The media industry continues to change at a phenomenal pace, and this was aptly reflected in a high-energy presentation by David Shing, AOL’s ‘digital prophet’. Rather than seeking to educate, Shing’s primary aim was to inspire delegates by reminding them of the colour and diversity of the environment that they operate in every day.
He succeeded in creating a buzz. Shufen Goh, principal and co-founder of R3, who moderated the session immediately after Shing’s said, “When I grow up, I want to be David Shing. Thanks for setting the bar so high; that’s a tough act to follow.”
With his characteristic unkempt rock star hair, Shing, digital prophet at AOL, stepped onto the stage at Media360 wearing a black suit splashed with white paint strokes.
“Let’s get this shit started,” said Shing, turning his back to the audience to take a selfie. “I love the fact that we talk about programmatic and all that. But I’m going to talk about consumers.” Setting the tone for the rest of his presentation, Shing spoke slightly faster than the above-average human being. On the screen he showed a picture of a girl on a plane that he took on the way to Media360 and relayed her behaviour during the flight.
“This girl was doing all kinds of things on her tablet with a bunch of apps,” said Shing. “She took pictures and videos and tinkered with them. When the plane touched down and she had a connection, she didn’t post it to Facebook. She sent it to her friends in a private conversation.”
Shing went on to outline that the media landscape is changing from the “internet of things” to the “internet of everything”. The shift is also much more intimate with technology seeping into our “personal circles and conversations”, homes and even the clothing that we wear. “In 2015, personal connectedness will evolve and be even more valued. It’s not just about the mass social media anymore.”
From Quitbit, a lighter that tracks all your smoking, to Pacif-i a pacifier that measures a baby’s body temperature and transmits the data to parents, Shing said “all of the best things in our home are becoming super smart.” Citing projections, Shing noted that the “smart device and wearables market” will be a 19 trillion dollar industry by 2020, although not without its challenges.
“It seems like wearables are measuring everything,” said Shing. “It’s easy to build a wearable but very hard to market them.”
He showed the Google Glass ad to the audience. “I just like to see this video of Google Glass because there’s nothing they can do to make this shit look cool on people.”
In a flash of other examples, Shing showed The Power Suit, a product allowing men in suits to pay for things by swiping their jacket sleeve over a credit card sensor.
“We’re trying to create immersive experiences that feel natural and have utility at the same time,” said Shing. While “membranes, cloud, sensors, 3D printing and Bluetooth” will continue to evolve, he noted that “79 per cent of people still trust their gut over technology.”
In other words, “‘creative’ is still the thing that drives people to your brand.” Shing believes that while consumers are now the curators and creators of content — representing massive opportunities for marketing to gen-Y — there’s also an overwhelming amount of “noise and distraction”.
Shing suggested that marketers need to not only think about “making good content and putting it in smart places”, which is “easy to say and hard to do” but also to measure the attention economy. “The sixth biggest contributor to stress is media overload,” he said.
The prophet concluded his presentation with these thoughts: mobile is not in its infancy; ‘native’ is a little naive; you can achieve far more online than running a 30-second TVC; use data to “drive utility and everyday hacks for the consumer”; build emotion into technology, content and distribution. And to quote Katherine Hepburn for a final bit of advice: “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
Update: Watch Shing's entire presentation: