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Red Bull redefines role of data in videos to enrich viewing experience

Red Bull is redefining the role of data in its content, overlaying it onto videos to fashion a more dynamic and exciting experience for viewers.

Data in media is a “breakthrough for a thrilling consumer experience”, according to the chief technology officer of Red Bull’s Media House Andi Gall. Armed with this belief, he hopes to pave the way for the next chapter in the company’s commitment to publishing branded content.

While rivals are focused on how data sits behind content, Red Bull wants it at the fore where readings like GPS and biometrics are used to additional, more exciting dimension to posts. From eagle flights visualising altitude to free falls depicting heart rates, the business is testing the method now in the hope of being able to overlay the data on all its videos next year.

“Imagine watching a video of a skier and truly getting an insight into what they were thinking during those moments,” explained Gall. He cited a test whereby skier and Red Bull athlete Axel Naglich was strapped with sensors and then filmed as he hurtled down a mountain. The resulting video used his mental and adrenaline readings to visualise his concentration through data, showing how it wavered as he fell over a rock before quickly steadying the moment he realised the slip had triggered an avalanche that needed to be outrun.

“This is extreme [sports], Gall told The Drum. “Without the visualisations it looks more one-dimensional. We want to produce frame-accurate-data to videos during live events and in post production. The idea is to show that this data is so emotional.”

To achieve this dynamism, Red Bull is running tests to try and synchronise all the meta data generated during a production with its broadcast and video-on-demand clips. It is not just meta data for one clip, it’s for each frame and so Adobe has been brought in to provide the technical expertise.

The wider issue, as it is for all marketers chasing bigger data, is how to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Consequently, part of the Media House’s “data in media” endeavours focus on erecting a worldwide private platform it hopes will connect people through data. Dubbed eAURA, the concept is a hub offering a truly safe and secure platform for personal insights that people can collect, connect, analyse, synchronise, visualise and share but only if they want to.

Lofty aspirations aside, Red Bull wants the portal to function as a service for fans and a way to uncover new media opportunities. “We’re building something that isn’t proprietary and functions as an independent [platform],” said Gall.

“It’s not just focused on sport. It could also connect to musicians or to scientists. Everyone could use this sensor network to collect different information and use it for different ways. For example, an athlete might want to share meta data with their doctor or coach or someone who’s good at skiing could connect with someone on either side of the world sharing similar data. If we do this right then it could be used to influence our programming in the future.”

Crowd-controlled media is how Gall envisages the portal’s business use, creating new channels that are shaped around peoples’ meta data.

The other proponent behind Red Bull’s rush for more ferocious data is its “Be Part of It” initiative. What started out as a project to connect robotic pianos the world over has quickly escalated into a push to link MIDI-instruments with the intention of bringing fans closer to the music. A project currently underway sees the business looking at how it can use the “Be Part of It” platform to synchronise bars to playlists.

Beyond data, Red Bull also has an eye on emerging technology in its bid to stay ahead in the branded content game. Working with Spherical, developers of 360 camera app Sphere, the media house is developing a platform that will let people experience events like a concert or an extreme sport as if they were really there. A working version is scheduled for June ahead of further research into how it can make it mainstream as well as bring elements of its “data in media” plan.

“We’re in the process of finalising the production chain,” said Gall. “The next step is how we can bring this spherical stream - with [streaming experts] Akamai - directly to your home and then you decide whether you want to use your mobile device or something like the Oculus Rift. We will have spread out our update on the Red Bull TV platform so people can also consume TV content this way.”

The investments come as Red Bull looks to bolster its online TV channel transition to pay TV platforms with a wider content pool. Red Bull admitted last month that it needed to move beyond action sports into areas such as arts programming, documentaries and gaming-related shows to develop a firmer commercial offering around its content. By leaning harder on data the business wants to take its content to a broader audience while also selling its programming to third party distributors.

Through its mastery of content, Red Bull has gone from drinks maker to a publishing empire that happens to sell drinks. For this to continue to be fruitful, Gall said it must not forget “linear broadcasts”.

“Digital will win and is the [priority] but in the end you also need these extensions on traditional channels like TV,” he added.

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