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Digital Trends

Not-Next edition. We all know what’s next. What’s next is going to look a lot like right now. But what’s coming after what’s next? What are the technologies and emerging research that points the way to a future beyond the immediate? Honestly, I have no idea. But here are some guesses for technologies and research that feel like they will be relevant to marketing in a couple years. I could be wrong. I’m probably wrong. But it’s fun to speculate… It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it. Music has been used in advertising for years to create a mood or provide borrowed equity to a brand. But a new study from the University of Cambridge has shown that musical preference is highly correlated with thinking style. Long story short, people who prefer more mellow music, tend to be more emotionally attuned, empathetic thinkers. While those who are better analytical thinkers prefer intense music, like metal, hard rock, or punk.. Application to Marketing: Most people’s musical tastes encompass both intense and mellow musical styles. Does that suggest that we listen to certain music when we are feeling empathetic and other music when we are feeling analytical? Or does intense music cause us to think analytically and mellow music make us empathetic? If that is the case, then the music in marketing communications may help brands to create a receptive mindset for marketing communications. Availability: Further research is required to understand the cause and effect relationship between music and thinking style. But it is worth considering whether your brand’s appeal is emotional or analytical when you’re choosing music for marketing communications. Read More The revolution will be televised. A new generation of apps like Meercat, Periscope, and Air offer users the option to livestream everything they do. High quality smartphone cameras can capture life as it happens and allow people to subscribe to people’s “channels” to see what they are doing right now. It won’t be long before some users will create higher-quality channels with desktop software that will allow them to compete with network television for reality programming and scripted content. Application to Marketing: Brands have been struggling with the proliferation of media channels for the last 20 years. The existing advertising model is barely sufficient to cover several hundred popular video channels. What happens when that becomes several million? For brands that focus on a niche audience, this creates efficiencies. But for mass market brands, this fragmentation may spell the end of marketing and the triumph of merchandising. Availability: Production values are still a function of budget. But the difference between high and low production values has narrowed over time as digital video and desktop editing suites have improved and shrinking audiences have created downward budgetary pressure on “professional” productions. Read More Baby, you can fly my drone. Right now, the skies above us are a lawless free-for-all. It’s like Mad Max, but with less Theron and more propellers. But state, local and federal governments are starting to get their act together on creating rules for drone traffic. Now Amazon has entered the debate with a proposal for a two lane system for drone traffic. Slower (local) drone traffic will stay below 200 feet. Fast-moving (long distance) drones will stay between 200 and 400 feet. 400 to 500 feet will stay traffic free to create a buffer zone between drone and commercial aircraft. Application to Marketing: If delivery drones become a reality, the gap between purchase intent and purchase will disappear. This will allow much more accurate measurement of ROI on marketing dollars. That might sound good, but there’s an old saying “you can’t tell who’s been swimming without a suit until the tide goes out.” So let’s all tighten our drawstrings and hope for the best. Availability: Commercial drone delivery is coming. Smart marketers will make sure they can geo-target ads and sales and correlate the two. Read More A Thousand Words. As Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu experiment with artificial neural networks, an AI revolution is coming. Traditional computers have been terrible at pattern recognition. But artificial neural networks allow for deep learning, the ability to model high level abstractions in data sets that is required to, for example, recognize a face. The implications for search are highly significant. Search does a pretty good job with text, but struggles with images and videos – typically relying on text descriptions and context to furnish search image and video results. Deep learning will change that. Application to Marketing: Up to now, the internet has – of necessity – been text-based. However, images have been proven to be more effective marketing tools, particularly for millennials. With deep learning, the next generation of the internet will be more image and video heavy. This has implications for every aspect of marketing, where we have grown over-reliant on marketing messages that don’t lend themselves to image-based interpretations. Availability: Artificial neural networks are dependent on specialized computer chips that are still expensive and slow to produce. Moore’s law suggests that won’t last. Read More Net neutrality doesn’t apply to mobile. Great news! Apple itunes radio has been exempted from T-Mobile’s limits on high speed data! On second thought, that’s actually quite disturbing. The reason to exempt this service is that Apple is a very important strategic partner of T-Mobile. So T-Mobile’s decision to allow them to exceed data limits while throttling other high speed data services is highly problematic. That means that mobile phone providers are determining which companies’ content can be accessed on a mobile device and which can’t. With the majority of worldwide internet traffic happening over mobile devices, it suddenly seems like net neutrality is dead, again. Application to Marketing: Digital advertising is pretty low bandwidth. But the mobile providers are setting themselves up as gatekeepers of digital content. While right now there is a content bottleneck for legitimate technical reasons, it wouldn’t be hard for mobile providers to see that bottleneck as a money-making opportunity in the future. Availability: As long as there isn’t consolidation or collusion in the mobile provider industry, we should be fine. Oh, wait… Read More

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