5 lessons, 5 sessions: CMC 2016
By Lauren Ding, Social & Community Manager
Last week, I attended CMC in Sheffield on behalf of WildBrain. The agenda covered a wealth of useful topics, ranging from the drastic changes to children’s media consumption and engagement, family dynamics, equal gender representation and embracing technological advances. CMC was a lot of fun, but here are five important things that I learned while there:
Lesson 1: Story read-alongs fill in the gaps when parents are busy
Research from Family, Youth and Kids as well as iGen Insight both revealed that mums* still held some reservations about tablet and smartphone use among their children when compared to the involvement of bedtime story reading. However, parents welcomed storybooks on tablets at earlier times in the day. Mid-morning till lunchtime is perfect, as it can provide parents with enough of a break to get some much needed errands done, or when travelling. Funnily enough, WildBrain recently put together a 5-hour playlist to keep little ones stuck in the Glastonbury traffic entertained in the back seat!
Lesson 2: Toy unboxing is kids’ chill-out time, not a stimulant
In his presentation The Role of Families in Kids Entertainment, Pete Robinson from Dubit was asked about the popularity of toy unboxing videos. As WildBrain create a lot of toy unboxing and review videos, we were interested in his reply when he said that unboxing videos were a “chill-out experience” for kids. In the same way us adults watch home improvement and cooking shows during the day because they don’t demand too much attention, children love the slow, meticulous way brand new toys are unwrapped and played with on screen. There’s even a science behind this: ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Many toy unboxing videos feature classic ASMR ‘triggers’ unintentionally: tapping, ripping, and cracking sounds, as well as soothing voices, all help to calm little ones who are watching. 2016’s most popular toy video even has ‘asmr’ in the title.
Lesson 3: Making content that can be shared by children with and without disabilities together is the way forward
In the session on innovations, the “audio comic” Once Upon a Time in Zombieville really stood out – think Zombie Run combined with Welcome to the Night Vale, especially for kids. Stephen Scott of Bigmouth Audio shared that the script is tailored to children with visual impairments – even going so far as to avoid describing what the main characters look like, so listeners can let their own imaginations decide. This way, they can fully immerse themselves in the experience instead of feeling as though they’re not getting the full story. At the same time, it’s something that can be enjoyed with friends and family who aren’t visually impaired, helping them feel included and connected.
Lesson 4: Content is key: but distribution is important, too
In the panel The Changing Face of Production, our own Jon Benoy discussed with the staff from Yogscast, TaDaKids and Grass Roots Media the limitations and freedoms of producing entertaining and compelling shows that children love, specifically for YouTube. The quick turnaround of YouTube means that projects can be developed, produced and distributed in record time, with the ability to gauge what your audience responds positively to in real time. Talk turned to YouTube’s algorithm, and some in the audience expressed concern that it was detrimental to the creative process. At WildBrain, we believe content creation and content distribution are separate from each other, but equally important. Great storytelling and content is key to building a loyal fanbase who watch your videos on YouTube. It’s the distribution of said content where the algorithm comes in to play, in order to get the maximum amount of little ones to see it (and, hopefully, enjoy it)!
Lesson 5: Creating family moments is what makes a great brand
How often have you asked your child to help you out on a difficult Candy Crush level? And how many times have you been roped into helping fix a build in Lego (or even Minecraft)? Back in Pete Robinson’s presentation, he explained how the majority of the Top 5 kids brands work because they invite teamwork across the generational divide: nans and grandsons, dads and daughters, and so on. Even though brands like Candy Crush, Angry Birds and Minecraft are often played on tablets and smartphones, they still encourage real life moments between families – and that power can’t be overstated.