Editor's Note

Welcome to the first edition of the C3 Newsletter for 2010 (now officially distributed twice monthly).

In our Opening Note , Eleanor Baird - prior to departure from Cambridge for Emeryville, CA - explores the intersection of quantitative and qualitative targeted advertising insights with some fresh perspectives about branding via the web. Also, do not miss the link in this newsletter piece to her MIT Sloan thesis entitled "Targeted Online Advertising: Persuasion in an era of massless communication."

Finally, in our Closing Note, we have Part 2 of an article (first run in the fall 2009 version of CMS' In Media Res) by current CMS Graduate Student Audubon Dougherty '10 - detailing her personal adventure with social entrepeneurship/Information and communications technology (ICT) in rural Peru.

Our Glancing at the Blog and C3 in the News sections of the newsletter capture some of the C3 website posts and web traffic since the holidays.

This issue of the C3 Newsletter was edited by Daniel Pereira. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email him.


In This Issue

Editor's Note

Opening Note: Branding in a direct response medium by Eleanor Baird

Glancing at the C3 Blog

C3 in the News

Closing Note: Wireless internet, ICT entrepreneurship and social impact in rural Peru (Part II) by Audubon Dougherty

CMS Podcasts

The CMS Colloquium Series is intended to provide an intimate and informal exchange between a visiting speaker and CMS faculty, students, visiting scholars and friends. Subjects relate to the various media we create and consume each day: film, TV, comics, videogames, the internet, and the vast body of emerging media that's being created as you read this.

Podcast: Comparative Media Insights: "Race, Rights, and Virtual Worlds: Digital Games as Spaces of Labor Migration"

Video: Comparative Media Insights: "Western Otaku: Games Crossing Cultures"

Podcast: Comparative Media Insights: "From Gamer Theory to Critical Practice"

Podcast: Comparative Media Insights: "Art of the Impossible: Utopia, Imagination, and Critical Media Practice"

Podcast: Comparative Media Insights: "Western Otaku: Games Crossing Cultures"





Opening Note

Branding in a direct response medium

Can you use the web effectively for branding? I touched on this question in my thesis, but before I left Cambridge this summer, I began thinking about it again.

A few months ago, AdWeek reported results of a study that found that most marketers are still using direct response metrics for online advertising, based on click-through and conversion rates. The article points out that search and email marketing are considered the best performers held up to that yardstick, while display and video ads are at the bottom.

In a medium that has so many strengths in measurement, audience interaction and as a direct response tool, focusing on clicks and purchases makes some degree of sense. But what this strategy overlooks is both the internet's strengths in leveraging social networks and word of mouth, and uninspiring click through rates on display ads. Although more and more consumer products are investing in online to influence consumers offline, online branding has been a missed opportunity. How could we use the web effectively as a branding vehicle, in a way that makes sense from a measurement perspective?

Direct marketing is about facilitating transactions, but branding is about facilitating relationships. Here are some thoughts on how to build a brand relationship – and measure it – on the web.

Deltas in expression & interaction

As with any type of advertising, interaction with a brand should lead to a purchase somewhere down the line, but the it’s not a 1 to 1 exchange. A person could interact many times with a brand online but never buy the product, or never interact with the brand online and buy the product anyway. Or they could interact with a brand online and that could not have any bearing on their purchase behavior.

If we start on the premise that branding is about building a relationship, then a snapshot or a total (like the number of people who became fans on Facebook during a campaign) isn’t that meaningful as a metric. Instead, looking at shifts over time is a much more material number to measure both the impact of the campaign and the position that it holds in consumer’s minds. So, for example:

• How are the number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers changing over time? What is the net change from the beginning to the end of the campaign?

• How does the rate of new comments, fans, or followers change over time? What’s the attrition rate?

• How does average time spent and unique visitor volume on the site change over time? How far does it drop off after the first visit or the initial campaign launch?

Reach + amplification

TV advertising is still appealing. In all fairness, there are some sites with big reach, but how do you reconcile volume with targeting on the web when it comes to branding? But reach online doesn’t have to be the same as on TV. Actually, it shouldn’t be. To me a much more relevant metric, especially for a social media campaign or a microsite, is amplification – how much the original site visitors (which we’d used to measure “reach” at a given point in time) spread the word. Some ways to establish amplification would be to ask:

• What is ratio of new to repeat visitors over time?

• What percentage of site visitors embed or forward a video, post, or object?

• What percentage of people who visit the site share or retweet web site links, press releases or tweets using social media sites?

• How much site traffic is coming through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, blogs (WordPress, Blogger)?

• At what rate are all of the above increasing over time?

That said, marketers should be concerned about reach within your target demographic or (even better) behavioral type, but in branding, it’s important that those people keep engaging and endorse the brand by promoting it to their networks.

Make it useful, make it multi-platform

But, how do you ensure that people come back and interact with the brand, as well as feel the need to pass things along to their networks? Although I don’t have anything against banner ads for branding, I think branded utilities will play a big role in the future of brand advertising online because they keep coming back for a reason other than just liking the product.

Useful is a loose term, too – I think the best branded utilities are a platform for interaction with other people in a context that makes sense. Nike is one of my favorite examples – they created a running community/progress tracking site, but there are other potential variations. What a way for coffee shop customers to compare caffeine consumption with other connoisseurs? Or a online travel agent application that lets people benchmark their own globetrotting against groups of people from the same region or with similar interests?

If this sounds familiar, it should – applications on Facebook, LinkedIn and, increasingly, wireless phones, have all aimed to serve this purpose. But, as people expect to be able to jump from platform to platform, it will be the applications that enable anywhere, anytime access as seamlessly as possible that will return the biggest dividends for brands.

Eleanor Baird is a strategist with a passion for media metrics and online advertising. She is currently the Director of Partnerships & Analytics at TubeMogul, an online video promotion, distribution, and analytics company in Emeryville, California. Before moving west, she was a Senior Associate with Compete, a Boston-based web analytics firm where she advised Fortune 50 telecommunications companies on their online marketing strategy. Eleanor is a C3 alumna who worked with the Consortium while earning her MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and writing her master’s thesis on targeted online advertising. She is originally from Toronto, Canada.

Glancing at the C3 Blog


Industry Innovation, User Loyalty, and a Phone to Rule Them All: Google and the Nexus One

On Chuck and Carrot Mobs: Mapping the Connections Between Participatory Culture and Public Participation

Harry Potter: The Exhibition, or What Location

Entertainment Adds to a Transmedia Franchise
A Pop Culture Christmas Top 10

Horribly Influential: Fan Passion for a Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Prequel




Up in the Air: Product placement done right

The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling

Video: What is Transmedia?

Remembering the Razr

Futures of Entertainment 4: Videos, Shwag and More Thoughts on Transmedia

Singing in the Living Room: Fueling the Business Model of FOX's Glee

Futures of Entertainment 4: From Cool Hunters to Chief Culture Officers: An Interview with Grant McCracken

Follow the Blog

Don't forget – you can always post, read, and carry out online conversations with the C3 team at our blog.

C3 and Transmedia in the News


transmedia branding / what consumes me, bud caddell

Flickr Photo Download: Seven Core Concepts of Transmedia Storytelling

AWooldridge (storyt) (storytellin) on Twitter

221B – Social Media and Storytelling at their Finest | The Social Robot

Transmedia Storytelling: Pioneers in the New Age of Narrative, Pt. III - Jeff Gomez of Starlight Runner

Entertainment - The Bookish Dilettante Blog - The Bookish Dilettante

The Shorts Report: Upcoming What's Going On Salon: Social Media

Welcome to tT (transmediaTracker)

The Transmedia Track Blog (transmediaTracker)

CCO Search: an interview with Bud Caddell (Part 2) :: Grant McCracken

Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Blog

Talent imitates, genius steals: Myth of the Near Future - goonth's posterous

Closing Note

Wireless internet, ICT entrepreneurship and social impact in rural Peru (Part 2)

As part of a project funded in part by the Carroll Wilson Award via MIT's Entrepreneurship Center, CMS grad student Audubon Dougherty spent the summer in rural Peru filming a documentary about Banda Ancha Rural, a project subsidized by the Peruvian government that aims to bring wireless internet access to remote Peruvian villages. In the first installment of her piece, Dougherty describes the scope of the ICT project and begins to describe the more than 40 internet “cabinas” she visited. Cabinas are small-scale internet operations started by local entrepreneurs who agree to buy computers in exchange for basic computer and business training. The cabina owners then charge a small fee to members of the community who want to use the computer to access the internet. This second installment of Dougherty’s piece discusses the social significance of the cabinas and the technical challenges facing the project.

It was striking to see how important computers became for cabina proprietors whose standard of living was otherwise extremely low. In one village outside of Cajamarca, we visited a cabina that was part of the entrepreneur's house. It had dirt floors, thatched roofs, chickens everywhere and an outhouse several meters away. For the proprietor, keeping the computers in his home was a top priority. This man had studied computer science and was also an elementary schoolteacher; local kids saw him as a resource, and began to rely on the internet cabina as a place they could go to get help online with math or history lessons.

The proprietor's six-year-old son worked quietly at one computer as we interviewed his father. Although the proprietor joked with me about his son's technological prowess, it spoke to a crucial need for ICT projects in rural communities: sustainability. Many entrepreneurs start internet businesses but then leave the area to pursue job opportunities elsewhere; conversely, older cabina owners rely on their children to run the business, only to be left without managerial or technical skills once their kids go elsewhere for college or to find employment. Training the younger generation is essential, the proprietor told me, not just for their own education but for the continuation of the business itself, and to enable villagers to communicate with the outside world.

A few hours away was another teacher, Jhovany, who doubled as an internet entrepreneur. She wanted to upload news and information about her community to a website. Although Rural Telecom offers a section of their website for entrepreneurs to upload information about their village (, many proprietors don't receive enough training on the web interface or don't fully understand citizen journalism and the incentive for publicizing their village.

In a small town a few hours outside of Lima, we observed a similar initiative facing different challenges. With help from a CEPES (Peruvian Social Studies Centre), a local NGO, internet-enabled computers have been set up by a farmworkers' cooperative as a resource for their dues-paying members. Although the computers are functioning and trainers are available, there has been little community outreach to explain the benefits of internet literacy to migrant farmers and their children. The clients who do show up complain about the installation of Linux on the machines, since the standard in universities and other internet cafes is Windows. Although open source software is sometimes hailed as a solution to technological development in marginalized areas, in this context it is a hindrance; not only do users face a steep learning curve to navigate the operating system, but they have not been able to set up Windows-based chat applications, the most popular mode of communication for friends and family in other areas.

Paying for Access

The downside of garnering a loyal clientele is that internet users become upset when the connection goes down. We met young users, now used to relying on the internet for information and communication, who will commute to the nearest city to find an internet café - a trip that is often long and unsafe. A few proprietors we met have begun to supplement internet services with offline gaming consoles, such as Playstation, so they can stay open and make a little money when the internet connection breaks. One woman used the revenue from gaming to pay her electricity bill, which had gone up with the installation of new computers.

Some entrepreneurs we met were artisans, hoping to sell their stone carvings or painted crafts online, though few had the technical knowledge to do so. Alejandro Cipriano, who lives in a mountainous area outside Huancayo, became an internet entrepreneur after a friend in Lima started selling his traditional painted gourds (mates burilados) via email orders—some of which came from as far away as Japan. Although Cipriano’s internet connection has been down for months, he still hopes to eventually have his own website and sell his goods directly to international consumers online.

We also heard about a nearby Andean village that had transformed their economy through online self-education. A governmental ICT manager told us how the community made money by fishing fresh river trout, but could only sell the fish to local buyers. With the arrival of the internet, they found online resources outlining the process for canning trout. This revitalized their industry, allowing them to sell preserved river trout as far away as Lima.

The Peruvian jungle presented a completely different context. Native tribes still live throughout the Amazon and, despite tribal land disputes that blocked roadways for weeks, we were able to visit two native villages where internet connections had been set up. Although leaders from both villages wanted to preserve their traditional way of life, culture and language, they saw technology as a critical means through which to develop their community - to further education for children, to stay informed about the latest prices for agricultural products, and to communicate with people in other areas.

We spoke to a teacher in one native community who emphasized the need for more governmental support for technology education, including more computers and lower rates for internet connections. "I would also like my school to have a video camera like yours," he told me, "so the students would be able to put footage from this village online."

Perhaps if I embarked on this project five years from now, I would be able to focus on the innovative uses of internet and communication technology in areas previously cut off from all forms of communication. But the rural internet project is still in development. Until the government or private telecoms can increase funding to secure stable, affordable wireless connections and expand training for entrepreneurs, progress is slow.

While pressing needs for basic services in extremely rural areas remain - for better education, phone lines, improved roads - there still exists a great desire by rural Peruvians to develop their communities through technology. Cell phones, for instance, have become the primary means of communication in remote areas and are faster, cheaper and more reliable than computers. It is this sector that has the greatest potential for innovation and social impact. Perhaps the next time I visit Peru, internet will be in wider use through mobile devices, and I can make an entirely new documentary - from my phone.

Audubon Dougherty is a filmmaker and digital activist interested in the role of media in international development. She studied writing at Emerson College before transferring to Smith College to complete a degree in anthropology with a focus on visual culture. This led her to the field of human rights, where she traveled to Southeast Asia in 2006 as a blogger and photographer to assess disaster relief projects assisting tsunami survivors. She returned to Thailand the following year to provide multimedia training for an organization serving Burmese migrants and undocumented workers. As a communications specialist for a labor union, she helped develop a new media program which utilized e-communication, streaming video and mobile messaging to help organize 22,000 home care workers in Massachusetts. Outside of work, Dougherty formed her own video production collective, producing and directing films for exhibition at festivals and on the web.

The Fine Print

This issue of the C3 Weekly Update compiled and edited by Daniel Pereira ( for the Convergence Culture Consortium.


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