Case Study: Everydayactors.com
To launch a unique website requires some planning. You have to let people know it exists and do so in an interesting way that explains to them how it works and why they should care. Regarding everydayactors.com, it was created as a solution to a problem we had: how can we get regular, everyday people to act as extras in videos – and do so without paying an agent or talent agency for the privilege? Not only did we want to avoid breaking our budget, but we often needed people for less than one hour, sometimes even just minutes, and traditional billing structures don’t work with those sorts of time frames We tried waving a $20 at pedestrians, hoping to catch the adventurous types who actually do talk to strangers, but that took almost half the production time and we knew there had to be a better way.
Stage 1: Positioning the brand
Who were we going to be? Who was our target? What sort of experience should the website offer (for both actors and the video producers who need to hire them)? How was it going to make money?
We had to decide, and we had to figure out the right ‘feel’ of a site like this, the tone and layout would flow from that. We discussed multiple names, bought a few domains, liked one and then changed our minds to another, then discussed it all some more and settled on ‘Everyday Actors.’ It was simple, obvious, it said what it was and felt approachable. This brand name was to be for regular people who didn’t consider themselves to be actors, so it couldn’t be intimidating and it had to engender a feeling of ‘I could totally do that!’ in our potential members.
Stage 2: Refining the concept and building the site
At this point, we had the name and the general style and tone of the site sorted out, but had to actually put metaphorical pen to paper and design the logo, layouts, write the copy and code the ‘back end’ of the site to actually do what it needed to. We went through variations on the logo and general design and discussed and refined them until we were sure we had the right vibe and began testing out the functional parts of the sign up and search processes. We knew the site had to be easy to use, work quickly and let people either make a profile (and add images/video/bio) or allow agencies to sign up, search for actors and contact them – and do so without any clunky extra steps, or any confusing or irritating hoops to jump through. So, we worked up a basic profile structure, a way to add images (limited to six) and video (youtube videos only) and some biographic text so casting agents could really get a strong sense about a potential actors experience, appearance and (ideally) how they were in front of the camera. Once that was in place we needed a way that actors could be contacted without displaying their personal information – so we built a contact form into each profile allowing our member agencies to send a message about acting gigs but without showing more than the actors first name and last initial. Meaning, nobody sees contact information unless the actor replies. We did this to make member profiles just a little bit more secure and private, because our actors trust us with their data.
For our agency members, we needed to make life easy – when they need talent, we allowed multiple ways to refine the search criteria to speed things up and find the people they need in a few minutes. To do this, we needed to create a list of features that actor sign-ups would choose when creating a profile (age range, city, gender, ethnicity, style, etc.) and still allow our agency clients a way to search with all categories unselected or as many as they like, to make sure they were in control of the experience and could be as specific or as general as needed for a particular project.
Stage 3: The site is done. Now what?
We had a great site, that worked well and was ready to go – but it was empty! We knew we couldn’t drive traffic to it yet, it had to offer something for the very first casting director to sign up, it had to have real people who wanted to act as extras in commercials, or web videos, and above all both actors and those who hire them had to understand how the site works and why they should care about it.
Our first step was to get actors signed up. We offered free membership and placed ads in free and paid online classified sites, along with select newspapers. We didn’t have long to wait. Having free sign ups also allowed us to make sure the process was working seamlessly before we monetized with Paypal, and to finesse a contact/support structure that made it easy to contact us but managed the way in which we received information to make it easy for us to reply and stay on top of any issues that could come up. Once we had a few hundred actors in the database, it was time to invite the casting agents, directors and any business that needs to make how-to videos, or online video promotions and would have use for extras.
We quickly realized it wasn’t necessary to spend a lot on ads to get a solid response, never mind the irony of doing so to promote a site based on saving money. We shifted focus to a mixture of free ads on craigslist and kijiji and used social media (mostly twitter and facebook, with a few dabs of tumblr) to promote the site, the experience and the ‘everyday people like you getting acting jobs’ message.
With twitter, we post upcoming gigs or news relating to our agency clients, both as a way to promote the site and to let people know the type of projects that are happening in as up-to-date a fashion as possible. We use facebook to offer tips about auditioning, industry news, and on-the-job examples like photos sent in by actors on set.
Response so far has been enormous, as the inexpensive sign-up fee for actors is just high enough to make sure people are serious about working and low enough that just about anyone can afford it (a cup of coffee a month) and the agencies who hire actors can create an account for free.
The next stage?
We remain ready to adapt to the future and have built a flexible site that can be tweaked to fit new ways of interaction and expansion, and based on member and agency feedback everydayactors.com can improve as needed, when needed. We’re very proud of the work we did on this and think the concept is strong and can work beyond the acting industry as it really streamlines the process of locating and hiring people, and does it all for far less than you would traditionally pay.
- Chris Elsworthy
Toronto Web Design: Content Management
At Addrenaline media, we employ Content Management Systems, or CMS, in order to make website creation more efficient and to make editing/updating the website easier for our clients once the project is completed. While we are always available to make changes, we think our clients should have the freedom and the ability to edit their site without needing to call a web designer or get a degree in web design…
What is a ‘CMS’ exactly?
A Content Management System (CMS) is a set of processes and technologies that support the evolutionary life cycle of digital information. This digital information is often referred to as content or, to be precise, digital content. Digital content may take the form of text, such as documents, multimedia files, such as audio or video files, or any other file type which follows a content lifecycle which requires management.
The digital content life cycle consists of six primary phases: create, update, publish, translate, archive and retire. For example, an instance of digital content is created by one or more authors. Over time that content may be edited. One or more individuals may provide some editorial oversight thereby approving the content for publication. Publishing may take many forms. Publishing may be the act of pushing content out to others, or simply granting digital access rights to certain content to a particular person or group of persons. Later that content may be superseded by another form of content and thus retired or removed from use.
Content management is an inherently collaborative process.
It often consists of the following basic roles and responsibilities:
- Content author - responsible for creating and editing content.
- Editor - responsible for tuning the content message and the style of delivery, including translation and localization.
- Publisher - responsible for releasing the content for use.
- Administrator - responsible for managing access permissions to folders and files, usually accomplished by assigning access rights to user groups or roles. Admins may also assist and support users in various ways.
- Consumer, viewer or guest- the person who reads or otherwise takes in content after it is published or shared.
A critical aspect of content management is the ability to manage versions of content as it evolves (see also version control). Authors and editors often need to restore older versions of edited products due to a process failure or an undesirable series of edits.
Another equally important aspect of content management involves the creation, maintenance, and application of review standards. Each member of the content creation and review process has a unique roll and set of responsibilities in the development and/or publication of the content. Each review team member requires clear and concise review standards which must be maintained on an ongoing basis to ensure the long-term consistency and health of the knowledge base.
A content management system is a set of automated processes that may support the following features:
- Import and creation of documents and multimedia material
- Identification of all key users and their roles
- The ability to assign roles and responsibilities to different instances of content categories or types.
- Definition of workflow tasks often coupled with messaging so that content managers are alerted to changes in content.
- The ability to track and manage multiple versions of a single instance of content.
- The ability to publish the content to a repository to support access to the content. Increasingly, the repository is an inherent part of the system, and incorporates enterprise search and retrieval.
Content management systems take the following forms:
- a web content management system is software for web site management - which is often what is implicitly meant by this term
- the work of a newspaper editorial staff organization
- a workflow for article publication
- a document management system
- a single source content management system - where content is stored in chunks within a relational database.
Questions? Give us a call at 416-255-4000 and find out how we can help you.
Why do websites get redesigned?
There’s a lot of websites out there, over one trillion unique URLs (web domains) and growing…
Design trends change all the time and depending on your particular industry websites can become quickly out dated, as new sites continue to bring new knowledge and new technologies to bear in their design and capabilities, and ultimately the experience they provide to their visitors.
In reality, if your site is two years old or more, you should be analyzing your site’s current competitive standing.
- Examine your competitors’ web sites.
- Honestly appraise if their web sites are aesthetically “better” than yours.
- Do your competitors offer significant features that you don’t, such as live chat, a customer forum, or “tell a friend”?
- Do they provide a better presentation of product or services? Are “specials” highlighted?
- Go through their checkout process. Is it faster and easier than yours?
If your answer to any of the above is “yes”, you should probably consider having your site redesigned. There are many reasons for why your site no longer stacks up, including:
- Your website was built on a small budget. Many websites are launched with a budget inadequate for creating a professional Internet presence.
- Your web site looks “dated”. Technology keeps moving forward, and what looked great a few years ago is now out of step with today’s design standards and shopper expectations.
- Your business has changed. Your business has grown, and your web site is no longer a clear reflection of your business proposition.
- Your competitors are ahead of you. Lead the pack rather than following it. Offer features that represent clear competitive superiority.
- You now better understand your customers. You’ve developed a deeper understanding of what your customers are looking for and some of the problems that they might have encountered on your site. You need to factor those elements into a redesign that more effectively caters to your market’s expectations.
- Content is difficult or costly to keep fresh. More current web tools allow the site owner to easily update all the content on their website, keeping it fresh and relevant.
- You need to increase your site’s visibility. If your original site was developed with little consideration to what search engines use for ranking your site, a redesign with new content will raise your site’s search engine rankings.
Food for thought from your friends at Addrenaline Media
What’s a ‘Spamhaus’ and is there war on the internet?
You may have heard the internet was under attack. Or that large parts were almost crippled by hackers. You may have even had some slow speed while surfing the web! There is enough backstory to make a solid B-movie over what really transpired, but essentially two parties were involved, and depending on your philosophy about the internet and how it should (or shouldn’t) be regulated you may have some strong feelings about what went down.
Wikipedia defines it as:
‘A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the efforts of one or more people to temporarily or indefinitely interrupt or suspend services of a host connected to the Internet.’
So, one party (let’s call them ‘CyberBunker’) decided to attack another party (let’s call them Spamhaus) by clogging up the arteries of the web with way more traffic than normal to disrupt their ability to provide/receive service online. The reason this mattered is due to the size and influence of Spamhaus (they can blacklist your IP address if they feel like it, and you have no recourse but to ask them to de-list you after you prove to them you are not a ‘spammer’ which can be a murky definition in many cases). They can act like a private police force on the web, and there is resentment towards them and CyberBunker in particular feels they abuse their power.
That does not mean people necessarily side with spammers, but depending on your interaction with Spamhaus you may view them as noble protectors of proper web etiquette, or ham-fisted vigilantes abusing power they have no right to. It seems CyberBunker felt they were the latter… and thus, they allegedly launched this DDoS attack in retaliation for being blocked.
So, what? This only affects spammers.
Well, the bigger issue is the vulnerability of certain structures of the internet. Many people who use the web just think of it as cyber space and ‘stuff in the cloud’ but there are rigid, physical elements that support the traffic and allow or deny entry into other parts of the web (think of your home network as a small example). So, while there are bits of info flying around, there are technical limits of hardware that affect how easy (or hard) it is to spam, to corrupt a network, or to block and isolate those that try to engage in bad behaviour.
An excerpt from arstechnica.com explains part of what was happening:
Small requests are sent to DNS servers, generating responses from those servers that are about 50-100 times larger. The sending address of these requests are spoofed, so the DNS servers think that they originated not from the attacker’s machine but from the victim’s machine; accordingly, the large responses are sent to that victim, overwhelming it with traffic.
This means that keeping your nose clean is no defense… the way to tighten up the security requires actually changing how servers operate slightly, and that requires every ISP and every DNS operator to join in on the action. However, this has a cost associated with it that is borne by a small percentage of those who use and maintain the internet, and that is a tough pill to swallow even if these changes are really for the best.
- Chris Elsworthy
The Spirit of Radio
Our “High Risk Insurance Quote Line” ad is running on AM640 these days - we were able to conceive, record, edit, and produce this spot and it’s generating a great response for our client.
Remember: media buys don’t have to be huge, they just need to be smart to reach your target audience at the right time, with a relevant message.
Addrenaline’s Kyle Hosick featured in Playback
Kyle Hosick, the CEO of Toronto web- and video-production agency Addrenaline Media, has started a new business that is focused on disrupting the acting business by effectively eliminating the role of the talent agent.
EverydayActors.com, an online database, was started this month with the goal of connecting producers of branded web videos with talent.
“We noticed that in most cases, we needed a regular ‘everyday’ person to play the part of a customer in these videos, and that sourcing talent was time-consuming, tedious and overly expensive,” said Hosick in a statement. He added: “This typically involved going through an acting or modeling agency, sifting through headshots, auditioning people, and ultimately, finding someone who would require a minimum number of paid hours and an exorbitant fee, of
which the agency would take a percentage.”
“Effectively, we’re cutting out the middle man and becoming a talent agent to the world.”
The site solicits for aspiring actors to build a profile in exchange for an annual $20 fee. The site doesn’t take any percentage back-end or flat fees to producers.
Notably, EverydayActors.com takes no role in setting contract terms or pay rates between the content producer and the performer, a company representative told Playback.
Producers are able to search the site by paremeters such as location, age, union status, gender, style of look (ie: “working class” or “punk”) and ethnicity. The site is designed to ensure only serious and qualified actors are subscribers, the company said in press materials.
E-commerce: The advantages of being online, all the time
E-commerce has opened up a new world of possibility for both consumers and businesses. While e-commerce is commonly considered the easiest and most convenient form of purchase for shoppers, it’s up to the retailer or merchant to determine how efficient and effective their e-commerce strategy really is. In order to implement a successful plan, companies must understand the principles of e-commerce and why they are important.
Reaping the benefits
The top three significant advantages in using e-commerce are:
- 24/7 business hours,
- Unlimited reach through global distribution
- Success selling niche products
Online, there are no business hours. Customers are given the opportunity to shop whenever they need to, or want to. And of course, location is never an issue. Your company can reach out to a global audience – assuming your shipping and handling policies allow this. But perhaps the most advantageous aspect in e-commerce is the niche product market. Regardless of the size of your company’s targeted market, there are always buyers. In a store location, your buyers might not be close to you; online, it doesn’t matter.
Creating a strategy that works
So what can you do to ensure your e-commerce abilities are up to par? You need a plan. Getting your product online is easy – but maintaining or improving company success requires strategic thinking.
Create a blueprint for your company’s online location the same way you would plan a store. Think about the following:
- Product shelves: How will you display your products? How will you separate them?
- Convenient shopping: Can customers compare product prices? Can they continue shopping after they have selected a product? Can they create a wish list?
- Virtual employees: What computer software will you use?
- Checkout: What form of payment can customers use? Credit, PayPal, etc.
- Security: How will you secure your site and your customers’ information?
- Customer interaction: How will you “interact” with customers and maintain reputable experience?
Once you’ve evaluated these questions, write a list of the improvements you’d like to see in your company and the benefits you want your customers to reap. Now you have a checklist and can begin the transformation, one step at a time.
Responding To Change Through Responsive Design
Technology is always evolving. The advantage: your life is increasingly easier. The potential drawback: you have to keep up and make everyone else’s lives easier, too. Mobile devices have transformed the customer experience, and depending on your business approach, the experience can improve or completely flop.
A smart approach is updating your website by using responsive design. Responsive design displays the same content in the same format regardless of the device: desktop computer, tablet, smartphone, etc. It provides a smooth and consistent experience for users, especially when alternating between different technologies.
But is it worth spending the money and time? Actually, it might save you both. A site that uses responsive design only needs to be built once. This eliminates the three or four different versions you’d typically need to develop. The need for a web, tablet or mobile ‘version’ is obsolete.
A recent Google survey shows smartphone owners want the ability to take action on a website: Read it here. Not surprisingly, users want information readily available within one or two clicks and in a clean, efficient format. They want the entire website experience: sending emails, downloading applications and using “click to call” the business – all on the same URL.
Not convinced? Poorly structured websites can place your brand at risk. According to a Google survey, 55 per cent of the 1,000 participants said a frustrating experience on a mobile website would hurt the perception of the brand. It also pushes users to ‘give up’ and move on to the next site, likely your competitor’s.
If clients can access your information anywhere, they will naturally become more engaged. It will create a connection between the user and your business and he or she will continue to use your services. Why? Because it was simple, it was fast, and it was trouble-free.
Take a few moments to evaluate your company’s website. It’s simple to determine if it needs revamping - read the 10 tell-tale signs that your website may need a redesign. Yes, keeping pace with technology is a never-ending battle - but if your site is unresponsive, chances are your clients will be too.
Your Website is Still the Focal Point of Your Digital Strategy
The growth of social media as a force in marketing has been nothing short of profound. Organizations, both large and small are racing to create a social presence in order to build communities and converse with their best customers. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social platforms have become a mainstay in the marketer’s toolkit.
Large and small organizations alike have embraced social media as a means to build product awareness, educate and inform customers, engage in e-commerce, share the company vision and mission, and so on. Wait a second. Isn’t this what a website is supposed to accomplish?
In many marketing circles, a debate has begun on whether the traditional company website can be replaced by social networks.
Can’t Facebook communicate everything a website can, but far more cost effectively?
The answer in a word, is simply, no.
While social media is an increasing necessity in well formed digital strategies, the website remains the heart and soul.
Your website continues to be your personal calling card. It is unique, configurable, and ultimately controlled by you. You also have a vast amount of creative opportunities that you can’t necessarily find in social media platforms.
Your website can support comprehensive e-commerce capabilities, complete with detailed catalogues and pricing. It can be linked to complex database and CRM applications that allow for personalization and customization that you can’t find in social media.
Finally, the ability to measure customer interaction and activity on your website can be far greater than what you can find in social media platforms. While social media measurement has evolved considerably in the last few years, website analytics tools can still provide far greater insight.
Social media has its own benefits, but at the end of the day, it really isn’t an “either/or” conversation.
A well defined digital marketing strategy has both social media and websites as core components. Social media platforms represent multiple paths to engage with your customers, to dialogue with them directly, and for your customers to talk to each other. A website represents a doorway into your organization. It is a unique and personalized way to provide access to a wide array of company information.
Throw in some SEO, and a permission-based email program, and you have the makings of an incredible digital marketing program.
BingoBongo.ca Launched - Addrenaline’s Latest Project Coming to a Movie Theatre Near You
Over the past 8 months Addrenaline has been working on a very interesting project for a UK-based client. Our client came to us with an idea for a business and gave Addrenaline carte blanche to conceive and design all aspects related to the marketing of the service and we were even tasked with doing all of the advertising buying and negotiations as well.
BingoBongo.ca is the easiest way to sell a mobile phone. This revolutionary new website allows customers to log on and get an instant cash value for their mobile devices. If the customer feels the price is fair they are one-click away from selling their phone to BingoBongo.ca, using the easiest method in the country. A free postage paid envelope will be supplied and the customer simply needs to drop their phone in the mail to receive payment.
Not only will the customer get quick cash for their old phones and tablets, but so too will they avoid sending the technology to Canadian landfills. At BingoBongo.ca the phones will be refurbished and repurposed in emerging markets where they can be put to good use.
Addrenaline Media was responsible for designing the BingoBongo.ca website and designing print ads that will appear throughout August and September in Sun Media’s 24 Hrs. publication.
In addition, Addrenaline scripted and recorded a hip hop song that is the primary marketing vehicle for the website and went as far as to film and produce a music video for the track. This video will be appearing in 200+ Cineplex Theatres prior to showtime for the month of August and the song itself can be heard on Toronto’s Kiss 92.5 radio station in 30 second commercial format. Click here to see the video.
This was a truly fun project to work on, and it really pushed the bounds of our traditional service offering.