What does technology mean for marketing? Part 3.

Get a Block the Pre-Cogs-card if you know what this image is.

Finally, if you’ve stuck around through all the boring stuff, you will find your reward worth the effort! This post is going to highlight some technologies that may not be of great impact now, but might change the way we sell in the next decade.

The main aim for this post was to have some fun by looking at technologies, concepts and ideas that can change the way we as society interact with each other and our environment and then, ultimately, how marketing could fit into this new paradigm that is created. What will this post not do:

  • I’m not going to give my opinion on what will be the best way to use the next generation of mobile marketing platforms
  • This post will not touch on the future of social media as a marketing channel
  • Nor will it look at the buying preferences of the future consumer

Oh no, we’re going “Ready Player One” in this post. We’re going Star Trek Holodeck, Minority Report Pre-Cog, Flux Capacitor… Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.

What has become apparent over the last few years is that consumers require marketing messages to be relevant (time and place) and not be intrusive. That makes the life of the average marketer a tad more difficult. The reason for that is the platforms that are being developed are consumer focused, marketers have plopped their ads within these environments and it distracts the consumer from the primary  function of that platform. Netflix has no ads in it shows, Spotify Premium is only music with no ads etc.

Most recently we’ve seen the launch of technology powerhouses the Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One (both for the most part devoid of advertising), the Apple Watch shipped on 24 April to those who pre-ordered and these products will be followed by devices such as the Oculus Rift, Valve’s Vive, Microsoft’s Hololense, Tesla and Google are moving ever closer to a self-driving car and soon Siri, Cortana and Google Now may offer an experience capable of what we saw in Her. To start us off and whet the appetites, watch this video from Microsoft on their prediction for the year 2020:

So many opportunities in that clip for truly immersive, relevant and integrated marketing communications. I’m going to take a closer look at my favourite future technology and expound on how they could be used as marketing platforms.

Oculus Rift

Expectation is huge for this product. Palmer Luckey is the new Mark Zuckerberg, and in a beautiful example of cosmic harmony, Facebook bought Oculus and 2 of the most visionary people alive now work side-by-side. Why my positivism around the acquisition?  I referenced Ready Player One earlier in this post. There’s a very good reason for it, if you haven’t read it yet and you’re a marketer, stop reading this post, go buy the book by clicking the link above, finish that and then read the first sentence of this section again. I’ll wait. Done? Good. See, told ya!

Forgetting for a moment the anti-capitalism and antagonist label given to the IOI Corporation, VR is probably our next breakthrough technology. Mark Zuckerberg is James Halliday and Palmer Luckey is Wade Owen Watts. Yes, I’m a fan and I want this to be true now!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch this:

It is very difficult to comprehend exactly what will be possible with true VR, especially as I haven’t had the opportunity to try on a Rift, but let the imagination take flight and the opportunities are limitless. There are still a lot of ifs-and-buts around the tech, especially in terms of immersion (can I see my hands and feet), motion sickness (comes down to head tracking and movement latency) and tactile feedback (haptic technology). Once these issues are 100% resolved, think about these scenarios:

  • I need a new jacket. It’s coming on to winter in South Africa and living in the Northern parts of the country, it gets negative and single digit temperatures. Cozy in my bed, I slip on my Rift, log into my Spree account, open up the virtual wardrobe and try on jackets one after the other. I will even be able to feel the texture of the material with my haptic gloves and look at a virtual representation of myself with the jacket on. As a clothing brand, you’d kill for the opportunity to offer me a unique experience while trying on your brand, each experience tailored to the customer as well as the personality of the brand.
  • Shopping for a new car? Great, pop on your Rift, stroll into the virtual Tesla dealership, greet the salesman, open the Tesla app on your virtual smart device, unlock and start the car and feel the power of the P85D as if you’re sitting in the car. Test the vehicle’s various ICE functionality, view the car in various colours and internal and external options. All from the comfort of your couch. As a marketer, I’m going to make sure your experience in the virtual showroom is par excellence.

I was going to regale you with examples in property, tourism, FMCG and consumer electronics but I think you get the point. Once we have the ability to show you the product as it it’s right in front of you, you can interact with it and get tactile feedback, marketers no longer need 30 second spots, banners, content marketing or programmatic buying. I need you to live my brand’s story virtually and convey what it feels like to own or experience what my brand delivers.

Oh and, the first salesperson to pitch an idea where I need to view the presentation through a Rift will get an order, I don’t really care what you’re selling…

Microsoft HoloLense

I’m not going to say much on the device, if you haven’t seen the reveal video, watch it below:

In my opinion the HoloLense itself is not the pivot for what this technology represents but rather a significant cog in what Microsoft is trying to do. Here’s what I see when I look at what Microsoft has done since Satya Nadella took over:

 

Microsoft is shaping the future
Microsoft is shaping the future

If you group everything Microsoft is doing into one view, you start to see what they’re up to and that puts the Microsoft 2020 concept vision into perspective as something that isn’t that far off. Not just the conceptual products should get you excited, the fact that Office is available on just about any software you can think of and they’re integrating with the cloud storage services you already use and not forcing you to use OneDrive and you’re seeing that Satya is playing the long game here.

Marketers should be drooling over this one, Office is still the de facto productivity suite and Microsoft is trying to convert customers that have moved to Android and iOS (including Chrome OS and OSX) a reason to switch back with silky integrated services, unparalleled access and seamless integration between work and life. If Microsoft can push masses to its mobile version of Windows 10 and get high adoption rates for Surface, they have a distinct advantage over Google and Apple as Microsoft also has the Xbox One (compared to Apple TV and Chromecast, good devices but not an Xbox and Microsoft already has streaming device which just needs a brand…), OEM partners that drives uptake of the core software and a very strong enterprise business that influences personal usage.  All this provides marketers with a single, multi-touchpoint, integrated platform to carry their messages to millions of engaged consumers.

I’m very excited to see what Microsoft does during the rest of 2015, around the time Windows 10 officially launches we should see some more exciting announcements that Satya kept up his sleeve.

Wearables

This technology has the most upside but also is the one with the biggest challenges, both for consumer electronics companies and marketers.

Android Wear still needs a killer device, Microsoft Band didn’t excite and it seems the Apple Watch is not quite there yet, although Apple’s device seems to be the one closest to the mark.

The thing about wearables though, is they cannot function in a vacuum, the device itself is not the enabling platform but rather the key to unlocking functionality on platforms around us. Here’s a great Ted× Talk on how wearables will  impact our lives:

Delloitte University Press but together an infographic on what designers of these technologies will need to keep in mind to provide the kind of experience that enhances the user’s life:

Wearables-Print-Final-v3

 

As marketers we’ll need to adapt our means and form of communication as wearables, the platforms they interact with and the guidance they give us will dramatically change the way we interact with everything around us.  PWC put together a great spotlight on wearables which gives good insights on what we can expect from the wearable market:

Search “marketing and wearables” and you’ll be swatted with articles on the subject. The popular opinion seems to be that you need to already have a clear idea on how you will integrate wearable technology into your marketing strategy. As an introductory source list, try these links:

Heady stuff right?! You thought you just got social media mastered… Trick is going to be how marketers integrate these platforms in their planning over the next decade based on the consumer relevancy-paradigm. It’s going to take a huge amount of adaptive cognisance to ensure that you understand what the technology does, how these technologies change the framework of communication and interaction and what the impact is going to be on the structure of and integrated with society.

I’ll be updating this post over the next few days with a few more technologies. This post may become TL;DR so I might do a Part 3.1…