Today I find myself in beautiful Amsterdam for 24 Hours of Advertising, the creative marketing industry’s leading event in the Netherlands, held every year with a jam-packed 24 hour agenda. It’s an exciting event, held in a stunning historic building that contrasts nicely with the dynamic professionals of communications industry you find on the inside who are here to discuss the latest trends in marketing, share ideas and get inspired.
One feature of the event that I’m a huge fan of, is the Second Screen Contest, a competition pitting five teams of three students and young professionals against each other to develop Second Screen solutions for an existing TV format, using the latest Windows software. The teams work on their ideas for a full 24 hours before presenting to a panel of top industry judges. My colleagues on the judging panel were blown away by the creativity and passion of the participants who all came up with fantastic solutions and learned a thing or two about tight deadlines! As my 15 year-old son would say – “Respect” to the winning team; made up of Vincent Huijbers, Barry Bakker, Alain Kale and Loran G who created a second screen pilot app for the TV show ‘Got Talent’.
In addition to getting inspired by the next generation of marketers, I’m here at 24 Hours to talk about some important digital trends identified in recent research we conducted with IPG Mediabrands and future forecasting consultancy The Future Laboratory. The Digital Trends study covered eight countries and over 8,000 individuals, to help brands understand the future of digital behaviour and technology through the eyes of consumers.
While the study uncovered eight global trends, I primarily looked at just three of those in my talk today. The first trend I talked about – Enhancing the Real –revolves around using technology to enhance many of our complex human senses. It looks at how technology now delivers – and will more so in the future – a more complete and engaging sensory experience through a combination of graphics, sound, and even scent to augment reality. We found that 61 percent of our respondents globally are more likely to buy from a brand that allows them to experience the touch and feel of the products wherever they are: in a store or “on the net”. At the very least, this presents an excellent opportunity for retail, technology, entertainment and fashion brands. I know for sure that if I were to bring tulips home from my Dutch travels, their scent would play a crucial role in my buying decision. Why shouldn’t this apply to online as well?
So it seems that fragrant tulips online might not be that far away, and as the online and offline world meet and merge, the digital space will simply evolve into a new layer of the physical world, and the physical, a new layer of the digital world. But this blurring of realities means a proliferation of data. And, as our other trend – Value Me– found, consumer views on the value of their data are changing rapidly.
The results of the study show that nearly half of global online consumers realise their data is valuable to brands, and increasingly are seeking ways to control where it goes and who has access to it. Data is the new currency of online life. If brands want to learn more about their customers, they must be open and clear on how that data will be used and offer rewards in exchange. This is even more pronounced amongst younger consumers. Give them access to the latest Armin van Buuren video before general release and some will happily give you their personal information; but without a real incentive – be it van Buuren, or otherwise – it will be a tough game for brands. There will be no such thing as free exchange when it comes to data, and the brands that realise this first will be the ones who will win the trust, loyalty and respect of consumers.
One of my favourite sayings is: the best way to predict the future is to create it. Falling a little bit into a cliché here, but the geek-legend Alan Kay’s words crystallise the extent of change upon us that will affect all of us – me, you, consumers and the marketing industry. It falls into the last trend I discussed today: Creator Culture. Experimentalism, creativity and desire for progress and achievement lie at the heart of culture in both mature and emerging markets – one day we will all be co-creators, no longer waiting for brands to realise solutions that meet our needs but making them ourselves. We, the industry, will co-create this new version of the world infused with digital, hand-in-hand with our consumers. This partnership will enable us to create solutions and technologies across a full set of devices and services that are relevant, engaging, and fully in-tune with consumers’ needs. It’s an exciting world … and I’m looking forward to creating it together.