If you’ve skimmed the TODAY Show’s website recently, you may have noticed something familiar. It looks a heck of a lot like Pinterest.

In fact, Pinterest is influencing website design all over the place. Companies are favoring intensely visual, accessible design elements similar to the pins on Pinterest.

TODAY has found that a similar site concept resonates with its Pinterest users. “There’s something about the mindset of Pinterest that is similar to what [people] love about TODAY.com — and that’s discovery,” says TODAY’s digital director, Jen Brown. “Sometimes I go to Pinterest and I’m not sure what exactly I want, but I know I’m going to find something fun. That’s really how we try to program our site.”

SEE ALSO: How Pinterest Is Changing Website Design Forever
Brown explains that, similar to Pinterest, TODAY.com provides people with five minutes-worth of entertaining, interesting content that they can discuss at their happy hours or mommy groups. She says that both Pinterest and TODAY.com give users “a little moment that they can take away with them when they have a chance.”

Those “moments” also originate from the TODAY Show broadcast itself, Brown says. The show lends itself well to visual snapshots, which incidentally, work well on Pinterest. For instance, when a Rockefeller Plaza fan brought a picture of Matt Lauer as Rosie the Riveter, TODAY’s digital team recognized that the occasion would pin well to Pinterest. “You have to grab that one moment and put it out there,” says Brown.

Other content that does well on the TODAY Show Pinterest? Food, animals, travel and aspirational messages, says Brown. And we’re not talking complicated, gourmet dishes, but rather, accessible meals that anyone can tackle. That mindset has a lot to do with TODAY’s family-centric, female demographic. And while many would argue that Pinterest’s 82% female user base and the TODAY Show’s audience couldn’t be a better fit, “TODAY means different things on different platforms, so I don’t think it’s a one-to-one correlation,” says Brown. “But we try to be mindful that [the show has] a very specific audience with specific behaviors and specific interests.”

Brown suggests that users embrace a similar brand of specificity in their own Pinterest activities. She advises that pinners use the platform with targeted goals in mind — her first boards organized ideas and inspiration for redecorating her living room. “That really gave me a reason to look for various rugs that go with my weird green couch,” she says. “When you have a purpose, it becomes really fun to search and explore, and you find the people who are talking about the same things.”

How do you see Pinterest affecting the social media presences of media and entertainment organizations in the future? Let us know your thoughts about TODAY’s strategy in the comments below.

More About: design, Entertainment, features, Media, pinterest, trending, TV

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Samsung hopes it can entice developers to create apps that can connect televisions, phones, tablets and laptops. For the second year in a row, Samsung is hosting what it calls the Free the TV Challenge.

The challenge tasks app developers to create applications and solutions using the Samsung TV App SDK. Last year, the focus was on getting third-party app content for the company’s line of Smart TV and Blu-ray players. This year, the company wants developers to focus on creating “converged apps”: Ones that will offer interaction between a Samsung Smart TV and at least one other screen, like a phone or tablet.

Samsung is asking developers to look into three categories:

  • Controller Apps – Ones that let a phone, tablet or PC control an app running on a TV.
  • Companion Apps – Think second screen apps, with a focus on synchronized, supplemented content.
  • Interactive Apps — Apps that let the user use a device as a secondary display. That means you could start using an app on one device and pick up where you left off on another gadget.

The winning developer will get $100,000, plus a 65″ LED TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The winning app will also be featured in the “Recommended” section of the Samsung Apps store for two months. Second and third place winners will receive $75,000 and $50,000 respectively, plus a 55″ TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The contest is open until November 29, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Judging will take place between December 2 and December 16, 2011. The winners will be announced on January 13, 2012, and Samsung’s website has a complete list of rules and eligibility requirements.

MOVL, the startup that won first place in the 2010 Free the TV Challenge, is making its MOVL Connect Platform available to developers free of charge during the contest period.

It makes sense that Samsung is asking developers to innovate and build cross-device applications. Connected devices are more common than not, and we access content in increasingly fluid ways. That said, we do wonder how much utility developers will be able to provide within the context of the Samsung TV SDK. And we hope devs will be able to incorporate technologies such as DLNA, which are supported by devices other than just Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, when building their apps.

The only real problem we see in the burgeoning connected app space is the high level of fragmentation. Almost every TV vendor has its own platform, and those platforms are often incompatible with one another. So developers have to build apps for multiple TV makers, not to mention set-top boxes like the Boxee Box, Roku and Google TV. We would really like to see TV makers align on some sort of base platform for connected applications.

What do you think of companies sponsoring developer contests to enhance their product ecosystems? Let us know in the comments.

More About: connected devices, connected tv, samsung, second screen, second screen apps





Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt apparently wants to host his own talk show, and Twitter users have some suggested names for it.

The Internet is abuzz today with a report from New York Post‘s Page Six claiming that Eric Schmidt’s next job after Google could be as a TV talk show host. The publication’s sources say that Schmidt has been chatting with the executive producer of CNN’s Parker Spitzer, Liza McGuirk, about a transition from technology to media.

Schmidt apparently filmed a pilot episode of a potential show for CNN in August, but the pilot “was a complete disaster.” As executive chairman (and not CEO) though, Schmidt will have plenty of time to polish his on-air skills by appearing as a guest on the countless talk shows, cable news networks and late night shows that permeate the airwaves.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this report is accurate. Back in October, Schmidt exercised his interviewing chops when he took the stage with James Cameron at the Churchill Club Premiere Event. He seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to interview Cameron and one could see why he would be interested in turning that into a full-time gig. It’s a new challenge for the multi-billionaire to conquer.

What should Schmidt call his talk show? He could go the simple route with “Schmidt” — a la “Parker Spitzer” — but what’s the fun in that? CNET‘s Caroline McCarthy had a suggestion of her own: “Holy Schmidt!” Kathleen Schmidt, no relation to Eric Schmidt, is already calling dibs on “Schmidt Happens” as a TV show title.

Because I’m in a playful mood today, I’ve collected some of my favorite proposed titles from the Twitterverse and posted them in a gallery. Let us know your suggested titles in the comments. If it’s a really good one, we might even add it to the gallery. But please, keep it clean, for the children.

@Caro

@JeffSepp

@BookGirl96

@JBergsman

@EMcCutchan

@KatieRosman

@Aubs

@benparr

More About: cnn, eric schmidt, Google, Parker Spitzer, tv, twitter




Television remote control

Emboldened by the improving economic picture, advertisers are buying media like it’s 1999 with an uptick in TV and radio at the expense of digital, according to a new survey.

Strata, a Chicago-based customized media management agency, polled 100 agency clients this month and found that TV is still the dominant medium — 44% of respondents said they are most focused on television above other media. That’s a 24% jump over the previous quarter. Digital was second with 21.1% while radio netted 15.6%, a 75% jump from the third quarter.

The figure for digital was actually down from 26% in 3Q, as agencies expressed disappointment with digital advertising’s efficacy. Dividing digital advertising preferences further, the survey found that display advertising, social media and search were most favored while mobile was a distant fourth. Meanwhile, 90% of respondents said their clients weren’t asking about iAds, Google TV or Apple TV.

“This was the first quarter we saw digital take a dip,” says J.D. Miller, director of marketing for Strata, who adds that mobile is drawing interest, but not dollars. “The buzz is there, but no one’s buying.”

The flight to analog media in the Strata survey came as 51% of respondents said they are seeing an uptick in business vs. a low of 22.5% in 2008. Nearly a quarter of respondents also said they would be hiring, up from 9% in 3Q.

The findings of the survey are at odds with other industry projections. For instance, eMarketer predicts a 10.5% increase in online spending next year followed by double-digit growth every year through 2014. Moreover, Strata’s data has trumpeted the continued staying power of TV before. A Strata survey for the first quarter of 2010 also showed a big increase in projected ad spending on TV.

More About: advertising, digital, radio, tv