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Developments of the Future (Part 3)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Jon Cook and VML’s SEER

Jon Cook, president of VML Industries and an MU graduate explained the workings of VML and its biggest project, SEER. VML is 100% digital and deals in eCommerce, working with large companies such as Sprint, Hallmark, and Microsoft.

VML’s main project, SEER, allows users to understand what websites are most influential based on interaction among them. Each website is represented by a ball and there are lines that link balls that represent interaction. Different colors of lines represent stronger influence and when millions of websites are combined it gives the effect of atoms and molecules floating in space. The graphics and movement make it visually appealing but the main point is that an advertiser with the kind of information SEER provides gains a huge edge over its competitors.

Cook provided the example of the XBox 360 vs. the PS3. The PS3 was predicted to trounce its competition; however, Microsoft was simply too crafty. With the help of SEER, Microsoft located the 40 most influential bloggers about the PS3, gave them an exclusive look at the 360, allowed them to test it and generally made the case for it over the PS3. The bloggers loved it, wrote about it, and their influence contributed to what is currently 10.4 million XBox 360s sold compared to only 2.45 million PS3s.

Cook left us with this nugget of knowledge: Understanding who influences your consumers is now mandatory for success in business.

Channing Dawson and Scripps Networks’ Frontdoor.com

Channing Dawson, an employee of HGTV (and the larger Scripps Networks), informed his audience immediately that 9 of the top 10 shows on HGTV are about real-estate (with 700,000 viewers at any given time), in large part due to the struggling market. Because of its popularity, then, HGTV decided it would be even more effective to reach this audience wanting to hear about real-estate by combining the online medium with television. Thus, http://www.frontdoor.com was launched to compete with realtor.com and other similar websites.

3.5 million homes are currently listed on FrontDoor and it was only launched 9 months ago. Certain TV shows from HGTV are aired on the website as well and the plan for the future is to incorporate the home listings with HGTV’s shows. Local listings would appear on the bottom of the screen so that if a home-buyer happens to be watching, it can be paused at any point and looked up on frontdoor.com.


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