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Mirada Focuses on Content and Community, Not Platforms
Interactive TV company Mirada hopes to buck the downward advertising trend by focusing on broadcast and mobile content delivery that emphasizes community and building viewer loyalty.
Thurs., Mar. 19, by Jake Ward
In the ever-changing online world, the "old" media is seeing its traditional business models coming under siege. In the last couple of weeks, ITV, the UK’s main commercial broadcaster, announced the loss of 600 jobs in addition to the 1,000 redundancies announced in September 2008. In a further bid to curb expenditure the network has mothballed several of its major franchises, shutting down production facilities. The reason: The 17 per cent drop in advertising revenue in an increasingly fragmented and recession hit television market.

Into this difficult environment steps Mirada, an interactive TV company formed from the merger of Yoomedia, the UK interactive media company, and the Spanish interactive TV company Fresh IT S.A at the end of 2007. The obvious question to ask in the current climate is why should Mirada have a future when total television advertising spend in the UK is about to be overtaken by internet spend and that trend is likely to continue across the rest of Europe in 2010.

Mirada has a very simple proposition at its heart which, while not revolutionary, is unusual for an interactive TV agency, which tend to focus on one particular delivery method. The idea is simple: Content is at the core of everything, and the platforms for the content are simply windows through which the user can interact with it. Mirada brings its focus to bear on two of these windows, television and mobile, concentrating not on being a technology partner to the access providers, content owners or aggregators, but simply being a specialist in interaction.

The reason behind this outlook is that increasingly Managing Director Jose Vazquez sees the content industry working to a model in which different forms of content are divided into three distinct categories, events, classic, and community.

Event-based content is highly time-sensitive material, the value of which rapidly diminishes and is usually bought via subscription e.g. football matches. Classic or "long tail" content is typified by a classic movie which users will access via a pay per view mechanism very occasionally. Community content is the content between these two extremes, being less time sensitive material around which communities can be built. This is water cooler TV, talked about for sometime after it "airs" and is normally supported by ad breaks, sponsorship, product placement, or other forms of traditional advertising.

Vazquez and Mirada looks at this content differently and see its key value as the community around it rather than the viewing revenues it can generate. Mirada intends to use its skills and products to exploit how these communities can be developed and interacted with by brands and advertisers.

The xPlayer, Mirada’s core product which powers the basic VOD and PVR features of a number of distribution platforms across Europe, is key to this dive. The ability to track user behaviours allows for the synchronisation of ad delivery and content across a number of platforms for more immersive experiences. The ability to view a banner ad online and click on it to set your PVR to record the programme or have a reminder set both on your set top box and also to your mobile’s calendar are the initial signs of moves to better leverage this data. The next step is using this data to develop more sophisticated community experiences.

However, Vazquez is not convinced that this makes the community space a natural home for more niche content, saying "If the distribution is done through regular channels or in a very innovative way by creating a social network around the production which then works as a distribution method, it doesn’t matter. Either way you still need to build a distribution network for the production. So is this a space for very niche productions? No unless you have the distribution network."

Mirada hopes these technologies can help enhance the offering to users and garner loyalty with consumers giving brands the opportunity to begin to build communities around the content, and enable these communities to develop their own structures and brand interactions.