How Can Brands Best Get In Front Of Digital Audiences?

We’re still here at the first TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York. Up on stage right now is an interesting group of people discussing how brands can best engage with digital audiences in this day and age.

This is an overview of what Judy Hu, Global Executive Director of Advertising & Branding at GE, Brian Pokorny (CEO of dailybooth), Christopher ‘moot’ Poole of 4chan fame and Andrey Ternovskiy, who started Chatroulette, had to say about that.

The discussion is paraphrased below.

Erick: Dailybooth and Chatroulette are somewhat similar. What is it about taking pictures or videos of themselves that is so compelling?

Andrey: I like the fact that people can interact with one another, but I’m also interested to see what other people would broadcast, what they look like etc. I think this combination of seeing each other is attractive.

Erick: There’s an element of unpredictability there. But why are there so many shirtless guys on Chatroulette?

Andrey: It grew into something uncontrollable alright. I just gave birth to Chatroulette and let it evolve the way it did. It was just an experiment.

Erick: what do you see as a natural evolution of communication?

Brian: You saw the phenomenon originate on YouTube, and it evolved into a new type of communication channel – through photos. Dailybooth is really the first platform that captures this notion of pointing cameras at themselves and sharing them. Is it new media or new communication? I think it’s probably both.

Erick: A big part of 4chan is the diversity of content. What people are familiar with are the LOLcat pictures, the rick-rolling, etc. Why is that type of thing so popular on 4chan?

Christopher: the content turns over constantly. We get 800,000 uploads on 4chan a day, everything is anonymous. we let people jump on and start sharing and spreading ideas. it’s how memes are born, I guess. It’s very basic, I mean 4chan is not Web 2.0 at all. But it’s all about the simplicity of letting people share whatever they want.

Erick: Judy, what do you think about all this as a brand manager?

Judy: well, we live by numbers, as a company. We’re not so much about putting ads next to men without shirts and pants on. But we do look at communities, and we realize that maybe we can find them in new places. But we’re largely a B2B company. Only 3% of our revenues comes from the consumer side. But we love to think about what we can do as an advertiser, e.g. on Dailybooth.

Erick: There is no advertising on Chatroulette, right?

Andrey: yes, a little, just to cover the costs.

Erick: should GE ever advertise on your site?

Andrey: if done properly, why not? But I want users to focus on the content. If we could put advertising in a way that doesn’t distract people from using the service, it would be doable.

Erick: Judy, so you’re clearly a B2B company. Why even bother doing a brand campaign on social media to reach people.

Judy: Brand building. We’re constantly reaching out to audiences, and in particular now to the younger demographic. Also, we’re all about innovation. We want to explore. Third, we also need to extend the brand, we want to make it iconic. We want to get our key messages across to everyone.

That’s why we’re today launching a crowd-sourcing effort to get ideas from the general community on how to do our next digital advertising campaign.

Erick: What would you do in Judy’s shoes, Christopher?

Christopher: I’ve been surprised by how many advertisers come up with half-assed campaigns. Many want to explore, but at the same time they’re terrified. Brands need to loosen up, and they need to realize that ads can simply pop up somewhere it may not seem appropriate to the brand marketer.

Erick: what’s the situation gonna be like in, say, 5 years? how’s the media experience going to change?

Brian: More distributed. Traditional media and advertising has always been very structured. On Dailybooth, we incite people to create their own communities. I think the users are going to define content creation and distribution in the future.

Erick: if you’d redesign 4chan right now, what would you do with it?

Christopher: the trend is real time, I guess. We can do more to make users ‘feel’ the experience of 4chan. There’s a trend of convergence.

Erick: what about video chat?

Andrey: I have some ideas that in the future people will be focused on communication over video, much more than before. I’m not a specialist on communities and social media, but I think things like webcams and microphones and the platforms like Skype we have now, will be used more. People will leave their houses much less than they do now.

Erick: is that a good or a bad thing?

Brian: I don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. You can connect to people on the other side of the world, using different media. It connects the world more than it disconnects.

Judy: I have to say I agree with Chris. The successful companies will be the ones that open their boundaries a bit, and get less restrictive.

Andrey: Video communication was undervalued in the past, in my opinion.