Whenever I get back from the Consumer Electronics Show, the one thing I always get asked is, “what was the coolest new technology you saw”?
I can’t honestly say in 2010! This year during the Consumer Electronics Show, to make sure everything went smooth, I mainly stationed myself at the Venetian Hotel and Casino, for our meetings with Cisco Eos customers, partners, and potential new customers and partners. I never made it to the show floor over at the convention center!
While the buzz on the show floor seemed mainly about 3D displays and content, back in closed door meetings at the Venetian, I learned a lot about interesting topics – like music licensing to major consumer brands, new digital video advertising technologies, and a lot of other things under NDA that I can’t talk about yet!
Our Cisco Media Solutions Group marketing director Scott Brown, already did a comprehensive post about our recent customer wins and our Cisco Eos partner program which I suggest you read if you haven’t already. Meanwhile, Dan Scheinman, SVP / GM of the Cisco Media Solutions Group, was able to share his thoughts about the latest customer wins and improvements to the Cisco Eos platform.
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Today the Cisco Media Solutions Group announced new customers, features and professional services options for the fast growing Cisco Eos social entertainment platform.
Details on the announcement can be found here, but I wanted to take a moment to welcome the Travel Channel, All Access Today and The Eleven Seven Music Group/Tenth Street Entertainment to the Eos platform. We look forward to working with each of them to deploy exciting and profitable social entertainment experiences for brands like the Travel Channel Academy, Willie Nelson, the Gorillaz, Peter Gabriel, Blondie and Nikki Sixx.
Announcing these customers is a great way to wrap up what was a great year for CMSG and the Eos platform. We announced general availability of the platform at CES 2009, and a strategic relationship with Warner Music Group in August. The relationship with Warner has resulted in more than 20 Eos-powered sites being deployed between August and December – about 1 a week. That’s a great proof point to Warner’s estimate that they can deploy sites 5x faster on Eos than other solutions they’ve used. (For more updates on WMG’s experience so far, read this post.
In addition, 2009 saw significant enhancements to both the software and hosting infrastructure for Cisco Eos. There were 12 software upgrades (as a hosted platform, new Eos features are released every 4-6 weeks) that resulted in more than 400 feature additions or enhancements including things like:
- Facebook Connect integration
- Advanced customization tools and
- Pre-integration with various advertising services
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One of the things media companies are struggling with is how to effectively monetize their investment in content and brands in this new digital era. While still in its early stages, Warner Music Group Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr. recently noted in their Q4 earnings call that the Cisco Eos platform was helping WMG “more effectively monetize the vibrant relationship between artists and fans.”
How exactly is Eos helping media companies like WMG monetize or generate revenue from their online content?
Let’s be clear: what Eos does is help create the opportunities to monetize by enabling a compelling, interactive entertainment experience that is much easier for media companies to keep fresh. The outcome of this type of experience is that consumers:
- visit more frequently
- stay longer, and
- ultimately consume more of their favorite content
That great engagement give media companies the opportunity to generate revenue through multiple channels: advertising, e-commerce/merch sales, and/or subscription. The choice of which revenue streams to pursue, and how hard they push them is up to the media company to decide what is appropriate for that audience and brand.
In the case of WMG, they’ve been able to grow the audience of their 21 Eos-powered websites to more than 1.7 million unique visitors per month (in the time frame roughly between August and December 2009) and found that audiences on Eos-powered sites are staying roughly 8.4 minutes per visit – or more than 25% greater engagement than on other WMG sites.
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Yesterday, Warner Music Group launched its latest Cisco EosTM-powered site for hip hop star Lupe Fiasco.
Lupe’s site represents the 20th Eos site for WMG, and the 18th to be launched since August 2009 when Cisco and WMG announced a strategic relationship around the Eos platform. (see full list of Eos-powered sites at the end of this blog entry)
At the time of the announcement Michael Nash, Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development noted that WMG was able to launch new sites 5x faster using Eos than other solutions – with that productivity, WMG has been able to average launching about 1 site a week since the August announcement.
But media companies need more than just the ability to launch web sites faster. Media companies need a platform that helps them engage fans, lower technology costs, AND ultimately monetize the experience fans have with branded content.
How is Eos doing on that broader set of issues?
Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group had this to say during WMG’s Q4 2009 earnings call on Nov. 24, 2009:
“As we mentioned earlier, we continue to transform our business within the music value chain while broadening our revenue mix in the growing areas of the music business. This remains a key element of our growth strategy and is core to the transformation of our company. Direct-to-consumer or DTC platforms are one of the key paths for partnering with our recording artists to monetize new revenue streams and artist websites remain an essential part of that strategy. Earlier this year, WMG and Cisco developed a partnership initially focused on enhancing our DTC efforts. By leveraging Cisco’s innovative DTC technology, we have begun to more effectively monetize the vibrant relationship between artists and their fans without having to build infrastructure at WMG.
Warner Music is the first entertainment company to use Cisco’s new Eos platform. We have exceeded our goal of launching a dozen Eos artist sites by the end of ’09. We believe our partnership with Cisco will greatly enhance our ability to create, manage, and grow online communities while also increasing opportunities to drive revenue from DTC sales and online advertising around artist content.”
It’s not time to start celebrating and lose focus, but it does indicate what WMG has been able to achieve using the Eos platform. We look forward to the next 20 sites, and the continuing partnership with Warner Music.
(See below for list of the first 20 WMG sites)
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It’s pretty standard practice for tech companies to use their own technology. Commonly called “eating your own dog food,” using your own technology shows confidence in the product, and also allows you to experience exactly what your customers are experiencing.
Cisco is a big believer in using our own technology, but it’s been a little tough finding the perfect fit for the Cisco Eos social entertainment platform since Eos was built specifically for media & entertainment companies… and last time I checked, Cisco wasn’t an entertainment company. We do use Eos to power the Cisco Eos Developer Network (sorry, you have to be a customer or registered partner to access) and the Cisco Media Solutions Group’s internal site, but we didn’t have a public instance of an Eos-powered experience from Cisco.
Earlier this week Cisco launched “The Video Lounge” – a site that features Cisco videos, and clips from mainstream media that feature Cisco products and solutions. For example, check out this video from 30 Rock that uses Cisco’s Telepresence technology. Hilarious.
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