Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Technology and the Rebirth of Creativity in Advertising

May 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The headline in the LA Times on Dish Network providing its customers the option to skip commercials (something possible on Youtube most of the time), further emphasizes the speed at which technology is advancing is faster than the speed at which advertising agencies are able to react. Consumers are increasingly getting the tools to choose whether they believe an ad is worth their time. If every consumer was able to skip any advertisement which they deemed irrelevant, boring, or pointless, the measure of the success of a particular advertisement becomes very binary: watched or not watched, relevant or not relevant. Obviously, this type of measurement is most suitable for web, mobile, or internet-connected TV sets. However, measurement is increasingly possible in the offline world: how many people scanned a QR code on a print ad? How many consumers typed in a coupon code on a newspaper ad? How many users visited a Url on a billboard? How many Groupon customers came back a second time after their first discounted visit?

As technology becomes intertwined with consumer behavior, Lord Leverhulme’s well known saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted and the trouble is I don’t know which half.” will cease to be relevant. Every passing day increases our ability to measure advertising and decreases the uncertainty associated with it. This will be painful for some whose campaigns will be demolished by a lack of user response or engagement, but it will herald a golden age of creativity. It will challenge creative directors to not only create beautiful imagery, but to also understand the context, behavior, interests and reactions of consumers.

Technology is changing the nature and format of advertising. It will also change how advertising is judged and evaluated. The creatives who understand the impact of their work on the behavior and actions of the consumer stand to gain the most.


What will the Television watching experience be like in 5 years?

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I posted an answer on recently in response to the following question:

Q. What will the Television watching experience be like in 5 years?
I sit on my couch with my phone in my hand and remote in the other, but still watch tv in the same way I did 15 years ago. With smart TV’s and users on the couch having smart phones, I imagine there is a lot of disruption and changes that will take place in this market.

A. “The passive lean-back experience at the heart of television watching has resisted many attempts to change it. It will remain at the core of watching and will not be replaced by viewers selecting the next video file every five minutes in the next five years. Even as digital video rises in advanced markets, television viewing is rising alongside it. The most evident support for this is that web players like Youtube and Yahoo are changing themselves to organize content into “channels” (sounds familiar?).

These days five years is too far out in tech terms to predict! However, there are trends that are influencing the mainstream television watching.

1) TV will continue to extend to multiple platforms: Tablets, consoles, web and mobile. This will make TV a more personal and portable experience since it will increase individual viewing rather than family-unit viewing. In Western markets this is already the norm, but in developing markets this will be a stronger influence.

2) Rise of the second screen and social communities: Consumers continue to multi-task while watching TV, but increasingly they will be looking at additional info to support their TV viewing. This will build communities around content in a new way that extends beyond broadcaster borders. TV has always been social and the subject of conversation. However, technology now means that the scale and reach of the conversation changes (from a few friends/colleagues to global discussions) and the speed of the discussion accelerates (from next-day to immediate).

3) Time-shifted viewing will dominate and begin to influence the broadcaster scheduling model and advertising formats. DVRs/ Network playback/ catch-up viewing online will encourage advertisers to focus on integration of brands within content rather than relying only on spots (but those will still be there in five years time).

4) New younger talent: New talent (actors/ writers) will reach the TV screen through discovery on the web (e.g. Youtube etc). Barriers to entry into the TV business for individuals will be lower. Some programs will be “hits” at a TV scale before they reach the TV screen.

The barriers to massive change in television watching are not technological but commercial and social. The technologies to change our tv viewing experience are already available but the entrenched advertising and subscription business models in markets like the US will continue to be a large hurdle against revolutionary change. On the social level, viewers still want to have a predominantly passive viewing experience rather than on-demand viewing. This may change as younger generations grow up without the habit of watching broadcast channels but five years is too soon for it to become mainstream.

TV watching will drastically change when someone figures out the perfect recommendation engine to line up programs selected from sources all over the web and at the same time untangles the complicated rights and window-release systems currently in place to free-up content while still able to finance its creation. But that’s a separate discussion altogether!

In summary, the TV watching experience will be more social, more suited to the viewer’s time, more integrated with advertising, more personal, more portable and will feature more on-screen talent.”

My lawyer told me to lie, and so I did

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It is very common, when looking at twitter profiles, to find wording similar to “[job title] at [company]. Views are my own and do not represent those of [company]”

Really? In the age of the Internet you still think you can simply get away with such legal dross?

Your [company] hired you. It gives you the authority and resources to influence its future direction. Your statements on Twitter are a reflection of your world view, your ethics, and your personality. If the actions of your [company] are determined by your decisions, then who you are and what you say/do IS part of your company’s view. Just because your legal department is worried about the negative implications of employees tweeting their heart out to all who would listen doesn’t mean you can disassociate your beliefs and behavior from your company with a quick statement of deniability. This is particularly true for journalists and media professionals who have platforms that allow them to influence public discourse.

The transparency of social media is a double edged sword. If you can’t take the challenge of tweeting in a manner that reflects the ethics and responsibilities of your job, then it is best you don’t tweet at all.

The Older Generation is Doing it Too

May 2, 2011 4 comments

Blinking 00:00s on VCRs used to be the embodiment of the gap in the technological prowess between parents and children. Children today might ask about the meaning of “VCR” and, in some countries, question the need to record anything. Whether it is YouTube videos of a two-year old mastering an iPad or the surveys citing a typical child’s 500 friends on Facebook, the digital world is now firmly part of a child’s view of life. In a stark example of this trend, a friend recounted how his three-year old stood next to a picture frame and tried to swipe sideways across its glass front to see other pictures. When nothing happened, he gave his mother a quizzical look as if to ask whether anything was wrong with the “device”. The child’s view of how an object like a picture frame should function is now influenced by what he learnt from using technology. Research always highlights the “digital natives” generation but seeing them in action makes the case for a vastly different technological future very clear.

However, the nature of the generational technology divide today is not as black and white as it once was. Recently, my father received a fax of a printout of an internet article. When he mentioned that the text was grainy and not very legible, I googled the article on his iPad, at which point the long-winded route of receiving the article became clear to him. But let’s look at this example from a different perspective: the article was faxed by a friend of his from the same generation, yet it was from an internet website, and one that did not belong to a newspaper. My father owns a fax machine because technology moves at varying speeds in different markets. A fax machine is still important for his business as several of his clients and suppliers in the region still use them to communicate. However, most of his business’ communication is now by email. Whereas the normal generational technology divide would have previously had my father stuck in the world of fax machines and unable to comprehend the tools of digital communication, he owns several emails, laptops, smart phones, iPods, and an iPad. He bought my mother an iPad because he wanted her to stop borrowing his. He had previously bought her a laptop because she played Farmville so often that he couldn’t use his laptop anymore.

Is is interesting to note what he now perceives as complicated. You won’t see him syncing on iTunes or using his laptop much anymore. With the advent of the iPad, even a Macbook now seems cumbersome and complicated to him. Similarly, data bundle pricing from telcos may as well be in Mandarin. He doesn’t want to know the difference between GPRS, EDGE and 3G. He doesn’t want to have to decide whether 1 Gb is enough for him in a month. He just wants his emails on his mobile phone. Although devices are becoming simpler (thanks Apple), the services around them are not moving towards simplicity at the same rate and this needs to change. The good news is that the shift of software and services to a cloud-based model should enforce a simpler and easier interface.

There is broad consensus that the younger generations will use technology in a much more intense and persistent way than their parents. However, the ubiquity and accessibility of technology today is also affecting how all generations embrace technology in their lives. In MENA where broadband penetration is generally low but rising rapidly, the mass appeal of technology can only help create a larger audience for digital services and products.

UAE’s Blackberry Ban – The World is Ending, or Is it?

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Today “UAE” appeared on twitter’s global trends list. Normally, this would be a good thing; a sign that the region is featuring in the global consciousness. However, in this case it was for a negative reason: the ban on Blackberries announced by the TRA.

Countless people have weighed in on the decision itself, so there is no need to do so again. However, there are some lessons to learn and conclusions to be drawn.

The first is that news can now travel faster than any PR effort can, and with less context the further from the source. Twitter’s 140 characters are the extreme of this: a complex argument reduced to a few words retweeted endlessly out of context with no explanation for the helpless souls who read them halfway around the world.

The second is that people have forgotten (or perhaps they are so young they never remembered in the first place) that the stone age man was not equipped with a blackberry. To read the reactions, which are usually preceeded by expressions of horror (OMGs were in great abundance), you would think the world will end on October 11th. Yes, technology is a great enabler and tools like the Blackberry make our life easier in many ways. But we can live without them if we have to, and we can substitute them with other technologies. We underestimate our ability to adapt and change at times and have become too attached to our comfort zones. A shake and jolt every now and then can only do some good.

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