We spent the day at The Digital Media Conference East covering the latest innovations in new media technologies. The big topics of the day? Two themes, “gamification” and “transmedia,” are likely to dominate.

Gamification is the application of gameplay mechanics to non-game applications. For example: Using a game to teach standardized tests, or providing the same risk-and-reward and social connection strategies to help patients reach long and short-term health-care goals. Transmedia describes a production that uses multiple media platforms to tell a story, bringing together a diverse audience.

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5 p.m. - Getting lawmakers’s heads into the cloud

After a short break, it was back to the panel discussions. I sat in on the “Content in the Cloud” discussion.

“Anyone here heard of cloud computing before?” joked moderator Marty Lafferty, CEO of DCIA.

Asked what the top two or three legal concerns are regarding the further adoption of cloud computing and what recommendations they would make to lawmakers, all eight panelists had something to say.

Kshitij Kumar, senior vice president of mobile and video for Concurrent started with the need for greater protections for content consumers and creators. He said that someone could potentially steal a piece of content, a song for example, from elsewhere and be able, through iTunes new Match program, to legitmately own that content.

“What you’ve done now is cut out the entire content industry,” said Kumar. “These kinds of things are huge, huge issues that we have barely started scratching the surface of. ...I think that lawmakers need to be looking at this really closely” to protect content consumers and users at the same time.

“Getting more access to mobile broadband will be an important thing for this industry,” said Charles Worthington, a manager at Altman Vilandrie & Co., referring to the increased need for a “ubiquitous Internet connection” in order to use the new Google and Apple cloud applications.

“You aren’t going to generate new content if you’re not protecting copyright, and you won’t have good quality unless it is remunerative,” chimed in Sean Sullivan of Verizon Business.

“I think these guys are going to litigate and find it out that way,” said David Steinberg, CEO of SnappCloud. “The government leads in technology use, but it’s never going to catch up in legislation.”

3:40 p.m. — More bad news for Blackberry-maker RIM

After a lunch break and presentation from Comcast, attendees split into four different panels. At a panel on Media and Facebook, SocialCode’s Addie Conner cited the 2012 election as the “first, big Facebook election.” (Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign staff might beg to differ.) SocialCode is a subsidiary of The Washington Post company.

PBS Director of Digital Marketing and Communications, Kevin Dando, described how geo-location made it easier for PBS to reach out to audience members nationwide who identified primarily with local PBS member stations.

Sitting in on the tail end of the Mobile Marketing panel revealed, in relatively stark terms, the new mobile marketplace. The moderator took a quick poll of the audience. The big take-aways: Nearly all audience members had a tablet. None of those tablets was Android-based. Nearly all audience members had a BlackBerry. None said they would be buying another BlackBerry in their lifetime.

Not a good day for BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM).

1:30 p.m.: One-on-one with Sean Casey, CEO of SocialGuide.com

I sat down with Sean Casey during the lunch break to discuss his latest project, SocialGuide.com — a web-based television guide that crosses Tribune Media’s programming data with the Facebook and Twitter APIs. Casey called it a “second screen experience.”

“What we want to do is be that place that’s uniform no matter what show [you’re] watching [you] can have a social experience,” said Casey.

Everybody is going to their cable provider’s guide when they first launch their service, and it’s “pretty terrible,” says Casey. “With our guide...you can see immediately what are the shows that are trending right now.”

“I’ve been building web applications for about 20 years,”said Casey, who built Comcast’s first Web site in 1994. The idea for SocialGuide.com, which is currently in beta, was born when Casey looked at his Facebook and Twitter timelines and noticed a lot of his friends talking about the shows they were watching.

“It started as experiment to see how many people were talking about live TV as it aired,” said Casey, “I struck an R&D deal with Tribune to use their TV listings data, started building our social TV recognition system and was amazed to see how many people were talking about TV as it aired.”

“We started building SocialGuide based on that concept,” he said. “The project was self-funded for the first year and a half.”

He dedicated Fridays to building the site, which started as TalkWit.tv. “I started looking for money last summer.”

“We know that real-time social TV conversations are happening,” said Casey, “So I want to go out to where those conversations are.”

The online guide shows real-time Twitter feedback and rates shows based on social interest. (As of the writing of this post NBC’s “The Voice” was head and shoulders above other programs in the #1 spot.) The guide follows hashtags like #nw or #nowwatching and search phrases like “I am watching” to monitor “check-in” -- when viewers are starting to watch programs. According to Casey, this check-in monitoring has captured roughly 9 percent of the audience for television viewing. The program also allows you to filter the Twitter conversation to include only the accounts you are following, and some shows feature a stream of cast members tweets.

SocialGuide.com has built an API powering the mobile applications, and they are now working on providing it to networks. SocialGuide will soon launch program pages that aggregate social media engagement for individual shows on individual pages. Program series will be the first to get the page treatment, followed by sporting events.

“We want to make a consumer play,” says Casey. “We’re going to be very agressive about getting people to use our guide.”

Noon - Can we ever really cut the cord?

“People want to find a way to reduce their monthly burn,” said Chad Lucien, senior VP of sales and marketing at Hillcrest Labs, referring to users’ efforts to cut their monthly media costs. Lucien went on to say that those individuals who take the initiative to find alternate pathways to consume media are the ones shaving away at traditional, cord-based media providers.

The conversation turned to Netflix, the streaming and mail-delivery movie service. “I do think they’re largely responsible” for the increased number of consumers who are leaving traditional service providers behind. “Netflix did the heavy lifting in the beginning,” said Jay Endsley, chair of the Digital Living Network Aliance and Principal Engineer and director at Samsung Electronics.

Asked for predictions as to the future of YouTube, Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3 said the company had a future, but likely not as a direct Netflix or HBO competitor. “I think they want to be everything,” said Louderback, saying YouTube’s focus was on creating a multi-channel environment.

On the subject of whether the iPad is the future of television, no one on the panel committed to a yes-or-no answer. “If you don’t give [consumers] what they want, they will go and get it,” said Louderback, describing the iPad as just another screen consumers will want to receive everything through.

Asked if cable companies are on the decline, the panel generally agreed that the companies will be around for a while, continuing to rebundle products and fragment their internal workings to accomodate for the new ways in which consumers choose to receive content.


Panelists: Jim Louderback, CEO, Revision3, Jay Endsley, Chair, Digital Living Network Alliance / Principal Engineer / Director, Samsung Electronics, Chad Lucien, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Hillcrest Labs, Janet Brown, CEO, Cinetic Rights Management / FilmBuff, John McCaw, CRO, Yidio, Moderator: Ned Sherman, CEO, Digital Media Wire

11 a.m. - Venture capitalists on investing in digital media: “We’re all in the greed stage.”

“It’s a really exciting time in the area and in D.C.,” said Grotech Ventures’ Don Rainey, going on to say that the government was “writing a lot of checks it can’t cash,”and thereby giving entrepreneurs greater opportunity.

“There is a handful of sort of extraordinary companies,” said Revolution LLC’s Tige Savage, “and that’s led to a lot of...positive energy for innovation to result in larger companies.”

“It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur,” Tige concluded.

“We invest for two reasons: Greed and fear,” said Phillip Brenner of Novak Biddle Venture Partners. “We’re all in the greed stage.”

“Airbnb to me is fasinating,” continued Brenner, referring to the company that allows people to rent out their home as a bed-and-breakfast. “More than likely you rely on some community online” to determine the best place to stay. “You’ve basically relied on a community to take the place of a brand,” said Brenner, going on to cite the larger implications of this behavior on the hotel industry and the companies that feed it.

The conversation turned to subscription services and their potential for a resurgence. “Subsctriptions are going to make a comeback as a business model,” said Rainey. Brenner noted that people were earning degrees valued as much as $90,000 online.

But asked about social media over the next year, the VCs painted a bleak picture. Thanasis Delistathis, a managing partener of New Atlantic Ventures said social media is “one of the most overfunded areas of the internet. ...I think there’s going to be a lot of innovation,” but the trick is finding the one that has real potential.

“Don’t try to be the Facebook of ‘X,’” said Revolution’s Tige, while Rainey emphasized the need for focus on real-time communication and geo-location.

“I think mobile is the fastest growing innovation in history,”said Delistathis when asked what the biggest surprise out of the last year.

10 a.m. - Pandora’s Trimble: “It’s a little bit back-to-work”

Pandora Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble, delivered his presentation on the company’s business model and vision post-IPO.

Trimble started with a reference to the IPO, downplaying the event’s significance. “I’m still on the 7:30 shuttle,” Trimble said he told an airport passer-by. “It’s a little bit back-to-work.”

Trimble dismissed satellite radio as Pandora’s main competition. “Our competition is radio,” said Trimble, emphasizing the personalization of Pandora and the role it played in driving engagement. “It’s all about personal, from our perspective.”

“We’re focusing now on how do we work with brands to take advantage of this,” said Trimble, describing Pandora’s approach as evolving from answering the question, “How do we get people in their office?” to how to get an audience at every point of their digital daily lives.

Trimble showed examples of iPhone and iPad ads that incorporated static art with audio and, in the case of an iPad app for Microsoft’s Bing, video.

Asked by an audience member how much Pandora valued being a free product, Trimble said, “We view it as probably the core to our value proposition.”

9:30 a.m. - Steve Case: My worst moment? The AOL-Time Warner merger

Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman of the Case Foundation and Revolution, gave the early morning keynote, fielding questions from Paul Sherman, Editor-in-chief of Potomac Tech Wire.

Case started with a quick reference to the traffic snarl caused by a security situation at the Pentagon. “We wouldn’t be here without the Pentagon,” said Case, referring to the creation of DARPA.

“I think there will be a ‘rise of the rest’ regionally,” said Case, reappropriating a term used by Fareed Zakaria and others in reference to emerging markets in south and east Asia.

Asked about his best moment as an entrepreneur, Case said, “Probably when AOL went public. ... I remember the road show explaining to people what the Internet was.”

His worst moment? “I’ve had many of those. ... Probably the merger of AOL with Time Warner,” said Case. Later, taking a question from a member of the audience, Case said that the ultimate decision to merge the two companies was the right one “but the execution of that was difficult. “

“I now realize the world is divided into two camps: Attackers and defenders,” he continued, describing the attackers as those who are continually focused on meeting the bottom line and the defenders as the entrepreneurs and business creators. The key, said Case, was to turn the attackers on to solving larger problems like health care.

Asked what advice he had for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Case said, “I’m not sure he needs much. ...He wasn’t even born when I started this business.” The younger generations, said Case, “care more about experience than they do about ownership.”

The worst advice he ever received? “A lot of people, including my family, suggested that I quit,” said Case.

Asked if he had considered doing a seed program in D.C., Case said, ‘We’re happy to be supportive of any effort in this region,” going on to say that he would back anything that was part of a “broader regional effort,” wrapping in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland, not just one of the three.

9:00 a.m. - Should Pandora change its name?

Every year the DMCE starts with a research presentation. “It’s not all about Apple, it’s really about mobile,” said Elise Neel, VP of marketing solutions at comScore, citing Google as the true leader in the mobile market place.

“I think that Pandora might consider a name change,” she continued, referring to the music streaming service that finished its second day of public trading Thursday. At the end of the day, Pandora was trading below its initial public offering price. “I would consider changing Pandora to Nirvana.” While a majority of mobile users are uploading the music, of those streaming music to their mobile devices, a majority are using Pandora, said Neel.

Neel went on to cite the growing number of mobile users, describing the mobile marketplace as, “ring, ring ka’ching.”

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