Futures of Entertainment 2 considers developments in mobile platform development, audience measurement, fan labor, advertising, and cult media properties. Below are descriptions for each of the conference's panels.
Beyond the launch of shiny new devices, the mobile market has been dominated by data services and re-formatted content. Wi-fi connections and the expansion of 3G phone networks enable pushing more data to wireless devices faster, yet we still seem to be waiting for the arrival of mobile's "killer app". This panel muses on the future of mobile services as devices for convergence culture. What role can mobile services play in remix culture? What makes successful mobile gaming work? What are the stumbling blocks to making the technological promise of convergence devices match the realities of the market? Is podcasting the first and last genre of content? What is the significance of geotagging and place-awareness?
Metrics and Measurement
As media companies have come to recognize the value of participatory audiences, they have searched for matrixes by which to measure engagement with their properties. A model based on impressions is giving way to new models which seek to account for the range of different ways consumers engage with entertainment content. But nobody is quite clear how you can "count" engaged consumers or how you can account for various forms and qualities of engagement. Over the past several years, a range of different companies have proposed alternative systems for measuring engagement. What are the strengths and limits of these competing models? What aspects of audience activity do they account for? What value do they place on different forms of engagement? How can we account for the impact of DVRs, video-on-demand, and online video?
There is growing anxiety about the way labor is compensated in Web 2.0. The accepted model -- trading content in exchange for connectivity or experience -- is starting to strain, particularly as the commodity culture of user-generated content confronts the gift economy which has long characterized the participatory fan cultures of the web. The incentives which work to encourage participation in some spaces are alienating other groups and many are wondering what kinds of revenue sharing should or could exist when companies turn a profit based on the unpaid labor of their consumers. What do we know now about the "architecture of participation" (to borrow Kevin O'Reilly's formulation) that we didn't know a year ago? What have been the classic mistakes which Web 2.0 companies have made in their interactions with their customers? What do we gain by applying a theory of labor to think about the invisible work performed by fans and other consumers within the new media economy?
Advertising and Convergence Culture
Migratory audiences and declining channel loyalty are seen as two key challenges convergence culture poses to the advertising industry. At the same time, campaigns that respond by capitalizing on the creativity of audiences prompt questions about the continuing role for creatives. This panel looks at the unfolding role for advertisers within convergence culture, looking at questions about the nature of agencies, transmedia planning and the increasing circulation of advertising as entertainment content. Does the agency structure need to be rethought? What are the implications of breaking down the distinction between content and advertising? What are effective ways to collaborate with creative audiences? How is convergence culture changing the value of different advertising sites?
Cult properties have become mass entertainment. Marvel's success bringing comic book characters to the big screen and the resurgence of the space opera suggest niche properties may no longer mean marginalized audience appeal. This panel explores the politics, pitfalls, and potentials of exploiting niches and mainstreaming once marginalized properties. How do you stay true to the few but build properties attractive to the many? What role do fans play in developing cult properties for success? Is it profitable to build a franchise on the intense interest of the few and rely on Long Tail economics? Are smaller audiences viable in the short term, or do we need to rethink the length of time for a reasonable return?