The Huzutech team were in New York last week for the 2012 Kidscreen summit. Kidscreen brings together brand owners, media companies and the entire kids entertainment industry, in one place, over the course of three days.
There are speakers, panels, discussions and an exhibition, where you can see the latest creations, forthcoming shows and the new franchises which kids worldwide will be watching, playing with – and wearing in the next few years.
As experienced delegates and exhibitors with dozens of trade shows, conferences and events under their belts, the Huzutech team are fairly particular about what a summit should offer.
Kidscreen however is a benchmark for content and organisation, with the conference track and show floor, complemented by excellent networking opportunities and even early morning yoga sessions. At the 2011 summit, virtual worlds, social networks and 'transmedia' were peripheral topics. Interesting, but something from the far future.
In 2012 however, user generated content, social gaming, virtual worlds, 360° content and online communities were popular topics with a huge range of participants, exhibitors, speakers and delegates. The market is clearly maturing and becoming more comfortable – and fascinated – by the opportunities presented by the rapid evolution of online and mobile technologies and the ongoing success of the various App stores.
Which is hardly surprising when you consider the market the summit is addressing. Kids and young people are increasingly comfortable with the latest consumer gadgets and devices. Social networks, apps, games and new digital services are being explored by a younger audiences far more quickly and enthusiastically than their older counterparts.
For many children, online, mobile and interactive content are replacing traditional broadcast media as their primary entertainment sources. All of which has left the kids entertainment sector in the middle of a revolution. There is now a real hunger for digital media and virtual/social experiences.
Many companies and brand owners are now looking for ways in which they can integrate these new experiences into their existing (and forthcoming) projects. One key element throughout the show was the idea of 360° content. Creators and brand owners alike are now recognising that using a single media channel is no longer enough to reach the greatest potential audience.
Television shows need a digital component, online properties and games are creating their own 'TV channels' and toys of every variety are spreading into the online, mobile, social and broadcast spaces, creating entirely new forms of entertainment. From avatar builders to social network integration and user generated content, the kids entertainment industry is embracing and exploring what technology can do. Not just in terms of reaching a larger audience, but in creating new experiences and entirely new forms of entertainment for that audience.
The hugely impressive (and hugely popular) Moshi Monsters is a good example. The brand now encompasses a print magazine, toys and collectible merchandise, online and mobile components and of course the huge social multiplayer hub and online world.
The rest of the kids entertainment industry now understands exactly how big the opportunity is and just how broad the market is becoming. Not to mention how big the challenge is. Online, mobile, social and virtual content are not just value adds. They're not merely new marketing channels, they offer the chance of changing the kids entertainment market in some fairly fundamental ways.
They enable the creation of new experiences and new types of content. They allow the content creator to speak almost directly to the audience, they allow a more social dialogue to be established and can make the audience far more active and responsive than every before. They also creates entirely new revenue streams and business models…
The Huzutech team were impressed to receive a flurry of questions from other delegates about subjects ranging from the use of HTML 5 (It's coming, but don't ignore Flash any time in the near future), to Facebook integration (you have to give users a reason to come to your page/app. Just having it there isn't enough) and creating virtual worlds specifically for the kids market (that's a whole other blog post…)
The kids entertainment industry is one of the most fast-paced, exciting and challenging markets in the world. The Kidscreen summit provides invaluable insight into it and should be congratulated on one of the best trade events we've taken part in. If you haven't yet attended the show, it's one we'd definitely recommend. See you in 2013.