Promo Traps and Spending Caps

In a world plagued by an abundance of timeworthy content, the money pie is dealt to increasingly disproportionate piles with the tiniest of slices – one subscriber at a time. But where does this lead?

As tech matures, so does the software it is used for. Now that smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles have arguably reached their functionality zeniths (at least for the foreseeable future), we are beginning to see how software and content providers are trying to secure their piece of the consumers’ time and money. And it’s looking like a mad gamble. Like the countless companies that fell into the promo trap in the 1900’s, businesses in the digital age are trying to figure out ways to serve their product as a subscription. By cutting their product in small chainable pieces, or by promising an endless stream of new content, companies are scrambling to fullfill their fiduciary duty to their shareholders: to create a mytical, gold spewing sampo – a source of continuous revenue.

Promo traps

Falling into a promo trap is quite simple: create extra demand by temporarily reducing prices, see sales dwindle when the sale ends, rinse & repeate until your clientele begins to expect the price cut. In Finland, the best promo trap examples are probably furniture and magazine businesses. It’s so easy to purchase the desired product below their normal rate, that it’s actually the norm. In the gaming world, Steam’s sales are iconic in their ability to create demand, but they have also taught gamers to wait for the inevitable price drops before pulling the trigger. Lord knows we have enough backlog to carry us over the wait. Getting out of a promo trap is painful, requires deep pockets, and might not even work! If you’ve devalued your product, there is no telling if your clientele is willing to pay premium anymore. And don’t pretend it’s not devaluing to sell your 3-year project for 0,99 € on the eShop just to get on the top-sellers list.

Spending caps

On the other side of the same coin we have subscription models. Like with the promo trap, the road to fiscal growth is paved with good intentions – lowering the barrier of entry for the customer. Why pay 16,90 to own a movie, when you can pay 9,90 a month to have viewing rights for a thousand? The proposal is of course very beneficial for the consumer, but the devil is in the long run.

Now we have Spotify, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Disney, Netflix, EA, Audible and a plethora of other suitors, both global and local, that are trying to woo you into a subscription or a season pass of some sort. That’s a lot of services to pay for regularly, and a shit-ton content to consume – more than anyone is capable I’d wager. This creates a problem. Consumers will (and already have) start optimizing their spending and media consuming according to current trends and the size of their wallet. “This month I’ll watch The Boys, the next I’ll go back to Netflix for The Witcher.” How can you tackle that? Well you can try by creating an ungodly amount of unmissable content, an artificial zeitgeist if you will, that binds the consumer trough fear-of-missing-out. Disney is doing this by acquiring every intellectual property there is worthy of the green screen treatment. Netflix is flooding its service with new shows, and the Oscars with its movies – no matter the cost. Epic, Sony and Microsoft give out free games for peanuts. Spotify is trying to cement its value by securing a foothold in the podcast business. Most AAA games pretend to be services with their battle passes and DLC deals. All this is accomplished with money, ridiculous amounts of money.

At the end of the rainbow

What happens when you eventually run out of juice? Your audience moves away from Star Wars? RDJ retires and the Next-Big-Thing-Man doesn’t gain traction? Battle pass season 3 sales dip?  Brand face lift goes awry? Subscriber numbers begin to fall? Your shareholders are in a mad panic?

How to avoid the losing subscribers to your competitor? That is the billion dollar question. Netflix is pumping money to keep the flow of Originals steady, but I’d be surprised if that’s sustainable in the long term. Microsoft’s Game Pass and Sony’s Playstation Now are ever expanding and adding newer and newer games to their libraries, but I’m sure at least Microsoft has ulterior motives besides game profits for its spending. Sony on the other hand is very much dependant on their gaming revenues, so it’s a must-win battle. A little closer to home, magazines are being bundled creatively so that the main product becomes ancillary. Furniture businesses are still riding on seasonal sales like nothing’s changed. All this seems risky and expensive, and some of these methods might spiral the whole market into a race to the bottom.

So, let’s take advice straight from the top. Pokémon is the highest grossing media franchise of all time with approx. 100 billion dollars. How? By doing virtually nothing but the bare minimum. Even the fiercest Pokémon fans admit that the franchise has become quite stale and stuck in the past, but when the newest iteration hits the shelves the very same people cough up.
What about Star Wars then, surely the household sci-fi franchise is executing its strategy ingeniously? Well about that… It’s a small miracle that The Rise of the Skywalker stumbled itself beyond the billion dollar mark, and that The Mandalorian launched to such high praise, when the franchise seems to lack any sort of creative vision.

So stay put, do nothing and hope for the best. Or scramble everywhere in a desperate effort to please absolutely everyone.

Welp.

 

Copywriting vs. copyerasing

Writing good copy is as much writing as it is erasing.

The why : Time is money and attention is expensive. If your text babbles on and on, you’ll lose both. Conciseness is also aesthetic, and short lines pack a punch.

The how : Know what you’re writing about, write it – then delete most of it. Do your research, stick to the facts, and concentrate on the flow.

In this time of excess info, businesses (and consumers) are left struggling for space. If you find some, please don’t be a waste of it.

5 Steps on the Road to Creativity

Well of course you will not get too far on any road with only 5 steps. But a start is a start.

1. Know your goal/direction
Ok, so you want to create something, surely you know what you are creating it FOR.

2. Support your memory
Write/draw/record all ideas and thoughts on your way to creative mastery. You can use the freed brain capacity for thinking the unthought. Invest in pencils, notebooks, software, recorders etc.

3. Move, take breaks & sleep
When you are aiming for breakthroughs, remember to listen to your body. Nothing activates brains like a long walk or 8 hours of sleep.

4. Jam with others
Ideas need air, so let them out for a spin from time to time. Most of the time your ideas come back all grown up and ready for final tweaks.

5. Iterate
Even if it’s inked, it doesn’t mean you’re there yet, there’s always room on the next page. Submit your darlings to change, double check your goals, read through your notes, sleep on it, and expose your creation to wider critique.Follow these easy steps and you’ll be writing haiku in no time.

Unwarranted Optimism? – Marketing in 2016

In the first assignment (and the last blog post I published) of my Master’s studies I wrote ‘Quit the bullshit’ as one of the marketing trends of 2014. According to my unscientific observations, in the past two years the marketing narrative has slowly been shifting towards quality over quantity. Marketers are beginning to understand data, copywriting seems to be valued again, and creating a new campaign site is no longer a go-to answer to every brief.

The only thing that continues to cause empty buzz is the constant stream of new social media services, but it feels like proper agencies don’t jump on the bandwagon quite so easily anymore. Marketing should be about the content, the message, but not the media. People use social media for reciprocity, self-efficacy, and quick dopamine rushes. Whatever your brand does, it’s interrupting the viewer, so make sure the content is worth it.

I tip my hat to Valio for their quality and consistency. The ad below is already ancient but oh well.

PS. My Master’s studies distracted me from writing the blog for a whopping 1,5 years. Apologies for that.

Taidetta ei tehdä laskimella

Free to play- ja mobiilipelien viime aikoina kasaama, alati kasvava taalerivuori on houkutellut esiin analyytikoiden, konsulttien ja oman elämänsä asiantuntijoiden limaisen armeijan. Ehdotan pikaisia suojelutoimenpiteitä kulttuurihistoriallisesti tärkeille pelisarjoille ennen kuin on liian myöhäistä.

Sanomattakin on selvää, että Angry Birdsin ja Clas of Clansin menestys on monistettavissa läpi koko pelikentän. Ei muuta kuin ansaintalogiikka.xls auki, ctrl+a ja vanha kunnon copy-paste käyttöön. Jos pokka riittää, voi maksumuurin taakse viedä myös pelimekaanisesti tärkeitä ominaisuuksia ja kas, rahavirrat sen kuin voimistuvat. Miksi kassakoneet eivät sitten laula ympäri maailmaa disruptiosta innoissaan olevissa pelitaloissa?

Ehkä jossain on vielä jotain järkeä?

Mutta onneksi ei sentään Electronic Artsin palkkalistoilla, EA nimittäin ystävällisesti demonstroi mitä tapahtuu, kun laskimet määrittävät taidetta. Yhtälön piti olla vedenpitävä: otetaan suosittu pelisarja, esimerkiksi Dungeon Keeper, tehdään siitä ilmainen uusintaversio ja lisätään pari vapaaehtoista maksukikkaretta mukaan. Mikä voisi mennä vikaan? No ihan kaikki. Kaikki. Huhhuh.

Missä EA, siellä myös Microsoft, joka lisäsi mikromaksuja täysihintaiseen Forza 5 -autopeliin. Luit oikein, maksat ensin suu messingillä 69,90 odotetusta autopelistä, vain huomataksesi, että simulaatio onkin autokaupasta eikä ajamisesta. Jos uusi Dungeon Keeper on pay2play free2playn sijaan, niin Forza on sitten varmaan pay2free2play2pay. Sanottakoon se Microsoftin ja pelinkehittäjä Turn 10:n puolesta kuitenkin, että heidän selityksissään on edes jotain yritystä.

Minua surettaa rakasta harrastustani piinaava kapitalismipeikko. Pelintekijöiden työtä tahrataan ylimääräisillä hintalapuilla ja psykologien juonimilla addiktointimenetelmillä. Suunnittelupöydällä eivät ole enää uusien maailmojen kartat ja vieraiden rotujen diplomatiasuhteet, vaan ansaintalogiikka.xls. Pelaajat totta kai äänestävät lompakoillaan, mutta kuinka paljon lupaavia pelejä ehditään pilata ennen kuin realiteetit saavuttavat sikariportaan?

Onneksi liioittelen pelien ahdinkoa minkä kerkeän  peleillä on loistava tulevaisuus ahneista pelinpilaajista huolimatta. Uudet tuulet ovat puhaltaneet indie-pelit ennennäkemättömään kukoistukseen ja Kickstarter tarjoaa varteenotettavan rahoitusmahdollisuuden isojen julkaisijoiden ylenkatsomille projekteille. Mutta silti… pitäkää limaiset näppinne erossa hienoista pelisarjoista!

PS. Tässä esimerkkejä reiluista ja tuottoisista free2play-peleistä: Dota 2, Path of Exile ja Clash of Clans. Erityinen hatunnosto myös Nintendolle, joka ei edes nykyisessä kuopassaan suostu tinkimään periaatteistaan, vaan haluaa edelleenkin tarjota faneilleen vain ja ainoastaan sataprosenttista Nintendo-laatua.

Kivijalka 2.0

Viime viikolla julkaistiin Digibarometri 2014. Yllätykseni oli suuri, kun digi-ihmisten tavanomainen selkään taputtelu loisti Musiikkitalon tilaisuudessa poissaolollaan ja pääosassa oli laadukas keskustelu. Yleisökin osallistui! Suomessa!

Digibarometri 2014:n viesti oli selkeä. Suomella menee hyvin, mutta voisi mennä paljon paremminkin. Ja jos kehitys junnaa paikallaan, saattaa kohta mennä kertaluokkaa huonommin. Käsi ylös kaikki yllättyneet.

Onnistunut seminaari herätti useita ajatuksia, mutta eräs sivujuonne olisi ansainnut enemmän huomiota. SOK:n markkinointijohtaja Veli-Pekka Ääri toi sivulauseessa esille yhden IBM:n tuoreista tulevaisuuden visioista: lokaali ostaminen voittaa verkkokaupan. Auditorion ollessa täynnä verkkokaupan ja kivijalan asiantuntijoita olisi ollut mielenkiintoista kuulla kuinka IBM:n ennustus voisi toteutua, vai onko sillä mahdollisuuksia toteutua lainkaan.

Kivijalan voittamisella IBM ei toki tarkoita verkkokaupan häviämistä, vaan sen liittymistä symbioosiin kivijalan kanssa. Verkkokauppa ei siis uhkakuvista huolimatta tule hävittämään perinteistä kauppaa, vaan uudet palvelumallit ja ansaintalogiikat kurovat umpeen kahden kaupan välisen kuilun. Kaksi kauppatapaa elävät tulevaisuudessa saumattomassa yhteistyössä kivijalan pitäessä yllä analogisen maailman brändi-identiteettiä sekä palvelukokemusta, ja verkkokaupan palvellessa asiakasta kaikkialla 24/7.

Itse toteutin ennustusta heti seuraavana päivänä selatessani Levykauppa X:n verkkokaupassa Kallion myymälän hyllyssä olevia vinyylejä. Bongasin muutaman mielenkiintoisen, jonka jälkeen menin kivijalkaan hakemaan näppituntumaa. Kasasin siis käytännössä ostoskorin verkossa ja menin sitten tekemään lopullista päätöstä myymälään. Keksin käyttäytymisestäni heti ainakin kolme selvää etua kuluttajalle:

  • Sano ei ei-oolle! Katsomalla hyllysaldot etukäteen saa selville löytyykö kaupasta kiinnostavia tuotteita.
  • Näppituntuma on paras tuntuma! Tuotteiden hiplaus on kivaa ja hyvä kauppakokemus voi olla lähes yhtä tärkeä osa ostosta kuin itse tuote.
  • Piut paut postimaksuille! Säästät selvää rahaa kantamalla ostoksesi itse kotiin. Lisäksi saat raitista ilmaa!

Tähän yhtälöön kun lisää tulevaisuuden herkut augmentoidusta todellisuudesta personoituun kauppakokemukseen, niin avot! Tarina on tietenkin toinen, mikäli sattuu asumaan jossain peräkylässä, missä viimeiset kivijalat ovat pizzeria ja hautaustoimisto. Kaikille muille suosittelen lämpimästi varaamaan lippuja kivijalan renessanssiin!

Uusi alku

On tullut aika uudelleen aktivoida nyt noin vuoden hiljaiseloa viettänyt blogini. Sapattivuosi kirjoittamisesta oli virkistävä, mutta ammatillisen uskottavuuteni (hah) säilyttämiseksi minun lienee parasta palata näppäimistön ääreen.

Ei uutta alkua ilman uusia kujeita, tarkkaavaisimmat nimittäin ehkä huomasivatkin, että kirjoituskieleni on vaihtunut suomeen. Syynä on se, että tekstin tuottaminen suomeksi ei ole niin työlästä kuin englanniksi. Haluan myös vaihtelun vuoksi käyttää äidinkieltäni.

Asiaan. Julistan digiseikkailublogini siis jälleen aktiiviseksi, ja juhlistan tätä loogisesti listaamalla viisi asiaa, joissa analoginen voittaa digitaalisen.

1. Printti-Hesaria on mukavampi lukea kuin iPad- tai verkkolehteä.

2. Vinyylilevyllä on sielu, MP3-tiedostossa on korkeintaan virus.

3. Kirja tuoksuu seikkailulta, täppärit eivät (oletettavasti/toivottavasti) miltään.

4. Ulkomainonta elävöittää kaupunkikuvaa, display-mainonta verkossa taas on lähinnä surullista.

5. Kynän rapinaa paperilla voisi kuunnella rentoutumismielessä levyltä, mutta täppäreiden kirjoitusääni *thud-thud-thud* alkaa nopeasti jurppia.

Siinä se, ensi kerralla jokin oikea kirjoitus.

The Reign of TV Is Ending

In the recent decades TV has ruled the living room with absolute power. The reign has been so forceful it has been deemed normal to keep the TV on even if we don’t watch it. The static background buzzing of a TV set is the de facto creator of the urban apartment ambience. We are comforted by the long-running family sitcoms in our hectic and laughless lives. We can’t turn it off because we might miss something. We are slaves.

However, even the most powerful reigns are always a regicide away from ending. And TV in its traditional sense is dying, at least in my house. Usually I avoid handing out death sentences but with TV I have to make an exception. The death growl in my living room is so loud it echoes around the whole apartment.

I too am/was a part of the slave caste of the TV era. I wrapped myself in the warm and fuzzy background noise when I was cooking, cleaning or even reading a book. I surfed the channels frantically in search of something worth my time, usually ending up watching some random program just for the sake of it.

Then came reality TV. The first season of BB, Survivor and other flagships were ok, but as the trend progressed I started to pull away. I used to relax watching mind-numbing soap operas and small game shows. Although I always felt a little shared sense of shame it was ok because all in all it was harmless fun. Then suddenly my TV was filled with all manner of “reality” filth the channels dared air in their desperate race for ratings. I was appalled.

I continued to follow the renaissance of TV series with some level of enthusiasm, but my relationship with the king of medias was changing. As soon as the one show that I wanted to watch ended, I had to turn off the TV. I wanted nothing to do with the reality garbage.

Then came Blu-ray and quality series in HD were liberated from under the yoke of TV, given that I had the patience to wait for the release of course. I usually could not wait and was so still forced to suffer regular TV.

Then came streaming. Then came the kingslayer.

Suddenly I was no longer bound by airing times, commercial breaks or reality show half-wits. I could watch anything, anytime and almost anywhere with any device I wanted. Why should I channel surf anymore when I can just decide what to watch and watch it instantly. When previously families gathered around the TV, the content is now following us anywhere we go. I have more “TV content” to consume than ever before, but because I don’t need traditional channels anymore for the first time in my life I can picture my living room TV-free.

TV no longer rules me. The reign has ended and the successor to the throne is me, the viewer.

P.S. As for the comforting background noise, I use this new thing called a radio. It’s really great, you should definitely check it out.

Print UI Still Unmatched

Print newspapers are disappearing left and right. Business models are being revamped for the digital era. Digihipsters and change addicts are hailing the death of print.

Why?

What is the reason behind the long decline of print subscriptions? The internet, of course, but why?

I understand the multimedia possibilities internet publications have. Videos, slide shows and interactive content could offer much additional value for articles. The volume of information is on a different planet compared to print, you can basically carry a whole library with you if you have a proper device. To maximize the value for time used reading, the last few years have seen a wave of start ups creating different applications for perfecting content flow according to your preferences.

But in my opinion digital is nowhere near print yet when it comes to reading. I hereby present my case:

HS print vs HS iPad
HS print vs HS iPad

I opted to subscribe to print Helsingin Sanomat after reading the iPad version for a year, because I noticed that I only read the headlines. My reading habits deteriorated because the reading experience so poor on the small screen.

No matter how fancy the effects are (Edge), or how nice the layout is (Polygon), print is superior for pure reading. Reading from 24″ screen is awkward and too straining to be enjoyed for longer periods of time. And look at the picture again, how can you offer anything resembling a good reading experience on a frame as small as that?

I’m somewhat taken aback by the way people trash print. How do you read newspapers for example on a tablet? By meticulously reading every article, or by reading the headlines only? I like to skim through, glance left and right, skip some articles and come back to them shortly after. I find this extremely difficult to do with the tablet UI’s of today.

Moping aside, I of course also enjoy my daily dosage of digital magazines and newspapers, but please, there’s still plenty of room and reason for print to exist.