Last week, over 50,000 people from 166 countries made their way to Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. With 21 stages dedicated to different topics and sectors, there was never a lack of choice; however, despite the huge variety of talks, several themes repeatedly emerged.
EMERGING AI TECHNOLOGIES
At Web Summit, the narrative was less around what is currently possible and more around managing our expectations for the near future. Yes, artificial intelligence has huge possibilities, but we are still decades from having an emotional AI, said Gary Marcus, CEO at Geometric Intelligence, during the Future of the Worker panel.
Rana el Kallouby, CEO of Affectiva, echoed Marcus’ sentiment and reminded us to think of the inputs as we build AI solutions. She knows this first-hand as Affectiva, a MIT Media Lab spin-off, analyses facial expressions and emotion.
Her example is if we were to only teach an AI about white male facial expressions, the technology would not necessarily be able to recognise another ethnic or gender group’s expressions. She warns that human guidance is still very much needed.
RETHINKING PROCESSES AND REGULATIONS
With the US election taking place during the conference, another topic that was on many people’s minds was the ‘filter bubble’, the internet’s ability to shows people information that they already agree or believe with.
The discussion was less on the consequences of the filter bubble and more focused around how we can implement ways of regulating the lack of relevance that some of our current processes have in today’s world.
Sean Rad felt like he had a social responsibility to use Tinder in a meaningful way: the company launched #SwipeTheVote to educate and engage the platform’s users by allowing them to swipe left or right on issues discussed before matching them with an appropriate candidate.
Another approach is to involve people directly with the issues. George Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece, shared his vision of creating a true democracy through crowd-sourcing. “I think what politicians and leaders need to always take into account is that first of all we need to have continual feedback and empower our citizens to feel that they own solutions,” he said.
CREATING SOCIAL EXPERIENCES
Time spent as a metric has created a race for attention that doesn’t have the user in mind, explained Tristan Harris, co-founder of Time Well Spent.
Our digital experiences are becoming more real and personal. As advertisers, our job is to ensure that we are building meaningful experiences that put consumers at the centre.
Virgin Active Spin Class does this by using technology to create a competitive environment with #ThePack, dividing the class into three teams, encouraging participants to push themselves based on real-time information on how their team is performing.
The field trip to Mars transforms an ordinary school bus trip into an incredible space journey through VR technology, making the once solitary VR a shared learning experience for students.
Both these examples use technology to build on the consumers’ actual surroundings immersing them into the story and acting on our desire to have shared social interactions.
LOOKING TO THE BRIGHT SIDE
The pace of change has been relentless, which brings both education challenges as well as new opportunities. Jim Hunter from Greenwave Systems suggested that we should start viewing technology less as a tool and more as an employee, which involves trusting it and fitting it into an established environment in order to complete outlined tasks.
To take AI as an example – it is at the cusp of being able to interact with humans in a natural linguistic state, allowing technology to become even more accessible. Although the future is full of uncertainty, Web Summit was inherently optimistic about what lies ahead.
Interbrand has just launched its 17th annual Best Global Brands. As it has been a pivotal year for luxury brands, we feature the expert view from Rebecca Robins, Global Director at Interbrand and co-author of the FT acclaimed book Meta-luxury. Rebecca’s luxury report, featured in Harper’s Bazaar, looks at the ongoing change within the industry. We share an extract of her luxury review here:
“Over the past 15 years of the Best Global Brands list, the brand value amassed by luxury businesses has grown from USD $25.8 billion in 2000 to USD $143.7 billion in 2015.For well over a decade, luxury brands have been ascendant. They were hailed as haloed protectorates of double-digit growth. They reinvented relevance, as per Burberry, the first British luxury brand to become a Best Global Brand in 2006. And, when the economic crisis hit, luxury brands were the most resilient in weathering the storm.
However, 2016 is the year that marks the luxury reset – a reset first signalled by recent dips in brand values that is now showing up via a cascade of marked declines. And yet, against the slow landslide in value, certain brands have quietly been asserting sustainable growth.
So, what are these brands doing differently?
They make decisions around extension and expansion, based on the long-term protection of the brand and health of the business. This is in sharp contrast to many brands that have fallen foul by chasing the immediate gratification of fast profits at the expense of sustainable growth initiatives, leading to brand dilution and value erosion in the long term.
Sustainable growth has deeper resonance in the wider context of sustainability. We are in a constant reevaluation of what we value and why. The sweet spot is where integrity of product meets integrity of brand experience.
Luxury brands have always set the standard. The challenge now is to translate their stories of excellence within a knowledge and experience economy that craves experience as much as the product itself. And that raises challenging questions about the role of every micro and macro brand touchpoint. It also has radical implications for the role of flagship retail, of the runway to retail model, of managing rarity, and of levels of access and service.
As luxury businesses continue to work through the reset and evolve their growth strategies, a single quest remains constant. Everything begins and ends with driving brand value.”
Authenticity was key in the launch of Destination Canada’s latest suite of rich content. The ‘Explore Canada’ campaign is focused on bringing to life the amazing sights, wonders and experiences that Canada has to offer.
There are over 6 million European travellers considering Canada as a future holiday destination. Despite being on people’s travel list, there was no urgency to book Canada as their next holiday destination. Our goal was to change Canada from a ‘might visit at some point’ destination to a ‘must see’ and next on the list.
Destination Canada is Canada’s national tourism marketing organisation. They promote Canada’s extraordinary experiences in 11 countries around the world. Their key markets include Germany, UK, Australia and France.
Research shows that consumers are increasingly moving away from traditional media. Instead, they are turning towards more personalised and trusted sources – such as friends, family and key influencers – to research and plan their travels.
Traditional marketing campaigns with sponsored banners or branded social posts are no longer enough to convince consumers to buy a big-ticket item like an international holiday. Our content marketing approach needed to reach and entice consumers at key points along their decision-making journey. We wanted to use more novel, innovative marketing ideas to engage these travellers emotionally.
Based on this, our focus is content like videos, photos and articles. Rather than a traditional branded campaign, the idea was to have viewers come into contact with the content naturally in relevant environments they typically visit for travel planning and purchase.
Over 500 pieces of high-quality content were developed across passion points and locations in Canada. Because authenticity is integral to this strategy, we didn’t include any branding on this content.
For the video content, we are leveraging a high-profile YouTuber from each of our key markets. Each influencer uses their typical filming style to highlight Canada as the perfect vacation setting. Influencers share and promote the content directly with their YouTube followers, allowing the material to seed organically. Many also promote their Canada videos on their Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts.
You can currently view the latest influencer content tailored for the UK and Germany, with France and Australia content coming soon.
We then use data to align consumers with unbranded content that caters to their individual interests, passions and travel purchase behaviours. Once viewers engage with multiple pieces of unbranded content, we then serve them a personalised message from a local tourism partner who can offer them a great deal for the location or experience they’d viewed.
We are in the second exciting year of this campaign. The tremendous success of last year’s efforts included over 50 million content views and over 190K content viewers booked a holiday to Canada, with over $231 in additional tourism revenue generated for a 67:1 ROI.
Most of us realise that the world of marketing is constantly changing. Unless we understand our customers’ shifting desires, our attempts to reach them will inevitably fall flat. Many times these changes are temporary, caused by short-term trends. However, over the last few years a fundamental, long-term shift has arisen in consumer behaviour that has wide-ranging implications.
Due to recessions and economic uncertainty, people are reassessing their priorities and asking themselves what they truly value. As a result, we are moving towards a new economy that values experience over possessions. In recent research: [ctt template=”1″ link=”Tv647″ via=”yes” ]3 in 4 millennial’s chose to spend money on an experience or event, rather than purchasing a desired object @HarrisCorp @OMD_EMEA[/ctt] [ctt template=”1″ link=”jzCVA” via=”yes” ]Consumer spending on recreational & cultural services has risen 85% in Western & Eastern Europe over the last 5 years @Euromonitor @OMD_EMEA[/ctt]
This shift is impacting a multitude of industries and has the power to transform even the most established markets.
In fact, Airbnb’s co-founder, Brian Chesky, has observed:
“No longer do consumers want to show off, on Instagram or Snapchat, the wheels of their car or the clothes they wear. But they want to show off the experiences that they’re having. I think, more and more, we’re living in an experience-based economy”.
Material possessions are no longer enough
As a society, we are spending more money to do things, rather than to have things. We then share these lived experiences via social media, in effect, elevating them to the position of status symbols. Whereas once the designer handbag was a sign of success, now a memory from a faraway land is the marker of a good life. We aspire to turn our leisure time into social capital spent on moments that are unique, fleeting and personal.
Plenty of research has shown that experiences bring more happiness than possessions. In fact, even the moments preceding and following an experience are more positively charged than those surrounding the purchase of a product. Experiments have shown that participants elicit more happiness and excitement when anticipating experiences. Whereas, waiting times for possessions are often fraught with impatience. Further research indicates that people also tend to talk more about experiences than they do products and derive more value from doing so.
This has led renowned psychologist Thomas Gilovich to conclude that “spending money on experiences provides more enduring happiness.”
Using this insight, OMD created an immersive theatre experience to launch HTC VIVE. We partnered with Noma Labs to host a once in a lifetime apocalypse event, HTC Virtually Dead, targeted to Millennials in both London and Paris. Tickets sold out in just over a week after showing the first teaser video in London. To meet demand, we extended the time period and put on more shows. Overall there were 900 shows over three weeks bringing in £300,000 worth of tickets, which is equivalent to a popular West End show running for over two years.
How can classic brands survive?
We need to refocus our strategies away from short-term demand and towards long-term desire. Brand experiences can help us drive this change, with luxury labels leading the way.
According to PWC, the annual sales growth of luxury experiences grew by 14% compared with 11% for luxury goods. Moreover, in 2014 The Boston Consulting Group found that experiences which include travel, gourmet dining and art auctions accounted for 55% of the global luxury spending. By creating enhanced sensory experiences for shoppers, luxury retailers have evolved a simple transaction into something more.
A great example of this is The Bentley Inspirator. The experience starts on an iPad in dealerships. You watch a beautiful video full of lifestyle images, off-piste skiing, yachts sailing through the ocean. Meanwhile, in real-time, facial recognition software is measuring your preferences. By the end of the video, a personalised Bentley configuration is created based on your preferences. A playful piece of technology which creates a magical experience by unlocking new information about the customer.
Is technology killing anticipation?
Technology has allowed us to engage with customers in ways we never thought possible. But, it has also fuelled new expectations, resulting in less patience and a rising demand for frictionless experiences. Amazon has calculated that even a one-second delay in page downloads could cost them $1.6 billion each year in lost revenue.
Modern technologies (e.g. Uber and drone delivery systems) are built on our desire for instant gratification. These technologies cure pain points in our lives. However, science has shown that anticipation can be far more gratifying than the reward itself. Bizarre as it may sound, there is an argument for designing in a little friction into the service process. Designed friction allows experiences to be anticipated, valued and remembered.
Create your experience and people will follow
We have the ability to design amazing experiences, but we need to be mindful about why and how we design them. From our research, we have seen how it is possible to design experiences that create emotional connections, drive memory creation and kindle the desire to share those experiences with others. Our deepest desires as human beings are to learn and grow. Brands have the opportunity to design in these experiences across their consumer touchpoints.
We must embrace this opportunity to move beyond simply creating consumer interactions which are frictionless, invisible and instead craft experiences with enough tension that they are shareable, memorable and teach us something about ourselves that we didn’t know before.
Facebook wants to be known as a place to search for mentions of current news in hopes of drawing more public chatter that normally ends up on Twitter. With that in mind, Facebook is now seeing 2 billion searches per day of its 2.5 trillion posts. That’s compared to 1.5 billion searches in July 2015 and 1 billion in September 2012, a 33% climb in just 9 months. While more posts and search queries could open up monetisation opportunities through paid search ads, Zuckerberg cautioned this would not be anytime soon.
Whilst Facebook recruited 60 million users this quarter compared to Twitter’s 3 million, their users are not accustomed to fleeing to the platform to proactively post publicly about current events. Facebook’s goal will now be to highlight why users should bring this type of conversation to the table. As ever, please share anything you spot with #OMDFWD
Reuters announces partnership with Samsung VR, to give users a truly ‘new’ news experience
Based in Austin, Texas the SXSW interactive conference, much like the city, has a very human-centred design focus. Many presentations focused on how technology is changing our brains rather than the importance of machine learning. The content covered felt like a call for a more mindful approach to building technology and the experiences it drives, although this might be symptomatic of the way presentations are chosen for SXSW with creativity and goodness as two main criteria. There is a need to move the creation of experiences away from a traditional marketing approach, where we look to our businesses and brands for development, to a more human-centred approach which involves consumers in the design.
This shift involves understanding how technology is changing our neurology, as well as our value systems (what had meaning before, no longer has meaning now). With so much at our fingertips, we expect much less friction (think Uber and Tinder) which is changing the hierarchy of our needs and ultimately the reprogramming our brains. Brian Solis refers to this phenomenon as consumers becoming ‘accidentally narcissistic’.
Experience architecture is the future of advertising. You have to be relevant and making a difference in consumers’ lives.
As we strive to make technology more fluid and frictionless, Steve Selzer, Experience Design Manager at AirBnB, stresses the importance for designers to become ‘the friction’ in the design. It is based on the premise that the desire and expectation for a frictionless digital experience is leading to a community of people who no longer have personal experiences in which they encounter friction. Selzer states that it is friction that allows for self-reflection, self-discovery and therefore, growth.
Design for Collisions: Lyft, a direct competitor to Uber, differentiates itself through ‘collisions’ by profiling their customers and encouraging them to share rides. This principle brings people together, creating situations where circumstantial neighbours can come together.
Design for Confrontation: AirBnB encourages hosts to answer any customer service issues themselves. Selzer describes the implementation of this process as forcing people to come out from behind the wall of technology to have conversations with each other. It is the next step beyond collision, which focuses on people resolving their own friction. As a result, the company has seen a direct correlation in the satisfaction scores from hosts and guests who have resolved their own issues without AirBnB intervening.
When it comes to design – think about your back-end as frictionless and your front-end as creating those experiences, which are carefully designed as friction.
The theme around the convergence of frictionless technology with human-centred design climaxed when Jayse Hansen, creator of the Iron Man Interface, got on stage with Meron Grebetz, creator of Meta 2 development Kit, in their curiously titled Iron Man Interfaces: The Next Generation UX presentation. Hansen, unable to build on existing OS due to licence restrictions, has teamed up with Grebetz to test the capabilities of Augmented Reality. The result of their partnership is a headset, which Grebetz demonstrated on stage. Using the headset, he was able to manipulate a 3D brain to millimetre precision, as well as dial in his CTO, who appeared in front of him as a hologram, to collaborate on the manipulation of the brain together. To finish the presentation, Grebetz promised that by SXSW 2017 he will have removed all computer monitors from his office, which he believes diminishes collaboration.
Although the last example is still far away for most of us, we can start to think about how we create human-centred experiences which involve a frictionless back-end and a carefully crafted front-end that creates experiences through friction.