MTV O Music Awards
MTV has successfully maintained its position as one of the most internationally recognized names in popular culture for 30 years and counting. Whether you remember seeing the first music video or marvel over the latest celebrity escapades, MTV has continually reinvented itself and maintained its appeal to a dynamic viewing public. MTV’s approach to awards shows is no exception. In 2011, MTV launched the O Music Awards: the first music awards show that celebrates the way the Internet, social media and technology have transformed our relationship with music. The O Music Awards embraces the bleeding edge with categories like “Best Tweet,” and “Best Music Hack,” and it is the first awards show that can only be fully experienced in the digital realm.
MTV Networks came to Happy Cog with a challenging vision and an aggressive timeline for the second O Music Awards. We needed to help plan and deliver an interactive experience to be deployed in four stages. The O Music Awards takes place twice a year, so in addition to a full redesign and front and back-end overhaul, a primary goal was to replicate the core functionality of the inaugural awards show and online experience - all within a few months.
First, we needed to publish a blog to maintain discussion and interest between shows. Then, for stage two as the show approaches, fans influence award outcomes in a number of unorthodox categories through online voting. During voting, participants are rewarded by not only how often they vote, but how often they share their votes on Facebook and Twitter. For stage three, the show is broadcast live on the site and provides a unique online experience - including user-controlled camera angles and back-channel conversations. Then, the post-show site experience kicks in, recapping highlights, furthering dialogue, and gearing up for the next show.
As we do when situations warrant, Happy Cog modified our core project approach to deliver significant amounts of functionality, define a bold new visual style, and support immense amounts of voting traffic within a condensed timeline. Our guiding principle was to reach consensus quickly, and then keep architecture, graphic design, and development work moving forward concurrently (as opposed to sequentially) whenever possible. Our kickoff meeting was structured to identify, iterate, and innovate critical pieces of the user experience. We used large diagrams of the various site states to come to agreement about how voters orient themselves, what motivates them to vote, and how they should be rewarded for their behavior. We also explored the complex requirements for a mobile experience, advertising, and video so we could take appropriate advantage of the powerful back-end frameworks that MTV already had in place.
Since the blog was the first task at hand, we used it as an opportunity to explore a daring visual execution for a truly unique awards show. Iterating on a “cube aesthetic” defined by the look of the physical awards, we arrived at a unique design and implemented it quickly. It established the art direction of the many subsequent voting and show interfaces, and saved valuable time in establishing and implementing in aesthetic downstream.
After the blog, the site was first concepted as wireframes, then rapidly designed and coded based on the blog’s visual style. We conceived the voting experience from the ground up to encourage site visits - generating live, “in progress” tweets per category, and integrating Facebook and Twitter sharing for votes. The more voters share, the more they can vote, as they earn points towards increased voting privileges, and ultimately possibly winning a trip to the show itself.
Using a responsible multi-device design and deployment strategy, our adaptive framework delivers a compelling singular experience across mobile, tablet, and desktop. In addition, Happy Cog worked with MTV to only serve licensed content where appropriate, on a device-by-device basis. This allowed MTV to continue selling ads and serving video in the same ways they were accustomed to while allowing Happy Cog to manage a single design system and code base.
Site Launch and the Future
On the first day, the site saw 85,776 votes come through the system; in the first week, nearly two million. To date, the site has generated over ten million votes, with over five million votes shared on Facebook and Twitter, an increase of over 1000% from the initial award celebration. So far more than 75,000 super fan accounts have been created, earning more than 2 million points towards increased voting rights and a chance to win a trip to the show itself. We think this is a great start, but we can’t wait to see what happens over the next few weeks, and when the show is broadcast live online. Hope to see you, or tweet you, there!