A New Story Moment: Lived Stories and the VR Experience
Google Zoo and Google Newslab
Mission: Google Newslab and Google Zoo desired a deeper understanding of the experience of VR technologies among early adopters to support their thought leadership. More specifically, they sought to understand the meanings and feelings that consumers create and try to access through these technologies, and the implications that this has for journalistic story telling.
Approach: We conducted 37 ethnographic interviews with early adopters of VR technologies and with journalists who work to produce VR videos. Interviews and real time VR experiences were documented by our ethnographic film-maker to bring our respondents’ experiences with VR to life.
Outcome: Based on our study and analysis we delivered a series of storytelling guideposts that the Google Team used to coin a new story telling concept native to VR: Story Living. Since the conclusion of our study this concept has been widely disseminated in Google thought leadership workshops and training sessions. The ideas underlying Story Living are also summarized in a widely circulated whitepaper and video.
The Meaning of Mobile in Singapore
Mission: Google Singapore wished to examine the meanings mobile technologies have for Singaporeans in order to sharpen advertising and brand strategy in Singapore.
Approach: We conducted intensive ethnographic interviewing of users of visual social media and mobile technologies in Singapore, did secondary academic research on dominant patterns of Singaporean culture and did participant observation of the uses of digital media across a host of important Singaporen cultural events (e.g. religious rituals, weddings, children’s play activities). Our videographer documented these events to bring them to life.
Outcome: The report provided a comparative Asian perspective to prior work done by Maschio Consulting on the meaning of mobile in North America. An (internal) white paper identified key culture themes and values that influenced technology use in Singapore and shaped culturally relevant advertising and brand strategies.
Creative Communities and the Gift Economy: The Emerging Cultural Meanings of Social Media
Mission: Google approached Maschio Consulting to help them re-imagine and recreate more fulfilling social media environments for people and brands and to define the evolution of social from the perspective of users’ experience and aspirations.
Approach: We conducted 23 ethnographic interviews with intensive users of social media platforms. We observed respondents forming creative communities through social media platforms that helped them explore and develop their interests and skills.
Result: The research resulted in a series of Google workshops called ‘Decoding Social’. These workshops instructed Google clients how to use “Peer to Peer Social Influencer Models” to drive winning corporate brands and agencies.
Worlds of Journalism
Mission: Google Newslab required an in-depth understanding of journalists’ story writing processes as creative input for a new platform of digital tools for journalists. To meet these needs, we carried out a six-month study of the culture of news production and of journalists’ use of digital tools.
Approach: We conducted research in five different newsrooms in the US and Canada including participant observation of journalists’ story writing, interviewing and research processes, and intensive interviews with journalists. We drew on literature in the new fields of the anthropology of journalism and media anthropology to shape our case studies.
Outcome: Our five newsroom case studies helped guide Google engineers in creating a new suite of digital tools (a new product platform) for journalists. The study also provided an in depth assessment of the impact of the transition from print to digital media production that contributed to the launch of the Google News Initiative.
The Meaning of Mobile: Culture and Emotion in the New Mobile Space
Think with Google
Mission: In 2012, the head planner of Google Strategic Insights hired Maschio Consulting to enrich their understanding of the form that advertising should take on (then still relatively new) mobile platforms. More specifically, Google desired a better grasp of the themes that should be emphasized to better connect with customers in this space.
Approach: We conducted 18 ethnographic interviews with users of mobile technologies. In addition, respondents were assigned video diaries to capture real time uses of these technologies.
Outcome: Based on our findings and the video footage collected, Google created a sizzle reel that they presented to clients at various venues. The presentations highlighted the meanings that users were weaving around mobile technologies and how these meanings could be leveraged in the creation of brand and advertising strategies. Our findings are also outlined in a Google white paper, and in Tom Maschio’s own published essay.
Visual Story Telling in the Digital Space: Culture, Emotion and Visual Expression
Mission: Google/YouTube desired to understand the ubiquity and significance of visual imagery in the digital space in order to support their thought leadership and to help clients refine their brand strategies. The aim of the study was to align the visual imagery of brands with the character of present day digital visual culture.
Approach: We interviewed and filmed 25 respondents, focusing on the meanings they attributed to the pictures and videos they viewed, created and shared in the digital space.
Outcome: Our report and ethnographic videos led to four key insights about present day visual culture, which Google used to develop a white paper and several conference presentations. YouTube also used the study to inform its advertising strategies. The concept of the YouTube mash-up was influenced by the study.