Will contextual advertising spell the death of the gendered publication?

As I was reading an article about beer, the craft brewing industry, and the Anheuser-Busch­-Inbev buy-out of Elysian Brewing in Seattle, it was not without some measure of irritation that the content was published online at the Men’s Journal. As a beer advocate in general, and craft beer advocate in particular, I take issue with the presumption that beer is a men’s only pursuit. Women love beer too. But the general perception in many publications seems to be that this topic is a men’s interest topic, and therefore will not appeal to women. There is some rationale to this argument, but only when it is framed within the printed magazine advertising model where the entirety of the content printed in the magazine is curated to be geared primarily towards men. In that model, magazines and similar publications needed to cater to a very specific target (sometimes niche) market in order to sell ads. The more concretely the publication can define its audience, the more they are likely to get from the advertisers who wish to sell their products to that target market. Hence, the Cosmos, the Maxims, and the Seventeens. These are publications that cater to a specific gender and have been able to hone their understanding of their target market as a result. But this is not the model of internet content, broadly speaking. Granted, there are plenty of examples of websites whose content is read mostly by women or men, but these sites do not seem to be as prominent as they once were. This perception may well be the result of my limited exposure to these...

Four things I’ve learned on the (social media) campaign trail

It’s alive! It feels like it has been a long time coming but in reality it has only been about eight weeks. Eight weeks since we began this social media project. And now, eight weeks on, we have a functioning website and five active social media channels. It’s an accomplishment and something I’m proud of. I’m also grateful for my team. Without their enthusiasm and hard work this project would not be where it is today. Here are some things that I’ve learned on this journey: 1) It takes time. Or more specifically, it takes more time than you might expect it to. This is primarily in reference to social media. Everything from branding to following to posting, it all takes time so it is essential to use people’s time efficiently to get the most out of that limited resource. 2) WordPress can be a challenge. Mostly in terms of customization. The system is largely designed so that people don’t need to make significant changes to the design. Themes are designed with minimal customization in mind, layout and colour options aside. This need not be limited only to WordPress. Drupal and Squarespace, and other CMS’s have similar issues so it is important to know going in that the theme needs to be very close to what you or the client wants, else it can become a major headache. 3) Not everyone knows (insert social media platform X) And that’s totally fine, but it is crucial to not make assumptions about anyone’s knowledge of a platform. Each service is different, has its own language and quirks, and users expect something...

Planning is only a chore when it’s treated as one

Recent projects for the New Media program at BCIT have provided me with some insight into the importance of organization and planning when working in a team environment. Don’t tell me what to do…oh wait, what do I need to do today? In many of my previous jobs, bosses would tell you exactly what they wanted done. There were also some understood tasks that would need to be done every shift, such as chopping the mushrooms or peeling the prawns. Later, when I began taking on more responsibility, I still approached many tasks as though my boss would be telling me what to do, and thereby define my work schedule for me. This need to be told what to do can be a real challenge to overcome, in particular when you’re in a team environment, and inefficiency means the project may not get done on time and will cost more money. In our project management class in particular, we talked about (and had direct experience with) managing what is called the critical path: namely, those tasks that must be accomplished before other parts of the project can begin. Understanding the critical path and being able to plan stories and tasks appropriately becomes an essential part of maintaining productivity and efficiency within the team. Maybe you have to experience it done wrong? In my previous experience, I can recall the at times irritation, at times distain, upon-which I viewed excessive planning. In hindsight, I see this as less a character flaw on my part, and rather a failure of leadership to make planning a regular activity. It was because planning...

Creation of a portfolio

How do you build a portfolio when you’ve never built one before? How do you show off your work? How do you choose the projects that define you as a person, as a professional? What is the narrative that these works create? What do they have in common? I’d like to say that this struggle has been going on for ages but let’s be honest here: it only began six weeks ago when my first portfolio class began in the New Media program at BCIT. Up until now, I’ve rarely shared any of my creative works, and now I need to come up with a minimum of six to show off; and ones that have a specific message or theme that conveys something about me that will help people know me. This is a big ask for someone who has a tough time sharing things online at the best of times. I’m used to internet anonymity. Until recently, all of my email accounts, let alone any accounts on burgeoning (or established) online social networks, were all under pseudonyms or names fictional characters. My fist email address had my first name but some other letters that kept people guessing as to their meaning (I was consistently inconsistent, always changing it up). Other usernames are taken from characters from my favourite books or plays, almost as if I did not want to be found. And here I am now, slowly changing some (but not all) of these accounts to be associated with a real person. A real person who needs to show who he is, and what he’s capable of creating...