to enhancing the community and enrichment factors of the brand and retail experience. Take a Photo Walk and learn how to shoot better photos. Learn to sketch on your iPad. Attend a coding workshop. Teaching Tuesdays encourages teachers to come use their products more effectively. The ultimate goal of these classes are undoubtedly sales-related… but, if you can steel yourself against the splurging instinct, there’s something to be learned in the process.