“Some people call it leaning forward as opposed to leaning back” and Google’s 6 Levels of Engagement

How do we create successful media in the 21st century? Ken Auletta’s book Googled  provides some insight.  I found it relevant not only because the book is a fantastic peek into Google’s inner workings, but because, as you might imagine, it necessitates interactivity.

Albie Hecht, founder of Spike TV, former president of Nickelodeon, and current CEO mogul of Worldwide Biggies uses six criteria for selecting media projects.  Referred to at Worldwide Biggies as the “Six Levels of Engagement,” meeting four of the below criteria suggests a promising project while meeting all of the criteria indicates a “hit.” The following content comes directly from Albie Hecht’s words as printed in Googled (Auletta, p.146).

1. Watch (on any device)

2. Learn (by searching for information about it on the Web)

3. Play (games)

4. Connect (social networks, IM)

5. Collect (microtransactions involving money on the Web)

6. Create (user-generated content)

It is no coincidence that this passage comes before Auletta introduces Google’s 2006 YouTube acquisition for $1.65 billion: YouTube emphasizes all of these criteria, despite the fact that many cable networks doubted and condemned Google’s plan as a failed revenue-maker.

To go into detail here, YouTube let’s you:

1. Watch on computers, smart phones, tablets, and GoogleTV (but not Roku, a decision made by Google themselves)

2. Learn by easily searching (convenient with Google) for YouTube videos. Also, YouTube videos pop up in search results when searching how-to’s and instructional videos.

3. Play: while to my knowledge YouTube doesn’t host interactive videos in the same spectrum as Vimeo’s Old Spice Muscle Music guy [yet], you can create playlists, subscribe, watch trailers for games, watch game walk-throughs, and browse videos in the “Gaming” section.  There’s also an aspect of playfulness in the user-generated annotations.

4. Connect via sharing videos, playlists, creating video responses to other users and videos, and of course, the comment section.  The comment section needs attention as it’s filled with racism, discrimination, rudeness, and sometimes, just plain evil.  Is Google YouTube responsible for their user’s comments? To some degree.  While free speech censorship is a violation of Google’s policy, the sheer number of hate-speech comments is beyond the scope of their user-managed offensive content removal strategy.

5. Collect revenue by selling Ad space not only on the pages, but on the videos themselves either in commercial form (such as Vevo) or lower-third pop ups, which you can close but not prevent.

6. Create user-generated content: well this one’s easy!  Users upload all sorts of home and mobile videos, video blogs, and karaoke recordings that go viral and even skyrocket people to fame.  Did YouTube ever think they would be responsible for Justin Bieber? I would like to know.

Lastly, I wanted to apply these to the Draw Something app, but I’ll let the readers think about that one for now.

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