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When you build digital stuff all day, you develop opinions. Lots of opinions.


Digital Trends

Virtual Virtual Reality Facebook has introduced a modified form of virtual reality to some of its newsfeeds with video content that you can view in something close to 360 degrees. Depending where you hold your phone, you see different aspects of the video, just as you would by turning your head in the real world. Because of the file size of these videos, they can best be described as experimental at this point in time. But Facebook’s investment in Oculus indicates they are serious about the future of VR. Application to Marketing: As we escape from the captivity of a static, mounted screen the world-creating and storytelling opportunities in marketing will increase. It’s a matter of time before some forward-thinking brand creates a VR advertisement. If there is hope for the establishment agencies, it’s that the larger production budgets involved in creating something that works in 360 degrees will allow them to preserve their business models. Availability: If I was a client, I would grab my agency and ask for a meeting with Facebook. The first company to create one of these as an ad is going to get a lot of free press coverage. Read More The ROI on AI IBM has been a leader in the field of artificial intelligence as they continue their decade-long effort to rise above the commodity server business. Their latest chips mimic the form of neural networks in the brain and IBM is beginning to look for ways to monetize these innovations. The chips are particularly good at pattern recognition, something traditional chips have always struggled to do. Application to Marketing: IBM’s initial approach has been to look at speech, image and facial recognition applications. While these applications all hold great promise, I keep thinking of a different form of pattern – the pattern of human actions. Humans, as opposed to bots, have highly variable and idiosyncratic behavioral patterns as they move around the internet. As random as they may seem, a chip capable of recognizing the underlying patterns in the apparent randomness could easily separate bot traffic from human traffic. With billions of dollars lost every year to fake traffic, this is a problem that needs solving. Availability: I keep expecting to read about some company that is using neural chips to solve the measurement problem in digital advertising. So far, I’m still waiting. Read More Hot People in Their Underwear #mycalvins has been an incredibly successful social media marketing campaign for the Calvin Klein brand. There are 179,000 Instagram photos tagged with that hashtag. Through a combination of nostalgia, outreach to influencers on Instagram and signing up social influencers as spokesmodels, the brand has built a social marketer’s dream campaign. Application to Marketing: Unless you are selling underwear that happens to look particularly good on attractive people, you probably aren’t going to achieve this kind of scale. But every vertical has its influencers. Whether you’re selling canned soup or CPA test prep, there are people on social media with influence in that world. Also, sex sells. Availability: Find your influencers. Whether they’re known for exemplary tax preparation or exemplary abdominal muscles, they can help you reach your target. Read More Unpacking Responsive Layouts In general, I am deeply suspicious of anyone who claims to have found the right way to design anything. Creating a normative value for perfection is hostile to innovation. However, there is so much lazy, bad responsive websites out there right now that establishing a few best practices might be a good idea. Angular has been a boon to developers, but if you are thoughtless about the default you might not be structuring your data in a useful way for mobile. The article below, cheekily titled “How To Create The Perfect Responsive Design” is a useful set of guidelines. Application to Marketing: Having a responsive website is table stakes, regardless of your market. But the phone is a very different form factor and there are very good arguments for creating mobile-only websites. For the most part, those argument have been abandoned in favor of responsive sites. But I’ve heard too many people insist that the responsive layout is “obvious” based on the desktop. It’s not. It has to be planned. Availability: Read the article. Learn the rules. Then figure out when it’s appropriate to break them. Read More What is Viral? Virality is an idea that gets used loosely in marketing to describe anything that just seems to “catch on.” But virality can be expressed as a mathematical formula. Understanding the underlying factors that comprise that formula can allow a marketer to manipulate their communications to allow for the possibility of virality. The number of new users (greater than 1), the frequency of cycles, and the duration of cycles are all parts of a mathematical model that can allow marketers to measure true virality. Application to Marketing: The article below is about virality in product adoption, but a viral ad operates the same way. As marketers, we need to understand that virality isn’t “special sauce” or “magic” (both phrases I’ve heard too often), it’s a measurable phenomenon. Once we understand the behavior, we can manipulate it to our advantage. Availability: Maybe it’s easier to just keep using “viral” colloquially. Math is hard. Read More

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