Conversation-as-a-Platform

The search for a solution to the perennial problem of shrinking click-through-rates has led us down a lot of interesting paths. In so many cases it seems like trying to bail out a sinking ship with a Grande Starbucks cup. But sometimes a breakthrough idea gives us a temporary “bilge pump”, to keep us afloat for another day.

With all of the recent buzz around conversational interfaces and chatbots, it’s easy to be skeptical of their commercial value, and see them as the latest passing fad. Enter, “chatvertising”: conversational-style advertising that’s been shown to deliver 3.2% – 4.4% engagement rates, compared to the the 0.044% CTR banners have grown used to.

“Cavai is a platform pioneering conversational-style advertising, using a decision-tree based model, and we are seeing first-hand how this highly engaging advertising model is growing mainly in response to the needs of the consumer. Those needs are for example expressed by 9/10 consumers globally who want to use messaging to talk to businesses. 72 trillion messages were sent via chat apps in 2018, surpassing social media and browser interactions. Also, 53% of consumers say that they are more likely to buy from a company that they can contact via a chat app ( eMarketer).”

Why It’s Hot

A whole new opportunities, to build enduring relationships between brands and people, by creating stronger rational & emotional connections – engaging with humans on human terms.

“Consumption-as-a-Platform”, in a connected world

 

Amazon is taking another step in their ambition to connect-the-data-dots between our digital and our physical lives, doubling-down on smart home technology, as a critical new frontier. Recognizing the importance of new home purchases as a primary trigger to consideration of an end-to-end tech upgrade, Amazon is partnering with the nation’s real estate brokerage company (Realogy), to connect prospective buyers with the right home and the right technology for them.

All parties seem to get something out of the deal, but by offering customers aggressive discounts on smart home tech, Amazon hopes to unlock massive new revenue opportunities, through what’s being referred to as New Retail. The underlying idea is that the ubiquity of connected tech will ultimately create “a perpetual state of consumerism, one in which the consumer is by definition the channel and can consume anything he or she wants anywhere, anytime. Consumption can occur within the home, at work, in a store, while driving, etc. — it does not matter. It can happen anywhere.”

(Oh, and just think of all that data!)

Why It’s Hot: 

Removing frictions between physical and digital experiences, as well as between consumer intent and consumption action, will offer marketers more efficient means of transacting – in real-time, and at speed and scale.

An 8-Bit Idea in a Quantum World

Game, Set Match?

In a world relentlessly focused on innovation, every once in a while a low-tech solution comes around that just makes us smile. While most digital marketers looking to capitalize on the global attention of an event like Wimbledon might set out to engineer the most whiz-bang interactive experience imaginable, one of the most whiz-bang companies in the world imagined something a whole lot less…well, “whiz-bang”. Google’s pong re-skin offers people searching for “Wimbledon scores” a delightfully low-tech distraction, that’s sure to get their attention.

Why It’s Hot

A strong testament to the importance of creative approaches to the full experience, vs the pure creative horsepower of an individual interaction. Smart, fast, effective.

“The doctor will see you now…”

Are voice assistants about to pivot from minor annoyances to truly helpful utilities? 

In an era of fake news and dubious digital sources of information, Amazon is trying to make it easier for people to access real expertise, using their Alexa voice assistant. Through a partnership with the National Health Service, they’ll help people get quick, “official” answers to some of their nagging medical questions.

Great news, for people who don’t have time to get to a doctor, or even focus their attention on a screen. Perhaps less-than-great news for people with privacy concerns associated with connected devices. For the rest of us, an interesting dilemma.

Why It’s Hot

Marketers are going to be challenged to balance tremendous new opportunities against a never-before-seen level of risk, as they explore new ways of interacting with consumers, alongside new revenue opportunities. The “winners” will disrupt their categories, to great competitive advantage, while the losers potentially lose it all.

“Can You See Me Now?” – Introducing Surveillance-as-a-Service

Amazon is gearing up to disrupt another category in the same way it disrupted IT over the last decade*, but its real intent might be to create an entirely new category.

[ * In the world of IT, AWS’s consumption-based business model fueled a game-changing shift from businesses owning on-premise data centers (CapEx), to “renting” the outcomes they need, and using Amazon’s data centers accessed through public cloud (OpEx). Beyond the obvious financial advantages this model delivered to businesses, it also freed up IT teams to shift their focus from “break-fix” to DevOps” – finding new ways of using technology and data to drive business growth. ]

It’s easy enough to connect-the-dots between Amazon’s $1B acquisition of Ring last year, and their patent application for a drone-based surveillance service, and draw the conclusion that it’s all part of a big home security play. Surely a consumption-based model, in which people pay for security in the same way they do utilities, would lower a few barriers to entry and grow the home security category. It would also decrease the need for installed devices (buying or renting them, waiting for the guy to come out and install – between 8am and 4pm), and also eliminate the need to be locked into a service contract and pay a regular, flat monthly fee.

As cringe-worthy as the idea of marauding flocks of “eyes-in-the-sky” might be, a few minutes spent thinking about the potential business applications of this kind of service might make you want to move to a remote desert island. But the question of whether this scares you or inspires you comes down to who’s paying for the service (homeowners, business owners, corporations?), who “owns” the data, and what how they’re using or monetizing that data.

Why It’s Hot: In a world rapidly being reduced to 1’s and 0’s, consider how real-time video surveillance data (possibly with things like facial recognition being run through the cloud), comes together with all of the other data streams Amazon has been cultivating. What do your online purchases, streaming video choices, Alexa conversations, Whole Foods shopping lists and physical movements say about who you are, what you might want and how/where/when you can be reached? What might that mean for marketers?

New perspective on “voting with your wallet”

Progressive Shopper is a browser plug-in that reveals the political leanings of the brands and businesses you browse and shop. By aggregating political contributions made to the two parties, Progressive Shopper makes it easier for people who don’t generally consider themselves “activists” to follow the money and understand the impact of their purchase decisions.

Why It’s Hot

It begins with political contributions, but data related to every conceivable activity could eventually be similarly aggregated and used to reveal so much more about companies. Where do other charitable contributions go? How is a company’s operations contributing to climate change? What connections exist with organizations and nations in the global economy? With information like this essentially waiting for customers “at the cash register”, it will become increasingly important for companies to pay careful attention to the decisions they make – taking a more active and nuanced approach to defining what their brand stands for.

Technology to give shoppers a closer look

Toyota is making it easier for car shoppers to learn about the features, specs and inner workings of the cars on the showroom floor. This augmented reality experience gives people an x-ray vision superpower, so they can see through the exterior of the cars they’re looking at, and see the inner workings – without having to thumb through a catalog, or chat with a pushy salesperson. The app can also deliver information on the components, and show the technologies in action – a cool way for people to understand complex tech, like Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain.

Why it’s Hot:  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The ubiquity of smart phones and digitally agile consumers provide marketers with highly engaging ways of not only delivering product information, but also demonstrating benefits and performance.

Why it’s Saucy:  Show me the money.

A tool with the potential to accelerate the customer decision journey.

https://www.techradar.com/news/toyota-showrooms-use-augmented-reality-to-let-customers-see-inside-cars

Putting the audience into the scene

New technologies are transforming the ways video content can be captured and experienced, making it possible to experience a scene from multiple angles, and feel as if the viewer is walking through the action. There have been a few recent developments on this front, along with some related activity in the AR space, but here are a couple of quick examples:

Future of video? Watch our first interview shot with volumetric tech, with help from a Seattle startup

Intel teams up with Premier League giants to offer soccer fans ‘immersive experiences’

Why it’s hot:

A great emerging opportunity to create more engaging content for marketing programs, generally. Also a potential way of enabling audiences to have a more visceral experience of a product or service in (simulated) action.

Living Drones…or Bionic Bees

Scientists outfit bees with tiny tech backpacks, creating swarms of tiny, agile drones that aren’t limited by battery life or no-fly zones.

Potential applications for what the researchers call “living Internet of Things platforms” might include smart farming to measure plant health. For example, moisture and humidity sensors could assist with precision irrigation, and temperature sensors can detect whether growing conditions are optimal for specific crops. Whereas “drones can’t really fly between plants, bees can fly pretty much wherever they want to get more fine-grained information than drones,” Gollakota says.

Why it’s hot:

Potential for a global IoT platform capable of generating massive amounts of data about anything…anytime, anywhere.

Data = the fuel of AI and Machine Learning

More data = more accurate modeling and predictions

Boundless buzzing terabytes of real-time data = a truly “smarter planet”

(Plus, I just think it’s kinda cool)

Source: World Economic Forum