30 June 16 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from June.

At the time of writing this article, my wife is about two days away from giving birth to our first child. I’m going to be a dad!

So, while the first eight months of the pregnancy saw me somewhat blasé about the huge life change staring back at me, I’ve spent the last three weeks cramming my brain full of parenting and childbirth content… almost as though I’m revising for the most important and longest-lasting exam of my life.

That sounds a little dramatic, so let’s change the tone, shall we? Over the past three weeks, I’ve not just been reading about parenting – I’ve also been curating this month’s Super8! At August, we’ve been keeping our eyes peeled on what’s happening in the world of marketing, technology, design, science, and digital, to bring you eight awesome pieces of content that you might have missed. And there’s not a single parenting article in sight.

1. State of the Digital Nation 2016.
digital-nation

digital

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Jules Ehrhardt.  
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.  

Read this if: You have a spare two hours.

Jules provides an epic assessment of the current ‘State of the Digital Nation’. Slightly cynical in places, and cutting in others (and rightly so), Jules’ take on the current state of play is thought-provoking to say the least.

Oh, and that’s no joke about the two hours; you’ll actually need that long to get through this. To whet your appetite, here’s the chapter summary:

  • Chapter I – Industry Perspective: A look at the what, who, and why of consolidation, ‘Digital Product’ explained, what lies behind advertising’s existential crisis, and the brewing clash of the titans between Ad Holding Groups and management consultancies.
  • Chapter II – Agency Perspective: The red-hot agency market, the reality behind buying and selling, calling bullshit on the ‘end of consultancy’, the designer’s delusion, and the second coming of the independent studio.
  • Chapter III – New Perspective: Escaping the agency cycle, finding inspiration and perspectives in the startup studio model and in the venture-and-own product initiatives of progressive agencies.
  • Chapter IV – Future Perspective: The blueprint for the next evolutionary step for the studio model… the Digital Product Studio.

My favourite paragraph from the article:

‘Clients need to question how honest a partner is incentivised to be if their agency delivers on only one part of the process. If you’re married to only one part of the process, selling purely strategy, design, branding or media, you’re most likely going to make that as big and expensive as you can as that’s how you make money. In contrast, being responsible end-to-end for getting a product to market, promotes honesty and efficiency as you’re invested in the outcome and post-launch iteration.’

2. Project Soli: your hands are the only interface you’ll need.
project-soli

technology

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Ivan Poupyrev. 
  • Contributor: Matt Agar.

Read this if: You’re impressed by technology that seems far-fetched, but actually exists right now.

Just think of all the things you can do with your hands. You can operate controls, write a letter, turn a key, thread a needle… the human hand is the ultimate input device. Now imagine you could control a device without touching it, simply by making a gesture with your hands. Enter Project Soli from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP).

The geniuses at Google ATAP have worked out a way to use radar technology to track micro-movements of the human hand, enabling interaction with various digital devices such as wearables. The video does a much better job of explaining things than I can, so I’ll let it do the talking.

Personally, I can’t wait to see where this technology goes. Amazing stuff.

3. Context is king: a million examples of creative ad campaigns getting it right.
context-is-king

advertising

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Daniel Marks.
  • Contributor: J.D. Santiago.   

Read this if: You’re looking for ways to connect with your audience, when it really matters.

Content isn’t king, context is. Understanding a user’s intent, their situation, location, what device they are using, and even their behaviour, is important in creating successful advertising campaigns (and marketing campaigns in general).

Daniel gives some good examples of campaigns that have taken user context into account, from the famous Oreo ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, to Burger King’s tailored pre-roll ads, Geico’s ‘unskippable’ 5-second ads, and even some clever ideas on how to beat your competitors via Google search ads.

It’s time to get smart with your advertising. Start with understanding user context.

4. Marketing Deconstructed: the death of the traditional/digital divide.
mark-ritson-lecture

marketing

  • Watch the full video here.
  • Presented by: Mark Ritson. 
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.  

Watch this if: You don’t mind slightly colourful language.

If you know Mark Ritson, you’ll know he’s not one to mince his words. A true straight-talker, Mark makes a point that should be obvious to everyone (but isn’t) – there’s no such thing as digital marketing, there’s only marketing in an increasingly digital world.

At August, we’ve struggled with the label ‘digital marketing agency’ for a long time. It’s in the page title of our home page mainly because that’s how many prospective customers search. But in reality, it doesn’t accurately reflect who we are or what we do.

Mark’s presentation clearly articulates our issue with the label ‘digital marketing’, and should be an eye-opener for many people working in the industry. And while it seems at first he just hates digital and wants to steer people back to TV, that’s definitely not the point. Watch the video right to the end, and you’ll see his real point – stop talking about ‘digital vs traditional’, and just talk about real marketing. Set objectives, create a strategy, learn about your audience and work out what to do from there.

Can’t be bothered clicking through to YouTube? Watch it here:

5. Techies are trying to turn the NBA into the world’s biggest sports league.
nba-worlds-biggest-league

business

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Mark McClusky. 
  • Contributor: Elliott Grigg.

Read this if: You love the NBA. Or if you don’t. It really doesn’t matter; it’s awesome anyway.

The tech world is highly attracted to the NBA. Over the past few decades, major tech-industry players—such as Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer—have been gradually snapping up NBA teams. And they’re not just doing it because they can afford to do so.

This article is about how technology, and the people who have made billions of dollars from it, are changing the NBA, making it the most popular sporting league in the world.

‘…the NBA is a professional sports league that understands that its future is measured not only in gate receipts but also in shares and reposts.’

6. Steph Curry literally sees the world differently than you do.
steph-curry

neuro-science

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Drake Baer.
  • Contributor: Sarah El-Atm.  

Read this if: You love the NBA. Or if you don’t. It really doesn’t matter; it’s awesome anyway. Did I already say this?

When Sarah shared this article with the team, I knew it would be right up my alley. As explained in the article, Steph Curry has a superior ability to be able to look at multiple stimuli on a court, reading a defender’s positioning to put himself in an unbeatable position. Curry’s high shooting record isn’t just because of his unbelievable accuracy; it’s because he reads the game better than many other players. Like a master chess player, he’s always multiple steps ahead. He literally ‘sees’ the game differently.

But this article has more to it than just Curry’s exceptional cognitive ability. In fact, for me, it has more to it than just basketball, and even sport in general. While I’m possibly making a slightly tenuous connection—when you think about it—presence and awareness is something we can all work on. If you want to be the equivalent of Steph Curry in your company, it is essential to start paying attention to what’s going on around you and having an appropriate reaction to that stimuli. The quality of the work we do is often contingent on our ability to understand how everything fits together. As in the NBA, that’s often the difference between simply being a good player, and being a great player.

7. Airbnb’s secret tool for designing for every person on the planet.
airbnb-multi-language

tools

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: John Brownlee.  
  • Contributor: Athalia Foo.  

Read this if: You’re looking for an easy way to handle content and design for multi-language websites.

Airbnb is available in 20 languages. So while the platform itself seems relatively simple, there’s a huge amount of complexity involved in managing design and content for each separate language.

Airbnb were finding this issue a challenge, so they designed a tool to handle the problem. It’s called Airshots and, as mentioned in the article, it ‘…allows Airbnb’s designers and testers to see how the Airbnb app looks and functions in any language, on any smartphone, in any version—all in real time.’

While Airshots is still a work in progress, Airbnb intends on releasing the tool to the public. If you think Airbnb would be letting go of a competitive advantage, check out what Airbnb’s vice president of design, Alex Schleifer, has to say:

‘If you’re depending on a secret design weapon as a competitive advantage, that’s pretty shortsighted… Only good stuff comes from sharing design tools out. At Airbnb, we want to see design move forward at a faster pace, and that means sharing work we’re doing, and letting others invest in it.’

What a legend.

8. Money + loyalty: comparing the US presidential candidates’ UX strategies.
white-house

user experience

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by: Dan Trenkner. 
  • Contributor: Rowan Barnes.  

Read this if: You haven’t heard quite enough about the US presidential election already.

With the Australian federal election, Brexit, and the US Presidential election all in full swing, the last few months has seen us inundated with news reports and other content around politics. If you’re not already completely sick of it—which I’m sure some of you will be—I just wanted to share one piece of content that I personally found to be more ‘refreshing’ than ‘depressing’.

While it’s fair to say the US presidential candidates are vastly different, they want the same two things: to capture votes; and to encourage both donations and volunteer sign-ups.

Dan Trenkner investigates the UX strategies of each candidate, and whether their websites are helping or hindering in achieving those goals. Well worth a read.

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So there we have it, eight awesome pieces of content to get your synapses firing. And not a parenting article in sight. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below, or sit tight and look forward to next month’s instalment of Super8.