MIPCOM 2011 roundup

Packing my bags, ready to leave MIPCOM behind for yet another year. Cannes surprised us all with a weather more like mid-July than early October, although as I look out to sea now, some sort of autumn storm is churning up waves and whipping the palms around quite mercilessly.

I don’t know if it was the weather or something else, but this market lacked a lot of the doom and gloom that had been prevalent at most of the MIPs since 2008. Back then we were heading into the unknown of a recession and everyone had their wallets in a tight grip; this year people were a lot more upbeat, seeing possibilities and doling out money in a steady flow. Which is a bit strange, as we’re heading into yet another recession… but on the other hand, TV viewing figures are up, brands are obviously spending, it wasn’t as bad as feared last time around, so psychologically speaking it makes sense, I guess.

To highlight some of the stuff over the week I managed to catch over the week – and we had so many meetings over the week that I missed most of the sessions, (un?)fortunately – the most obvious one is that the term ’2nd screen’ is exciting to most people. It is quite possible that the fact that people are on a mobile device of some sort – be it smartphone, tablet or laptop – while watching tv, is a fact that has finally penetrated the mind of most people in the business. Perhaps they’ve watched their own kids while they watch tv? The only thing I know is, ’2nd screen’ was the buzzword of MIPCOM 2011.

To this I might add that our lab did studies on interactivity during a tv show – we did the first interactive quiz show in Finland, with set top box interactivity and Javabased interactivity for smartphones, back in 2004 – studies that clearly showed that people felt more engaged with a tv show if they were interactive via a set top box. They felt more personal, but also more detached, if they did the exact same interaction on a smartphone. That says something for connected TVs, I guess, but at the same time you need to factor in the value of having a personal experience in a group, like a family.

I saw some funky stuff being presented by Ex Machina, the people behind PlayToTV, for interaction via iPhone / iPad etc. They use HTML5 which helps it run on anything (and I think HTML5 is going to change the game plan for many companies over the next year or so. Imagine creating something that doesn’t need to be ported to 1000 different devices, something that just works, the way you intended it? Nice.). I spoke to a company from Wales, Little Lamb, who are doing tv shows paired with watermarked iPad apps for 3-5 year olds, for them to interact with a tv show on iPads together with their parents. It’s all going more and more 2nd screen, more and more interactive…. And let’s not forget ’social’!

The talks at MIP showed that more and more people ’get it’; where ’it’ is the fact that most of our audiences have already moved into a very social space. We – and most importantly our content, what we’re offering – need to find out logical and natural place in the same social space. Not intruding, as you wouldn’t like someone bursting into your house while your there with your friends, promoting some tv series that’ll premiere in a week. Just being there might be enough, so that the step to engage or interact is as short as possible for any possible member of the audience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to create word-of-mouth for your stuff; it’s only a matter of doing in the right way. Here, again, honesty is key. Tell what you can tell. Be open with what you can not tell. And have a plan for how to harness the audience you do engage.

Got to run to the airport now, try to fly home in the storm that’s apparently racking the whole of Europe. Until MIP in the spring, or somewhere else!

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