While the headlines emanating from CES in Las Vegas last week centered on the latest gadgetry in wearables, VR and the Internet of Things, the real news for the marketing industry was happening far from the show floor.
The biggest headline for marketers is who was there. Virtually every major consumer brand and agency was represented at CES, kicking off the 2016 circuit, which, along with SXSW, Cannes, DMEXCO and Advertising Week comprise the “Big Five” confabs where technology, media and marketing executives now meet regularly to learn, network and get deals done.
Buy why do marketers love CES? And why now? It’s not because Michael Kassan (MediaLink/C-Space), Marc Sternberg (Brand Innovators) or Drew Ianni (APPNATION) drag them there, though their events have become the de facto hubs for marketing execs to connect at CES. No, it’s because brands know everything having to do with media, technology and consumer behavior is changing — again.
As Shelly Palmer pointed out during his Innovation Series Breakfast keynote, the real innovation this year wasn’t doorbell apps, cheaper 4K televisions and foldable displays; it was about how technologies that have been there all along are being used in new and creative ways. These iterative changes and the ingenuity of those who coble them together are a potent combination and brands are taking notice.
Brands need and want to understand this nuanced evolution because it impacts where consumers spend their time and attention. Furthermore, the technology can truly empower brands to understand and engage with consumers in new and interesting ways. Nothing could be more important than seeing firsthand the devices upon which a brand’s messages may someday appear, the delivery mechanisms by which they’ll get there and meeting the people who can do the deals required to integrate their messaging into these new platforms, devices and content.
While the biggest news from CES may not appear to have an immediate impact on marketing, take a look one layer beneath the surface of IoT, wearables and VR at CES, and you’ll find plenty of examples of how brands are already thinking about and taking action in these emerging categories.
Internet of Things.
Many pundits agree the Internet of Things is the “next big thing,” however just because something can be connected doesn’t mean it should be — something Altimiter analyst and digital anthropologist Brian Solis jokingly referred to as the “Internet of Shit.” According to IDC analyst Carrie MacGillivray, the most visible expression of IoT is going to be in the home, however better interfaces and a real consumer value proposition are needed before we reach the 30 billion devices IDC predicts will be connected by 2020. Another major issue is interoperability — what’s the OS that will make Samsung’s new Family Hub smart refrigerator communicate with Sengled’s smart light bulb or Google’s Nest? The most creative IoT brand integration I saw at CES (announced in October) was Campbell’s Kitchen App for Amazon Echo, which besides responding to voice commands with your favorite tunes, will answer questions and serve up recipes according to your profile, the weather and what’s trending on its website.
It was no surprise VR was a hot topic at CES. What I didn’t see coming was how it’s also breathing new life into Augmented Reality. At Michael Terpin’s Tech Debut, Halsey Minor gave personal demos of his new Quantum Leap VR camera. With its 16 HD lenses and the ability to render real-time video for live streaming, the system also features an augmented reality layer to allow the insertion of 3D virtual objects and animation into a live stream. Microsoft VP Thom Gruhler showed the Brand Innovators Mega-Trends audience how the company’s HoloLens brings “mixed reality,” or the creative integration of AR and VR, which consumers will soon be able to experience via headsets in Volvo showrooms. VR content and brand experiences are in play, but with only 25 million VR and AR headsets predicted to be sold by 2018, it’s still a bit early for full on advertising media integration.
Far from the visually immersive features of VR, screens on wearables are practically non-existent. So where do brands integrate with a popular emerging technology where there’s no display? According to IDC analyst Karsten Weide, it could be through AR, but fundamentally it’s all about the persistent access to data. Wearables have the potential to know more about us than we do about ourselves — they capture troves of data that create more accurate profiles about us that we could create ourselves, because they report on what we actually do, not what we say about ourselves. With more than 32% of the US population expected to be using wearables by 2018, it may not be about advertising per se, but rather the data that informs advertising strategy, media planning and retail consumption. A few companies mentioned by Mr. Weide as pioneering the frontier of marketing and wearables were FitAd, Mindshare, Tapsense and Undertone.
These are just a few examples of how brands are thinking about consumer technology and only begin to scratch the surface of what was being shown and discussed at CES. Did you see a creative mash-up between marketing and technology worth sharing? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excitement around the mobile web was palpable at 2012 International CES. While consumer electronics hardware and product launches dominate headlines, CES has quietly become a must-attend event for digital media and marketing professionals, many of whom were in attendance this year for the first time.
With dozens of sessions on mobile content and marketing at Digital Hollywood and other CES conference tracks, the Las Vegas Convention Center was abuzz with discussions about delivering quality mobile experiences to consumers while efficiently capitalizing on the channel for marketers.
What follows is a summary of insights from some of the best minds in mobile content and marketing who appeared on panels I attended throughout CES.
“Mobile technology is enabling an important and disruptive transition in content distribution, and interactivity, as content becomes aware of users and consumers have a greater ability to interact on multiple devices and from any location,” said Jeff Demian, research strategy and business development director at Intel Labs.
Creating contiguous experiences and measuring behavior were recurring themes throughout the week, as marketers prepare for the onslaught of a multi-screen universe and the need to create compelling, tightly integrated content while catering to the unique characteristics of each platform and device.
Content and Revenue
Saul Berman, global strategy and change leader at IBM spoke about the consumer experience needing to be additive, and in so doing, how it forces the “devaluation and revaluation of content.” In other words, changes in distribution and payment models may result in less revenue per eyeball in the short-term, but leveraged across an entire publishing enterprise, can become an even more valuable asset over time.
Murray Solomon, vice president, digital business development at Time Inc. validated Berman’s assertion, saying early indicators suggest its all-access model of providing both print and digital versions of its 21 publications at a single subscription price is paying off. Bryan Moffett, vice president, digital strategy and sponsorship operations at National Public Media noted how more than 100 million streams of PBS Kids content on the iPad didn’t cannibalize its web streams, and that with ten to 20 percent click-through rates on the iPad, digital is “leading the conversation and resulting in big radio sales.”
Daniel Tibbets, vice president, digital media, Bunim/Murray Productions, says it’s the quality of content that matters most. “Product decisions need to be made on the basis of what consumers want, and their needs to be treated in a way that is unique to each platform.”
Although today’s banner ad paradigm is understandable, display on mobile won’t be effective for long, as consumers demand a deeper experience. Andrew Maltin, CEO of mobile development studio MEDL Mobile, says “the most engaging apps are technologically advanced and highly interactive.” Cameron Fiedlander, vice president and director of creative technology at Designkitchen/WPP Group notes “we’re seeing mobile formats evolve into deeper, more socially-driven experiences, making mobile display much less relevant.”
Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay, points out that “consumers will dismiss ads altogether if they get in the way of their intent to do something else.” The solution is to have better contextual and geo-fencing capabilities. According to Time, Inc.’s Solomon, “there is no reason why an immersive advertising experience with applications is not also possible in the same way which ads are viewed as valuable content to magazine readers.”
While the need to create a great product is always implied, context may be even more important in mobile.
“If content is king, then context is queen,” says Ashley Swartz, senior vice president marketing at Digitas. “Mobility gives content creators the ability to know more about their audience, and to include the audience in unique ways that before now were not possible.”
Consumers want to pick up the experience where they left off on different devices, and marketers need to be ready to accept them at those nonlinear entry points, while at the same time moving them through a story line or a funnel that ultimately results in some desired action.
Lori Schwartz, chief technology catalyst, North America at McCann Erickson says the near future is going to be all about “long-tail narrowcasting and less about broadcasting. “If you can build a community of uber-influencers down that funnel, it’s possible to create micro-franchises around brands.”
The Year of Big Data
Notwithstanding a slew of legal and regulatory concerns, also on the minds of mobile marketers is the use of real-time data and how it can be used to create relevant brand experiences. While panelists were quick to coin phrases like “the year of big data” and “data is the new creative,” few specific solutions were offered.
On the contrary, caution was urged when considering integration of social graph data into applications. Schwartz suggests pulling data from social media APIs into a custom solution a brand can control for its own brand experiences, rather than integrating in ways that could leave brands vulnerable to the decisions of social media platforms in the long run.
Martez Moore, executive vice president, digital media at BET Networks, says media and brands “need to be very thoughtful about how to integrate third party data that could potentially cannibalize their CPMs were providers to leverage that data too.” Instead, Martez says BET uses social to market, promote and engage traffic, which results in the ability to sell ads at a premium around shows like 106 & Park.
From the production standpoint, the industry is embracing HTML5 as a baseline when developing across platforms, but recognizes there are still gaps in functionality that must be addressed. In the meantime, hybrid approaches are emerging and native apps for iOS and Android are still best when it comes to creating feature rich experiences. While some, like eBay, still develop for Blackberry, Sol Lipman, senior director, mobile at AOL says the BlackBerry PlayBook has “fallen off a cliff statistically for AOL.”
On the issue of whether to develop on multiple platforms concurrently, Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief, CNET Reviews, points out “these are difficult choices and you have to be very smart about how to proceed. We started with iOS Native hybrid HTML5 approach.”
Swartz suggests building with an eye toward reach and ubiquity, but to do so with a dose of pragmatism. “It’s expensive to develop and promote an app in a world where 60 percent will open it once and never go back, and where app discovery is still an issue for lesser known brands.”
Strong distinctions are also being drawn between developing for mobile phones and tablets, with several describing the iPad as the more engaging experience. Chrisophe Gillet, product manager at Fanhattan, describes mobile as “a start and stop experience,” where users get the information they need and then put their device away,” whereas tablets “have become more of a companion device due to their more comfortable form factor.”
Mandar Shinde, director, mobile monetization at AOL also sees tablet co-browsing as a big phenomenon, citing 50 percent more browsing traffic in the evenings, presumably while consumers are also watching television. The complexity and lack of tools for accurately tracking the integrated viewer behavior across devices was also raised as an issue yet to be resolved.
Growth Through Collaboration
Top of mind for agency executives has been improved collaboration and breaking down silos that prevent marketers from achieving their goals and giving consumers the best of what the medium has to offer. “We’ve been living in the construct of television versus digital for too long,” says Schwarz. It would be a mistake to cannibalize television for digital. We need to look at it more holistically.”
So how do we do we get there? Alexandre Mars, CEO, Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Group suggests all of the agency stakeholders – creative, digital, media and mobile – need to be part of the conversation. Only then will everyone get the budgets required to achieve the goals of marketers and to create more powerful experiences for marketers.
Yahav Isak senior vice president, project management at Digitas Health, says “everything is digital — it’s really more about understanding the different channels of digital marketing and how they can best be integrated.”
According to Tibbets, “the only thing we are limited by is bandwidth and our imagination to create amazing immersive experiences.”
Readers, Followers, Friends & Colleagues,
A year after launching Winders Consulting Group, the new year is a perfect time to reflect on progress and, more importantly, to thank the clients who made 2011 a banner year. My typical engagements have been as “CMO-for-hire” for marketing technology and Internet companies looking to increase awareness and sales through more effective market positioning strategies and creative, cost-effective and accountable marketing and communication programs.
One personal highlight has been the opportunity to stretch beyond my expertise in digital marketing technology to gain valuable experience in cause marketing, clean tech and social media. The diversity of my work has also afforded me the rare opportunity to experience firsthand several different business models, systems, processes, styles and philosophies, and to both affect and learn from how founders and CEOs deal with a wide range of challenges.
Below is a summary of my recent projects, including links to my volunteer work with Room to Read and the Digital Family Reunion, an annual holiday event I co-host for the technology community in Los Angeles. I plan to feature more tech startups and great marketing campaigns on “Winders on the Web” in the coming months, so please let me know if there are companies you think I should profile.
It would be great to connect and explore how we can collaborate in 2012. Until then, happy new year!
CanaryVoice applications turn collections of voice messages to into digital greetings that can be shared online to celebrate occasions, express opinions and preserve treasured memories.
Causecast delivers technology to engage employees and activate consumers with timely and relevant CSR information and nonprofit donation and volunteer opportunities.
Fanzila is a social media management platform for Facebook and the web, with applications, analytics and CRM features that engage consumers and create valuable marketing opportunities for small businesses and brands.
Rocket Fuel makes digital advertising work better for brands by combining the best of DSPs and networks with advanced response prediction technology.
Fraser Communications is a full-service advertising agency providing integrated solutions for the healthcare, environmental, nutrition, banking and automotive industries.
Digital Family Reunion is an annual holiday networking event for LA’s diverse technology community.
Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children’s literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls.
Over the past several months, I’ve been honored to assist entrepreneur Frank Catalano with product development and marketing for CanaryVoice. One way we are building awareness for this unique way of using voice greetings to celebrate special occasions, is to create public celebrations like the one we announced today. Since Veterans Day, we have been inviting the public to phone in messages to honor the U.S. armed services, and today we launched the first-of-its-kind audio greeting card for the troops, giving them the ability to hear firsthand how much their service is appreciated this holiday season.
Our “Voices of Gratitude” holiday album for the troops is still accepting messages. Anyone can listen, add a message and easily share the album via email, Facebook and the web, all free of charge. To contribute a message, simply call this number: (847) 598-3466 (Mailbox: 2710 and Pin: 9801).
Even if you decide not to leave a message, we would appreciate if you would share the album to your Facebook wall, so others may have the option to listen, contribute or share. The completed “Voices of Gratitude” album will be available on the CanaryVoice site and CDs will be mailed to the public information officers of each branch of the military and to select military support groups, publications, media outlets and blogs. For complete details about the “Voices of Gratitude” campaign, or to create your own voice album, visit www.canaryvoice.com.
One of the joys of independent consulting is the opportunity to learn from a wide range of companies and the many solutions providers who stand ready to serve them. For startup CanaryVoice, we identified that social media savvy moms are likely to embrace its unique voicemail greetings service, leading us to explore the “momosphere” and participation in the BLP CONNECT! conference where “warrior-preneur” and marketing consultant Ann Evanston gave an inspiring keynote on “The Power of Connecting.”
Her request for audience feedback on the meaning of “connection” elicited a wide range of responses, including: growing relationships, personal converstions, face-to-face meetings, follow-up, support, cameraderie, resources, interest and attention. According to Evanston, connection means “creating an energy that draws people to you.” Pull not push marketing. Inbound, not outbound marketing. Energetically, YOU are what creates your brand, which is distinctly unique from the product you sell. YOU make your brand unique and special, and as such you can program marketing activities to create an energy that attracts customers to your brand.
While the emphasis of Evanston’s talk was geared toward an audience of women entrepreneurs and guiding their use of social media, every marketer can benefit from thinking more about ways to energize and connect with their audiences, no matter what the product or the size of the marketing budget. If the word for 2010 was “authentic” and in 2011 we are talking about being “transparent,” the word for 2012 will be to “humanize” your brand, according to Evanston.
So how do you go about humanizing, connecting and energizing your brand? Here were my take-aways from Evanston’s motivating talk:
1) Create polarity in your marketing. Ho-hum marketing is average and safe — be brave, be memorable and be yourself!
2) Understand that multiple “buying types” exist and that you need to appeal to all of them while being ready to refine your pitch once you determine which buying type you are dealing with. Diversify how you connect by creating different ways to tell your story.
3) Think with abundance, not in scarcity mode. Doing so will help you attract like-minded people who want to do business with you. You will create connections you never thought possible, that will lead to an even greater number of customers, referral partners and promotion opportunities.
4) Let go of the fear. Fear of success, fear of the money you can really make, fear of polarity, fear of that first Tweet. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the things done you need to do to drive your business forward.
5) Create a step-by-step plan comprised of systems and processes that develop revenue…and, of course, give Ann a call to help!
There is nothing more powerful than the energetic connections an entrepreneur can make when she tells her story with authenticity, honesty and fearlessness. Whether it’s in a selling situation, a speech or social media marketing, let go of the fears that are holding you back. There is a world of partners, customers and advocates out there just waiting for you to make powerful connections that will help you grow your business.