It’s been several weeks since South by Southwest (SXSW) but these trends are still relevant. A quick primer: SXSW is a combination of interactive, film, and music festivals /conferences that take place in Austin, Texas, USA. It began in 1987 and has continued to grow in both scope and size every year
So let’s start with a quote. Something that gives us perhaps an over-arching theme for this entire talk.
We are living in a world of content overload.
CONTENT OVERLOAD: NEUROPLASTICITY
The first talk I went to at SXSW was this AMAZING talk by the agency, Hey Human (their slide here). In a nutshell: Neuroscience tells us that every new stimulus physically rewires the pathways in our brains – via a process known as ‘neuroplasticity’.
As the proverbial Pavlov’s Dog, every time digital natives feel a buzz in their pockets or on their wrists, they sit up to attention and, according to research, their IQ subsequently drops by 10 points.
Notifications are changing our brains; concentration is becoming more and more difficult.
The only good thing about this problem is that we know it exists. Meaning we can fix it. If we try.
As neuroscientists like to say: Neurons that fire together, wire together.
CONTENT OVERLOAD: COGNITIVE SURPLUS
The great paradox of the Internet is that with our social connectivity comes the brutal realisation of how disconnected we are.
In Clay Shirky’s book of the same name, he theorises that the Internet’s effect on society is a positive one and that by moving attention away from the time suck of TV, the online age is leading to new forms of creative expression.
However, the dichotomy here being that to create something new in the world, fundamentally, you need to be offline to do it. - The idea of multitasking is actually a misnomer. What people are doing every day by switching tabs and devices is actually “task-switching,” which has serious implications for long-term memory. The challenge is that in a high stimuli environment a lot of information goes to the straeta – which is the learning center of the brain – and never makes it to the hippocampus (the best section for memory recall). This means that information that should be getting processed and stored for easy access is getting lost.
CONTENT OVERLOAD: CONTENT MARKETING
Content Marketing was a hot topic at SXSW.
The once heralded ‘next great practice’ of online communications, the social media white noise (also known as ‘Branded Content’) is now being put under the microscope. What is the point, what is it worth, does it add value to our consumers’ lives?
At SXSW there were over 400 talks with the word CONTENT in the title!!!
At the SXSW sessions ‘Creative Listening Worshop’, attendees were asked to handover their smartphones as they arrived so as not to be too distracted.
‘When you are ready to get started, put you phone aside oh and please turn it off’
See also: the phone stacking game
Celebrities from Stephen Fry to Neil Gaiman announce ‘Twitter holidays’ like it’s the next big trendy thing. When Internet users are purposefully using holiday time to ‘unplug’ from Facebook, one has to wonder how long the trend of #HolidaySpam will last.
From European getaways where the hosts take your phone from you at check in to far eastern Buddhist retreats where there’s simply no way to connect; the holiday-maker of 2015 is looking for sun, sea, and sand (sans social).
Initially rolled out as a piece of tongue-in-cheek marketing this ‘Social Media Guard’ from Coca-Cola/Ogilvy Memac picked up a lot of press for being a very good idea…
Let’s be clear…
CHALLENGE: Could you be the brand that tells its consumers to actually switch off? If you did, what would it look like? Think on.
The retail revolution at SXSW was such that I even wrote about this for the Guardian *while still at SXSW* - http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/mar/18/sxsw-2015-retail-shopping-technology-revival
Anyway, here’s a quote that underpins what I’m about to tell you.
CUSTOMER FOCUS: EXPERIENCE
A focus on ‘The Customer Experience’ (hello Apple) and UX as the future of advertising and communications meant that at every retail-themed talk at SXSW (over 150 sessions on this one subject) the topic of customer experience was never far from the agenda.
Consumers are hungry for their high streets to prosper but the value placedon time and attention is continually increasing meaning that if a customerchooses to visit your store, you better make it worthwhile.
LOVE A GOOD PUN
Most recently, Apple announced ‘a significant change in mindset’ in the way that it views its retail outlets.
No longer does it want its customers to queue for days on end for new product launches, it’s shifting it’s customer base to order at home - specifically for new products. Allowing ‘every day’ customers to browse and purchase as usual.
“Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts is trying to usher in a new way for the company to handle product launches. She wants to encourage customers to avoid their local Apple Store when the Apple Watch goes on sale and instead order online”
- Business Insider, April 2015
Reading between the lines here, it’s going to be an interesting ride for Apple in this instance. The people it’s trying to usher away from queues are the very same people that have helped it get to its status now. Hmm.
. Nymi is the biometric wristband that uses the unique electric activity of your heart to authenticate who you are and what you’re able to unlock.
From Amazon to Ebay, and most recently Google, there is a growing trend for online only companies to literally ‘set up shop’ on the high street.
The reason? You can’t beat real-world hands-on experience. As any good salesman will tell you, once a product is in consumers’ hands, it’s becomesvery difficult for them to let it go again.
Google’s continual experimentation on how it gets its products and services in front of every day consumers should be applauded.
Buying a Chromecast or a Nexus device through the Play Store is fine for today’s tech-savvy consumer but what about everyone else? Allowing potential (and non-geeky) customers a good ‘hands on’ experience, as well as providing tutorials from in-house experts, means Google can be a step closer to the more traditional retail experience.
Admittedly this isn’t the newest idea for the global giant, however it does prove that there is still value in good old high street bricks and mortar.
Interconnected data – smart, not big – is being used to enhance and encourage footfall. So?
For some of us, the retail experience has never gone away.
With the advent of wearables, ibeacons, and the application of big/smartdata, we’re now able to discern customer ‘a’ from customer ‘b’ with ease andwith grace. A focus on individual customer experience is key to this success.
We might joke about the the GAP store in Minority Report knowing exactly what Tom Cruise’s character needs when he walks in but the Disney Magicband has taken us one step closer. Source - http://www.wired.com/2015/03/disney-magicband/
This stat is predominantly driven by a wider trend of marketing becoming a revenue source (vs a cost centre) for business. If customer experience is at the fore, then so it follows that marketers will take charge of that moving forward. We shall see.
Meerkat’s “success” was the creation of a handful of West Coast tech bloggers who managed to lure major newspapers into covering a phenomenon that did not exist.
The application Meerkat has “surfaced” during this year’s SXSW. There was a number of people in the corridors and at performances who were “livestreaming” the event on their social channels. Gary Vaynerchuk, during his talk with Jack Welch, appeared with a man who was streaming it all the time to the observers of Gary’s profile. The question is whether Meerkat will be able to stand up “Periscope” without that strong support from Twitter? We’re not sure. Now with PERISCOPE getting in on the scene, the Live Stream promise that was made in the late noughties, is finally coming to fruit.
Data is no longer a luxury item. With the advent of the year decade of mobile well and truly behind us, 4G technologies plus the democratization of previously pro-sumer tech, means that everybody has access to broadcast-quality kit. 4G networks allow super fast uploads and the flagship smartphones of 2015 packing cameras that can record up to 4K resolution, it’s no wonder that livestreaming is no longer the land of the geeks. Finally, the maturity and subsequent seamless integration of social media platforms in our lives means that when someone starts broadcasting, their friends will know very quickly indeed.
When live streaming made its first play for success in 2007, there were no millennials to lap up the limelight. The networks weren’t ready, the users weren’t ready, and the Internet wasn’t ready. Today, in 2015, building on the meshed platform of generation selfie, the time has never been more right for the online narcissist. Combine that hunger for popularity with the never-ending craving to fine the the source of any and all information on the Internet, you can begin to see why this might now take off.
Why read TMZ when you can follow Rhianna yourself? You see the point.
While less than 1,000 subscribers is a very limited audience on the latter, the video premiere will surely be promoted on other social networks: Madonna has 639,000 followers on Twitter while more than 18 million fans have liked her Facebook page.
First Twitter limited Meerkat’s access to its firehose. Then Twitter launched its own competing app, Periscope (that to all intents and purposes is killing Meerkat) And now Twitter is using its media connections to convince Celebrities that Periscope is the way forward and that the Meerkat will be extinct in no time at all.
According to TechCrunch – Twitter has been in touch with media companies that use Meerkat, going so far as to imply that if they don’t exclusively use Periscope, it could cut off their access to Amplify. Amplify, in short, is Twitter’s answer to commercial TV: it’s a product that pairs media companies with brands to create promoted tweets based around video clips, giving a boost of reach both to the media company and the brand sponsoring it.
The number one question you’re asking yourself is ‘Do I need a live stream strategy?’ No. You don’t. However, it might be worth reviewing your content strategy to see if it allows you to experiment with this kind of platform. Key things to remember: Is it relevant? To the brand, to the audience, to the business? Think of the risks involved What’s the objective?
Park this one under ‘FAR FUTURE’
If you attended SXSW then you simply have to acknowledge the advanced mechanics that wer on show at the surprisingly popular showroom/exhibition floor. To not would be to do the show itself a disservice. If brands are looking for ‘the next big thing’ to use in their next campaign (after selfies, drones et al), then robotis is definitely something to entertain. From 3D-printed men that can be controlled from your iPhone through to Iron Man-esque arm replacements and even a robot petting zoo – this year, Robotics and Southby went hand in hand.
This is amazing. This is the world’s first 3D-printed robot – OH MY ACTUAL GOD.
Can’t make SXSW next year? We’ve got the perfect solution. Vicarious remote-controlled androids patrolling the streets of Austin. He says, without realising he’s just scuppered his own plans to attend in 2016.
Robot arms for amputees. Incredible.
THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF ROBOTICS. Robots used to be only within the grasp of Tony Stark and co. But with mini-computers such as Raspberry Pi being so cheap and easy to both purchase and code, as well as the now 3D-Printed robots being available to download RIGHT NOW, the Steve Jobs / Bill Gates garage programmers of yesterday will become the roboticists of tomorrow. Once the rich kids play toy, robots will slowly become further ingrained in our every day lives.
THE ERA OF DISENGAGEMENT: IMPLICATIONS
Content is as much about publishing & distribution as it is about creation and storytelling. When considering your content strategy, you must consider the distribution of that content.
THE RETAIL REVIVAL: KEY DRIVERS
(1) CUSTOMER FOCUS: EXPERIENCE A focus on ‘The Customer Experience’ (hello Apple) and UX as the future of advertising and communications meant that at every retail-themed talk at SXSW (over 150 sessions on this one subject) the topic of customer experience was never far from the agenda. Consumers are hungry for their high streets to prosper but the value placed on time and attention is continually increasing meaning that if a customer chooses to visit your store, you better make it worthwhile.
THE RETAIL REVIVAL: KEY DRIVERS
(2) CUSTOMER FOCUS: WEARABLES Wearable technology was everywhere at SXSW. The Totes bag even had the words ‘The Original Wearable’ printed on it which, perhaps counter-intuitively put wearables front of mind at every glance (and not Totes). From wrist payments to biometric scanning to seamless mobile integration, the way that consumers interact within the retail environment is set to change and, by iBeacon or wearable, we are about enter a brand new technology-driven bricks and mortar retail revival with a laser sharp focus on t he customer experience.
THE RETAIL REVIVAL: KEY DRIVERS
(3) CUSTOMER FOCUS: ONLINE GOES OFFLINE Buy Online Pick in Store (or ‘BOPS’) was a key trend in the myriad retail sessions at SXSW. A recent econsultancy report cited a staggering 4 0% of British consumers reserved online to pick up in-store over Christmas and this is only set to increase. And it’s here that the online giants could ultimately miss out.
THE RETAIL REVIVAL: EXAMPLES FOCUS
ON EXPERIENCE “The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives. This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order. You’ll make their day.”
– Tero Kuittinen Boy Genius
Report “Meerkat’s ‘success’ was the creation of a handful of west coast tech bloggers who managed to lure major newspapers into covering a phenomenon that did not exist”
LIVESTREAM GOES MAINSTREAM: DRIVERS (1)
MEERKAT’S RISE AND ‘UP PERISCOPE’ The application Meerkat has “surfaced” during this year’s SXSW. There was a number of people in the corridors and at performances who were “livestreaming” the event on their social channels. Gary Vaynerchuk, during his talk with Jack Welch, appeared with a man who was streaming it all the time to the observers of Gary’s profile. The question is whether Meerkat will be able to stand up “Periscope” without that strong support from Twitter? We’re not sure. Now with PERISCOPE getting in on the scene, the Live Stream promise that was made in the late noughties, is finally coming to fruit.
LIVESTREAM GOES MAINSTREAM: DRIVERS (2)
PROLIFERATION OF 4G / TECH / SOCIAL Data is no longer a luxury item. With the advent of the year decade of mobile well and truly behind us, 4G technologies plus the democratization of previously pro-sumer tech, means that everybody has access to broadcast-quality kit. 4G networks allow super fast uploads and the flagship smartphones of 2015 packing cameras that can record up to 4K resolution, it’s no wonder that livestreaming is no longer the land of the geeks. Finally, the maturity and subsequent seamless integration of social media platforms in our lives means that when someone starts broadcasting, their friends will know very quickly indeed.
LIVESTREAM GOES MAINSTREAM: EXAMPLES Madonna
premiering her the video for her new song exclusively on Meerkat. 1000 subscribers isn’t much but Madge has 640k followers on Twitter and over 18m fans on Facebook (where the Meerkat feed was published to).
THE ERA OF DISENGAGEMENT How
can you tap into out the consumer fear of ‘information overload’? How can we reposition your online (and offline) efforts as the saviour of this never-ending stream of information? What about content? If your consumers are switching off, how do ensure you’re adding value and si mply not adding to the white noise of social media?
THE RETAIL REVIVAL Real world
spaces are back in fashion. You only need to look at Google’s recent high street efforts on Tottenham Court Road to see how/why… How could you manifest a presence in retail? What would the customer experience be like? Where are the opportunities for wearables? What about sensors?
LIVESTREAM GOES MAINSTREAM The big
stars of this ‘new’ livestream aspect of social media are those that already have the audience to tune in (celebrities, mainly). Is there a celebrity ‘face’, with an already large following, that you could work with use this? If so, how?
THE ROBOT REVOLUTION Forget Drones
and 3D-printing, for 2015 you want to get robots on your clients’ innovation-led campaigns. With the aforementioned democratization of the robotics available to us all, getting the right tools, kit, and programmes, in front of the right people – Well, it’s a creative technologists dream!