It Went Viral

The power of the vote, in the hands of the fans.

It Went Viral


Strategy, UX, Visual Design, Prototyping, Mobile Development

ETR and MTV teamed up to create the Webby-nominated ultimate fan voting experience for MTV’s largest award show of the year: the 2016 European Music Awards. We collaborated with MTV to create a mobile application on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that empowered fans everywhere to ensure their favorite artist got to take home an EMA. It wasn’t just an easy-to-use voting app, though. The robust, multi-camera-angle, live-streaming technology implemented made for a night-of-event experience that was unparalleled.

The Problem

Catering to the Global Market

What makes the EMAs unique is that all winners are decided solely upon votes. MTV leaves the power of the vote in the hands of the most important people: the fans. In previous years, mobile voting was open for iOS devices only. With Android devices dominating the international mobile market, our challenge was to build a cross-platform voting application that would cater towards this international audience while preserving current iOS users at the same time. MTV wanted to create an experience that stuck with fans across the globe, in their native languages, encouraging them to vote, submit content to MTV, and stream the event through their mobile devices on the night of the show - all while staying in sync with the rest of the EMA campaign.

Our Approach

A Fan's First Mentality

To build an app that would resonate with fans on a global scale, we first had to identify and understand who these fans were. One Directioners, Gaga’s Little Monsters, and Beliebers are all different, but there were fundamental characteristics about these fans that could translate into a universal app experience they could all agree on, even if they couldn’t agree on Katy Perry vs. 5 Seconds of Summer. We worked together with our partners at MTV in several strategy sessions to determine what motivated fans to vote, how they wanted to engage with the app, and the ideal night-of experience. We filled the walls of our conferences rooms with mood boards, sticky notes, and drawings to break down something that felt big and unwieldy into a digestible blueprint everyone could understand.

“MTV was amazing to work with — they gave us the trust and freedom to do our very best work.”

Matt Ceccarelli, Design Lead

Short Sprints, not a Marathon Our goal for this project was swift efficiency with high quality. The live show was going to go on the night of November 7 and the voting period was closing the week before. That wasn’t going to change. There was absolutely no room for failure, so it was imperative that we worked with an aggressive production schedule. Short sprints made for snappy decision making and quick course-correcting where necessary. We remained flexible, understanding that the MTV team was building the desktop site for the awards in parallel with the application build. Being a part of the larger product meetings meant that both teams, from all aspects, were aligned with one another. Because we had amazing partners in the MTV team, we were able to move swiftly, but smartly, and maximize our efficiency to create a product that was nominated for both a Shorty and a Webby for its innovation in the mobile space.

The Solution

Vote, Vote, Then Vote Again

From the strategy sessions, we were able to establish a few goals: create a unique app to engage users, increase the number of mobile votes, and open the application experience up to both iOS and Android users. We established that fans had a strong desire to vote again and again - and again, and again - easily, exclusive content is king, and that adding incentive made for better quality user generated content. So, we gave the fans what they wanted. For this to be a success, we had to tailor the user experience and design to seamlessly integrate with all other aspects of the event - from the website, to marketing collateral, to set design on the event stage. The voting interface was smooth and easy, and we gave users the ability to save their votes and recast them all with a simple tap of a button.

To further encourage engagement, a live, Virtual Reality (VR) video stream was incorporated for the EMA event. This feature gave fans the opportunity to become part of the awards show itself, from behind-the-scenes to the stage, all through exclusive content made just for EMA fans around the world.


And The Winner Is...

The votes were recorded, tallied, and let’s just say the winners weren’t the only ones who rejoiced. MTV saw a 500% Year-over-Year increase in votes, over 260,000 downloads in just two months, and a Shorty and Webby nomination to top it all off. It was a smashing success from every angle. We surpassed both vote and app download goals and watched as the app became viral among groups of fans. Both individual fans and fan-group Twitters alike were blasting the link to download the EMA app on both iOS and Android, encouraging their fellow fans to vote as many times in a day as possible. Users boasted that they could vote for their favorites even while they were doing other things, like running errands or watching television. MTV listened to the fans, we listened to MTV, and together, we created an multi-platform application that resonated with and engaged music fans on a global scale.


"ETR was a great partner — and the Webby Award Nomination speaks to the quality of their work."


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