Marc Violo
Nov 1, 2013

Eight 'techruptive' trends subverting the digital paradigm

Marc Violo, associate director of the Digital Lab at Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai, offers his views on what agencies can do to differentiate themselves in today's fast-paced digital era.

Marc Violo
Marc Violo

Effective agencies have already erased the line between digital and traditional ad campaigns. A traditional campaign is a digitally integrated one. In this day and age, all campaigns should have website accessibility, mobile optimisation, and social plug-in enablement.

As we enter the next technology cycle, digital marketers should already be thinking about what technology they can utilise to connect with people in new creative ways. This is a key opportunity for forward-thinking agencies to tap into innovations in the fields of mobile internet, crowd-sourcing, gamification, 3D printing, big data and advanced robotics.

Here are eight technologies that are already disrupting advertising, generating buzz and, more importantly, adding value to people’s relationships with brands.

Internet of Things

Cisco states that by 2020 our world will have over 50 billion products connected to the Internet: everything from fridges, clothes-hangers, coffee machines, to even cattle. In actuality this is already transpiring, creating enormous potential for clients to improve or reinvent their products and promote them in refreshing ways.

MIT has worked on proverbial wallets which notify owners of their bank account status by vibrating or changing shapes, while Twisted Metal and Ariel have devised Internet-connected guns that allow remote control of guns at a shooting range. Clearly, with the Internet of Things, there is infinite room for digital exploration.


Since Groupon’s groundbreaking IPO, the growing influence of crowd-sourcers like, Kickstarter and its Chinese equivalent has been disrupting the way people spend money, raise funds and voice their causes. For agencies and brands, this highlights the importance of giving power back to the people—making them feel that they matter and are being heard.

FMCG companies like Mountain Dew, VitaminWater, Ben & Jerry’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Kit Kat are already crowdsourcing product names, visuals and flavours. Car brand Citroën has also asked its drivers how it should design the new C1 model.


Gamification is the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences, solve problems and enhance non-game contexts. According to Gartner, by 2015 more than 50 per cent of organisations managing innovation processes will gamify those processes.

In advertising, gamification should be present in 99 per cent of digital ideas presented to clients. Coca-Cola and Heineken, for example, have brilliantly augmented TV ads with football games in interactive mobile formats.

Effective gamification is about rewarding people with an enriched experience that will deliver worthy buzz while saving paid-media costs.


The four-year-old notion of 'Social-Local-Mobile' is nothing new, but entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways to use it. Inspired by Foursquare and China’s Jiepang, other mobile platforms are enhancing relevance to users and businesses by adding additional layers of engagement. For example, Shopkick creates opportunities for local businesses by connecting shops with communities to attract more potential customers.

Applied in digital ad campaigns, SoLoMo can bring an array of disruptive opportunities. Ogilvy Shanghai’s Hide & Seek campaign for Buick demonstrates how a brand can connect with its target audience both online and offline to directly drive brand awareness and sales.

Service design

Service design is the science of creating and delivering meaningful services through modern technology. Many developed countries’ economies are generally dominated by their service industries. With constant technological progress, it is undeniable that both would evolve concurrently.

Aloft hotel in Bangkok simplifies customer experiences by letting guests control everything during their stay with a phone doubling as a room card. Louis Vuitton redesigned the city-guide concept with Amble, an app providing geo-tagged content from users in various cities across the globe, to inspire travellers while keeping in line with brand values. Nike’s Fuelband uses technology to provide value for customers by taking the role of a personal trainer.

Agencies should always keep in mind what services their clients provide and find disruptive ways to redesign them.

Advanced robotics

McKinsey reported that for the past several decades, robots have taken on physically difficult, dangerous, or dirty jobs, such as welding and spray painting. These robots have been expensive, bulky, and inflexible. Now, more advanced robots have enhanced dexterity and artificial intelligence, thanks to accelerating advancements in machine-to-machine communication, sensors, and actuators.

This presents a huge opportunity to create disruptive campaigns. For the 2010 football World Cup, Castrol created a robot that could 'shoot' the most powerful free kicks in the world. A few restaurants in Japan and China have recently added robot waiters and cooks to thair staff. They have benefited from a considerable amount of earned-media exposure from both local and foreign media.

3D printing

3D printing has been around for almost 25 years, but it has been used exclusively by engineers to create pre-production prototypes. These days, it is becoming commonplace, giving everyone the chance to manufacture products—furniture, guns, sugar, prosthetic limbs, clothing, whatever.

Retailers like Tesco have recently invested in the technology to make it available in-store for a more personalised product offering. Ebay has beta-launched Ebay Exact, letting users create one-of-a-kind products based on personal desires and preferences. IBM has integrated this technology into its Data-Driven Souvenirs campaign during England’s international tennis open.

Big data

Big data is probably one of the most discussed topics of 2013, whether it’s in the communication, technology or consulting industries. Over the last two years, we have generated 90 per cent of all data ever created. This is disrupting the way organisations make decisions.

CNN has beautifully captured thousands of Twitter feeds in an online and offline ecosphere. IBM, which has big data at the core of its DNA, created Watson, a supercomputer capable of beating human Jeopardy champions. Ubisoft, for the launch of WatchDogs, created impressive live-data maps of London, Paris and Berlin.

Its importance in the advertising industry is such that agencies should consider creating dedicated big-data SWAT teams to analyse market data shared by their clients and process it. In other words, these SWAT teams can act as interpreters between the realms of data science and social science. Technology always works better when contextualised and simplified.

Related Articles

Just Published

3 hours ago

Longtime Weber Shandwick chairman Jack Leslie to ...

Leslie has held the role of chairman at Weber for more than 20 years since the merger of Bozell Sawyer Miller Group and Weber Shandwick in 2001.

3 hours ago

British Airways appoints new ad agency

IAG-owned airline moves its advertising and CRM account from WPP to Uncommon Creative Studio after four years, scrapping its integrated model

12 hours ago

IAS launches new reporting platform Signal

It provides new tools for managing media quality

12 hours ago

Pinterest plays up status as a safe space

The social media company is looking to differentiate itself from Instagram and other networks.