Context – Part 1

After posting Part 2 before Part 1 – I should get with the program, so eight months later, here’s Part 1 with some more general thoughts about context.  It’s really about content within context. 

I think content and context are intrinsically linked. We watch plays or listen to an opera today with the understanding that when they were written there were other times. We take them as a social comment on their times and within that context they become understandable. Of course there are the great classics that tell us truths that hold true to this day. And I take the word truth in its broadest sense, as there is no absolute truth as we so well know (or should know).

I always have liked to say, that there are three basic story lines in the world and they get told over and over again: Romeo and Juliet (forbidden love), Pygmalion (rags to riches) and Antigone (moral dilemma).  After some thought I might add the Quest for the (unattainable) Holy Grail (into which category I’d also put the Slaying the Dragon story, the Odyssey and all war motifs).  Of course that’s a gross oversimplification, but you get the drift.  So, I think as we consume the same content over and over again we need to tell these basic plots in forever smaller consumer segments to keep the stories attractive.  

Here is a link to an interview my friend Gary Delfiner of Popcornflix gave April 10th, 2013 on Fox Business News.  I love how Gary stays on topic despite the interviewers best efforts to get him off.  But Gary talks about niche content, in other words, content within context.  And that’s where we are headed.  Maybe content is still king but then context is co-king or maybe they are co-queens. Who knows.

The point being that the ‘big masses’, or the general public no longer are a viable target audience – never really were, but that’s another topic for another time.  As we move along, we will create ever more content for niche audiences, smaller audience segments that expect content that is geared towards THEM.  A great example is Quincy Morris’ wildly successful webseries In Between Men.  He not only monetizes on the show he is also creating a model to follow. 

My dear fiend Anne Flournoy is working on season three of the webseries The Louise Log, Anne is not monetizing as much yet, but she’s got a great product and is headed in the right direction. Quincy is tapping into the high-fashion minded gay population worldwide – so his target audience has expanded beyond New York and US even, but is within the gay niche market.  Anne’s target audience is a bit less well defined and therein lies in my opinion the lesser opportunity to go after sponsors and branding partners, but that doesn’t mean you can’t, say attract the “neurotic New Yorker” crowd – maybe a few old Woody fans? 

Content is King was coined by Bill Gates in 1996, the article is worth a read.  Gates has stunning vision in 1996 and gets it right.

I think we need to also consider the same content, or like content being spread or consumed through different media and distribution channels.  And when I say different I mean not only 2nd screens, but also different media all together. For print media to survive papers had to add photo, audio and video to their written offerings on-line to give the reader a reason to go from print to computer – the experience had to be richer, go deeper and be real-time.  Similarly I find myself as doc filmmaker branching out into, say print, by creating learning guides and teaching tools to go with my documentary work.  It’s another form of merchandising and cross-platform branding. Nothing new to the advertising and marketing world.

So, context is not only the target audience we address but also the channels of distribution we address through.  Content is still our tool of attraction, but context is taking on an ever bigger role.  Although I think we need to be careful to not confuse “playing with a new app” for the sake of its content.  IF the content sucks, we’ll stop playing with the app very fast.   Maybe content and context keep each other company on par for a while longer, but in the end it’s a good story, well told that will win – so I hope.

A beautiful photo I found on Facebook does a nice job talking about context in its very own way: