In a separate article, we explained why virtual reality is a technology marketers should now take very seriously. Here, we present a selection of further developments we believe will have a major impact on brands and marketing over the coming years.
1. Marketers couple with startups
Launched in May last year, The Foundry is a business model innovation in itself for Unilever. But its real significance is that it is the start of a growing admittance by big brands that in order to deliver real ground-breaking innovation, they are often better off drawing on the expertise of outside companies. In a recent interview for Campaign, Jeremy Basset, The Foundry’s director, said simply, “We need to have the humility to recognise that we don’t know it all. We need to work more closely with people who have capabilities beyond the strength of our own network.” More companies will undoubtedly follow suit, signalling a move away from insularity to something more inclusive.
2. Sharing as a way of life
When we think of the sharing economy, we naturally think of service brands such as Airbnb and Uber, then the likes of Toms. But the implications of the success of these companies for marketers are much wider. Apart from offering convenience and quality of service, their popularity is based on the fact that consumers are increasingly turned off by anything that suggests excess or involves wastage. Not only that, but there are signs of a return to minimalism as people look to remove the clutter from their lives. Brands need to recognise this and offer solutions that help people maximise resources — if they can do that they stand to outperform competitors that continue to base their marketing on traditional consumption patterns.
3. Exit the CMO, enter the CXO
Not a moment too soon, brands are waking up to the realisation that the experience they give their customers really is everything. The shift in the CMO’s duties to focus on experience is an innovation that is being hastened by technology. The rise of ecommerce — and faster testing targets — has given rise to widespread real-time testing that was unheard of in Asia just two years ago. The rationale is simple, as Tuomas Peltoniemi, head of digital at TBWA’s Digital Arts Network in Singapore, recently explained: “You can spend more money driving people to your services, or you can convert those who are there already. Ongoing UX testing plays a huge role in converting more people from your present traffic. It’s simply more efficient.”
4. Marketing moves up the value chain
Marketing is still challenged to prove its worth on a daily basis, but it also continues to encompass a larger and larger business scope. From one point of view, marketing has become ‘legitimised’, and with ever-increasing access to data plus the ability to understand it, it is now seen as a more serious business than ever. As a result, new players are entering the field and changing the game. McKinsey & Company, for instance, recently acquired Lunar, a design consulting firm, in a move that would have seemed decidedly odd just a few years ago but that brings together two disparate yet highly important disciplines. In short, traditional agencies that fail to adapt are in danger of going extinct, and fast.
5. OOH sharpens up its act
Out-of-home (OOH) has never been sexy, but digitisation, and in particular developments in location-based, cross-platform targeting, are making it decidedly more interesting. Research from BIA/Kelsey estimates that by 2017, location-targeted advertising will account for more than 50 per cent of global adspend. That has big implications for mobile, but also for OOH, which is rapidly advancing from static billboards to intelligent screens that will be able to offer customised messaging as well as instant transactions. As OOH becomes experiential, a big factor working in its favour too is increased measurability. PricewaterhouseCoopers expects OOH spend in the region to rise 5.6 per cent annually to reach US$20 billion by 2019, with digital OOH reaching US$11.4 billion.
Personalised OOH: Precision targeting was recently launched on China Post screens
6. A new era for gaming
Created by Google subsidiary Niantic Labs in 2012, Ingress — an augmented reality MMORP location-based game with an evolving, open storyline — already claims to have 7 million players worldwide, spanning generations. Something of a cult, it is a standout example of a gaming platform with access to a staggering amount of user data. MMORPGs by nature connect people in different parts of the world, but Ingress is different in that it connects the virtual with the real. In Japan, among numerous initiatives, Ingress recently tied up with Parco, a shopping complex, for a live event in Sendai, attracting more than 3,000 people. Given its reach and user intelligence, the potential for brand involvement is considerable.
7. The Internet of Everything
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will rapidly become the ‘Internet of Everything’, making it difficult to remember a time when the multitude of devices around us were not connected in some way. At the World Business Forum in Hong Kong recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak summed up consumer-thinking on the matter: “Ultimately, we want to be like my pet dog and have technology do all the heavy thinking for us and look after us and watch out for us. I now feed my dog steak because I figure, if I’m going to be a pet someday, I want to be treated well.” The simple question brands have to ask themselves is: how can they insert themselves into this new world in the most useful way?
8. IP supersedes products
The advance of the home 3D printer, along with VR and robotics, has the potential to change the way goods are distributed. This is exemplified by ongoing efforts to synthesise food. While still in the early stages, these developments mean goods and services stand to become pure IP, meaning the consumer buys a design rather than an item. The question here is: what are people going to do with all that extra time on their hands?
9. The power to analyse
All marketing scientists are aiming to create a ‘god’s eye’ of data analytics combined with automated action. The ability to do so will grow dramatically with leaps in computer science. In one particularly promising example, the Silicon Micro Cooler (SMC) consortium is working to create synthetic diamond cooling systems that will reduce the size of chips and the amount of power needed to operate computer technology, thereby increasing the ability to analyse and process data and respond to it.
10. Streaming moves upstream
As we noted in April, live stream video has big implications for marketers everywhere. Platforms like Periscope offer the chance to create beautiful marketing moments, but we are also likely to see many bitter tears shed after brave ideas crash and burn. Concerns range from privacy and copyright issues and data usage to the risk of ‘broadcast bombing’. At the same time, initiatives like the ‘Remote control tourist’ by Clemenger BBDO for Tourism Victoria show what can happen when everything comes together perfectly. The combination of livestream and wearable technology will be an especially interesting space to watch.
11. Frictionless payments
The implications of a service that aims to make the wallet obsolete should not be underestimated. While it’s still in its emergent stages, we can count on Apple Pay becoming commonplace in the near future. Not only will it radically alter the way people buy things in-store, it will also enable people to make online, mobile and in-app purchases at the touch of a button. Apple Pay stands to take mobile commerce from being a clunky, frustrating experience to the most intuitive way to shop.
12. The rise of the human factor
In the end, it’s not all about technology. With advertising technology heading for a plateau where everyone will be similarly enabled, the human factor will shine through as the point of difference. An analogy can be found in photography: DSLRs are readily accessible, but the difference in quality of shots by people at different ends of the talent spectrum is still stark and drives home the difference expertise can make. Nigel Hollis, global analyst at Millward Brown, recently commented that when technology gives every marketer the ability to target consumers with precision, digital marketing will reach a stalemate. Being “meaningfully different” will be key to the success of any brand.
This article is part of the Campaign Innovate series, a collection of articles that examine the way innovation, startups and technology are affecting the advertising and marketing industry.
Campaign Asia-Pacific has also launched the Campaign Innovate competition, an event that aims to provide a platform for Asia-Pacific's startups to pitch to some of the world's biggest brands.