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Demonstrating New Experiences for Music Fans @ SF MusicTech, May 17th

Gary Chou and Ryan Garner @ SF MusicTech, May 17, 2010

On Monday, Ryan Garner, senior director of Direct-to-Consumer Initiatives at Warner Music Group, and Gary Chou, chief strategist for the Cisco Media Solutions Group, did a demo (click here for a video of the demo) of some of the work Warner Music has done on the Cisco Eos® platform at SF MusicTech.  It was a wickedly short 15 minutes, but they managed to highlight many of the benefits of Eos to to fans, to music artists and ultimately the “business” of music.

This was an exciting chance to see how Eos is being used to deliver value from multiple perspectives — from consumers to the back-end system that helps media companies build and manage social entertainment experiences built around their content.

We caught up with Ryan and Gary after the demo to talk a little more about what a platform like Eos is enabling companies like Warner Music to do.

Cisco:  Welcome. Ryan, it’s been almost a year since Cisco and Warner Music Group announced a strategic relationship that started with the Cisco Eos platform.  Can you give us a few highlights on what Warner Music has been up to since August 2009?
 
Ryan: We’ve launched more than 30 sites on Eos so far and we continue to gain efficiencies from Eos in building and deploying new sites, which in turn is allowing us to create interactive community experiences for more of our artists, faster.

We’ve also seen significant efficiency gains in our ability to upgrade and optimize our existing sites as we listen to fans and new features become available on Eos post-launch, which is when the real work begins.

The fan response has been positive and our artist communities are growing — we’re seeing more visitors coming to these artist sites, coming back more often, staying longer and interacting more with the artist and other fans.

And one thing we haven’t had to worry about is scaling from an infrastructure point of view.  We’ve been able to throw a lot of traffic at the sites, and never had to really worry if the sites would go down.  That’s letting us focus on the consumer experience, and not on building infrastructure.

Cisco:  Thinking back on all the artist experiences your team has worked this year, is there a specific implementation or fan experience that you’d highlight as being particularly innovative?

Ryan:  We’ve been experimenting a lot with the concept of custom user groups and tiered access to content and features on our sites.  For example: on shinedown.com we recently launched a unique site where premium fan-club content is mixed in with all-access content on a single, integrated website.  All users of the site are given teaser access to all content, but only fan club members have full access to the premium content which is clearly marked throughout.  Non-fan club members attempting to access premium content are presented with the value proposition for joining the fan club, which we believe has extra impact considering the user just attempted to access content associated with the offer.

As an added value for membership, we use the Eos Groups functionality to provide fan club members with special fan club badges that set them apart and highlight their membership level to the other users of the site.

Another more simple, yet as powerful, example of how we’ve leveraged this capability is when we exclusively debuted B.o.B’s new single “Airplanes Pt1 featuring Hayley Williams” on bobatl.com as a “for members only” full-track stream.  Existing members could stream the full new track immediately and non-members were required to register.  We more than doubled the membership of a several month old site in 24 hours and were then able to market to those users days later when the full album was released.

Cisco: Gary, managing individual’s access to content like this seems like a relatively simple feature.  Why is this something media companies see value in?

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Fans Define the Online Content Experience

Variety Summit Sign

Several members of the Cisco Media Solutions Group team made it to Santa Monica for the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit. We also co-sponsored the summit. You can review twitter hash tag #VarietySummit if you want to see related tweets. The one day Variety Summit features some of the most important executives and producers in entertainment – including top cable programmers, digital media chiefs, and famous actors.

We’re still assembling the all of the intriguing points made by this gathering of entertainment talents throughout the day. Here’s a quick review of some of the conversation.

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Cisco Eos Goes Mobile

GUEST POST: Padmashree Koneti is the head of product management for the Cisco Media Solutions Group, and the Cisco Eos(R) platform.

Although much of what we talk about is our platform for creating, managing, and monetizing websites, Cisco Eos has always been about better enabling the complete digital brand experience. And in the age of iPhones, iPads, and other connected devices, this has to include the mobile brand experience.

In this past month’s release, Cisco Eos has brought the two worlds together by enabling content and user comments to move seamlessly between mobile applications, Cisco Eos powered websites, and the larger social web. This was accomplished through the launch of the following functionality working in concert with our recent Facebook Connect integration:

  • New RSS feed: allows comments, photos, and videos to be pushed in real-time from a Cisco Eos powered site to a mobile device.
  • New API: allows comments, photos, and videos created on a mobile device to be automatically uploaded and posted to a Cisco Eos powered site.

So what? Well, let’s look at an example of… (more)  

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Increasing the ROI from your Web Infrastructure — an interview with IDC’s Karsten Weide

On April 28th Cisco will be hosting a webcast with IDC on how media companies can increase their ROI from the web infrastructure they use to deliver online entertainment experiences.  (Register for the webinar here; and you’ll get a copy of the research findings in a white paper).

As a preview, we sat down with Karsten Weide, Vice President, Digital Media and Entertainment for IDC, to discuss some of the highlights of the study.

Cisco: To give everyone a little background on the study, IDC set out to examine the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) media companies are having with their infrastructure to deliver web/online entertainment experiences.  They then compared the results media companies are having with their homegrown web platforms to what they might experience with a hosted, software as a service platform like Cisco Eos.  The numbers were compiled through both executive interviews, as well as some benchmarking and modeling from IDC’s past work on similar topics.  

 

Cisco:  Welcome, Karsten.  You talked to executive in eight media companies for this study.  What issues were top of mind for them?

Karsten: Well what was very clear was that executives are recognizing that the web is transitioning from a necessary cost center to a profit center as they think about building a sustainable online business. Financial performance of Web presences has very much become a top-of-mind issue.

They realize that this will continue to place pressure on them to explore more efficient means of operations in attaining better margins. I heard from one music industry executive that, “just the fact that we are attaching revenue to project activity with potential revenue has been a mind shift for us.” He went on to say that he is now looking at “ROI for every Web project”.

A TV industry executive I talked to said that they are “running a pretty inefficient operation.” He thought that if he could cut down both on vendor and operational spend his company would see as much as 15-20% lower operating costs.

 

Cisco: It sounds like there’s a lot more attention now on the “business” behind delivering online content.  Did you run into any difficulties conducting the study?

Karsten: It may not be surprising, but many media companies we talked to couldn’t easily identify the full cost of their web infrastructure. This was because the budgets tend to be siloed across multiple organizations – IT, the various brands or operating groups, a “digital” overlay organization, etc. In some organizations, we had to track down several people to get a more holistic view of what media companies are actually spending to support their online activities.

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Devo, Cisco Eos, and the importance of fan data

Club Devo Website Powered by Cisco Eos

As we blogged about previously, Warner Bros Records and Devo announced at the SXSW Interactive conference that they would be soon relaunching their band web site on Cisco Eos technology

The new Club Devo site is now live on the web, pictured in the above screen shot.

Also at SXSW Interactive, WEA (Warner / Elektra / Atlantic) SVP of Emerging Technology, Ethan Kaplan, discussed the importance of the artist web site as a hub to collect and act upon data generated by music fans on social networks (link to video of the discussion).

So what kind of data will Devo be collecting about it’s fans using its site built on Cisco Eos? 

Devo is launching a ‘song study’ to see what songs should go on it’s new upcoming album. You can participate by visiting -- http://songstudy.clubdevo.com. It’s a great way to crowd source the final track selections for the Devo album -- you the fan in effect will become the record executive, telling Devo which songs should make the cut.

 

Yet, there’s more to the song study than just letting fans choose the songs. It’s all about using technology to create a constant dialog with the fan that drives higher fan engagement and informs Devo and Warner Bros Records about what kinds of products and experiences they should be marketing and selling to you the music consumer. 

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