When a few of us were sitting around talking about a film we’ve just produced for Virgin Media we agreed on two things. Firstly, we all really like it. Secondly, none of us know exactly what it is, or what to call it.
“Throughout the ancient world, naming was a sacred act … It was the voice of destiny, summoning the child into his future with all its glorious promise.”
We can tell you at least three things it just isn’t;
it’s not just native advertising.
it’s not just branded content.
it’s not just product placement.
What it is is some sort of hybrid three-way involving an entertainment property, a subscription streaming service and a broadband provider. It’s got characters from a TV show interacting with characters from an advertising campaign, in an advertising campaign for a TV show, a broadband provider and a subscription entertainment service.
Is this a new content type? We don’t know. Is it interesting? We think so, maybe simply because we can’t put it in a box.
“Why do you have to ruin everything?’ he asked. ‘Why do you have to name everything? Decide what’s real and what’s – why can’t you just enjoy things? What’s wrong with you?”
Author: Melanie Arrow, Strategy Director, BBH London
A new feature for the Labs blog, giving you an insight into the literature that a selection of BBHers are enjoying this month. Consider this your finger on the pulse cultural briefing or at the very least, a more socially acceptable version of reading over someone’s shoulder on the tube.
This month, ridiculous sci-fi plots are described as “technically feasible” by the production department, the phrase “contemporary decentralised fiction” is thrown out there by a strategist like it’s the most casual thing in the world, and two featured books are set on or around Mars. Off we go…
Modiano won the Nobel Prize last year. He writes short and very personal stories. The plot itself is simple, but this allows him to delve deep into the mind of the main character – a young girl who never knew her father and only has faint memories of her mother. Her head is a bit of a mess. She obsesses about her mother’s whereabouts. She’s strong but weak at the same time. And lonely. I highly recommend it.
[nb Little Jewel is not out in English until July – our reviewer read it in Swedish. He is Swedish though, so he is not just showing off]
Oh Viv Albertine, I love your book. I love that it’s funny and serious and cool and everything you could want from the memoirs of the bass player of a 1960s all-female punk band (The Slits). I love both halves of the book alike – A side, B side like a record. The former, stories of hanging out with Sid Vicious and Jonny Rotten, the latter, tales of turning into a suburban housewife who sings at open mic nights. But most of all, Viv, I love you. An incredibly talented woman who, as well as being a total nightmare punk back in the day, has battled cancer, struggled to have children, and dabbled in every kind of art including provocative pottery and independent film-making.
Yeah, yeah, it’s contemporary ‘decentralised’ fiction with cleverly interlocking chapters over a century-long timeframe that bring characters into each others’ orbits showing how humanity’s fate is linked. So far, so Dave Eggers…
But there’s a particular kind of hollow morose beauty to the character’s lives, in and out of the music industry. And Jennifer Egan’s novel turns it up a notch when we step into a worryingly real dystopian future, where touchscreen-toting babies are the ultimate arbiters of taste and people sell access to their mates as viral marketeers rule.
In short, a striking, original and vivid novel. Also – a whole chapter is written in Powerpoint slides, so perfect for strategists.
So good I’m on it for the second time. The daily diary of someone who, thought dead, is abandoned on Mars with no means of communication after the mission is suddenly aborted. A hugely funny whilst still technically feasible story of one man’s mission to get home.
The words ‘What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment?’ are a pretty compelling start to any novel, and Fowler’s first breakthrough book thankfully doesn’t disappoint. Intricately and evocatively written, yet also pleasingly pacy, our uncommonly bright protagonist Rosemary weaves us through this beautifully crafted tale with a genuinely surprising twist in its tail, set against the backdrop of family life in 1970s Indiana. What’s even better is that you’re not dragged through the most part of the novel before you get to the eureka moment. It’s achingly funny. And heart-wrenchingly serious. Read it.
Part one in an epic trilogy of science fiction/speculation about the colonisation and eventual terraforming of our nearest planetary neighbour – Mars! The story starts with the first hundred settlers arrival and covers a period of forty years, the welcome of additional colonists and then the challenging problems of hundreds of thousands of economic migrants, refugees and outcasts and resulting tensions between the authorities on Mars and Earth. Get past the sci-fi though and there is a great social/political story to enjoy and the idea that when we colonise Mars, this is exactly how we could mess it up.
Imagine if your brand’s fans, or at least customers, had not even looked at a competitor since they were 8 years old.
They sing songs about your brand, they know everything about your history, they talk about you to their friends in the pub and spend vast amounts of money on your products – no matter how unhappy you might make them.
Well for football teams this is a reality. Jealous much?
So it must be easy when it comes to social & online content for football clubs? An engaged fanbase of millions who simply want more content? Well maybe, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is doing it well. And amongst those that are, a social media arms race seems to be appearing. Because of this besotted fanbase, there is a pressure to perform.
So let’s have a look back at who put in a social media shift during the 2014/15 season, and see if there are any lessons we can learn from their performance:
1) Integrated Team of the season – Southampton
(Disclaimer: I’m a lifelong Southampton supporter so please excuse the shameful bias.)
Southampton are the one club that I follow on every platform. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, their socialised website and even Snapchat. And what impresses me most is not just the fact that they are on all of these channels, but the individual channel roles they all have. YouTube is in place for more premium video content, with highlights from games, live streams of U21 games, player interviews and additional content (more on that later). Twitter provides live updates on games for fans not there. Facebook provides a more official platform, whilst pointing to other channels. And then there’s Snapchat where Saints ran a treasure hunt campaign to give away their new shirt, behind the scenes game-day content (complete with MS Paint scribbles) as well as funny snippets from the players.
So, Southampton, well done on a strong team performance this season.
Learning: Have a presence across every channel but be specific to that channel
2) Backroom of the season – Manchester City
Due to the billions of dollars of that have been poured into the sky blue side of Manchester in recent years means that Man City have now developed a global fanbase of millions – and a couple of trophies to boot. So how do you keep said fanbase entertained? You give them more.
Head over to Man City’s YouTube channel for a wealth of content. There’s tunnel cam giving fans a truly unique insight as the players go through their pre-match rituals, pump each other up and try not to scare the mascots. Other content includes interviews with other staff members discussing players, a freekick masterclass with Lampard, showboating sessions as well as leaning on their Man City ‘family’ by borrowing New York FC’s David Villa to go head to head against the likes of Silva & Augero – pulling in a new fanbase. This variety of content appeals to hardcore City fans who will sit and watch a 2 hour training session to young fans watching SuperFrank’s masterclasses to a broader football audience who love to watch a bit of showboating (see the success of multiple showboating instagram accounts).
Learning: Give your hardcore fans more. More behind the scenes, more insight, more of what they love.
3) International team of the season – Manchester Utd
One of the challenges that the big clubs are facing is how to satisfy their global fanbase. Clubs such as Man Utd have a truly global fan base, selling 1.5m shirts worldwide and having a Facebook fanbase of 65m. The problem is the vast majority of these fans will never go to Old Trafford to see a game. So clubs are using online content to help these global fans connect with the club no matter where they are in the world.
Last season Man Utd used Google+ to bring their global fans to Old Trafford and put them in the front row. Through Google+ live stream of fans watching the game onto the digital hoardings surrounding the pitch.
Through shirt sales & global sponsorship deals clubs have to think of more ways to keep these fans loyal and engaged with the club – no matter where they are.
Learning: Engage with your audience, not just your customers
4) Personalities of the season – Arsenal
The image of flash, greedy and arrogant millionaire footballers doesn’t do players or the clubs any favours. A few years ago the only exposure we had to players was awkward post match interviews or press conferences – social media has opened up a new window into the lives of players.
Many clubs are using this to show their players in a different light – I like to call it footLOLs, but that’s just me – whether it’s Arsenal pranking their stars or playing up to their reputations as part of Paddy Power/Stonewall’s homophobia campaign.
Southampton have also been in on the act (I warned you). To announce the launch of their new kit Southampton invited comedian Tom Davis to star as Dr Barry Gale, a ‘colour and pattern psychologist’ in an Office-style mockumentary. This content shows players personalities, appeals to a broader audience and reflect content on the platform – not just other clubs YouTube content.
Learning: Don’t be precious – be funny, be real and be human.
So there we have it, a few highlights from the season gone by. A strong season for the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Southampton. It will be interesting to see whether other Premier League heavy hitters such as Chelsea or Liverpool can match their performance next season, or will we see a surprise from one of the smaller teams next season? And what about the clubs like Newcastle and Hull whose relationship with their fans can currently be described as ‘rocky’ – will they use social media to get back in the good books of their supporters?
But as for this season, the winner is…
Fans from any club in any country are the real winners. Every day they get to enjoy seeing entertaining, unique and insightful content (though not all at the same time!) from the clubs they love – and ones they hate.
And can brands compete? Well, in all honestly they can’t right now – no brand has the type of fanbase I described up top. But they can definitely learn.
Author: Thomas Gwin, Data Strategy Director, BBH London
Mapping the Polls – from the Guardian’s interactive electoral data set
As the UK general election draws ever closer, many news organisations have picked up on the fact that political parties are using software to better understand voter audiences through data mining. Some are even going so far as to call this the “first true data driven election”.
Whilst much of the rhetoric in these news articles centres around how political parties are expertly using data as a secret weapon to seduce voters, the hidden truth of the matter is that whether considered through the lens of politics or marketing, the business of turning data into competitive advantage is a tricky one. And one that advertising knows only too well about.
Brands, of course have invested in sophisticated information systems to map, classify and prioritise target audiences for decades. Segmentations based on value, behaviour, attitudes, needs – you name it. More segmentations, and even segmentations of segmentations. Deeper and deeper insight, more and more powerful, but equally more and more fractured.
And at the heart of this lurks an internal tension between brand vision and audience understanding. The best strategists will know that these are not necessarily perfectly correlated, but will also know that ignoring either will result in compromise.
This same tension manifests itself in politics between political vision and voter understanding. But for politics, this tension arguably carries a far greater risk. To understand why, we must first return to how exactly parties are using data and what consequences one of these aspects could be having.
If the message is malleable, what does this say about a political party’s identity and values?
Data isn’t just providing political parties with insight, it is also allowing them to model voter intention and, crucially, provide them with the intelligence to adapt campaign messaging to individual profiles. For instance, what campaign message should Party A prioritise to conquest Party B voters who are potential “switchers”? Is it immigration, or is it the NHS?
This is not simply about maximising efficiencies (such as concentrating volunteer efforts on marginals or improving overall campaign targeting) – by adopting data, parties are also wading into the realm of predictive analytics.
Now in the world of marketing, Google suggest and Amazon recommended products are old news. With each passing day, evidence of organisations upping their marketing investment on initiatives like “intent-based” and “personalisation” accumulates. But in the less commercially agile world of politics, this is a huge step, directly imported from recent election campaign trends in the US.
But there is a vital difference here. Where brands use predictive analytics to (hopefully) better serve customers and be more useful, political parties can use predictive analytics to adapt their messaging to convert voter share.
But if the message is malleable, what does this say about a political party’s identity and values?
Some may say, this is nothing new. That politicians have always toyed with messaging and targeting at election time based on voter information, stretching the limits of how they can acceptably position big issues without contradicting party manifesto. And in a sense this is absolutely true. But what is also true is that the scale of intelligence now feeding these decisions is unprecedented. And the fact that this intelligence – so data lubricated and insight rich – is set against a backdrop of deep political disaffection, risks further aggravating public disillusionment with politicians and the political process.
Brands and parties alike have to adapt to people
Well if anything, brands understand the need for the brand idea, the long term, enduring vision that stems from a fundamental truth. Of course, this can and should flex with culture, but it must remain consistent. Otherwise consumers stop believing in you and stop trusting you.
Brands cannot remain static and endlessly pure – to the contrary, they are in a constant process of evolution, ebb and flow, plugged into the cultural zeitgeist which they tap into and also feed from.
And this does certainly not mean ignoring audience plurality, but it does mean that creating stand out aspirational stories that transcend differences is superior to developing powerful but micro-managed communication to suit heterogeneity.
The truth of the matter is that brands and parties alike have to adapt to people. But where the best brands are able to use data and predictive analytics to stay true to themselves and even better themselves, parties risk being perceived as selling out and losing the foundation values upon which they were built.
And the sharp, concise instrument that is data, with all of its clarity and processing muscle, is not alone able to solve this tension and afford parties the clear path they so desire to drive voters to the ballot box. At least not yet.
Every year arrives with a glut of predictions about which technologies will experience ‘hockey stick growth’, which will ‘jump the shark’ and how brands will exploit these ‘new frontiers’. We as marketers we are as guilty as anyone of creating more questions about how brands should approach the opportunities, than we provide coherent answers. The result is a mixed bag of bold attempts, questionable executions and the occasional triumph.
The cynic in every marketer will argue just because a brand can, doesn’t mean they should, it’s haloed consumer space after all. The pragmatist, may accept the new order of things, acknowledge the potential and recognize the shift in consumer attitudes towards brands in these spaces.
Whether a cynic or pragmatist, before making the leap, a commitment should be made to apply better judgement when deciding where and how to proceed. Not just for the sake of the brand, but for the sake of the consumer on the receiving end of our communications.
Consumers are more likely to embrace brands who bring something complimentary to the party, whether that’s content or an experience, delivered in a way that reflects the consumer’s behaviour on that platform.
Platforms themselves are making it easier for brands to add value, Snapchat being a recent example of a platform that quickly embraced branded content and experiences, by building a non intrusive means for brands to communicate with users, through “Snapchat Discover”.
BBH’s latest campaign for Clarks’, ‘From Rats To Rudeboys: The story of the Clarks Desert Boot’ is an example of an idea with cultural relevance with a clear purpose; to re-establish the connection between the brand and an iconic shoe.
The cynic in us may see the campaign’s use of WhatsApp*, as an opportunistic choice, borne from the desire to connect with ‘millennials’ rather than the best way to deliver documentary content.
However the pragmatist considers the core of the idea; cultural stories from the past told from first person perspective today. Assess its components; stories told in film, audio, copy, photo and music formats over a fixed period. And crucially evaluates the audience behaviour, young individuals predominantly consume information about culturally significant events from peers and trusted news sources via mobile platforms.
Taking these factors into account, the experience of receiving a narrative of real life events, by the people who were there, would be diminished if there was no sense of immediacy. The user journey would be fragmented if content for a single narrative was distributed through multiple channels. The opportunity to personalise the experience lost, if there was no means to communicate directly with thousands at once. Using a platform a platform like WhatsApp, allows the brand to create immediacy, deliver a seamless and direct user experience, with mass personalisation that no other platform could facilitate.
What platform is right for what brand? As with most questions, the answer is of course, it depends. In this case it depends on the what the brand wants to do.
*To experience the final instalment of the ‘From Rats to Rudeboys’ experience, WhatsApp Jamaican Dj and Clarks Desert Boot trader, Major Stitch, on 07481495645 to hear his story.
Authors; a crack team of roving reporters, on the ground in Austin, Tx
SXSW isn’t just about tacos, BBQ and Shiner and to ensure that the lucky BBHers who were out there knew that, we asked them to send us a quick note about the best thing they saw and heard in Austin. These are those brief, barely edited, dispatches from SXSW 2015.
So one of my favourite things about SXSW so far was not a talk, it was a dog. A St. Bernard in fact. When your phone battery was on its last legs, which let’s face it was all the f**king time, you could tweet the Saint Bernard and he would come find you. Damn, he didn’t bring brandy. Sad face. Instead, he brought a selection of phone chargers, adorably strapped around his neck. While your phone charged, you were fully licensed to pet his face off. Amazing.
Marc Rayson, Creative
I went to this great talk yesterday from a guy who has created Mogees, a new instrument lets users make music out of any object. He had the idea from thinking about how musicians have always ‘hacked’ their instruments. Think ‘scratching’ vinyls on turntables and using distortion through electric guitars – these things were never meant to be a function of the instrument but have become synonymous with dj-ng and made rock n roll.
So he created an instrument without any defined user experience so that the user could make up how they would like to play it, like a blank canvas. Watch some of the videos on his site of ways different people have used it. The kid ‘playing his stove’ is brilliant.
Samuel Bowden, Producer
Last night I saw a film called Hot Sugar’s Cold World which was a music doc about a guy called Hot Sugar who obsessively records every sound around him (even recording the silence at a funeral) and then makes them into sick tunes – he also talks about musical instruments becoming defunct and instead uses the outside world and his synth to make music.
Vaia Ikonomou, Assistant Producer
Four amazing men. Four poor life choices (by their own admission). Four stories about turning your life around. They all share one thing in common, which is that they have spent the majority of their early adult lives in prison. In the US there is little support for people in their position when they come out. The world had moved on, especially the world of technology that we take for granted. These men didn’t let that stop them becoming leaders of their community, businessmen, writers and mentors. Hearing how they motivated themselves to change and to teach others how to avoid their situation was one of the most moving moments of SXSW.
Search #Cut50 for more
Mark Whiteside, Global Operations Lead
I’ve just listened to Dan Pfeiffer, President Obama’s former Senior Advisor discuss the White House’s comms strategy with legendary news anchor Dan Rather. They both predicted that in 10 years time Snapchat will still be going strong but the nightly news will cease to exist.
The proliferation of media means the president today has to work harder than ever to reach his audience, and it’s only going to get more difficult.
The next presidential campaign is forecast to cost $4 billion and it will look very different to before. There’s always a new technology that rules every election. In 2008 it was Facebook, 2012 was Twitter, and in 2016 there’s a good chance it will be Meerkat!
Isobel Barnes, Team Director
From Marc GoodmanI learned that as technology gets better and better it becomes more invasive in our lives. But this means that criminals have more and more ways to commit crimes, and bigger crimes too. Crimes used to be one on one acts, committed in a dark alley. Now it’s one on one million, committed in dark parts of the web. So as technology becomes ever more part of our lives we need to remember that means our lives are ever more accessible to criminals. Technology can also become party to a crime. In the future we’re going to have ‘Siri & Clyde’ as technology is asked questions it doesn’t have the conscience not to give an answer to, like ‘where do I bury a body’. So we need someone to step up and make security a more accessible, user friendly system to navigate. We need a Jonny Ives of security.
Sara Watson, Creative
The Unseen describe themselves as ‘an exploration collective’ who combine science with art, design and performance. Their talk was hosted by the collective’s founder, an English woman called Lauren Bowker, who believes that technology is magic and strives to create a world of seamlessly captivating science through exquisite couture and luxury products.
The most awe-inspiring product she shared with us was ‘Air’ (above) – a series of colour-changing hand crafted leather garments that change colour in response to environmental changes such as touch and wind.
Author: Mel Exon, Managing Director BBH London and Co-Founder, BBH Labs
Keep Austin Weird … is a phrase you are probably going to see and hear a lot once you get to Texas.
In several lucky years of going to South By, it’s the best bit of advice that has stuck with me: Austin prides itself on being an island of culture, creativity and difference in an otherwise very conservative part of the USA. As a visitor, it’s your responsibility to avoid everything you recognise and dive into the stuff you don’t.
So it’s really tempting to hang out with loads of UK agency folk, get press ganged into drinks with your brethren, attend loads of talks about advertising, but I’d ditch all of that and go see a talk by an astro-physicist or a roboticist, eat pancakes, ribs and tacos exclusively*, go find a karaoke club in an underground car park, place a bet on Chicken Shit Bingo … and make sure you head to the Lustre Pearl for beers and shots, not the Hilton. Except maybe your first night when it’s just nice to see some familiar faces and hear what’s happened that day.
(*You can get vegetables when you’re back in England.)
My second bit of advice relates to choice, or rather the over supply of choice. SXSW has been a massive conference for years and years.. several floors of several rooms all showing talks and workshops simultaneously, now in several different locations all around Austin. It takes some getting used to, take a minute on the flight over to look at the whole schedule and pick some stuff you want to see.
Over the past few years the Interactive bit of SXSW, neatly sandwiched between Film and Music, has got incredibly popular with the UK marketing industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s got tame or lame, you’ve just got to work a bit harder to find stuff that’s genuinely different and worthwhile… BUT perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, I would avoid trucking all round Austin when it comes to going to talks, it takes ages and you waste tons of time shuttling between locations: only do that for something you hear is going to be amazing. The best talks are often under your nose in the main conference centre. Apart from seeking out the things you know nothing about, there are major keynotes not to miss every day, which often make headlines – for good or for bad – and are worth hearing. Bruce Sterling usually does a great closing keynote. If you don’t like a talk ten minutes in, you can get up and leave and try another one. Use Twitter to find out what people are enjoying most at any given time, most people tweet using #sxsw and #sxswi. If you’ve not done so already, make sure you set up a Whatsapp group IMMEDIATELY. Obviously.
Try to orientate yourself quickly around the conference centre early because it makes everything easier and don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you get lost (everyone gets lost, the whole time, this is normal).
Carry as little as possible. Get one of those mobile chargers for your phone. And use the abundant free wifi, or face the wrath of your office manager.
Eat from taco trucks as often as possible. Go to Salt Lick if you can arrange a bus out of town, or book a table at the Broken Spoke for line dancing and chicken in an odd white sauce. If you’re brave and your religion permits it, try a Baconator in a cone. Get a proper cocktail at The Driskill hotel. Old school.
I think that’s it. As you can tell, I’m two parts jealous and eight parts excited for you.
Have a whole load of fun, stay safe and come back with stories to share please.
In the January edition of Marketing Magazine BBH London Managing Director and Labs Co-Founder Mel Exon highlighted ten tech trends that marketers could be usefully thinking about for 2015. The original article appeared here on 07.01.15.
2015 teen dress, according to Back to the Future 2.
Another year, another slew of new technology jargon undoubtedly on its way to a tablet near you. With that in mind, here’s a handy set of ten technological themes for 2015 that may prove useful to marketers this year. Some may just emerge into our consciousness, others become noteworthy, whilst others start to take root in the mainstream.
1. Virtual Reality gets real
”This technology has peeled back a layer to reveal another universe” ~ Lawnmower Man (1992). There is currently no technology that has more potential to break new ground in creativity and communication than VR. In 2015, Oculus Rift, the company that has made most strides in this space, is due to launch a consumer product. Hold onto your hats, it’s going to be a ride.
2. ‘Handmade’ digital design
We’ve been mechanising things for so long, it’s probably high time we humanised things instead for a while. Look out for what Babak Parviz (the inventor of Google Glass, now at Amazon), is calling ‘handmade’ digital design, aided and abetted by the ongoing blur between off- and online worlds.
3. Mobile marketing steps up a gear
So we all know display ads are worse than inadequate and branded apps aren’t the solution to every mobile marketing task. Last year we talked about how Facebook’s re-tooled Atlas was set to make marketing across devices and to ‘real’ people work much more effectively, this year we’ll see that become a reality.
4. The mobile web gets a shot in the arm
Also helping us on our way: revealed at their Chrome Developer Summit in December, Google are making significant investments in improving the performance of mobile web apps, effectively taking steps to bring mobile web functionality up to par with that of native Android apps. Big news.
5. The rise, fall and rise again of wearables
With the Apple Watch fully on the market, promising to put to bed the issues associated with the category (concerns around privacy, sustainable use cases and how stylish they really are), wearables have a chance to move from a sideshow to the mainstream.
6. 3D Printing finds its purpose (for now)
‘3D printing’ has always sounded so goddamn good. But until we can print genuinely usable, mixed material products more cost effectively than we can buy via a regular (mass production or artisan) supplier, we will have to live with the fact 3D printing is still for the few.
7. Networking The Internet of Things
So far the ‘Internet of things’ has been limited to products – the likes of Nest, Hive, August (the smart lock) – that operate as standalone systems. The truly connected home will only happen when different products can connect with one another. We’re starting to see it happen – for example Nest Protect (fire and CO2 alarm) can trigger a flashing red light alarm on Lifx, the connected lighting system.
8. Proximity marketing moves even closer
As iBeacons get installed in retail outlets, bars and entertainment venues up and down the country we can expect to see proximity marketing grow from being an experiment at conferences to a bona fide marketing behaviour.
9. Social feedback loops spin ever faster
More connected devices and sensors available 24/7 will demand faster adaptation and shorter lead times to provide users with data-driven, hourly relevant activity. Global marketing organisations finally make the most of resource in different time zones: the brand that never sleeps.
10. Micro-targeting at scale
Once the preserve of US political parties attempting to tailor unique messages to sub groups of voters, brands like Coke (with ‘America The Beautiful’) and Budweiser are using Facebook to reach a series of smaller audiences with different angles on the same idea. In the process building to scale.
Each week BBH’s social team send round their ‘digital digest’ – their pick of week’s most interesting social/digital news. So to round off the year we asked them to look through their archives and highlight the most significant events of 2014 – the stories we should all keep in mind as 2015 arrives.
Dark social relates to inbound traffic that can’t be tracked, such as links in emails, Whatsapp chats and some forums. 75% is a large chunk that can’t be accounted for and has implications for optimising digital campaigns for these kinds of user journeys. To put it in context, Facebook accounts for around 19% of all social media traffic.
Following hot on the heels of Vice and Live Nation, YouTube launched their own music streaming service, Music Key. The distinguishing feature of the new service is its advertising free stream and unlimited access to the Google Play catalogue, anytime, anywhere.
Mercedes are getting a reputation for being at the forefront of digital when it comes to automotive brands. In this campaign they allow users to build their perfect car, choosing colour, wheels, grill, roof etc from separate accounts which are linked through the tagging functionality. There are 132 possible configurations and it’s well worth 5 minutes to have a play. Point your Instagram towards @GLA_Build_Your_Own
Atlas claims to deliver ‘people-based’ marketing, helping brands to reach their audiences across multiple platforms, devices and even linking to offline sales.
Additional benefits will be in depth analytics that allow marketers to create far more complex user journeys to purchase; linking mobile ad views, desktop engagements and a real world purchase all together. Genius but creepy.
The success of mobile games such as Candy Crush, challenged perceptions of who a gamer could be. The latest IAB study on gaming, provides further evidence that UK gaming habits and demographics have shifted considerably.
Based on interviews with 4,000 UK residents, the research asserts that women now account for 52% of the gaming audience, up from 49% three years ago.
This change in gaming behaviour presents a new opportunity for advertisers to reach 33m UK gamers, 61% of which, according to the study, would be receptive to in-game advertising if it allowed them to acquire the game for free.
The launch of Twitter’s ‘Buy Now’ is their biggest step into eCommerce and enables merchants to directly link tweets to sales. Twitter have teamed up with several eCommerce platforms to implement this new functionality and make the user journeys as simple and pain free as possible.
2014’s newsfeeds were dominated by more than a few videos of people dumping ice cold water on their head and nominating others to do the same to raise awareness of ALS and hopefully donate some money along the way.
Although there was criticism of the campaign, it has to date raised $22.9 million (compared to $1.9 million over the same period last year), spawned 2.4 million videos and recorded over 28 million interactions on Facebook alone. Although a simple mechanic, not everyone gets it right
This year’s Ofcom Consumer Attitudes report provides further evidence of television’s dominance, however shows a clear shift in the context of TV consumption, from TV sets to computer, tablet & mobile screens, particularly amongst a millennial audience.
The increasing consumption of TV content in a digital environment presents more opportunities for brands to reach and engage audiences, but also raises challenging questions about the split of future advertising spend.
It’s been around for 3 years and there are now rumblings of an ad solution.With 100 million monthly users worldwide and half of all UK teenagers claiming to have used it, there is definitely potential. There is also speculation that Yahoo are investing $20 million into the app. Watch this space… See what some industry folk have to say about it here
In what came as a surprise to many, this year Instagram reached a significant milestone, a milestone which places social network above Twitter in terms of monthly active users. With 300 million active users, Instagram is still far off Facebook’s mammoth 1.3 billion mark, but demonstrates its capacity to showcase the ‘live pulse of the world right now’ in the same way Twitter has become famous for.
The latest salvo in the Google-Facebook Ad Wars has the search incumbent tracking logged in mobile users from website visit to store visit to demonstrate that effective online advertising can drive offline traffic. Fascinating implications, not least for privacy.
“I don’t need headphones because the headphones are in my hoodie and the hoodie is bluetoothed to my watch.” – Will.i.am
“We shouldn’t try to understand everything.” – Iris Apfel
In his essay Software is Eating the World, Marc Andreesen listed a whole bunch of industries whose business models had been, were being or were about to be massively disrupted by digital technologies – from photography and music to retail, publishing, health and education. Missing from Andreesen’s extensive list was any mention of the art, fashion or luxury goods industries – businesses that traditionally have relied on mystique, scarcity and exclusivity to drive demand and protect margin.
Things started amiably enough, with Francois-Henri Pinault declaring that technology could, should and would support and renew the way that luxury works. Citing innovation in manufacture and supply chain as well as commerce and retail as reasons to believe that tech and luxury could live in harmony, he then pointed out the elephant in the room; delivering consistent experience at scale is antithetical to the bespoke experiences demanded by luxury consumers. “There’s an emotional quality to luxury that can’t be sacrificed on the altar of innovation,” asserted Pinault.
This was a notion referred to again and again over the next 36 hours, and one that went unchallenged; “People have to yearn for things,” said Apfel, rather wonderfully. “How do we sell our watches? One by one,” said Francois-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, who conceded that social media did have some usefulness in entertaining a new generation of luxury consumers, or perhaps the children of their traditional customers.
Technology is wonderful at reducing and removing friction – the market inefficiencies that hamper consumers from accessing the goods and services they desire. But in the luxury industry, friction is reframed as qualification, inefficiency as rarity. As new markets for luxury goods appear in the middle and far easts, creating an industry growing 4-6% to $307billion in 2015, there appeared to be little trepidation about the future among speakers and attendees at the INYT Luxury Conference. Of course, this is not to say that the luxury business has no use whatsoever for digital thinking, more that digital isn’t yet asking the difficult questions of luxury that have challenged other businesses.
So perhaps a different question worth asking is what can the digital industries learn from the world of luxury? A world where every interaction with a brand is carefully considered and crafted for a discerning customer. Why, so often, do digital experiences with brands feel undifferentiated, flat and templated? Shouldn’t we be thinking about treating our digital audiences like the discerning consumers they are? Perhaps the time is right for ‘handcrafted’ user-experience, bespoke digital design that makes every site visitor feel like the most important person in the world. Maybe we shouldn’t expect luxury to go digital, but instead demand that digital gets luxurious.
A man poses with his vehicle in a Miami car-park
But as the luxury conference blended seamlessly into the spectacle that is Art Basel Miami, where some of the wealthiest people on the planet vied to buy some of the most expensive art on the market and attend the most exclusive parties happening on earth that week, it felt worth remembering that the star of the International New York Times Luxury Conference was a ninety-three year old woman who has never, ever googled herself.