Audience Participation: 10 Years of FanTrust

Audience Participation: 10 Years of FanTrust

By Curt Cherewayko – Business in Vancouver January 11-17, 2011

"I don't think that fan cult and fan culture is new. I think what we're seeing is how it unfolds and how it manifests in real time." - Photo by Dominic Schaefer

If there’s one thing Catherine Warren has learned from her media career, it’s how powerful an audience can be.

It’s what convinced her 10 years ago to launch FanTrust Entertainment Strategies, through which she has helped broadcasters, game companies and TV and film producers around the world to use digital media to build fan bases and drive revenue.

“The audience used to be looked at as an amorphous group,” said Warren. “They were not looked at as a community or as individuals who could provide things like viral marketing and context.”

FanTrust [Warren] has helped everyone from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to British Columbia Lottery Corp. expand their fan bases using the web and other communication channels.

When Nokia and Orange Telecom France formed a strategic alliance to increase video game use on their mobile products, they called on FanTrust to build game developer momentum for the alliance.

When the Public Broadcasting Service’s KCTS station wanted to penetrate the Canadian market, it turned to FanTrust [Warren] for the initiative’s finance and business strategy.

Warren’s reputation and roles in the media world continue to grow thanks to her ability to bring together the right content, communications channels and partners to build fan-base passion.

Among her loftiest roles is jury chairwoman for the experimental stream of the newly created Canadian Media Fund. The $27 million fund supports high-risk interactive digital media content and application creators.

During the stream’s first round of funding in October, 27 projects were approved for a total of $12.9 million.

Lynda Brown-Ganzert, another Vancouver-based digital media mover-and-shaker, who also sits on the experimental stream’s board [jury], describes Warren as a great synthesizer.

“Catherine has the ability to take things in what can be a pretty confusing space and link them together,” said Brown-Ganzert. “She’ll look at what’s happening around the world – different trends, emerging technology platforms and human behaviour – and she’ll weave it all together into a well-thought-out strategy.”

Warren is a jury member for both the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Emmy Awards, and the Rose d’Or, a European festival that recognizes quality television.

She has been a board member of the $18 million Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund for 10 years and is the fund’s communications chairwoman.

In September 2009, Warren was appointed to the board of the United Nations’ World Summit Award for New Media, which promotes digital content and information and communication technology applications that can improve lives.

More than 20,000 applications from 157 countries were included in the 2009 awards competition.

Excerpt from Curt Cherewayko’s article in the January 11-17, 2011 issue of Business in Vancouver.

Click here for the full article.