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Thought Starters: mobile internet, adblockers, sexism in the workplace and the developing world

Thought Starters provides me with a chance to look through the articles, research and opinion pieces I’ve read over the last week or so, highlighting the more interesting trends, developments and changes in the world we live in. This time we’re looking at the growth of mobile, the role of adblockers, the impacts and origins of sexism in the workplace and the internet in the developing world among other things. Happy reading.

The growth of mobile has seen the emergence of a whole new range of digital channels, but Visual Capitalist’s research points to the largest platforms all being controlled by Microsoft, Google or Facebook. That being said, there are range of platforms (WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Netflix, Spotify) that fall short of a billion users but dominate within their respective sectors or geographies and could present a challenge to the market incumbents:

Apps or programmes with more than one billion active users

The IAB (US) recently released research which profiles how American consumers are using their PCs and smartphones. What is apparent is the continuing move to mobile  although the same research points to computers still registering a higher volume of internet views pointing to the different ways these devices are used:

Nearly Two-Thirds of All Internet Time is Spent on a Mobile Device

Google and Facebook have responded well to consumers’ growing use of smartphones, taking more than half of the available mobile ad revenues and leaving the remaining players fighting over the scraps in the US. eMarketer’s forecast suggests this isn’t going to change any time soon:

Net US mobile ad revenue share by company forecast

A continuing note of concern for media operators is the growth of adblocking with 22% of Britons using the software with this rising to 47% among 18-24 year olds according to Internet Advertising Bureau (UK) commissioned research.

Dean Dubley’s analysis suggests the introduction of mobile adblocking services won’t decimate the online media sector but is likely to further strengthen the hand of Google and Facebook:

The bottom line is that screaming headlines in stories like those from ZeroHedge (link) about “the risk to Internet companies’ business models” are nonsense. Ironically, it’s Google and Facebook’s approach to advertising that is safe. Small online publications using other advertising channels may not be so lucky. I noticed this tweet referencing mobile advertising growth forecasts from Goldman Sachs (link) which seems to suggest that Wall St is sanguine about the adblocking “threat” and that rapid growth in revenues will continue.

Among the likely responses by media operators to growing adblocker usage is a growing reliance on native advertising which is reflected in Enders Analysis’ recent forecast for Yahoo:

Forecast for the growth of native advertising in Europe

Whilst a few apps such as Facebook are nearly universal in their appeal, others give a clearer indicator as to who the user might be. Researchers have looked to profile the correlation between the ownership of different mobile apps and various demographic characteristics and income to develop profiles of mobile users. You can check out who they think you are in quiz – they got my gender and age wrong (I’m definitely male and over the age of 32) although I’m guessing not being a US resident probably didn’t help the profiling process.

Slack has been touted as the solution to the problem of information overload in the workplace with over 2 million daily active users. Samuel Hulick provides a more sceptical view warning that this “asynchronish” is in many cases compounding rather than addressing the problem:

Maybe you will say I’m afraid of commitment, but I’m just not interested in a relationship that seems to want to swallow up more and more of my time and attention, and demand that more and more of my interactions with other people go through you first.

Jeff Goodell has written an extended feature article on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Worth a read if you’re keen to get up to speed with what’s happening in the sector:

Despite advances like smarter algorithms and more capable robots, the future of superintelligent machines is still more sci-fi than science. Right now, says Yann LeCun, the director of Facebook AI Research, “AIs are nowhere near as smart as a rat.” Yes, with years of programming and millions of dollars, IBM built Watson, the machine that beat the smartest humans at Jeopardy! in 2011 and is now the basis for the company’s “cognitive computing” initiative. It can read 800 million pages a second and can digest the entire corpus of Wikipedia, not to mention decades of law and medical journals. Yet it cannot teach you how to ride a bike because its intelligence is narrow – it knows nothing about how the world actually works

Developments in software technology including artificial intelligence are rapidly expanding the scope of what computers can do. Nathaniel Popper profiles Kensho’s role in automating some of Goldman Sach’s research roles, highlighting how automation is increasingly emerging as a threat to white collar jobs:

The lead author on the Oxford paper, Carl Benedikt Frey, told me that he was aware that new technologies created jobs even as they destroyed them. But, Frey was quick to add, just because the total number of jobs stays the same doesn’t mean there are no disruptions along the way. The automation of textile work may not have driven up the national unemployment rate, but vast swathes of the American South suffered all the same. When it comes to those A.T.M.s, there has, in fact, been a recent steady decline in both the number of bank branches and the number of bank tellers, even as the number of low-paid workers in remote call centers has grown.

This points to a disconcerting possibility: Perhaps this time the machines really are reducing overall employment levels. In a recent survey of futurists and technologists, the Pew Research Institute found that about half foresee a future in which jobs continue to disappear at a faster rate than they are created.

Virtual reality is another technology that’s spilling out of the lab. Whilst it’s great to see the technology in the real world, Daniel Harvey profiles how a lack of diversity is leading to accidental sexism reflecting wider problems in the tech sector:

Based on that pattern it should come as no surprise that VR suffers from much the same. Motion sickness in VR has plagued the format since its inception. Women have shown a greater tendency toward VR-induced nausea than men. But why? It’s all about unconscious bias and technology’s notorious self-selection bias.

Discrimination is certainly not something exclusive to the tech sector. The absence of women in the boardrooms of many FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 companies reflects a range of barriers and will hold back their performance given they’re less able to reflect the needs of half the world’s consumers. It’s worth heading over to The Economist site where you can play with an interactive version of the following:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/03/daily-chart-0?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/thebestandworstplacestobeaworkingwoman&%3Ffsrc%3Dscn/=tw/dc

Facebook recently released its State of Connectivity report which profiles barriers to internet access for the developing world as part of its internet.org initiative. The key barriers to access highlighted in the report are the state of connectivity, availability of infrastructure, affordability, relevance and readiness of the population:

Barriers to internet access for developing world consumers

A valuable complement to Facebook’s report is Pew Research Center’s recently released research which looks at smartphone ownership and internet usage around the world including developing countries:

Percent of adults who use the internet at least occasionally or report owning a smartphone

With Britain’s Brexit referendum coming up on the 23rd of June, The Economist has profiled the regions that are europhile and eurosceptic:

UK regions' attitudes to Brexit

Whilst Europe is generally becoming more urbanised, this process (like technology) is unevenly distributed with different cities experiencing significant growth (Istanbul, Brussels, Amsterdam) or decline (Katowice, Ruhr, Katowice, Ostrava, Bucharest):

Europe cities growth and decline

Claire Cain Miller and Quoctrung Bui profile changes in patterns of relationships and marriage in the US, highlighting the role of assortative mating in reinforcing social class and undermining social mobility:

Assortative mating is the idea that people marry people like themselves, with similar education and earnings potential and the values and lifestyle that come with them. It was common in the early 20th century, dipped in the middle of the century and has sharply risen in recent years — a pattern that roughly mirrors income inequality in the United States, according to research by Robert Mare, a sociologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. People are now more likely to marry people with similar educational attainment — even after controlling for differences between men and women, like the fact that women were once less likely to attend college.

The featured image is a mural by ecb / Hendrik Beikirch for the St+Art India event in New Delhi and published in StreetArtNews

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What I’m reading…favourite blogs and websites

You’ll find a list of some of my favourite blogs and websites below. There’s plenty more I could add but the quality of content for these is generally consistent and I’d argue worth adding to your RSS feed.

TECHNOLOGY

AsymcoHorace Dediu’s blog which focuses on mobile and Apple. Great for taking the wind out of the sails of Apple’s enemies.

Recent favourite: Desktop Computer takes an irreverent looks at the evolution of Apple’s computer offering.

Benedict Evans: blog of Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans focusing on technology on technology and mobile. Great for a window into where technology is heading.

Recent favourite: Mobile, ecosystems and the death of PCs looks at the growth of the mobile ecosystem and the key differences from the PC ecosystem that preceded it.

Continuations: blog for Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger providing a look into trends in technology and the startup sector and venturing out to broader societal trends.

Daring Fireball: blog focusing on consumer electronics, focusing on the world of Apple as John Gruber sorts the wheat from the chaff.

Recent favourite: Bloomberg: Apple gets more bang for its R&D buck

Digits to Dollars: blog for the D2D Advisory providing analysis and commentary on the technology, communications and the startup space.

Recent favourite: The Consumerization of the Automobile Supply Chain looks at automobile industry’s move to an increasingly software driven model which is undermining the position of the market incumbents.

Learning by Shipping: blog of former president of the Windows Division of Microsoft and now Andreessen Horowitz partner Steven Sinofsky focusing on development and management within the tech space.

Recent favourite: Frictionless Design Choices looks at the importance of reducing the energy required by an experience when designing a product (not to be confused with reducing the surface area of an experience).

Stratechery: freemium blog produced by Ben Thompson focusing on the intersection of technology and media. Whilst the website has a subscription offering, Ben provides a weekly posting which I would suggest is a must read.

Recent favourite: Beyond Disruption takes critical look at Clayton Christensen’s theory of market disruption -it’s not all about disruptive or sustaining innovation.

MARKETING

Inside Intercom: Intercom is marketing automation and customer service platform which publishes a valuable collection of content focusing on how to improve customer experiences.

Recent favourite: Our New Book: Intercom on Customer Support profiles the release of their latest best practice guide – informative and readable.

Occam’s Razor: blog for Google Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik. Whilst the blog is no thing of beauty, Avinash’s data driven approach to marketing provides a refreshing scientific view on how to engage and sell.

Recent favourite: How To Suck At Social Media: An Indispensable Guide For Businesses looks critically at the role of social media in B2B and B2C marketing.

WeAreSocial: blog of the high profile social media agency of the same name. The blog provides a valuable weekly roundup of interesting product launches and case studies and the regional roundups of digital and social statistics.

Recent favourite: Digital in Southeast Asia in 2015 provides statistics on internet, social media and mobile usage in in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and East Timor.

JOURNALISM AND SOCIETY

Longform: blog providing a heads up on interesting longform journalism as well as profiling their podcast which I would also firmly recommend checking out.

Longreads: operating like the Longform blog, providing recommendations for stories worth adding to your Pocket account.

Marginal Revolution: blog of the American academic economist Tyler Cowen. A great source of information for new research, shedding light on different corners of the society we live in.

Recent Favourite: Shipping storage cost sentences to ponder pointed out how ridiculously low shipping costs are at present.

Remains of the Day: Eugene Wei’s blog where he highlights interesting content he’s found online with an emphasis on technology, the internet,  filmmaking, photography, and pop culture.

Recent favourite: Crime and Punishment looks at the mismatch between crime and punishment in the US.

CREATIVE

The Inspiration: blog pulling together a collection of visually led creative which includes but is not limited to content from the marketing and advertising sector.

CR Blog: blog providing a showcase for some of the great content in the Creative Review magazine.

Recent favourite: Cassetteboy on making mash-ups, helping David Cameron get piggy with it, and the joy of Sony Vegas

StreetArtNews: regular publisher of street art from around the world.

MUSIC

FACT: website that’s closest to my own musical orientation with its concentration on  bleeps, beats and breaks. I’ve got a particular soft spot for their Friday rundown of the best free mixes available online.

Pitchfork: whilst Pitchfork’s indie heartland isn’t quite my thing, the site’s coverage of other genres is more than enough to keep me coming back for more.

Resident Advisor: my days of clubbing seem to be something of a distant memory now, but I still like to keep an eye on the sounds that used to make me move.

CYCLING

As Easy As Riding A Bike: tireless blog by Mark Treasure campaigning for a safer cycling  with focusing on issues affecting London.

Recent favourite: Cycling Needs a Backlash points out that the increasingly public backlash against cycling points to

Inner Ring: professional cycling has become my guilty pleasure following critics pontificating on the season’s races, cyclists, teams and industry machinations. Inner Ring has it covered.

Recent favourite(s): Highlights of the Season – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 covering the most entertaining moments in this year’s cycling season.

CyclingTips: another site providing coverage of professional cycling as well as the competitive end of recreational cycling with a recently launched companion site covering women’s cycling. The site’s Daily News Digests gives a great rundown of the day’s major news but it’s the site’s use of photography that really makes it for me.

Recent favourite: Roadtripping Iceland provides an introduction to cycle touring the backroads of Iceland.

While Out Riding: Cass Gilbert’s online journal as he takes the road less travelled by fat bike.  Photography is enough to make you want to jump on the next plane to Bolivia/Patagonia/Columbia.

Recent favourite: Mongolia… coming soon

Bikepacking.com: website dedicated to the growing field of bikepacking. It’s the site’s route guides which are particularly enticing providing you with the why and how for planning your next expedition.

Recent favourite: Bikerafting Alaska’s Lost Coast, Yakutat-Glacier Bay.

Let me know if you think there’s other blogs and websites you think I should be adding to the list.

The featured image is an Alexey Luka mural in Košice, Slovakia

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Messages That Resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing and digital communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

BMW has joined the wide array of brands looking to use Vine as a branding medium with a series of short videos to promote its  new i3:

Monster Energy isn’t one known for using subtlety in its brand communications and their latest video is no exception:

The launch of the new iPhone has prompted a lot of talk on what is the appropriate size for a smartphone. KPN in the Netherlands has looked to take advantage of this buzz with an experiential campaign offering to enlarge the size of customers pockets:

Whilst we’re on the subject of Apple’s iPhone 6 launch, KitKat showed a smart piece of real-time marketing to suggestions that the new handset was prone to bending:

Etienne de Crécy has looked to promote his Hashtag My Ass album with a music video which integrates users Instagram and provides users with the ability to share their personalised video:

There’s been a lot of talk about multiscreening over the last couple of years and we’re beginning to see interesting possibilities emerge although I would argue, we’ve still got a long way to go. Kenzo have released a microsite which asks users to synchronise their computers and smartphones as a means of navigating around their fall collection:

Kenzo

Orange have attempted to give consumers a window into their future with a campaign which imagines what you will look like in 20 years time. Interesting to see how you might look although the microsite is let down by poor voice recognition:

User generated campaigns are seemingly everywhere, but it’s not often you see a site as well executed as McDonalds‘ which looks to celebrate 40 years in the UK. Great use of typography, user input by voice or text and a webGL based site that provides users with the ability to readily filter content by time period or theme.

Celebrating 40 years together The Topography of Terror Foundation and the Warsaw Rising Museum have commissioned a wonderful website commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising:

Warsaw Rising

Creative Review profiles the work of TrenchOne, Elph and Purshone as they use giant projection covers a house, a barn and group of log cabins in the lead up to the Scottish Referendum. Dazzling stuff…

Leyden Farm

Whilst vinyl has made something of a resurgence in sales lately, music is now increasingly a digital medium, so why isn’t cover art animated GIFs? The Inspiration pulls together a collection of covers from jbetcom’s Music:

Random Access Memories

Stef Lewandowski has pulled together an interesting illustration of the Internet of Things by visualising the digital signals around you. You can see a demonstration of the process below although go to his website to see this demonstrated in your own environment.

The featured image is a piece by Nelio in Besançon

 

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Messages That Resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing and digital communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

Guinness has launched a new brand campaign using Kanye West’s Black Skinhead, looking to cement the brand’s strong presence in Africa. It’s an interesting celebration of black culture for a brand that is closely associated with Ireland in the rest of the world.

Gap’s latest campaign is imploring consumers to ‘Dress Normal’ as the brand looks to align itself with  normcore whereby people look to blend in rather than stand out.

Newcastle Brown Ale is asking consumers to send in their ‘mediocre’ photos in an interesting spin on user generated content that continues with the brand’s cheeky tone of voice.

A mixture of strong gameplay and fond childhood memories of petanque has made Swag 2014 curiously addictive.  You don’t need an elaborate virtual environments to create compelling gaming experiences.

Swag2014

Greggs faced a public relations crisis when a derogatory image turned up on Google’s search results for the brand. Digiday profiles how some nimble footwork from the brand turned around a negative situation and ultimately shone the brand in a positive light.

Greggs Crisis

Instagram launched Hyperlapse over the course of the last week providing consumers with the opportunity to create tracking shots and fast time lapse videos for iPhone . Adweek profiles how brands including Bud Light, Burton, Mercedes-Benz and Mountain Dew have responded quickly to this new opportunity.

Twitter is enabling increasingly rich interactions for consumers and brands via the social media platform with Acura’s car configurator probably the most advanced yet. An interesting case of a brand transporting itself to where consumers although would love to see what the engagement levels are for the campaign.

Acura Tweet

The eyes dominate how consumers experience digital environments, so it’s interesting to see brands using other senses to engage with consumers.

GE has commissioned electronic musician Matthew Dear to create music using sounds from GE’s research centres from around the world which is downloadable from Soundcloud.

IBM on the other hand  has commissioned musician James Murphy to convert data from tennis matches at the US Open into ‘music’, creating somewhat more random output.

Muji is looking to help consumers relax in a seemingly ever accelerating world with a mobile app (Android and iOS) incorporating audio recordings of nature. A simple idea that ties in nicely with Muji’s  uncluttered brand aesthetic.

Amplifon is looking to enrich Google’s Street View offering with a sound framework to enable sounds in 3D to be embedded into Google’s mapping offering. 

Zach Hamed provides a valuable comparison between Citymapper and Google Maps, pointing out how the former provides a better experience in many use cases with a series of short videos and animated GIFs. Another valuable lesson in the importance of understanding the consumer and aligning your user experience around the relevant insights.

The Cronulla Riots in Sydney marked a sad day for Australia with racially motivated riots over a series of nights. Almost 10 years later Australian television channel SBS reflects back on the events with an interactive documentary. Powerful and rather disheartening viewing.

Cronulla Riots

There has been a lot of talk about how digital tools are enabling the sharing economy but Pumpipumpe has taken a distinctly analog approach.  People are encouraged to put stickers on their mailbox letting neighbours know what household goods they’re willing to lend their neighbours. A simple solution to a simple problem.

Pumpipumpe Stickers

The featured image at the top of the page is a piece by Pejac in Paris and found on StreetArtNews.

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Thought Starters

New Geography has produced a ranking of the most influential cities. For the moment, the ranking is dominated by the old world with London, New York and Paris on top but Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai and Beijing all make the top 10.

Silicon Valley retains its position as the epicentre of the technology world but growing costs mean that the region see it taking on a role of growing startups rather than initiating them according to Armando Biondi:

Or getting teams from 10 to 1,000 people, that’s hard. And that’s what Silicon Valley does best and is most excited about. And, coincidentally, that’s also where most of the company value is generated. The consequence? Silicon Valley is no longer the best place to start a company (unless you’ve already been living there for a while now, of course) because everywhere else is. And “everywhere else” is the rest of the world — with cheaper talent, lower cost of living, and good access to initial capital as well — but also the rest of the U.S. outside of the tech hubs.

Technology has long history of disrupting employment and current developments in software look like more than continuing this trend going on the following video:

Researchers at Oxford Martin School at Oxford University have looked at the effect of computerisation in more detail with 47% of current jobs potentially at risk over the next 10-20 years. For those with a shorter attention span, you can find an abbreviated version at Gizmag:

Susceptible to ComputerisationNielsen’s reporting on American’s media consumption habits point to smartphone and online video usage growing rapidly with a decline in traditional television viewing:

Growth Mobile Phone Usage

Research from GlobalWebIndex provides a more international view, with  European consumers spending more time with traditional media than their Asian equivalents:

Online vs Traditional MediaProviding further fuel to the argument that not all global consumers are the same is the following graph from Benedict Evans pointing to the variation in market share for mobile operating systems:

Smartphone OS

Steven Sinofsky looks at the key characteristics of the mobile operating system which differentiate it from  to the PC model. A valuable lesson in some of the factors that are reshaping the technology landscape.

Farhad Manjoo looks at the limitations of the smartphones and their shortcomings in providing a more personalised and contextually based experience to consumers:

Like a bumbling concierge, your phone often tries to assist you without pausing to consider any of the basic information it collects about your life. For instance, your phone has access to your calendar, and it also knows your physical location. So why isn’t it smarter about sending you the right notification at the right time — for instance, not during a first date? Why can’t it prioritize alerts from your wife and your boss over notifications for tweets from your high school pals?

David Holmes contrasts coverage of the Ferguson riots on Twitter and Facebook, with the algorithmic based approach of the latter providing less opportunity for hard news to get through for those who are interested:

Twitter, on the other hand, with the exception of the occasional promoted tweet, presents a raw feed of the people you follow, nothing more, nothing less. Users can carefully select the people they follow, so if you’re the type of politically-minded news junkie who wants to know the latest in the Michael Brown killing or any other major news story, you can curate the accounts you follow accordingly. That’s why no matter how hard Facebook tries to be akin to your daily newspaper, it’s still got nothing on Twitter when it comes to news.

Holmes goes on to suggest that this situation may change over time as Twitter looks to adopt a  more filtered approach to the feed it presents to consumers.

There’s been a lot of talk about email becoming marginalised in the home and work environment with the growth of mobile messaging and collaboration platforms such as Slack. Alexis C Madrigal presents a convincing counterargument pointing to the unbundling of email as increasing its relevance to modern consumers:

The metaphor of electronic mail never fully fit how people use e-mail. But, now, perhaps it might. Email could become a home for the kinds of communications that come in the mail: letters from actual people, bills, personalized advertisements, and periodicals. 

An interesting lens in which to view American society through is mentions of bacon and kale in social media which apparently correlates with state’s political leanings. A high indexing for kale correlates with a liberal, whilst high indexing on bacon correlates with a conservative bias.

Kale-Vs-BaconIf you have more than a passing interest in Russian society, the Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia exhibition on at the Photographer’s Gallery in London is well worth a look. Interesting window into Russia at the turn of the century as well as Soviet ruling elite’s move to control how Russian society was portrayed.

Varvara Stepanova Red Army Men

The featured image is a Cinzah Merkens piece for the  Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans – Mexico Expedition in Isla Mujeres, Mexico and covered in ArrestedMotion.

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Messages that resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

Bose’s Scene Unseen series of short documentaries shines a light on musical scenes in unexpected corners. A great use of branded content to tell engaging stories to relevant audiences.

Chrome Experiment’s has launched a couple of eye catching experiments. The first follows the ISEE-3 space exploration satellite. You don’t need to be a fan of space travel to appreciate the site’s visuals using WebGL.

The second Chome Experiment piece provides a visual companion to music from John Cale in collaboration with architect Liam Young and Field.io in an interactive music video. The YouTube link below should give you a taste of what to expect but you’re best to experience the site directly.

Google’s Cultural Institute has created a website bringing together street art from around the world. As you’d expect from Google, content is accessible by location and artist drawing on a mixture of photos and videos from collections from around the world.

Street Art Project

Heineken has created a new tool using Twitter that aims to provide consumers with recommendations for restaurants, cafés and bars based on their location drawing on social media activity including tweets, check-ins and photos across Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. Consumers simply tweet @wherenext and their location to Twitter and it will get back to you with a response. More information over at The Drum.

WhereNext

Orangina have launched a new responsive website providing users with a friendly and uncluttered user experience.  Simple but effective.Orangina

Anad Sharma provides his own take on the quantified self tracking his own activities through data visualisations and well designed website.

April Zero

More interesting data visualisations, this time looking at life in the day of a New York taxi cab. A case of statistics and data brought to life.

NYC Taxis

The Universal Typeface Experiment looks to compare people’s handwriting from around the world. Using user submitted handwriting, the site provides viewers with the ability to filter by gender, age, country handednesss and industry. A nice way of celebrating handwriting from Bic as we spend more and more time at a keyboard.

Bic

Water resistant paint makes good use of one of Seattle’s more well known traits to promote the Bumbershoot arts and music festival.

The featured image is a piece by Mikołaj Rejs in Lublin, Poland and found on ekosystem.

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Messages that Resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

Red Bull is a leader in the world of branded content and it continues this approach with the latest Danny MacAskill short film and accompanying microsite set in the desolate Argentinean village of Villa Epecuén…with the obligatory shots of Danny swigging on a can of Red Bull.

A microsite was created to help raise funds for the 2014 ANZAC Appeal, whose centrepiece was the recording of a minute of silence. Australians were able to show their support for returned servicemen and women by paying for a download of the minute silence through a text or phone call. More information on the initiative over at Campaign Brief.

Minute of Silence

Sony takes a visit to the world’s largest model railroad, uses video and microsite to publicise its QX100 camera range. This all makes for an enchanting visit to another world whilst also amply demonstrating the product’s capabilities.

In another case of a brand wanting to demonstrate a camera’s potential, Nokia partnered with Paul Trillo to develop the Lumia Arc of Wonder which led to the intriguing video below. You’ll get some sense of how much effort went into producing it in the Behind the Scenes video.

visitBerlin commissioned an installation along the Berlin Wall which projects images only when visitors take photos with a camera flash. A great way of enhancing a visitor experience and brings to mind Museum of London’s Streetmuseum app, although my opinion would rapidly change if it was a more commercial message (eg Big Mac around the corner at Alexanderplatz branch of McDonalds).

The Japanese salarymen (and women) are known to occasionally overindulge on a nights out which has the unintended impact of leaving people sleeping on the streets. In a case of ‘name and shame’, a campaign has turned sleeping drunks into PSA announcements — framed within a square of white tape and adorned with the hashtag #NOMISUGI. Not a situation you’d want to see yourself publicised in on a friend’s Instagram feed.

UNICEF New Zealand looked to illustrate the plight of children in need by targeting photographers of food porn on Instagram. A great way of leveraging people’s curiousity about strangers following them on social media.

Audi used RFID tags to deliver personalised messages to drivers with digital outdoor media assets. Another indication that we’re getting closer to the Minority Report vision of personalised advertising.

Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Nintendo to offer consumers a DLC (downloadable content) pack for Mario Kart 8 that will enable gamers to hop behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz. A case of looking outside the usual media channels to increase consumer exposure.

Another interesting partnership to emerge recently can be seen with Jaguar and Pinarello working closely together. Both are sponsors of the Team Sky cycling team and Pinarello is now taking advantage  of Jaguar’s expertise in computational fluid dynamics to finetune its latest offering. A win-win scenario, with one party comes out with an improved product and the other party having a public display of its expertise which is getting them both a lot of coverage in the cycling press showing that sponsorship can go much deeper than simply financial support.

Thanks to FWA, AdWeek, The Inspiration Room and Campaign Brief for the heads up on these campaigns.

The featured image is a piece by Aryz in Lagos Portugal for the ARTURb ’14 Street Art Festival and found on StreetArtNews.

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Messages that resonate

This is part of an irregular series of blog posts looking at marketing communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

Dick’s Sporting Goods has launched a look book to promote their running offering,  bringing together interactive video with ecommerce in a visually appealing microsite.

Dick's Sporting Goods

Schipol Airport is using an Instagram game to encourage users to fly more from the Dutch airport. The game asks users to identify destinations using user generated photos filtered by location and hashtag from the Instagram API. Users can ask for hints which include local time, flight duration if departing from Schiphol and a list of airlines that fly there. More information over at DigiDay.

Schipol Airport Instagram

Mercedes-Benz has launched a campaign in the Netherlands aimed at connecting its brand with hard working van drivers. The microsite uses a computer’s webcam to detects blisters, calluses and bruised thumbs in consumers’ hands which are then used to access the discount given to potential customers. A good use of a computer’s ‘eyes’ in a new way.

Mercedes BenzTeleport is a new startup which has recently launched that aims to help individuals relocate to where they can get the best quality of life. Whilst the exact details of the company’s offerings remain to be seen, the company’s website provides enough information and interactivity to leave users intrigued.

Teleport Effective example of branded content is the U.S. Air Force talking about how they would deal with Godzilla, capitalising on the publicity for Warner Brother’s latest blockbuster.  See the video over at BuzzFeed.

Coca-Cola attempts to bolster its green credentials in China with 2ndLives.  This sees the company providing a line of 16 caps which can be screwed onto bottles after consumption, transforming them into fun and useful objects, such as a paintbrush, water squirter and pencil sharpener among others.

Another case of rethinking product packaging is Chipotle giving consumers something to read when chowing down on their burritos. Commissioned authors include Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell and Sarah Silverman among others with materials also available through the Cultivating Thought microsite.

Sometimes the simple ideas are still the most effective. Here Milan based art director Marco Sodano reinterprets Michelangelo’s Mona Lisa. You can find more examples of great artworks reinterpreted in a Lego style over at The Inspiration Room.

lego-mona-lisaLet me know in the comments field if there’s any creative work that has caught your eye lately.

The featured image is a piece by Polish due Etam Cru in Italy for the Memoire Urbane festival and found on StreetArtNews.

 

 

 

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Messages that Resonate

This is the first of an irregular series of posts looking at communications which have caught my attention. This will complement Thought Starters which will look more at trends, strategies and ideas.

A recent trip to a local hospital made me acutely aware of the dehumanising experience that these institutions provide, despite the best efforts of the staff. Dignity Health is looking to reposition itself as a more humane experience with KindVines.  Consumers are being encouraged to submit Vines  that show moments of human kindness in their community.

Kind Vines

Another brand doing interesting things with Vine is Lowe’s with its Fix in Six campaign which provides six second DIY tips. It shows you less can be more sometimes.

NOMOS Glashütte’s video Look over the watchmakers’ shoulders provides a great example of how beautifully long form video can be used to increase the perceived value of a brand.

American furnishings retailer CB2 is looking to use Pinterest plus a dose of consumer feedback to decide how to decorate a New York apartment.

The election of Tony Abbott as Australian Prime Minister has reinforced some of my more negative associations of the land down under. So I was intrigued to see NAB recruit locals to offer live commentary of that most quintessential of Australian events the Aussie rules final. A great way of reflecting the diversity of Australia where 27% of the population are born overseas.

UNICEF has a campaign to promote access to  clean water by asking consumers to download an app and not touch their smartphones. For every 10 minutes you don’t touch your phone, sponsors will donate one day of clean water to UNICEF.

Amazon’s move to enable ecommerce functionality within consumer’s Twitter stream may not be groundbreaking for Chinese consumers but it does provide an example of expanding what brands can do in social media.

Optic Square in Thailand provide a great example of using the characteristics of an out of home environment to add impact to a creative execution.

Providing something of an antidote to the world of marketing is Honest Slogans which looks to give a more consumer centric view of the brands many of us live with.

Perrier

Feel free to chip in with campaigns that have caught your attention lately.

The featured image is a mural by French artist Mist and was photographed by Big Addict for StreetArtNews.

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Multiscreen Experiences: getting devices to work together

We’re spending more time with a growing array of increasingly capable digital devices as the figures from Ofcom demonstrate below:

Household take-up of digital communications/ AV devices, 2003-2013

We have seen web services (eg Office 365, Google Docs, Slingbox) become increasingly device agnostic, allowing users to readily switch from phone to tablet to PC with experiences optimising for each device.

With the emergence of the Internet of Things, we are also beginning to see smartphones and tablets  increasingly become the hub for a broad range of devices (eg smart homes, digital televisions, self tracking tools).

The marketing sector has increasingly moved to deliver marketing experiences that adapt to the different screen real estate as well as enabling a range of digital response channels (Twitter, Facebook, microsite etc) for more traditional media.

Millward Brown in the report Digital & Media Predictions 2014 talks about the emergence of multiscreen experiences, point to ‘Shifting’ and ‘Meshing’ with experiences that combine  different screens sequentially or simultaneously.

It’s in campaigns where we have the meshing of devices with simultaneous content that we’ve seen interesting innovations emerging, with the ability to deliver more immersive experiences rather than simply providing a response channel. Where we’re beginning to see this commonly used is in the integration of PCs with smartphones or tablets.

Google has been a pioneer with this approach with its Chrome Experiments programme with examples including Arcade Fire’s Just a Reflektor video  and Roll It.

These experiences can change smartphones and tablets into touch screen controllers with their in built accelerometers enabling richer range of interactions than those provided by PCs keyboard and mouse.

This sought of approach is not going to work in all situations.  The process of synchronising PCs with smartphones poses technical challenges and essentially adds an additional obstacle for users before they can experience the content.

Producers need to create experiences that minimise the friction in getting two devices working together, not always easy given the wide range of PCs, smartphones and tablets. Consumers on the other hand are being asked to actively interact with the experience, a sometimes difficult ask, particularly for low interest brands.

Orange tried it over the New Year period but provided an experience that in my opinion fell flat. Little Dragon tried a less ambitious approach with their music video for Klapp Klapp with phone calls received by the viewer that synchronises with the on screen video.

Little Dragon Klapp Klapp

We will no doubt see more of this going forward with predictions that half of all campaigns will be multiscreen in the USA by 2016 according to a survey reported on in MediaPost. The emergence of a growing array of other digital devices (smartwatches, exercise trackers, augmented reality headsets etc) similarly presents further opportunities to deliver more immersive experiences. 

If you know of any interesting multiscreen campaigns, drop a note in the comments field.

The featured image is K N A R F & m a f i a piece from Vienna.