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The Arc of Content Era



Today, more and more,  people are engaging with video  (and increasingly other content) on two types of screens.

1. A bigger screen that hangs vertical on a wall, which we call a TV or in some cases another vertical screen that sits on our desk called a personal computer.

2. A smaller screen, that lies horizontal on our lap or in our hands, which we call a smart phone, laptop or tablet.

The future of the content business, from advertising to programming, will be built around the interaction within the ninety-degree arc between the horizontal and the vertical screens.

This is the Arc of Content.

Findings from a host of places including NBC Universal’s “Billion dollar” Olympic research indicate that people are consuming video and content in an additive way.  They are following events on multiple screens.

During most live television events we now follow the events on the big vertical screen while hearing or sharing our perspectives on the horizontal screen. Increasingly, many people find a Twitter stream on their phone or tablet is the more insightful soundtrack for live events than what accompanies the broadcast. For others a second screen experiences such as Zeebox or Get Glue add information or social or transactional layers to the activities on the vertical screen.

As tablets proliferate and smart phones get more powerful this multi-screen habit will grow.  While at home, we are likely to use the biggest television we can find as the vertical screen and a tablet or phone as the horizontal screen to create the Arc of Content. But we will soon create this arc everywhere. For instance, in the privacy of our room or on the road we will use the tablet propped vertically and the phone horizontally to create an “arc on the go”. Or the vertical screen will be a television in a bar and our tablet or phone will be the horizontal screen.

Basically, content will be consumed as an arc in as many places as we will be able to make this happen. Being transfixed to just one screen for video will over the years shrink to a minority of people who are old or do not have access to a wireless connection.

The Content Arc will transform marketing among other things.

Marketers will have to learn how to tell stories using multiple screens. They will also have the ability to enhance storytelling and data gathering and collapse the funnel from awareness to transaction. Interactive television will be more an Interactive Arc between the vertical and the horizontal screen rather than interactive TV as we imagined it, which involved zip code targeting, interactive menus and remotes.

Programmers and distributors are already moving quickly in working to understand and leverage the Content Arc whether it be unleashing video such as HBO Go, investing in the horizontal plane of the arc as Comcast recently announced with Zeebox, or Nielsen leveraging Twitter as a quick, real time research tool. But, increasingly the sight sound and motion business will not just come from the traditional video companies and studios but from the Trojan horse of the horizontal screen which will via technologies like Apple Airplay take over the large screen.

While we think of Google’s You Tube combined with Google+, Amazon Instant with their data warehouse or Microsoft’s X-Box as ways technology companies will come to the large screen, it is not just a technology play. Conde Nast, Hearst and the magazine business can now become major television players as they take their titles and properties and make them truly multi-media and get distribution over IP based versus cable networks.

The opportunities and threats for each marketer, brand, agency and content player will be significant as we enter the Arc of Content Era.

 Companies and individuals, who think and plan around the Arc of Content, should see their future blessed with another arc.

 They will enjoy a rainbow of wealth and business growth after the storm of change.



5 comments on “The Arc of Content Era

  1. Thanks for this Rishad. Content a crucial area where very few marketers have made progress. I think there is some difficulty making the distinction between advertising and effective content. You produce advertising to get attention, you produce content to hold attention.

    That’s a whole world of difference in approach with presentation, usability and dominant design.

    – Greg

  2. breaking my heart!
    how about a video version?

    Spencer Reiss

    1. rishadt says:

      Absolutely. Seriously we can make it happen. Also check out

  3. Terry Heaton says:

    I agree with everything stated here, Rishad. My only concern about second screen scenarios is the assumption that the second doesn’t disrupt the first, and the extent to which it does exactly that. Young people are vastly more able to multi-task than old folks like me, but I wonder, for example, how much second-screening (is that a word?) takes place during commercial breaks.

  4. Ron Lunde says:

    My wife and I had dinner at the local Chilli’s in Ponte Vedra, FL the other night. Multi screen TV’s with football, soccer, golf – all going at once.80 % seemed to be tweeting, texting or iPading this or that. Plus enjoying a cocktail or beer, munching on this and that. Lot’s of chit chat and other forms of conversation going on. Talk about the Arc of Content. How to cut through the clutter … ? Can the carbon forms focus on a message?

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