Innovation @ BBG » Syndication Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:47:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ODDI Demo Day Kicks Off the New Year Mon, 13 Jan 2014 18:41:16 +0000 Erica Malouf Friday marked the last demo day at ODDI in the current format. In the past, project owners (team leaders) have given demo day presentations in ODDI’s office with an occasional note from a team member. From here on out, the emphasis will be on having the team members take the lead in talking about their work, instead of the project owners.

In the past, stakeholders from within BBG have always been invited, but have rarely joined–it’s usually just ODDI staff who attend the Friday demos. Going forward, ODDI demo days will be centered around the stakeholder. Teams will schedule time with their various project stakeholders within BBG. The goal is to get internal customer feedback on a more regular basis as a part of our Agile, iterative approach.

ODDI scrum master Son Tran says that team-driven presentations provide team members with an opportunity to show that they are delivering on goals and owning the work they’ve done. He also notes it’s about the iterative process:  ”Closing the feedback loop and making it shorter is better for improving projects.”

What are we working on at ODDI?

For most teams, Sprint Zero was a time of research and planning, defining goals and determining KPIs. Adam Martin, our newly minted Director of Innovation, asked teams to come to the January 9 demo day “prepared to discuss their Charter as described in the Strategic White Paper, their shared vision in response to the Charter, the team’s goals, how they will measure their success against those goals, and their product(s) roadmap for Q2 of FY14 (and beyond if available).”

Now the teams are ready to see their brilliant ideas into fruition. And some teams are also managing ongoing projects like Relay, RIVR, the BBG-wide analytics roll out, and mobile app updates.

Here’s a look at what’s happening:

image mobileprez

Will Sullivan presents on the latest mobile app updates and the Symbian launch.


Project Owner: Will Sullivan

The Mobile Team is continuing develop, update and support the suite of umbrella news applications for all BBG entities, which supports more than 82 language services now, and has an install base of more than 400,000 users. We are launching new applications with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Google Android and Apple IOS for both mobile and tablet form factors and just launched VOA’s Africa-focused Symbian application (the third largest mobile OS in the region, after Android and IOS, which we launched for VOA services last year). This quarter we will be updating the entire suite to a more magazine-style iPad design, building new Android home screen news widgets and moving the app analytics over to the shared Adobe Omniture SiteCatalyst system. We’re also beginning work on an live audio streaming and on-demand podcast Android and IOS application for the Middle East Broadcast Network’s Radio Sawa that is visually-rich with a touch-centered interaction experience and deep user-generated and social sharing integration.


Project Owner: Doug Zabransky

The Affiliate Digital Services (ADS) team represents a new chapter for USIM and affiliate relationships. Existing and new BBG Affiliates will be offered up to three tiers of digital service. Each tier represents levels of digital-hosted offerings including live streaming, adaptive html 5 digital players, and an internet broadcast station which will allow for content source switching between BBG live and on-demand content, as well as other affiliate content within the ADS community. All tiers include customer service and support.

Essentially, BBG hopes to build a robust network of affiliate partner on-line stations. Growing the BBG affiliate digital audience will grow BBG’s audience as well.


Project Owner: Rebecca Shakespeare

The insights team is focusing on setting up tools that collect and present objective information about digital performance to inform BBG leadership and editorial about what is actually happening with their digital products and content. The team is currently focusing on the rollout of the new web analytics tool which measures digital properties owned and hosted by the BBG. It is also contracting outside validation of the numbers that are collected and reported to ensure accuracy of the information presented. Beginning in February 2014, the team will start to focus on displaying weekly performance analytics from BBG’s range of digital reporting tools, side-by-side in a dashboard, to present a complete picture of digital performance.


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Brian Williamson’s illustrations illuminate the Storytelling Team’s vision


Project Owners: Steve Fuchs, Randy Abramson

The storytelling team is determined to revitalize and update USIM storytelling around the globe. We are brainstorming innovative ways to tell stories that inform, engage and connect with audiences based on their needs and expectations. One of our main goals is to build community engagement with younger audiences by using a toolbox of highly relevant, visual, trans-media storytelling techniques. We plan to not only count standard metrics–such as time spent, return visits, videos watched, social engagement, and so forth–but we also aim to make a real-world impact that affects conversation and behavior. Randy will continue to work on Relay, and the entire team will work on projects like finding innovative ways to cover sports in developing countries, among others.

Other Teams & Projects

In addition to the teams that demo’d last Friday, ODDI also has several other teams that are kicking A and taking names.

The Research & Analysis (R&A) team functions as support for all other teams. R&A was recently pivotal in helping the Storytelling team and the Affiliate Digital Services team determine their next projects. During Sprint Zero, the R&A team dug deep to find data on countries around the world, interviewing internal experts and BBG’s Regional Marketing Officers, diving into BBG research reports and library databases, and translating that data into insights and strategic recommendations. The R&A team includes Son Tran, Ashley Wellman, Yousef Kokcha, Ahran Lee and myself (Erica Malouf).

image RIVR screen

Ongoing Project: Doug Zabransky will continue to lead the IVR project called RIVR. Look for a blog post update to come soon.

ODDI also has various teams working on ebooks, UX testing and more. Follow the action here on the blog, on Twitter (@BBGinnovate) and on our new website portal (

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Innovation Strategy on a Global Scale, 2013 Tue, 26 Feb 2013 06:24:52 +0000 robbole The Office of Digital & Design Innovation launched roughly a year ago with a very straightforward mission: the expansion and usage of digital platforms to grow our global online audience.  We do that by working with our partner media networks to bring best-in-class platforms and services, as well as experimenting and launching innovative new technologies that speed our transition in serving increasingly online audiences.

Over the last twelve months we have been working on the “ground game”, by migrating off of old platforms, adopting new agile software frameworks and generally preparing the ground for faster innovation.  I am very proud to say that with our close partners, especially with Radio Free Europe’s digital team, we have fully turned over all of our core infrastructure on-time and on-budget.  And in an unprecedented event, we will be able to take some operational savings and invest in new areas, such as expanding our mobile presence and improved digital syndication.

In this current year we are going to expand our presence and quicken the pace of introducing new products and services.  We have a mandate for change and now are fully ready to drive innovation that leads to audience growth.

Here is our plan for 2013.


2013 Strategy & Goals

1.  Integrate Digital Platforms: Develop our new core digital services to an effective “run” state in order to provide normal enterprise operating services to all of USIM.  ODDI is working closely with our colleagues in RFERL Digital, as well as with RFA, MBN, VOA and OCB, to ensure that our core services, such as the online video/audio platform (OVAP), mobile web and mobile applications, are effectively established for all of USIM.  In many places we believe that integration into the “Pangea core” and RFA’s system will enable important improvements in our operating efficiencies.

Digital platform highlights include:

  • Full integration of the Kaltura online video/audio platform (OVAP) into Pangea: ensure that video and audio management becomes a ‘back office’ function to a user of the Pangea CMS and enable seamless distribution to all USIM accounts, including external accounts like YouTube and SoundCloud.  We also want to do a complete implementation of mobile-compliant audio/video players for iOS, Android and other mobile devices.
  • Deliver enhanced live streaming capabilities for 24-hr “true” Mp3 audio playout: create capabilities for streaming services on digital channels such as Apple iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher and other radio streams.
  • Expansion of Direct to provide services to all entities and all content types: provide technical connectors to allow all entities to seamlessly publish a wide-range of content types (broadcast-quality to Internet-quality rich media, text, photos, etc) for a range of broadcast and digital affiliates.
  • Launch “measure everything” platforms: launch new platforms and technical services to ensure cross-agency tag management, web analytics, social media analytics and video analytics.  In addition, launch a powerful analytics application programming interface (API) and customizable dashboards of real-time analytical data for all levels of the organization–from the Board down to the editor and reporter levels.


2.  Grow Mobile: Drive future (“road map”) improvements and expansion of our mobile platforms and services to increase our global audiences.  Mobile is the single most important method for USIM to be able to reach audiences.  Statistics often point to the fact that mobile adoption has a lot of room to grow or that there is a clear ceiling on the use of fixed-line broadband in different regions.  Our goal is to deliver the platforms and services that enable all entities and language services to deliver content across all mobile devices–from high-bandwidth IPTV applications down to simple feature phones.  And, just as important, we want to facilitate the use of voice/audio over local phone calls.

Mobile highlights include:

  • Launch of new news “Umbrella” applications for all five entities.  In conjunction with the entities, we will be launching and improving a range of mobile news applications.
  • “Responsive+” on core digital platforms.  Re-development of our core digital sites to utilize both responsive web design and progressive enhancement with server-side detection through a mobile-first strategy.  This change will enable us to provide digital content across a wide range of devices and bandwidths, customizing the content for the user, based on their device’s hardware and software capabilities and network connection.
  • Expansion of IVR and other low-bandwidth mobile publishing.  Improving existing open source frameworks to enable enterprise Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services to enable low-cost local calling for the audience, and low-cost operational costs for BBG.
  • e-Book, magazine publishing improvements.  This year we will be piloting a number of design templates and easy workflows to create interactive books and magazines for the distribution of collections of content both in static (text) and dynamic, rich media formats.


3.  Expand Audience Engagement: Implement an innovative initiative that builds a USIM-wide, audience-centric sourcing, storytelling and distribution service. We are focused on elevating the role of the global audience in our work as journalists, from enhancing simple commenting and discussion tools to supporting direct audience participation while covering events. Audience engagement occurs within a news organization when three critical pieces align: business strategy, technical capabilities and editorial management.  Our office will elevate the notion of audience engagement throughout our language services while simultaneously increasing our digital capabilities.

Audience engagement highlights include:

  • Strengthening core content (text/audio/video) platforms.  Working closely with RFERL and TSI, we will focus on enhancing our current infrastructure, as well as adopting or building enhancements to platforms and services that enable audience members to participate in our journalism.
  • Interactive storytelling expansion.  We are introducing a number of new JavaScript and other frameworks to enable new types of storytelling by our journalists.  Our goal is to identify, seed and then support a core group of video and audio producers to understand and use Popcorn.js, Timeline.js and other frameworks to publish interactive content–especially using audience-generated materials.
  • Audience engagement testing.  In order to engage with audiences, we need to understand their interests, preferences and cultural lense in order to present compelling content and product that encourage their participation.  We will be partnering with BBG Research to identify and test digital products in-country, especially to discover better ways to create and develop content with audiences.


4.  Grow Digital Affiliates: Expand the number of websites and digital services that carry USIM content through new API and other syndication services.  Our goal is to: 1) replace expensive satellite distribution for lower-cost Internet-based distribution wherever possible; 2) increase the ability for ALL entities to share, distribute and create content with local partners; and 3) build a new class of “digital affiliates” in the form of syndication points (i.e. Google Currents), blog networks, emerging all-digital news organizations, etc.  Our goal is to build an expanded “affiliate storefront” using a robust application programming interface (API) strategy.

Digital affiliate highlights include:

  • Increased syndication partnerships.  This includes regional goals whereby we will launch two to four quarterly syndication agreements with global partners, as well as targeted regional syndication deals in Eurasia, Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • Direct API/digital affiliates program.  We have three goals in this area: 1) the integration of Direct with our Kaltura OVAP system for the inclusion of Internet-quality video and audio content in affiliate distribution; 2) integration with OSD’s customer relationship management system to enable affiliate information to flow between the two systems; and 3) a public-facing API to enable existing affiliates, as well as the potential for a new class of “digital affiliates”, to have our content delivered to them dynamically.
  • Strong syndication analytics system.  This includes the expansion of our analytics platforms, as well as offering training and simple dashboard tools, to enable a more robust tracking of digital content usage by existing and new affiliates. We hope to provide business/editorial managers with more information on the use and consumption of their content by third-parties.


In order to accomplish these goals, ODDI is going to continue to evolve its operations and capacities.  We have been replacing remote vendors with an increasing number of “makers” at the staff level, or through full-time, in-office, contractors.  As resources become available we will be adding additional capabilities to the office.  We will be continuing to balance an expanded, full-service, in-house capability to build, maintain and grow a range of new digital platforms with a rational number of high-quality, best-in-class vendors.  In particular, we will focus on expanding our capacity in three critical areas: technical development/programmers, user experience design/storytelling support and increased services for doing digital data analysis in support of product development and strategy.

If you have any questions, comments or thoughts in improving our 2013 strategy please let us know!  [You can leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter (@BBGinnovate).]

- Robert Bole, Director of Innovation, Office of Digital & Design Innovation

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Syndication Update: SoundCloud Thu, 10 Jan 2013 01:36:07 +0000 April Deibert Remember our post about Addie Nascimento (ODDI’s Syndication Project Lead) and her efforts to syndicate to everyone, everywhere, on every platform?  Yep, it’s happening.  Wanting to hear more specifically about SoundCloud, I hit up Addie again.  She was happy to explain everything in detail—even though she was concurrently battling a bad cold and had been kept awake at night for a few days by a rogue raccoon that had taken up residency on her roof.  True story!

Startups: Alex Ljung of SoundCloud [Video from YouTube user ThisWeekIn]

Ready to Rock

SoundCloud has been incredibly receptive to BBG’s needs and wants… meaning that a cooperative technology agreement has been reached according to Nascimento, “making sharing media through social media easier”.  Benefits from a mutual agreement between the BBG and SoundCloud include things like an increased audience base for both parties as well as an easy way to share content across Facebook (in fact you can sign up for SoundCloud using your Facebook account).

Early estimates suggest to Nascimento that this mutual agreement has the potential to bring in upwards of 100,000+ more plays per year.  By utilizing SoundCloud’s built-in audience and their metrics tools, BBG entities can easily expand and measure their programming’s reach.


How the Software Works

Maybe you’re thinking that this all sounds great, but have no clue how exactly a BBG-SoundCloud-Facebook interface would work.  Nascimento says it’s as easy as taking a broadcast feed (RSS) or podcast feed, ingesting the files into SoundCloud (they provide storage for the files), connecting the SoundCloud account to your Facebook account, and then checking back in on metrics on your SoundCloud admin page.

VOA’s Urdu Service, Indonesian Service, and Khmer Service are using SoundCloud in a pilot project.  These uploads can take place daily, weekly, or biweekly—but they must be done manually—but once they are uploaded, all content plays automatically and functions like a radio station.  Their staff uploads content to SoundCloud manually pushing metadata-rich podcast feeds (VOA’s Urdu, Indonesian, and ___ are already doing this) to the SoundCloud server.  There are upcoming changes that will allow this process to happen automatically. However, their users are accessing the content through SoundCloud’s main website, through a Play Store app, through an iTunes Store app, as well as directly on Facebook.

Nascimento and her team hope that there will be some live streaming events broadcast via SoundCloud by the end of summer in 2013.  “This will open a lot of doors with the addition of 24-hour streaming media,” she adds.  “But there’s a difference between streaming and downloading,” Nascimento continues, “the streaming experience is great for online radio experience where you can pick up on the conversation mid-event, but the drawback is that it requires a constant Internet connection or mobile device with wifi—which is not always possible.”


Example of how others are using SoundCloud+Facebook [Demo by YouTube user Keith Everett]


As With Other Digital Tools, Keep Your Audience In Mind

To prepare content specifically for use in SoundCloud, Nascimento suggests that producers “start thinking about their content in general and the advantages of this tool—what kind of package will do well on this platform? What do we already have? What can we create?”  This may require individual file programming to be done, where staff will need to manually post content and then encourage their audience to check out each update on Facebook.

Nascimento knows BBG staff doesn’t have time to mess with lots of new tasks each day.  “We only have so many hours, yet so many things to do—so if you don’t have time for custom content, just post a question or comment on your own SoundCloud posts on Facebook. Ask your audience to add their comment, and always mention it in your programming.”

These things may sound simple, but Nascimento encourages staff to remember that “the products you’re creating are strategically important and should be 100% about engagement”.  For example, perhaps producers can use SoundCloud as an extension for audiences to hear more of an interview, broadcast, or event that was not broadcast on air.  Or, perhaps an entire interview can be conducted with a popular guest and the content is available only through Facebook in order to drive more traffic.  Regardless, think of SoundCloud as a bulletin board and think about what issues your audience is considering important in their localized livelihoods and interests.


For Success, Nascimento Says Remember To…

1)   Get the basics down. Be sure that you have clean metadata. You always need unique titles and descriptions for your media files. Make this a common practice. This will help your content perform better in search engines. This will also help identify one program from another; users will look for a person’s name or topic of which they are interested. Label files so people can find them based off what they are likely to be looking for.  You can’t do number two and three in this list without doing number one.  Users will look through your content and know that you are engaged because you’ve labeled it clearly for them.  She compares having a great digital space to being an awesome party host: make everything look clean and inviting, lay out your best food (content) and have the best entertainment (visuals) so they’ll come back for more. “You are much more likely to eat the food when it looks good and you know what it is than take your chance on ‘mystery meat.’”

2)   Engage your audience: What does this look like?  Make content short and consumable. Clearly labeled, engaging and enticing. Ask for their opinion.  People want to share their ideas, be heard and feel valued. They also want to know what real people think: their peers, their community and people around the world.  SoundCloud can also provide new audiences where content producers are not currently seeing much.  Nascimento hopes content will get more plays and more engagement by leveraging new ways to engage the audience where they already are.  And, remember to talk back when people comment on content.  Think about it: aren’t you more likely to make a comment where you know you’ll get a comment back?

3)   Create specific content:  If you are ready for the challenge, create content specifically for use on this platform. Consider the unique experience to tying broadcast audio or web-only audio with a social media venue. What kind of content would my Facebook audience be interested in? What kind of content would the SoundCloud community be interested in? Again, clear metadata and active engagement are your keys to success.


For more info:


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(Thank you to Addie Nascimento for her contributions to this post.  To contact her: addien at bbg dot gov [or] @addien)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)


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Syndication Projects: Google Currents, SoundCloud, SEO, & Graphics Redesign Thu, 15 Nov 2012 20:08:42 +0000 April Deibert BBG is working on streamlining syndication strategies to deliver the news to where users are most likely to be.  Championing this endeavor is Addie Nascimento, Syndication Product Lead.  She agreed to give me a sneak preview of what she’ll be working on this quarter and the following quarter.


1. Google Currents
Google Currents is self-described as delivering “beautiful magazine-like editions to your tablet and smartphone for high speed and offline reading.”  According to Nascimento, the first edition of BBG’s Google Currents app entered a test phase as recently as last week and will go live to the public on October 31st.  The app is RSS-based and will be available for each individual language service.  Users will receive syndicated content sent directly to their smartphones or tablets.  This method of entering the Android market—which has topped 675,000 apps and 1.3 million activations per day on Android—is strategic considering that future Android devices will come with the Google Currents app pre-installed.  (However, the Google Currents app is also available for download on iOS.)  “It continues to move us in the direction of finding BBG content everywhere you—the user—are,” sums up Nascimento, “If you have the Google currents app, we’ll be there.”


2. SoundCloud
Originally, SoundCloud was meant to be help musicians create and upload new music to grab the attention of local producers and broadcasters, but the program has evolved into a powerful tool for syndication.  Now SoundCloud is seen as a way to get all types of broadcasts out—ranging from special reporting on the sounds from ongoing protests to the sounds of major cultural events.  “If Facebook and YouTube had a baby, it would be SoundCloud,” laughs Nascimento.  However, technically, according to SoundCloud, it is described as a way to “capture a voice, moment or music in seconds or upload audio you’ve already created.” SoundCloud is soon to be one of the BBG’s tools for sharing audio broadcasts on Facebook.  “One of the biggest advantages for SoundCloud is that they’re one of the few companies that works within the Facebook interface to deliver audio content,” explains Nascimento, “and they also have a built-in user base.”

Using tools like SoundCloud is a simple way to deliver files by allowing editors to leverage current podcast feeds or record and upload new files.  “Files will be put into the interface, the interface will be hooked up into the respective Facebook accounts, and that content will be delivered directly through Facebook,” further details Nascimento.  In addition, since SoundCloud has a desktop client component, current SoundCloud users will still be able to access BBG broadcasts there.

Nascimento recommends that SoundCloud would be ideal for the BBG language services that do a lot of radio programming, who have a strong audience on Facebook, and whose editors prefer to have a centralized way of sharing broadcast audio via social media.  Particularly, this would be ideal for any language service where shortwave radio may no longer be possible for one reason or another, so primary deliver of content is via the Internet where bandwidth is suitable.  “As bandwidth increases, our delivery can get better and people will look for content more and more.”


3. SEO
Creating business partnerships with large search engines is a surefire way to get content out to the audience it’s intended for.  The purpose in doing this, Nascimento explains, is to have an agreement with major search engines and/or companies so that “they know who we are, we are getting our content to themand registered with them in the most optimal way possible.”  These types of agreements create formal relationships that can be extremely beneficial to BBG so that the tech team is aware of what products or changes are coming and so that all major search engines have the most up to date site indexes, metadata, and domain redirect information.


4.  Graphics Redesign
According to TechSpot, “Apple’s desktop iTunes application has been revamped with mobile-like changes, including an edge-to-edge interface that seamlessly links the store, books, music and videos into one uniform appearance.”  So it only makes sense that Apple is changing its graphics requirements for all those who own iTunes store content.  “This redesign is about: 1) adapting content to apple’s current standards, 2) establishing strong branding, clear themes, and professional appearance and 3) preparing us for future expansion,” explains Nascimento.  While old graphics only needed to be approximately 300×300 pixels, they will need to be 1400×1400 pixels to be up to par, user friendly, and professional.

Particularly, Nascimento is looking forward to getting MBN and Marti on board to set up a permanent iTunes store.  “By the end of the year, my goal is to get everyone on board,” says Nascimento, referring to her hope that all five entities reach out to set up their own iTunes pages (including new graphics).  Because, of course, if you’re going to syndicate great content—the graphics need to be compelling as well.


For more info:


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(Thank you to Addie Nascimento for her contributions to this post.  To contact her: addien at bbg dot gov [or] @addien)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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Beyond the BBG Domain: Syndicating to Everyone, Everywhere on Every Platform Fri, 24 Aug 2012 18:40:38 +0000 Addie Nascimento

Hi, we are Adelaide “Addie” Nascimento (Syndication Product Lead) and Randy Abramson (Director of Product and Operations) at the Office of Digital and Design Innovation.  As Director of Product and Operations, Randy helps drive strategy and product support for the digital arms of VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN and OCB across the mobile, audio/video, social, syndication and API product lines.  As Syndication Product Lead, Addie concentrates on distributing BBG content to the Web, mobile and platform destinations that best fit with the needs of our target audiences.  In the past, we have focused our syndication efforts around our USIM Direct product which gives access of BBG long form content to our affiliates, as well as sending content to large content portals like YouTube.  We are continuing to make enhancements to USIM Direct but also making a concerted effort to be more active in content distribution and form strategic alignment with key consumption destinations and devices.


Why syndicate?


[Image courtesy of ShutterStock]

Just as the days where people waited for the newspaper to hit their doorstep are gone, so too are the Web and mobile users who flock to media entity websites to get the latest news.  As the speed of news quickens, the news ‘comes to us’ in the form of Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and aggregation sites like The Huffington Post.  These sources show that portals which effectively curate can be as powerful as old media stalwarts like The New York Times.  Meanwhile, more and more users are spending time on audio and video powerhouse sites like YouTube–which served over 1 trillion streams in 2011–or Sound Cloud, the audio-centric site that just announced that it has more than 20,000,000 registered users.  The content producers at VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, OCB and MBN create best-in-class journalism daily.  One of ODDI’s tasks is to get this high quality content on to the platforms and into the environments that our users are currently spending time with.  The solution lies within strategic syndication partnerships and distribution methods that align with current usage, future consumption forecasting and mission based targeting.


The Syndication Prioritization Process

There are dozens, if not hundreds of great syndication possibilities for our content.  At ODDI, we try to prioritize those opportunities, foster relationships with syndication partners, distribute our content and look for larger opportunities with partners once our content is syndicated.


We focus on 5 key areas:

1. Metadata Distribution

2. Mobile/Tablet Distribution

3. Audio/Video Focused Distribution

4. Over-The-Top (TV-like experiences) Distribution

5. Mission Focused Initiatives

In working closely with the content producers at all of the BBG entities, we are prioritizing syndication opportunities and aiming to launch with three new syndication partners per quarter.

Prioritization can be driven by various motives:

  • Are we trying to simply reach as many people as possible?
  • Do we have mission focused content that can be distributed to targeted areas?
  • Are particular devices or platforms emerging as standards within key populations?
  • What technical steps do we need to take in order to match up with specific syndication destinations?

These are the hard questions that we ask when trying to figure out the order of our efforts.


Know Your Content, Know the Platforms and Start Small

Another key to understanding syndication is knowing that our content will perform differently on the various syndication platforms and destinations.  Short video and audio clips may do well on mobile phones where users are on the go and have limited time where as our long form content may be more popular on tablet, over-the-top TV platforms and other ‘lean back’ experiences.  Metrics can help us assess what content we should be distributing where.  It is important to note that some opportunities are simply too new to predict how audiences will engage with our content.  In these cases, we try to start small with pilot projects and measure behavior along the way.


First Up: Google Currents


[Image courtesy of Google]

Our first syndication effort will be to distribute content from VOA, OCB, MBN, RFE and RFE/RL to the new Google Currents mobile application platform.  The application formats published content into a dynamic magazine-like format.  We will be distributing BBG textstories, audio, video and photo content to the Currents app, which is currently coming pre-installed on Android mobile phones and tablets (note that there are currently 850,000 Android devices being activated daily, worldwide).  As an early mover to this platform, we hope to be able to take advantage of the marketing opportunities within the Currents platform that would drive users of the app directly into BBG content areas.


The Road Ahead

The exciting thing about helping to drive these efforts is that the space is so dynamic.  Syndication opportunities are emerging every day as start-ups around the globe provide new and interesting ways and places to display and engage with BBG content. We’re learning to ask questions, watch the metrics and let the audiences help drive the decisions that we’re making.   We’re excited to keep track of the trends and prioritize accordingly.  The one thing we know for sure is that the landscape will continue to shift and we need to be ready to move with it, wherever it goes.


To contact Addie Nascimento (Syndication Product Lead):
To contact Randy Abramson (Director of Product and Operations):


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(Thank you to Addie Nascimento and Randy Abramson for their contributions to this post.)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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