So I had a little fool around in Gephi and managed to come up with a visualisation of my social network. The size of the circles represent how many connections that individual has in my network (bigger = more connections, smaller = fewer connections) and the colours represent sub-communities i.e. friends from school, ex-colleagues, current colleagues, family etc.
Projection mapping seems pretty popular right now. It was only the other night that Nokia did some large scale work along the Thames in support of the recent Lumia release. Duly supported by a grating electro- house soundtrack from that over-hyped Canadian (yeah, I’m not a fan) the response was pretty overwhelming. Yet whilst clearly quite a spectacle, how much ‘stuff-on-a-building’ can you do before the idea gets a little tired? I mean, it kind of feels like something I’ve probably seen before (bottom‘s and all!).
So it was kind of apt that I received links to these clips yesterday from the guys at the Viral Factory. Same same but different. Or what they like to call: “Immersive Imaging”. These vids promoting the SonyPlaystation Store (note the notion of ‘Great films fill rooms’ – nicely aligned with the creative) take the projection mapping idea and give it a refreshing twist by incorporating live ‘physical’ action too. Whilst far smaller in scale (your living room vs. a 30 storey building) these vids manage to get just as impressive results. Some really creative work here from the people at http://www.studio-output.com/
Would love to see a variation of this idea being used in an experiential context. Geeky consumers love this kind of shit.
Video 1 (X-Men I think)
Video 2 (Transformers)
video 3 (Pirates of the Carribean)
Here’s some techy press stuff that goes into detail on how it all works
Virtual and physical worlds collide with “Immersive Imaging”Studio Output reveals the next generation of Augmented Reality for Sony PlayStation.
To show the far reaching capabilities of the Sony PlayStation and the rich movie content availablefrom the PlayStation@Store, creative agency Studio Output has created three transformational viralsbased on famous blockbuster franchises. Using the latest advancement in real time tracking, projectionmapping and Augmented Reality technology, they have created a whole new experience, which they’reterming “Immersive Imaging” (II). The virals aim to highlight the VideoStore service on PlayStation@Storewhere users are able to rent or buy their favourite films in high definition. These virals herald the next generation of Augmented Reality. “II” takes projection mapping as its starting point, but gives the viewer a supercharged experience with the help of the PlayStation Move.
In the past,projection mapping worked only from a single, static view point, and thus was very limited, by attaching the PlayStation Move to the camera, Studio Output can track projections to screens in real time. This enhances the effect of spatial deformation and false perspective on the projections, allowing viewers to look round (virtual) corners, bend walls, create a hole in the wall, or remove the walls altogether to reveal vast expanses of virtual worlds. This method, which Studio Output has termed “II”, is used to bring the films into a three dimensional reality.
To further delight the audience and enhance the sense of transition from one dimension to the next, thevirals also incorporate actors and props, pyrotechnics, triggers and booby traps, so for example, a projectedjolt to the table can knock over a real glass, which in turn spills projected water.
Each film starts in a normal living room. When the PlayStation is turned on, the scene springs into action,with worlds inspired by the different film themes emanating from the console and taking over the room.The viral aims to illustrate the infectious power of the PlayStation and the unrivalled viewing experiencesits offers through the PlayStation Videostore.
Whilst the desk does seem very cool (Minority Report anyone?) it is the music in this vid that really gets my juices flowing.
Gets particularly tasty around 00:27.
I would never have thought lawnmowers to be so graceful and elegant
Near field what?
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of short-range wireless technology that allows two separate devices to ‘talk’ to one another; it is a bit like Bluetooth but far more evolved. If like me, you have had the experience (often painful) of trying to share photos and other media with friends via Bluetooth, NFC will come as a breath of fresh air. First off, NFC doesn’t require two devices to be paired together in order to create a connection. It also connects considerably faster (in less than 1/10 of a second), is far less prone to interference and consumes markedly less power than Bluetooth. NFC provides a far cleaner and efficient way for wireless communication to take place, and hence makes the user experience seamless and more autonomous.
As a technology however, it is not actually that new, and in all likelihood probably something you have already been using for a few years. If you live in London and use public transport, the Oyster Card is an example of something that uses NFC. If you have an NFC enabled credit or debit card from your bank, you might have used it to buy your morning Cappuccino at Pret A Manger. More recently, if you happen to own an NFC enabled Samsung ‘Tocco’ from Orange, you can pay for that Cappuccino with a simple swipe of your phone. It is this, the combination of NFC and mobile phones, which is where things get interesting.
Mobile is the future of everything. At least, that is what Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt thinks, and he is probably right. Smartphone penetration is as high as it has ever been, and nothing to indicate that this trend is going anywhere but upwards. Moreover, compared with other connected mobile devices, such as tablets and eReaders, people are using their Smartphones more regularly, across more environments and for more purposes. The idea of Smartphones utilising NFC technology therefore makes a lot of sense, and consequently there are interesting implications for a whole host of occasions where people use their Smartphones…beyond buying milky coffee.
Smartphones are powerful tools in maintaining an ‘always-on’ lifestyle, which we seem to be so readily embracing nowadays. They allow us to connect to people, services and brands in incredibly diverse and easy ways. However, this is all in the digital domain. As much as there is an ‘app for this’ and an ‘app for that’, there is little in the way in the existing Smartphone world that bridges on and offline experiences in particularly efficient or compelling means. There are some, but in my opinion, they only scratch the surface of what integrated experience should be like.
Current means of connecting online and offline experiences
Take Quick Response (QR) Codes for example. QR codes have been used for several years, and are typically integrated with outdoor media, or anywhere where there is a surface that can have a code printed on it. They are handy in terms of migrating consumers in the direction of specific information, or delivering unique content on their mobile phones. The desired effect is to ultimately create a richer experience with that media. However if brands ever want to create a truly interactive, and more importantly, personalised experience, a QR code is insufficient. They are by their very nature a one-way exercise in interactivity. In most cases, anyone that interacts with a QR code ends up in the same place, doing the same thing as everyone else. It’s a posh bar code, and a fairly ugly one at that…despite Betfair’s interesting use of media recently!
Location based services such as Foursquare and Scvngr have been successful in bridging the gap between online social networking and offline locations via the process of ‘checking in’ to places using GPRS technologies. By checking-in to places using your Smartphone, users collect virtual badges and compete against each other for achievements. At its heart, the underlying process of Foursquare (and Scvngr to an extent) is one of competition. No surprises then that this can be quite motivating; being competitive is a very powerful human trait. Brands and other businesses have used this game-like mechanic to their advantage by offering users unique rewards upon completing achievements, or gaining the most check-ins to certain venues. Furthermore, because of their integration with social networks, the ‘check-in and achievement’ process advertises, and hence advocates your every move to peers in your network. Big brands have been quick to implement Foursquare in a variety of means. Last year GAP awarded anyone who checked-in to one of their stores 25% off their bill over a 24-hour period. Starbucks have also ventured in using location-based services to deliver unique rewards to customers, depending on their engagement with the brand.
For an ‘always-on’ consumer Foursquare offers brands interesting and quite far-reaching opportunities to connect and engage with their market. However, asides from bridging the gap between online and offline experiences via a game mechanic, I don’t feel that there is anything particularly revolutionary about Foursquare. Whilst there clearly can be short term transactional gains for brands using Foursquare, over-reliance on it as something that adds ‘reward’, particularly in terms of simple behaviours and transactions, can commoditise an experience. What is it about Foursquare that lends itself as a differentiating and powerful brand-building tool? I am yet to be convinced.
However, the biggest drawback of QR codes (and to a lesser extent current Location based services) is that they are platforms that don’t truly tap into the depth of the relationship between a brand and its consumer. As a team that works exclusively in understanding the effectiveness of brand experiences (both online and offline), we strongly feel that the future of experience marketing is as much about the brand interacting and adapting to you as it is about you interacting with the brand. Experiential 2.0, if you will. Brands don’t just need to be nimble and agile in a digital era; brands need to be intelligent too. For brands to be intelligent, they need data.
Content Data is king
Your Smartphone has the potential to hold a phenomenal amount of information about you. Furthermore, because of our fondness and reliance on social systems (such as Facebook), this means that this information is organised, contextualised and from a brands perspective, considerably more useable. Therefore, we are not just talking about simple demographics. Given the chance, information about where you live, what brands you like, who your friends are, what brands they like, where you go out, what you spend your money on… the list of, ‘things-about-you-and-the-world-you-live-in’ is potentially limitless. This wealth of social data is something that Facebook has been eagerly capitalising on for a few years with their Open Graph, which has in many ways made the Internet more personalised and social as an experience. Furthermore, with Google+ offering a significant step forwards in how we structure and manage our social connections, the future of the social web is looking even more sophisticated, and ultimately more useable for marketers.
The combination of rich social data, with two-way seamless experience technologies, such as NFC have the potential to provide offline experiences that are completely personalised, just like what people are experiencing online. An example of its application could be in retail:
Imagine you are going shopping in a large department store. You don’t have a clue where to start because there’s just too many shops. Instead of going through the detailed department store guide choosing all the shops that you might be interested in, you simply swipe your phone across a NFC terminal. And on the basis of previous websites you’ve visited on your phone’s browser, or what brands you happen to like on Facebook, the terminal recommends stores that might be of interest to you. It might even notice that you have a friend or family member’s birthday soon and suggests stores and brands that they like.
Clearly there will be ongoing, and increasingly heated debates concerning how our information is going to be accessible to brands and services. The more we find ourselves committing our lives to shared networks, privacy and other issues surrounding user data management are going to be the biggest hurdles for all industries that want to connect with people in the online space. However if you recall, there was once a time when people thought the idea of doing your day-to-day banking online was unthinkable. Can you imagine doing it any other way now?
“A few short years ago, we were warned not to put our real names on the Web. Today, every site has a share button, and we freely track our own activities for all to see. Each of those acts leaves a crumb of data; take away our Smartphones, and we feel like we’ve had a digital stroke, leaving us without faculties we otherwise take for granted”
A great quote from cyber-anthropologist Amber Case that smartly summarises where I think we’re heading.
Keep on seeing these guerilla-esque 8-bit inspired stickers in and around central london so have been taking a few snaps.
Website (http://lotsix.com/) isn’t up and running yet but announces that ‘creativity connected’ is coming soon. Intriguing..
Ever since its conception, experiential marketing has repeatedly proven to be a valuable strategy in bringing brands to life. Brand owners across all categories have built strong connections with consumers by creating physical experiences that encourage interaction and stimulate senses – something that traditional media can rarely manage to emulate, if at all. From driving trial of new products and services, to building brand imagery, experiential marketing is a diverse practice that can create deep consumer engagement and provide long lasting brand impressions. And with the Internet becoming the most relevant channel through which to create a dialogue with consumers, experiential marketers are now increasingly integrating digital elements with more ‘conventional’ physical experiences, and reaping a plethora of benefits in doing so. One of which is the Internet’s ingrained sociability and that that if managed correctly, can be very useful in making a physical experience, a more social experience.
Note – The purpose of this post is not to consider experiences where ‘being social’ is an outcome e.g. a sponsored festival that happens to attract a large volume of people. But rather where ‘being social’ is a strategic input and is grounded in the very essence of the execution, and could only have been possible with the integration of a digital element.
So what are the benefits of being a social experience?
Before outlining some recent examples of social experience, we need to be clear about what benefits there are. Firstly – and most importantly, I would stress – is that social experiences are authentic; people trust and relate to their peers far more than they do with companies and corporations. Secondly, social experiences are collaborative – conversations between people are inherently creative, one-way brand monologues are not. Thirdly, because social experiences are more creative, the plethora of web and mobile tools at consumers’ reach nowadays means that social experiences can be self-generative and subsequently have the potential to last a long time.
I have outlined below two campaigns that in my mind have managed to not only integrate the digital and physical brand experience in ways that make sense, but have also capitalised on the integration to create experiences that have a distinct social richness about them – and typify what we would call, a social experience.
With their global ‘Nightlife Exchange Project’, Smirnoff is a great example of a brand that understood how to deliver a social experience. The idea was relatively simple. Using Facebook’s inherent social infrastructure, consumers conversed with each other on the event’s Facebook page and debated and contributed ideas on what makes nightlife great in their respective countries around the world (DJ’s, bands, fashion etc.) The best of these ideas were ‘exchanged’ with another country, so partygoers around the world could sample a taste of another country’s nightlife scene at bespoke venues that reflected the conversations that took place on Facebook. 14 countries participated that included the UK, USA, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Lebanon,Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela; a considerably expansive effort in nightlife exchange with all fourteen countries holding parties around the world, on the same evening.
Smirnoff clearly understood how social media could be pivotal in the creative process and in turn create an experience, which although large in scale, could remain personal, collaborative and entirely social at heart. For a thorough case study and all the impressive stats surrounding the event – check out the video below.
On a similar note (albeit with a far more niche audience) Wearesocial developed a campaign for Unilever’s Marmite that similarly made use of digital and physical integration to create a highly personalised experience for Marmite fans, culminating in the release of an extra strong flavoured variant, Marmite XO. A bit of history first though.
In 1996, research revealed that there were as many consumers that disliked Marmite as there were who liked it. This polarising insight was taken by ad agency DDB who remoulded the Marmite brand on the basis of this seemingly provocative idea. It paid off and the notion of Marmite being a ‘love-it-or hate-it’ brand remains to this day. The rebranding was so effective in driving the resurgence of one of the nation’s most recognisable brands that in 2002 DDB won silver in the IPA effectiveness awards. Polarisation, if leveraged correctly, can clearly be a winning strategy it seems. Polarisation is conducive to sharply contrasting beliefs and attitudes, so one artefact of being a polarising brand is that you are always going to be successful in creating a particularly die-hard fanbase.
And in digital land, fans rule OK.
Fast forward through the years since 1996 and with the maturation of social networking and blogs that allow people with shared interests to find each other and share their passions on any given subject, finding passionate fans is becoming increasingly useful in developing campaigns that are social at heart. Most importantly however, the Internet has enabled brand owners to reach and nurture a brand’s highest value consumer – the brand evangelist.
Wearesocial scoured the web for socially influential Marmite evangelists and invited them as honoured guests to a special one-off event where they were privy to a unique taste test that would determine the recipe for the upcoming XO variant. These fans (or ‘Marmarati’, as they were hence known as) were then set the task to go on and spread the Marmarati word across the social media landscape, recruiting new members to the Marmarati cause and invariably generating a lot of buzz for Marmite, capitalising on the fans’ existing social media cache. The Marmarati campaign was a thorough success that maximised the synergy of physical and digital experiences in creating a socially driven and very much consumer-centred campaign. Combining digital and experiential elements in a fluid and meaningful way and smartly leveraging evangelists to be the driving creative element to the campaign, the campaign ended up winning many shiny awards. For more details, check out the case study below.
So, are social experiences the future of brand engagement? Clearly, the combination of digital and physical experiences and the resulting social benefits from the pairing can work in strong favour for brand owners. However, just as fast as the models of brand engagement change, so too do the models of research that help us understand how successful we may have been in delivery. With increasing reliance on social experience comes an increasing need to develop evaluative solutions that have a consumer-centred focus and that facilitate comprehensive understanding of all the stages of an individual’s experience. A linear approach to research that relies on rigid measurement alone is not going to be sufficient in understanding a commercial world where brand activity is now being driven by complex individuals, not simplistic brands.
What do you think? Have you come across any interesting social brand experiences?
“Let’s do something on Facebook” seems to be quite a common phrase nowadays, with marketing folk eager to capitalise on the modern consumer’s love of social media. Yet with the increasing time that people seem to be spending on Facebook (and hence why brands are investing more resources there) there is a distinct risk that pages and other brand experiences in Facebook can become if anything, a bit predictable. And in the worst-case scenario, a commodity – diluting the impact of your presence and making you less likely to capture people’s interest and participation. Last night I was watching TV and in one commercial break, I noted that about a quarter of the ads had, in some form or another, a reference to something on Facebook. Why though?
Brand owners need to think carefully about what purpose their presence on Facebook serves. Facebook shouldn’t be seen as a fashionable place to say exactly what your above the line activity is broadcasting, nor should it be seen as a quick-fix way of getting people to supposedly ‘like’ your brand or campaign.
The most effective use of Facebook comes from taking consideration of what your campaign is trying to achieve, in a social context. Then, finding smart and elegant ways to align those objectives with how your consumers feel about Facebook, but most importantly, how they behave on Facebook. Ultimately, any marketing that takes place in a social space necessitates a deep understanding of your audience’s motivations and interests, above anything else. Remember, Facebook was first and foremost, a social network. It has only been in the past few years that brands have come along for the ride.
So, when I come across campaigns that ‘get’ how to use Facebook, it’s very refreshing to see. A recent interactive campaign for Samsung, anchored in a bespoke Facebook app, is a good example of how Facebook can be used to great effect.
So what was it about?
Four friends – Beth, Ethan, Drew and Tony went on a coast-to-coast tour of the US in a camper van and with Samsung’s new SH100 camera, took pictures wherever they went, and with whoever they met. They took the photos themselves and even gave the camera to other people to take photos. Some people even arranged to meet the four on the road as they passed by their town. The narrative in the video below sums it up quite eloquently, “You talk to people from the Internet, not on the Internet”
The cleverness of the camera is such that photos could be uploaded in real time, via the camera’s Wi-Fi to a Facebook app. Once uploaded onto Facebook, people could then vote on the photos they liked the most. The person whose photo received the most likes, flew out to New York for a special event where every photo from the journey was put on display.
The people we meet on our travels and our instinct to document moments and experiences along those travels is something that almost all of us can identify with. The Samsung SH100 campaign taps into this human nuance authentically, without being explicitly sentimental. Furthermore, the photo-tagging mechanic in Facebook has great cohesion with the idea; not only is it a simple means of showcasing the camera’s performance in a meaningful way, but also a savvy way to encourage participation and in the process, blur the lines between online and offline experiences.
Over the past year or so, EXP have been working closely with several brands, across a range of categories helping them explore the role that Facebook plays as part of the consumer experience in the social space. We have found compelling, and often quite provocative insights. Of course there are many different reasons why you would want to establish a fanbase on Facebook. However regardless of your objectives, we find ourselves always coming back to two very important thoughts:
- Does the idea work in Facebook?
- Does the idea thrive in Facebook?
Everyone seems to think yes to the first point. A small minority can ever claim yes to the second.
Absolutely ace. Bonus points for slipping a D’Lorean in the mix too…
I f**ng hate computer cables. It amazes me that our phones allow us to do pretty much anything we want, wherever and whenver we want, yet when it comes to desktop computing, managing our hardware and cabling is still such a pain the in ass
Good job Samsung – wireless FTW!
Client: Samsung Electronics
Director / Animator: Jey Mal
Production: The Viral Factory
Seeding : The Viral Factory