Just a heads up, today's post is going to be a little different than usual. I visited the WESH 2 News Station over in Winter Park today and I wanted to share my experience with you all.
It was a cold and windy night on the eve before Halloween......
Okay, so maybe that's not the best start. It was about noon in Florida, probably hovering at 75-80 degrees. It's been a bright, beautiful day, and even traffic hasn't been that bad. It is the day before Halloween though, so there's that. I went to WESH 2 earlier for a private tour around the station with a group of classmates and a professor of mine and had the best time. I learned a lot about the history of the station and its channels, especially the creation of the 8 year old CW18 channel. I was able to sit in on a live broadcast with Meredith Imperato and Jason Guy and see a weather report by Jason Brewer.
I am truly so excited to have met them all; the reporters and the staff alike were all extremely friendly and had nothing but positive things to say about WESH. I am glad I got the opportunity to go and will definitely be visiting again. But until then, I have lots of pictures.
Because this term is so often misused, you'll forgive me for putting it into context as well. Exponential growth does not just mean something is big. Exponential grow is almost unfathomable to people who don't work with numbers. A quick example, 10 times 10 is 100. It creates a much larger number than you started out with and it yields a 900% increase, very large by most metrics. On the other hand, 10 raised to the 10th exponent is 10,000,000,000. For anyone who doesn't feel like counting those zeros, that's 10 billion, a 99,999,999,900% increase. The increases yielded by exponents are almost laughable and it implies growth that is practically unstoppable.
Now, back to data. An exponential increase in the amount of data available for analysis is extremely significant. It is safe to assume that all internet traffic generates data. The amount of time you spend online, any website you visit, any browser you use, any searches you perform, and any links you click are all turned into numbers that describe you as a person, and for businesses, you as a consumer. This allows researchers to draw all sorts of conclusions about your skills, interests, and behaviors. Every action you take online defines you and the shear amount of actions you take creates an exponentially larger profile.
Structured and Unstructured
So what does this mean? It means a lot of the aforementioned data that is collected is not connected to anything and is not organized in a usable way. One of the key tenets of market research, for example, is to only collect data after determining your end goal. In other words, you collect for a purpose: to give specific answers to specific questions. Big data does not always do this. Often times, it simply collects and stores mass amounts of data with which no conclusions can be drawn because the information was not collected in a structured manner. However, there is still a sizable amount of data that is valuable to the collector even if there was no original purpose.
What's the point?
Ultimately, the goal is to create meaning out of a tangled web of information, and then apply it. Used correctly, it's a big asset for businesses. However, many businesses do not take the time to appropriately collect and interpret this mass of information. Resources are invested to obtain large stores of data, and then it sits. Fortunately for researchers, many more businesses have figured out ways of using this data to create better customer interactions. Predicting purchases, for example, so that when an individual finally initiates the transaction, the experience has already been optimized for ease and simplicity. As long as analysts are responsible with individuals' privacy and uphold their confidentiality, there is no reason this latest advancement in information analytics can't benefit everyone. A brief word of caution: if the necessary care is not taken to keep collected data separate from the individuals from which it comes, there could be serious ethical implications. Individuals' right to privacy must be respected above all.
For some reason, there are still a lot of companies who choose not to take mobile marketing and mobile optimization seriously in their digital media strategies. For the life of me, I can not figure out why. Most people spend the majority of their time away from home, and thus, away from their computers. Therefore, much of their browsing and shopping also take place away from home. I saw an interesting article on Forbes the other day that claimed nearly 90% of our digital transactions do not end on the same device they began on. With the current technological environment, consumers can search for an idea on their tablet, save it for later to get more details on their computer, then finally purchase it on their phone after they've thought about it and had time to make a decision. Not taking these cross platform usage patterns into account when designing a website and device optimization is extremely short sighted.
I feel like at this point I should also mention that I have been been writing and will finish this post on my tablet; I am constantly using mobile technology. I can also say for certain, if I were looking for a product or service right now, anything without a mobile presence (in other words, didn't show up in mobile searches immediately) wouldn't get a second chance. That business would be automatically out of the running because there were other businesses who took the time to make sure they could be found on the go and made their site interactive enough to be useful to me as the consumer. Patience runs thin when people are looking for something in a hurry. Better to be the "perfect, just what I needed" company rather than the "I'd really rather not try and figure out their mobile website" company. Mobile media is one of the fastest growing digital segments, it's important to cater to your consumers instead of asking them to cater to you.
Anyone who watches movies religiously like I do knows one of the biggest truths in the movie world is "remakes happen." For good or bad, they happen a lot. New takes on old films generates interest in people who weren't around the first time the movie came was popular, or even just weren't part of the right demographic. With new generations comes new opportunities and chances to appeal to new audiences. The industry seems to be especially interested in old 80's movies right now. Have you noticed? From cute kids' movies like Annie to all time 80's classics like The Goonies, Godzilla, and Robocop, studios seem keen to capitalize on the nostalgia craze that's been so widespread lately.
Why? Well, I already mentioned nostalgia, and that's probably the biggest aspect. When people get older they want to be reminded of things when they were young. For example, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (regardless of your opinions on Michael Bay) was really successful. According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, they ranked number 4 in all-time opening box office weekends for August. Another reason is because people who liked the original are probably still going to spend the money to go see a remake even if it doesn't look promising. There's not really any word yet on how The Goonies process is going, but even if it the trailer doesn't sell me like it should, I'm still going to go see it. It's The Goonies. In any carnation, it's something I grew up with. I'll just spend my time until then hoping they really put the work into making it amazing. What else can we do?
What to Expect
With the much anticipated remodel of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, many people are wondering just what to expect from Walt Disney World's latest project. Downtown Disney has been a staple of Orlando life for what feels like ever and the overhaul is going to affect not only the tourism industry, but day to day life for many Orlando residents as well. Since it's opening in 1975, Downtown Disney has remained predominantly unchanged. Some shops and experiences has come and gone with the times, but the core experience is remarkably similar to what it was almost 40 years ago. Below is a picture of Downtown Disney before the redesign.
So why the sudden change of heart?
For quite awhile, Downtown Disney has been receiving negative reviews about the current experience. Choruses of "not enough for the kids" and "too commercial" have been hanging around this destination for years. Additionally, this area has been divided into three somewhat disjointed sections: The West Side, The Marketplace, and Pleasure Island. Disney Springs plans to create a more cohesive experience. The new location will keep The Marketplace and West Side with new locations The Town Center and The Landing replacing Pleasure Island. None of the sites will make it through the process completely untouched and the area will soon be what Disney is calling "a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside town." Keeping with that description, the unifying theme will be more of a waterfront town rich with scenery, shops, and entertainment. This design should cater much more to families and address complaints of commercialism by with its warm and rustic feel. Below is the anticipated layout to be completed in 2016.
What does this mean for marketing?
For starters, you should know that people haven't exactly been thrilled with the construction process. Disney has kept Downtown open while they transition and reviewers have done nothing but tear them down since it started.
"The main road leading to downtown Disney was a nightmare. The road as well as Downtown Disney are under-construction leaving travelers confused on where to park. Once you finally figure out parking you are then treated to another maze of barricades lining the walkways." -Lauren S, tripadvisor.com
Considering the project is expected to last for another two years minimum, Disney's going to need to save some serious face when this is all over. People go to Disney for the experience and when any part of that is tainted, it's bad for the brand. Additionally, they'll need to notify people when it's all over. Two reasons why. One: People who have been inconvenienced by the construction need to know they don't have to deal with it anymore and Two: People who weren't crazy about Downtown Disney before need to know it's a totally new experience now.
Anyone who wants to keep up with this story should visit Disney's blog over at disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog. They post Disney Springs updates kind of irregularly at the moment, but as we get closer to 2016 and that completion date, I expect you'll see a lot more information coming through.