It’s a time of unprecedented change in the media and marketing industry.
In the '70s and '80s we built computers, in the '90s we built our networks and in the first two decades of this century, we are/will be building our social networks. The world today is far more digitized, far more connected and far more socialized. There are currently 1.8 billion social networkers on the planet, with half that sitting in our region.
The emerging Internet of Things will add a further layer of socialization as objects and things become connected. For example by 2020, we assume that most things you buy in the grocery store will be connected to the Internet. This will provide another vast web of connections that will provide touchpoints, platforms for engagement and opportunities for greater consumer understanding and interaction.
With this has come the rising speed of influence.
In the past, we would air a TV commercial, do testing a month later and then make improvements if required. Today, that change needs to occur in real time. Today brands can live or die with the click of a mouse.
This change has fundamentally been driven by changes in technology.
Technology drives changes in infrastructure, internet and interface, thus driving changes in human and brand interaction.
What technology and the social revolution have also done is transform the consumer’s demands and expectations. In the past, there has been a power struggle between brands and their consumers; it was very much ‘them and us’. This is now changing. Consumers expect to be engaged in two-way dialogue and appreciate relationships of fair exchange.
Captive audiences are a thing of the past, so the onus is not on what you say but how you say. Dull digital advertising (read static, banal ads either in video or non-video formats) will yield dull results and worse still, alienate your consumers. In fact, there is a flourishing market for ant-social media players like Frankly, Wickr, Snapchat—apps that allow you to delete/block ads you don’t want to see.
While, potentially, that can be threatening scenario, it also forces the industry to be innovative. And the good news is that technology acts as a catalyst to allow marketers to create personlised brand experiences that heightens and deepens consumer engagement by developing an idea.
The greatest influence on advertiser performance will continue to be the idea. This will mean that, almost an antidote to automation, we will begin to see a resurgence in creativity. The recent campaign from Tourism Victoria, The Melbourne Remote Control Tourist, is a prime example of this. The campaign was a real time, first person web experience that enabled potential Melbourne visitors ‘to go before they go’. An interactive web campaign, it let potential visitors explore the city for themselves through the eyes and ears of four real-world tourists. Underpinning the campaign was helmet-mounted camera technology, an interactive website and the power of social media. Every core interaction with this campaign was through digital.
The campaign generated 8,700 requests, along with 321 check-ins. The business results speak for themselves
Another example is Wyeth’s ‘See the world at Home’ which extended children’s playground in HK to the whole world, encouraging them to make discoveries to see the world differently.
Merging real-life with the virtual world as their learning materials, kids could unlock Wyeth’s flashcards through the "Learning-on-the-go" mobile/tablet app and vividly saw different countries’ landmarks for the first time. Equipped with Google Street View, kids were able to explore the landmarks’ environment in ‘360 degree’ view and learn to speak in English. This campaign gave Google’s technology a new purpose, kids a real-life simulated travelling experience, not just photos, and Wyeth a huge sales boost.
The examples above also highlight that technology is giving a fillip to content creation along with idea generation. Media agencies are slowly but surely morphing into full-service content agencies as well and an increasing amount of innovation is expected in this area. This involves not just playing with formats but also business models. Clickable content is a whole new standard in content development, linked to e-commerce platforms. For example, a viewer can click on a handbag that a character is holding to find out more, ‘like’ it and buy it then and there.
It is increasingly resulting in a way of life where technology enables us to deeply access the world in the moment.
There is a ‘small data’ story unfolding simultaneously as a result of technology-led innovation. Data is helping to understand consumer mindsets as well as drive creativity. Connecting small packets of data generated by individual consumers held by non-traditional data owners is allowing us to “join the dots” and be anticipatory and serendipitous.
So, where is all this going? Close to 80 per cent of all media interactions today are screen-based. And that number will only increase. Gradually, the industry is moving towards a scenario, where innovation will be managed by both the creative and communications agency. The new role of creative technologist will work with creative teams and/or with channel planners. Their role will be to bring creative thinking in a new digital-eco-system that puts the consumer at the core.
It must be said here, that the future is hard to predict. It is very easy for us to make predictions on where the future of communications is going to be. The reality is that most companies tend to get such predictions wrong all the time. Bill Gates once said that 64 bit out to be enough for anybody, and he is an expert in that area.
The truth is that we have to keep finding relevant trends that are going to affect consumers. So, rather than trying to predict where the future is going to be, we would like focus on the line of causality or what the consequences are of one thing affecting another. So in the future we need to stop thinking about channels, and take a consumer centric approach, as anything can be media. However, we need to be thoughtful. No one wants a fridge that advertises to them. Advice is one thing – lecturing is another. Utility will be key.
Technology affects the way consumers interact with each other and it affects communication. Hence, the best place to start when you think about what is going to impact the future is to look at the changes in technology,
That is why, platforms like [email protected] are more important than ever. The fast-changing communications industry constantly embraces new forms of technology in its quest to produce more creative brand communications for its clients, while at the same time pushing the boundaries to provide immersive and engaging consumer experiences. It has never been so exciting to be part of this industry.