There are many different ways of thinking about value and values. A community of creative people generates a range of shared values, hidden values, and design values. These combine to create that community’s unique flavour, which in turn contributes to its economic value in the market place. Our kitchen values creativity, cultivating the unexpected, and collaboration; believing that these values will create economic value. We have also adopted an approach to creating value that starts by keeping money at the margins as much as possible. Innovation precedes exploitation – trying to think too much about the latter will stifle the former. That’s not to say money isn’t part of the process. It is the work of the Creative Producer to create and support the space within which innovation can develop. As with any research field, Pervasive Media is still finding its place in the market, and problematic questions of scale persist if we analyse its economic potential as if it was just another form of traditional mass media.
Economic market value measures what the value of something is as property measured by its market price. But what is the value of an experience? People make meaning in their lives through cultural experiences. Creatives make work not only because they want to make a living but for all kinds of other reasons to do with pleasure, delight, expression, identity and communication. All of these values inform our search to create value. Investments for the Studio’s work have come from Heritage, (eg Escape from the Tower), Technology Innovation (eg If Only) Experimental R&D in Theatre and pervasive technologies (Sculpting with Scent, Theatre Jukebox, Fortnight, Surreptitious Soundplay) and Marketing and Promotion (eg Plastic Beach). Some projects have been combinations of these. Once outside our kitchen, Cookbook projects have been developed and exploited in unpredictable ways. The RFID technology developed by Matter2Media for Prototype’s Fortnight theatre experiment later found its way into a promotion event for a major auto manufacturer; the techniques developed by Moksha for Sculpting with Scent are being looked at to enrich store environments; the PIAS AR app for Gorillaz was adapted for several more bands over the next two years; Theatre Jukebox is being adapted for development by heritage organizations exploring new ways to make archival holdings available to audiences.
Pervasive Media services and applications will find markets that serve the Experience Economy. The idea of the experience economy was first predicted by futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1971 but rapidly popularised after the publication of Pine and Gilmore’s 1999 book on the subject from Harvard Business School. They argue that in the ‘Experience Economy’ services and products are differentiated not by functionality but by the quality of experience they offer to the consumer. Pervasive Media experiences that produce positive feelings, memories and pleasures, can be ‘touch points’ for brands, ideas, or storyworlds. Pervasive media applications have a distinct role in linking content across transmedial touchpoints; a storyworld can be made available in book form, Kindle, city-wide game on mobile phones or in a theatre. Physical events and places can be augmented with media overlays that use copyright content in new ways.
We are starting to see conventional advertising sectors in music, drinks and fashion, experimenting with phone based social gaming and apps based marketing. Location based services are also being exploited in retail driven processes where check-ins are used to access discounts, coupons and deals for shopping. Our community, however, has more frequently explored the heritage market using location based experiences at heritage sites, museums and galleries. In the short term, Pervasive Media will have the appeal of novelty to businesses; novelty itself is a value in an age fascinated by technology innovation. Being able to combine the elements described in the Cookbook so you can claim a ‘first’ for your client is a compelling proposition. Innovation has a tactical utility for brands and services who want to promote themselves as cutting edge. However, permanent innovation is one very specific kind of business model that is rarely sustainable.
Pervasive Media producers looking for sustainable business models face familiar media investment problems: Where can you get development funding? Commercial brands, the studios and agencies that work for them, educational or heritage clients, NGOs or arts funders; they will all want to see some sort of return, a way of measuring outcomes against the goals they have set against the budget line that you are pitching for. So, producers need to build in ways of evaluating the user experience for the client/; in traditional mass-media systems this evaluation was measured by ticket sales or viewing figures as a simple ‘eyeballs on content’ calculation. In the emergent ‘experience economy’ we have to find qualitative ways of evaluating the experience; producers often use short video clips of users either in the experience or responding to the camera immediately afterwards. These initial ‘proof of concept’ videos are then supplemented by longer-term sales or consumer analysis. However, it is notoriously difficult for brands to distinguish where one part of a campaign made a particular impact on the market as opposed to others. The Pervasive Media experience might, for instance, be understood as a word of mouth ‘leader’ – a way of producing buzz within a wider marketing campaign. Success will depend on finding the right audience – as determined by your investors. This in turn rests on promotion – how will potential users find out about your application or experience in the crowded competition for attention? A business strategy has to be built around the mission to create quality experiences that users will pay for or clients will pay to provide.