If you were to google Audience Engagement or Audience Experience, you will likely not find it in the way I’m discussing it in this piece. Though what you would find would in essence not be too far off. Audience engagement for the most part refers to how the audience for a TV or film production engages with the visual product that is produced for them. It can also relate to audio experiences, such as radio or podcasts. But traditionally this is where we find the ‘audience’.
Audience though is simply another word for the public. Rather than always referring to the user, the customer, the consumer, the player, the employee, etc…, I’ve been falling back on my film-production training and career and simply using the term audience to describe the vast array of various people that would use a service or product.
One of the reasons for this is that in my current work, many people tend to have (negative) preconceptions when it comes to certain words. Such as user, I’ve come across people who equate that word with a negative concept of someone that has an unhealthy obsession or addiction with something. Other’s don’t want to use the word customer, because they want the relationship to be collaborative, to be a 2-way street. Consumer for some appears to have overtones of gluttony, I didn’t push further with that one. Player in the world of gamification is trendy, but no everyone wants to have players, who apparently don’t take things seriously. And then we have employees, and this opens a whole new can of fish for people, where we need to wade through the mire of whether people are to be seen as ‘human resources’ or as friends and colleagues? Does the employer want an air of collaboration or production or competition? And there are so many more examples of strange preconceptions.
Whatever the case may be, when we start moving through all of this, we quickly hit issues with how to reference ‘the target group’. And before we create persona’s for the target group, to give them specific names, we need something, and that something is your ‘audience’.
The ‘audience’ then is a catchall term that refers to anyone that interacts with a product or service that you supply, be that internally or externally to your organisation. And because we have an audience, we will need to engage them, so that they do indeed interact positively and actively with your product or service. And for them to be able to do that, they will need a positive experience.
From this, the concept of the Audience Engagement and Audience Experience design was born. AE and AX design then is another umbrella term that incorporates a variety of disciplines in order to achieve what it sets out to do. AE and AX take techniques and methodologies from gamification, behavioural psychology, user experience design, customer experience design, marketing, as well as a few aspects of organisational design and change methodology approaches.
All of these disciplines have overlapping aspects with each other, if you have worked with or used any of them you will know that each takes something of the others to achieve the desired outcome of engaging an audience. All that I propose with AE and AX design is that they bring those disciplines into a holistic framework.
Naturally, the idea of (positively) engaging your audience is not a new concept. All of those disciplines have at their core the aim to engage whatever person they need to in order to survive and continue doing whatever it is that they do.
My objective with AE and AX design is to build and describe a process, that is at its core, a methodology that has the purpose of creating genuinely positive and authentic experiences for whatever audience that you wish to engage with.