Hugh Reinbolt: Opinions and thoughts on emerging and cutting edge trends in technology, digital and social media that inspire me.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Social media editorial will require the strongest brand content to impact brand favourability

A significant trend among internet companies and social media is curation and editorial via human resource; Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, BuzzFeed News, and Twitter Collections and Project Lightning all point towards a space where content is presently housed for core communities to explore and curate themselves, to where content will be compiled live on peoples' behalf, like interactive broadcast.

These are all platforms and features designed to hook users in to non-esoteric environments that will become mass market channels / networks for news, entertainment and shopping, despite how popular, or not, these already are in their current state. This core suite of channels will sit on all our mobile devices alongside our single-purpose apps as our go-to resources; everything we want to consume will be served to us instantly in the 'best of' format.

When these streams are compiled for us brands will need to work hard and doubtlessly pay more to be seen and heard; on one hand this will be about how influential you already are (or will be), or how you align yourself to media owners more influential. On the other hand this will all be about great and meaningful content that people want to see, as Daykin writes here, which will therefore inevitably impact on the receptivity of the core communities with self-curated streams, and those that otherwise proactively favour one brand over another in pre-curated streams.
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Virtual reality will be deeper and more personal and private than social media

Oculus Rift is set to make virtual reality consumer-friendly next year, although experts predict augmented reality will be a bigger industry on the basis that it is more “portable” and that VR is more of a specialist gaming space (Oculus has partnered with Microsoft Xbox.) Augmented reality first came to my attention in 2009 in the form of Layar and continues to evolve slowly; Microsoft recently unveiled its HoloLens AR concept, and will enable people to stay connected to their environment in contrast to VR.

This feels like “mobile” in 2007, when the first iPhone came out, before the iPad and when Nokia stopped being cool. Huge entertainment worlds like Star Wars will open up in this new space, alongside the smaller and more varied applications in use every day via mobile and tablet, and entirely new applications and creative experiences that are down to the content creators of our industry to build.

A new device market will inevitably open up; however, VR and AR are entirely new channels that will take active and on-demand engagement and personal participation to a new level; escapism is a scary word as it denotes an inferior and negative existence; however, I believe this is about private experience far removed from the social world of mobile. As a non-gamer and a massive movie buff I see VR and AR as a space for consumers at large to explore, interact and discover in more depth, on a greater time scale and on a more personal level than anywhere else.

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pinterest to be the destination of choice for searching and buying

If you have ever bought anything on the Amazon App then you'd know just how easy and instant it is to buy things, especially in contrast to desktop. 'Buyable pins' / buying stuff on Pinterest is a natural evolution of a social network that has massive potential for mobile commerce.

It has taken years of anticipation for the platform to introduce “buy buttons” and it appears to have the most viable opportunity of all Western social networks because of users’ claimed purchasing behaviour, as per the Business Insider chart below. "Buy Buttons" are a huge trend for 2015, and "are optimised for mobile, minimising purchase friction at the moment of engagement". New creatives such as the 'Cinematic Pin' ad unit combined with brand content and user-curated / generated content means people can experience products in a more tangible and realistic way than Amazon, for example; desirability and purchase intent would shoot up. Pinterest also needs to crack their direct response capabilities.

Pinterest is an elusive platform for UK brands that will focus most on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because of bigger and more defined audiences. Pinterest should be incorporated into any search and social strategy if you’re in the business of commodities; it has a unique proposition of search and discovery and will likely become a popular combination of social media and eCommerce as soon as it allows everyone to sell. Google and Apple are redefining what search engines are and how we will be using them for different intentions. We will see greater integration of these search platforms with social media. If people want to buy stuff, Pinterest could well be where we're all headed.
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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Snapchat should be high priority for long term strategy

Vertical format moving image / GIFThe UK demographic of Snapchat has not been disclosed, which makes it a hard-sell. We can only assume that a trend in the US will also be a trend in the UK and it is worth noting Snapchat’s current market position:
If you want to reach this audience you should be doing something here and build community. Discoverability is important for those unable to access Snapchat commercially and due to limited search functionality (usernames and contacts) you should take full advantage of downloadable Snapcodes and place them on relevant touchpoints and materials.

How Snapchat worksAd content is very much like broadcast and employs the vertical video format - apparently more likely to be watched than horizontal / widescreen video on YouTube or Facebook, as this is typically how we use our phones; we are too lazy to rotate. The introduction of moving images and GIFs to the Facebook News Feed shows how prominently this format is evolving (see top right). Bud Light very recently become the first alcohol brand to advertise on Snapchat, with age-gated content integrated into the “Stories”, selected by an editorial team, of the brand’s owned US festival. This may appear experimental and niche; however, events around the world will be broadcast here.

Snapchat will play a similar, although light-hearted, role to Twitter in breaking news about events through its visual format; much like a hashtag or TV show on Twitter, you can ride the wave of events with your owned/earned media planning. In contrast to Facebook’s combination of apps, Snapchat is evolving into an inclusive network that encompasses user/brand generated content, event marketing and publisher-owned channels that will become an extension of their main property (e.g. Vice or Yahoo). When commerce develops, Snapchat could introduce “shopping experiences” that would make this platform even more high priority for long term strategy.

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Treat Instagram content like a carousel

Instagram will be a mainstream communications channel for all advertisers once this media becomes self-serving like Facebook Ads; online video is more cost effective and accessible than TV. Yesterday Instagram officially launched the carousel ad format to show various dimensions of your proposition through a few swipes of you customers’ thumbs.

Instagram carousel ads

Instagram has just released statistics enforcing the viability of their ad products, taken from a performance analysis of all campaigns throughout 2014; in short, “Instagram is an extremely strong platform for ad recall”:

Nielsen Brand Effect - Instagram

You will make an impact here, but what if you are small, just starting out, or don't have access to these products? Then focus on community and content. Whether you have 300 Followers, or 30,000,000, people want content and they are going to be scrolling through it, so get busy! Tap into your Followers' expectations, understand what they like and keep them ‘engaged’ with a constant and consistent storyline: treat you assets like the carousel ad.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Social and search integration will deliver ROI

Social media commerce is a huge barrier to utilising social as a paid communications channel for many SMEs that rely on ROI through sales or conversions. Solutions evolve as platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google all appear to adapt their media products with “Buy Buttons”.

These “products” haven’t yet become mainstream; however, now YouTube has created a “Click to Shop Button” for its TrueView ads, with impressive results, Google is diversifying its product range for direct response advertising, which may well become increasingly accessible to all. Whilst Twitter and Google have partnered to display Tweets in mobile search results, I see potential for new converged advertising formats that display “Buy Buttons” against Tweets in Google search, which is where consumers may be more likely to spend if, for example, they are Googling a holiday, or a new appliance, rather than searching on Twitter.

Our understanding of paths-to-purchase is what success hinges on. Marketing and advertising should be mapped to consumer mindsets and behaviour, and if we can test, adapt and integrate campaigns based on how people use social and search then we may well find the ROI we are looking for; especially if we can influence the media owners along the way.
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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Instagram will be more valuable than a TV ad

The following wrap up of (US) statistics by PewReseach on who is using Instagram shows just how big this crowd is:
  • 53% of internet-using young adults ages 18-29
  • 26% of online adults (21% of the adult population)
  • 49% of all Instagram users use the site daily
  • 32% say they go on several times a day
  • 49% of users engage daily (3.31% average post engagement rate)
  • 94% of Instagram users use Facebook
This is a phenomenal audience that reaches into the biggest social network above it. They’re active and they’re engaged. You have a matter of seconds in the stream to make an impact and soon these moments, your story and especially your 15 second video will be more valuable than a TV ad. Social video will soon regularly appear on TV and cinema screens as secondary distribution channels (as opposed to the other way around).

As a content creator, know your Instagram audience (and your advocates); what they follow, like and want; what would inspire them to love your images/videos too, and would drive them to advocate your story.
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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Auto-play social video formats enable crafty creatives

Facebook has asserted an obvious "shift to video" in the News Feed whilst Twitter has also announced its plans to enable auto-play videos in the timeline. These signals (and statistics) are distinctly demonstrative of broadcast; the only difference for us as consumers is that we are scrolling through the stream instead of flicking through channels.

The introduction of new formats is really exciting; silent previews need to be compelling enough and contextual to attract the click/view. Content creators need to adapt to these new formats, impulsive scrolling and limited preview time.

A variation of a teaser can be craftily combined with longer or full-length content - merging from click to view. Such interesting edits and versions of videos will essentially be split into two parts or more - the narrative of the creative will have to fit the overall format, which can be adapted to any product or industry.

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Tiffany & Co. "same-sex couple" creative raises the standard of authenticity

News via The Drum of another huge luxury brand embracing sexual-orientation in their
communications is pleasant, affirming and to be expected at present.

Things have changed a lot in my lifetime; culture and media has shifted simultaneously with attitudes - I've not even heard the expression "the pink pound" since 2008. I believe witihin another ten years gay people and same-sex couples featuring in brand creatives will be happening everyday, just as they will be open in the many other facets of culture and everyday life. It won't even raise a tweet.

What I love about this Tiffany & Co. campaign is that these guys are apparently a real couple and, taking into account the recent TK Maxx campaign that recruited real customers for their creatives, I can see advertisers working with real people more and more in the years to come. The beauty of it is in the authenticity.

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Life-enhancing native mobile apps will secure location data though trust

Location is a fascinating trend from a commercial and creative perspective. Regardless if we think of mobile location data as a cookie, a search or a literal, there are plenty of exciting things we could do with it. 

If we consider that all our smartphone apps are seeking to access our location data, then it is the apps we trust/use the most that we grant it to. We’re going to be primarily mobile by 2020 and using native apps instead of browsing. As cdixon says, the most successful companies will be the ones that ride the trends: embrace the ‘Push’/social web and supply the demand. 

This is about embracing mobile/apps and creating life-enhancing experiences; entertain, inform or enable (AVC predicts P2P healthcare as a trend - if it’s inevitable, why not facilitate?). We will then gain access to location data to help us build on these experiences.
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