With keynote speakers touching on purple cows, messaging moats, Disney magic, shared SEO, and why marketers should behave like Scar from ‘The Lion King’, inspiration was at a fitting high point for 2016’s Digital Summit.
This year’s edition of Interactive Minds’ event proved that point for a crew of Augies who went along to the Crown Conference Centre on Friday July 22nd.
Over the course of the day, David Baddock, JD Santiago, and I (Elliott Grigg) were privy to two international keynote speakers, a supporting cast of local digital luminaries, and a variety of insights into technology, social media, marketing psychology and business strategy.
Here’s how the day went down with some highlights from the Summit.
Five digital trends that will change your marketing, with Travis Bernard.
Trend #1 – Messaging apps are evolving into service platforms, powered by AI assistants.
‘Messaging apps are the portal to mobile’. Well, at least that’s what Facebook thinks. Of the top five apps in the world by downloads (those being Facebook, WhatsApp, FB Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat), four of them are owned by the blue-hued social giant.
With this messaging monopoly, Facebook is building what Travis Bernard, Director of Audience Engagement at TechCrunch, terms ‘moats’. Or, positive barriers to prevent people from leaving. Where there’s water there’s usually growth, and that growth is manifesting as ‘moated messaging ecosystems’ – in shorthand, multiple features within messaging platforms to keep users engaged and keep them from leaving the platform.
One such development is the proliferation of in-app service chatbots. Bots eliminate customer latency by offering 24/7 availability and convenience, they meet the needs of Gen Y – who are statistically more inclined to message a business than to call – and they offer greater uniformity and control over the sales experience. Imagine if everyone in your sales team sang from the exact same song sheet. In perfect tune. Every time. Imagine no more.
Trend #2 – Enhanced expression in messaging apps through sponsored creation tools.
Images are essential and user-generated content is valuable. That’s nothing new. ‘Stickers’ though, the cartoonish version of emojis that are increasingly appearing in Snapchat to decorate images, are something new. They’re also worth quite a bit of money. For example, Line, a chat app sticker producer, has made over $270 million.
That’s the potential of apps and assets that give creative power to the user. Stickers are symptomatic of an emerging desire to empower the audience to interactively engage with brands on social platforms. And brands are increasingly lining up to give power to the people. Aside from stickers, businesses like Beats By Dre, Disney and Fox Studios are now developing branded emojis, geofence filters, and selfie lenses.
Beats By Dre has recently created a branded snapchat filter.
Trend #3 – Live streaming goes mainstream.
You can now watch the NFL live on Twitter. General Electric is currently flying drones around cities, so you can livestream the visuals. People can vote in real-time on keynote speaker presentations at conferences – thumbs up for a prophetic comment, thumbs down for something pedestrian.
Live streaming represents potential new channels for advertising material. Video may be vital, but live and interactive video? Even more so.
Trend #4 – Platforms are demanding unique approaches to video.
When video is this important, it’s worth optimising your content depending on the prerequisites of the platform it is published on.
For example, square-formatted video content performs better on Facebook because it occupies more visual real estate in the feed. It’s also probably not worth sweating over the sound quality of video content for Facebook either: 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound, so on-screen captions and calls-to-action become of greater importance than an engaging voiceover.
But while these particular rules apply to Facebook, other platforms have their own idiosyncrasies. As ever, matching content with context is essential.
Trend #5 – Interactive media becomes the springboard for a futuristic VR world.
360-degree interactive photos are here. 360-degree interactive videos are here. Virtual reality marketing is the next frontier and it’s lingering tantalisingly close on the horizon.
Nike: early adopters of VR advertising.
Unlocking the power of your brand to create focus, with Col Kennedy.
Col Kennedy, former Global Head of Marketing & E-commerce at Cotton On, kicks things off with a Game of Thrones slide, which clearly indicates that he is awesome. But the slide is relevant beyond that. It’s indicative of the concept of a ‘community’: a uniting culture of celebratory fandom that can be incredibly powerful for brands.
The crowd responds to Col’s opening GoT slide.
Community is the ultimate expression of brand advocacy – the fact that there were audible gasps of enjoyment at the sheer display of a static Game of Thrones icon tells you all you really need to know.
So how do we achieve that kind of fandom? The answer is to move away from the idea of the transaction and instead focus on the interaction. Don’t just sell; give people something to buy into. Instead of simply focussing on your sales, place a higher priority on your story, purpose and values.
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why do you do what you do?
The last point may be the most important. Because, according to Simon Sinek:
‘People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.’
If we apply this rhetoric to Apple, for example, their story, purpose and values may be as follows:
- What – Make great computers.
- How – By making products that are beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly.
- Why – To challenge the status quo.
That crystalised ‘why’ is what communities buy into and identify with. Consider – everyone’s hoping to buy great computers, but a specific demographic buys into the idea that they’re being disruptive by buying a particular brand of computer. It’s essential for differentiation.
It can incredibly powerful when the ‘what-how-why’ trinity is coordinated and reasoned. However, it can be problematic when a story misaligns with the audience’s widely-held perception of a brand. Col used Disney as an example.
On July 27, 2010, The Walt Disney Company acquired Playdom in a $763 million deal. You’ve probably never heard about this acquisition. Or Playdom for that matter. It’s an online social network game developer for Facebook, Google+ and Myspace. Two years ago, it announced the closure of all of its games.
There may be many reasons for the fate of this acquisition, but Col suggests the reason for the rapid descent may have been misalignment. For so many, The Walt Disney Company represents magic and fantasy, not cutting-edge technical innovation. It was a partnership that didn’t reflect or resonate with the why of Disney. It didn’t make sense or resonate for the community. In short, it was off-brand.
Disney traditionally trades in ‘magic’.
A more effective strategy, in hindsight, was to reinvigorate flagship stores to capture more of that special brand of ‘magic’ the brand is known for. It connected more appropriately with the community idea of Disney.
- Brands need to move from storytelling to storydoing: create a shared responsibility by fostering communities who advocate and assist in enacting brands.
- However, that can only take place when you have distilled your story perfectly.
- Identify your unique ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’, and get to work building a community, Game of Thrones style.
Meaningful interactions: data driven advertising and the hyper-personal, with Jeremy Wood.
‘Content is king’. That’s long been an established truism of modern marketing. Increasingly though, context is just as important. The careful synchronisation of the two can be amazingly powerful.
Perfect timing can be powerful.
This is how we create memorable experiences and ‘wow’ factor. Jeremy deems these as ‘James Bond moments’.
You walk into a hotel and the reception staff already know your name. They might ask about previous places you’ve been on your trip, unprompted. They offer you your favourite drink while your bags are checked without having to confirm the order. Of course, your martini is served shaken, not stirred, in line with your personal preference. You don’t need to say or request anything.
James Bond moments are how we create ‘purple cows’ through word of mouth, and they’re incredibly valuable. Taken from Seth Godin’s ‘Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable’, the idea of a purple cow is something that creates a memorable impression through its distinctive state in comparison to the wider ‘norm’.
‘You’re more likely to remember a purple cow amidst a field full of brown bovines.’
To create purple cows and James Bond moments we need data. More specifically, Big Data, full of personal insights, immediately accessible from the cloud.
Jeremy’s example involves a fictional character: Jim. Jim is in the market for a stereo and checks out a brand online, but doesn’t purchase anything. We track Jim’s journey across the web and re-target him with appropriate offers to get him back to the site, using his anonymous browsing profile to create personalized offers and recommendations.
Next time Jim is out in the city, his phone buzzes with a push notification VIP offer, triggered through geo-fencing and his proximity to the store.
When he enters the physical store and asks about a certain product, the staff are aware of his name and greet him personally – the push notification informs staff that a potential customer named Jim is nearby, with a specific interest in a certain product. This information is gleaned by tracking Jim’s behaviour on-site.
Regardless of whether Jim buys the stereo in that moment or not, he has experienced his James Bond moment. He’s much more likely to be receptive to the brand in future and is likely to tell friends about the memorable interaction.
Rethinking user behavior, with Matt Wallaert.
When you’re in the market to purchase a product, factors like price, function, availability or appearance can influence your decision making. But according to Microsoft behavioural scientist and Director of Microsoft Ventures, Matt Wallaert, it isn’t a product’s differentiating elements that have the greatest impact on user behaviour, but rather inhibiting pressures.
What do we mean by inhibiting pressures? Matt defines inhibiting pressures as reasons that inhibit us from buying a product or engaging with a brand. He emphasises the idea isn’t to push one’s product, but to identify what may be stopping a consumer from engaging, and literally get that ‘thing’ out of the way. This is how we should be rethinking user behavior.
Take Uber, for example – a service built on solving inhibiting pressures. Not only is their app easy to use but car availability is high, it’s cheaper than a taxi, and paying for your ride is so easy it requires no steps or effort at all.
A cherry red Ferrari is another example Matt uses to illustrate a second inhibiting pressure – identity mismatch, or the constant struggle between fitting in and standing out.
‘We spend a lot of time and money on creating and broadcasting our identities, but the value of these identities are fluid based on context.’
Buying your dream Ferrari is a way of projecting your uniqueness – it’s a rare vehicle that suggests a particular set of values. Seeing the exact same car parked in your best friend’s drive way, though, may negate the feelings of uniqueness you would feel.
However, in other contexts, having the same car can heighten the uniqueness of being part of a group. Consider a muscle car appreciation group. Basically, it’s important to recognize the identity and status of your audience to encourage the most appropriate action.
To do this, Matt suggests using a process called drafting – identifying concerns, using someone’s natural driver to teach them how to use or perform in the way you’d like them to, and joining action with identity. For example, his technologically illiterate mother, who works as a nurse, only learnt how to use a computer when she shifted the idea of computers as ‘technology’ to ‘a portal for helping others’.
In summary, regardless of your brand or product, Matt suggests the key to understanding user behavior and provoking action isn’t to push forward aspects they may find useful, but instead to focus on identifying, removing and resolving inhibiting pressures.
Getting results from storytelling, with Simon Smith.
Fairfax Media’s Managing Director of Content Marketing, Simon Smith, suggests brands nowadays are working hard to not only build, but own their follower communities. How? Through creating impassioned fan communities with artfully curated content. This is the idea of brand storytelling.
Simon proposes 82% of the brands he deals with intend to ‘increase spend and production on owned content over the next year’, despite only 40% having a documented content strategy.
It’s time to think like a publisher – anchoring content marketing and content strategy in an end-to-end cycle. Simon’s approach includes strategy and content creation alongside governance and measurement.
Simon Smith’s approach to powerful storytelling.
It’s all about crafting authentic, quality content for your audience – content they (not you!) are interested in.
In other words, it’s about becoming fantastic storytellers, and creating content with a full power index – inspirational, planning and conversion power. To achieve that, Simon explains you need a balance between art and science. Or, editorial review and data.
Creating great content isn’t enough if you don’t know who you’ve created it for or how to distribute it: both of which are insights you can glean from data.
In order to get results from your content, you need a documented strategy for creation and amplification, you must know your audience to the letter, create content that is relevant and human (aka stand out from the crowd!) and, lastly, be what people are interested in, rather than interrupt what they are interested in.
SEO: It’s everyone’s job, with Alistair Lattimore.
The SEO game is always changing. According to Alistair Lattimore, Australia & New Zealand Director of SEO for Expedia, it has changed significantly. It’s harder now to rank in competitive industries. Google’s algorithm is more complicated and cowboy tactics will get you penalized.
So what’s the solution? Collaboration. Alistair shared some tips for getting the most out of your existing teams and networks for SEO activities. Here’s an outline:
- Multi-disciplinary teams will produce stronger results. Make sure your SEO specialist is involved early in web development projects and migrations.
- Use your brand’s interesting hook or selling point. Make sure you have landing pages or microsites for these unique points. Use link building tactics for these pages.
- PR and SEO teams should be working together. Many of these areas will overlap and working together will produce better results.
- Research your own social media followers, email lists and affiliate relationships for content opportunities.
In essence, Alistair’s takeaways are to make sure teams are collaborating and conscious of SEO. Explore all possible avenues to success and keep an open mind. Look for untapped opportunities. Regular team meetings will help keep things top of mind. Share the responsibility of SEO and tap into the potential of your wider team.
When everything is digital, what’s next? With Matt Morgan.
What would a digital summit be without a discussion about the not-to-distant future? To round off the event, Cummins & Partners’ Matt Morgan mused on how far we’ve come from the First Age of Advertising (broadcast advertising, or the Soap Opera era), ruminated on advertising’s Second Age (multi-media advertising – think Dove’s Real Beauty ad series and Nike’s tech-sport fusion) through to today, where consumers have greater access to brands due to the increased number of communication platforms.
Thanks to the growing number of channels and the increased availability of technology, Matt believes we’re in the midst of a new age – the Third Age of Advertising – personal advertising.
Apps and devices can now tell you when your eggs are rotten, fridges can order food online when you’re out of stock, self-learning bots are a reality – these increasingly complex moving parts are shaping advertising’s Third Age: disposable technology.
As technology continues to become more affordable and available, a move towards direct automated interactions will take place, increasing the expectation for more tailored reactions. So will the future need marketers? According to Matt, yes, but brands and marketers need to be equipped for this third wave. There are several things modern marketers must embrace:
- Everything is digital: the old idea of digital vs traditional is gone – everything is interconnected now.
- Technology is becoming disposable: embrace this idea, and find ways to give it away.
- Our inter-connected world will reduce our audience to one – the individual.
- Provide entertainment: in order to maintain brand preference, don’t forget the power of delighting your audience.
It all boils down to this:
‘In the words of Scar from the Lion King: be prepared.’
‘Be prepared’: that’s a relatively fitting note to end on. Whether it was the importance of the colour of the cow you create, the best way to eliminate inhibiting pressures, or the significance of collaborative SEO, there was something for every professional arsenal.
How did you find the 2016 Interactive Minds Digital Summit? Did the event equip you with anything you think will be especially important for the next frontier?
Let us know in the comments below or get in touch on Twitter. Or, come and say hello next time you’re in attendance at a conference. We’re often out and about and we’re always happy to say hi – even if there is a small gang of us, as on this occasion.