ELLO ELLO

Last issue we linked you up with invites to Ello, an interesting new platform hoping to disrupt the world of social media. In the time since, it’s started getting some real heat. Such has been its explosion in popularity over the last month, it’s needed to seek an extra $5.5m in funding to cope with the demand.

elloOne of the reasons for its spike in popularity is that the platform is vehemently anti-advertising. Critics and the tech elite have jumped on the company’s claims that, ‘Ello exists for your benefit… it will never show ads or sell user data’, saying ‘good luck’ when angry investors come knocking – but Ello has promptly fought back, and quite emphatically too: it’s just reassigned itself a PBC, a Public Benefit Corporation. That’s a new type of corporation with a responsibility to transparency and creating a material positive impact on society. The declaration came amidst another flurry of PR from Ello, showing signed documentation from all founders swearing that it will never advertise or sell user data – and that even if it was eventually bought, its new owners would be subject to the same restrictions.

It’s not the first major startup to shun advertising. WhatsApp’s founders poured their scorn over ads and insisted part of their acquisition by Facebook held that the platform would not advertise (not that it wouldn’t use the data, though). Those sentiments aside, the arrival of Ello does point to the consumer mood and appetite for transparency – and steps beyond old-style corporate social responsibility, towards active social benefit. One to watch.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

amazonWe have not yet scratched the surface of what is to come from data and personalisation. In fact arguably few if any retailers are fully exploiting the data they have at their disposal – everything from understanding preferred shopping experiences, environments and the service we expect, to localising and personalising the shopping experience itself.

Two pieces of new research this month indicated just how important personalisation is. The first research suggested that mobile web brand loyalty is dead, with 91% of customers having no qualms turning to competitors to get what they want, when they want it. The second piece of research suggested that while 34% of retailers believe that brand reputation is the most important consideration when choosing a retailer, a massive 85% of consumers suggested that brand reputation isn’t important. That’s some disparity. But importantly, 31% of consumers think that personalised experiences make them more likely to make purchases. In simple terms, personalisation holds a key to loyalty.

It was no surprise when Amazon announced its first physical store this month, it’s been coming for some time. Some 82% of consumers regard Amazon as the kings of personalisation, so there is incredible focus on how Amazon will carry its shopping experience into the offline world. It’s said that Amazon has more data than the Pentagon. Can it finally make the High Street personal?

SHYP RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR

In previous issues we’ve checked in on how the world of logistics has been undergoing pretty serious disruption, not least through Uber’s incredible trial of home delivery within 20 minutes, using its ‘personal driver’ service.

These things never stand still. Last month we learned of a new service called Shyp, which is out to transform how we get anything from A to B. Taking on a similar ‘personal’ positioning to Uber, Shyp is promising to be anyone’s very own personal courier. The service asks users simply to take a photo of the item that needs posting with its app, and say where it needs to go. Shyp then collects the item at the earliest convenience to the user, packages it safely and securely, and ships it for the cheapest amount possible on the market.[Watch]

Technology is increasingly allowing individuals a concierged lifestyle once only the preserve of the super-rich. Brands would be well-advised to understand just how they can fit into that same concierged lifestyle…

HANGOUTS, INSTANT COFFEE & BOOKSHOPS

Plenty has been happening in social realms in the last month – here’s a brief roundup to furnish you with the top stories.

First up, Sky News has been pursuing more innovative real-time coverage and will now be bringing online social content closer to its TV output by adding real time tweets into its coverage.

Topman has turned to Google Hangouts to push a new personal shopper offering, bringing a highly social and value added layer to online shopping. The service reflects a growing trend in livechat online customer service, albeit much more visual than typical chat windows.

Heineken ran its Share the Sofa campaign that saw fans asking questions of Champions League winners during live football games. It’s a campaign that hit an impressive 1.2bn, that’s billion, media impressions!

Mercedes turned to Instagram to have some fun with routing images and links so that users could follow a trail of pics, and personalise their own vehicle. It’s not the first campaign we’ve seen like this, but it’s cool nonetheless.

Nescafé pursued a mission to bring people together over a cup of coffee by chaining 1000 branded coffee cups to railings all across two cities in Croatia, inviting people to get a numerical code from Facebook to unlock them. Once unlocked, they could go grab a free coffee from a local hotspot. Cool seeing social activity brought into the real world. [Watch].

We liked the quirky ambition of Old Navy’s #selfiebration, which invited social media users to upload a selfie and have it recreated on a 15ft wall of auto-inflating balloons. So weird it’s good.[Watch].

But the story of the month surely went to Waterstones, and AirBnB. A couple of weeks ago, a chap got locked in the London bookshop overnight. His tweeted appeal for release went viral, as hour after hour he was left stranded. While many sympathised with his plight, many others were simply jealous at the thought of spending the night at Waterstones. So a quick-thinking response by Waterstones and AirBnB meant that via a special listing, one lucky winner was allowed to stay at the store overnight, with dinner and breakfast! Classic ‘reactervising’ ; ) Look.

FUTURE AD TECH BOOSTS

At last month’s Brandcast UK, YouTube (Google), said that TV is dying. There are reasons Google would want to convey that sentiment of course, and their argument takes on gravity when they point to generation Y who munch on Netflix and have made millionaires of their peers with popular YouTube channels.

Obviously, whether TV is dying or not (depending on your data, others would suggest it’s in rude health), marketers have been furiously working away for years now to future proof by pioneering new ad tech and new ad techniques.

The latest evidence of this was seen in the launch of Collider, a new funding platform aiming to make the UK the global centre of new adtech by attracting senior industry leaders’ attention and investment. And while automation is the buzzword of 2014, developing existing channels is still the focus of constant innovation.

In the last few weeks alone advertisers have been trying to push existing channels’ capabilities in various ways. Ford were responsible for bringing us mobile banners that run in ’3D’ and won plaudits for innovation. [Watch]. Their press ads were also made more interactive with a tried and tested ‘augmentation’, with users placing their smartphone on the ad to bring it to life. [Watch].

Xapp Media is trying to persuade us that mobile banners need a makeover. That’s why it has been creating audio ads, which seem no different to talking ads – until you realise you’re being personally pursued for a spoken response. It’s really best described by watching the following link, but there’s some excitement surrounding the format when combined with certain calls to action, such as downloading an app, for example. [Watch].

British Gas made a smart move with some DOOH that combined simple data feeds. Drawing in weather and flight time data, the utility has been able to target travellers as they landed from hot countries, contrasting the weather now they’re home and suggesting they get the heating ready. [Look]

Netflix has also been on an enriching mission, by introducing context-driven GIFs to its DOOH. That means it’s running spots which reflect news items and trending topics happening in real time. The media company insists that when they advertise it’s always in a way their younger audience will be able to relate to. [Watch]

IKEA has been busily syncing its TV ads with mobile ads, blending the two channels. During X-Factor, its TV ads will run simultaneous to content appearing in the X-Factor app with careful timing, to generate conversation online. [Read On]

And elsewhere, DOOH guys are getting very excited by Apple Pay. The hope is that, much like what NFC initially promised, Apple Pay will provide a ubiquitous payment and interaction facility for poster ads – for things like, buying cinema tickets direct from poster sites. [Read On]

Just as advertising is changing behind the scenes, the advertising we’re interacting with every day is itself rapidly evolving…

And Finally…

What a month that was.

First up Apple’s Tim Cook publically revealed he was gay, only for a Russian politician to call for him to be banned from Russia. Probably not that high on his list of dream destinations anyway.

The funniest story was surely poor Rita Ora’s ambitious dive-bomb of a tweet. The singer promised that for 100,000 retweets she would pre-launch her single. Some hours later, languishing on 1,800 tweets, she gave up and deleted it. Or as she claimed, the tweet, sent by a hacker, was deleted… #awks

Orange launched one of the weirdest, most ironic and most flawed campaigns we’ve ever seen. The idea was to showcase the world 20 years from now by asking a webcam-aged version of yourself Siri-style questions. Ambitiously, it makes the curious stride of pretending to know your future personality. And put simply, it doesn’t work. You immediately hate your future self, and the tech makes Siri look genius. This future’s not bright, Orange. Hashtag Fail. [Look].

If that campaign took the wind out of your sails, this video was created to remind us how lucky we are working in the creative industries: [Watch].

And if you want a brand using Siri-style voice commanding effectively, check out the new Dominoes voice ordering app. [Watch].

In case you missed it, a sardonic Canadian agency struck a chord with its reactvertising video, laughing at real time reaction advertising. Is kinda fun, if you missed it. [Watch].

The iPad Air 2 was launched.

Ikea took the Halloween trophy with their spoofing of The Shining. [Watch].

We also liked some cool media work by VW in South Africa, who showcased their anticipatory Side Assist tech by telling people the next thing they were about to see. Very cool. [Watch].

Eric Schmidt delivered a cool slide story of how to build creative and innovative businesses. It’s worth thumbing through. [Go].

We quite liked how Kirin beer made tech a bit friendlier by making a clunky mechanical drone campaign into an animated brand story, in that inimitably Japanese way. Take a look. [Watch].

Totino’s saw what happens when you ask the surreal comedians Tim & Eric to create some products that reflect the brand’s lifestyle. [Watch]

Finally, a bit of shock without the awww. Check out this feminism campaign from America. You are just moments away from being told emphatically FUCK YOU by some kids. But it’s no more shocking than gender inequality… [Watch].

Now go make advertising.

VOTING EVERY DAY WITH YOUR WALLET

The ever-increasing flow of information is forcing the world into an age of transparency. Nothing is safe from scrutiny, and what’s more, consumers increasingly realise that when mobilised they wield quite a lot of power.

As a result we have seen a plethora of ethical brands and platforms try to take the initiative. But we haven’t seen a consumer tool that seeks to directly challenge the corridors of power and influence enjoyed by major companies and politicians – until now. Enter BuyPartisan, a new app launched in the US, which is out to politicise everyday consumption in the minds of consumers, by revealing products’ relationships with political parties. The app reveals everything from lobby groups that a brand’s CEOs or board of directors belongs to, to party political donation histories. And it’s all in a bid to inform consumers as to whether they are making purchases that are compatible with their own interests or broader outlook. Using the app is as simple as scanning a product’s barcode, socially sharing purchase/rejection decisions and discovering competitors more in line with their own beliefs. [Watch].

Consumers exercising their vote every day en masse through informed purchase decisions is an interesting notion: in the short term, for some brands it could prove to be a PR headache and potentially damaging to bottom lines. For consumers, it perhaps forces some responsibility for their decision-making…

NEW TECHNOLOGIES WIN BRAND DEBUTS

Often when a ground-breaking technology is introduced, it’s some time before it finds its commercial use. That’s what’s made the Gartner Hype Cycle so important in helping businesses to get their timing right. But we saw a few fancy pieces of technology deployed this last couple of weeks that tear up the rule books.

First up, Barclays introduced the latest weapon against fraud in the shape of a finger vein scanner, which is set to replace conventional pin codes. It is the latest in a line of biometric security measures that are heading for mainstream, led by Apple’s fingerprint security. Readers tired of navigating labyrinth password systems will be dancing with glee. It’s set for commercial release in 2015.

Elsewhere, future thinking brand Moleskine, already best buds with organising app Evernote, has announced a partnership with LiveScribe. It’s an intelligent pen which conveys hand written notes via camera/ Bluetooth/Wifi. Once communicated to an app or computer, it turns those words into typed copy, making handwriting completely digitally transferrable. Moleskine FTW.

Finally, OK – it’s not a new tech per se, but “4D holographics” makes it sound like it is. Over in Central Park, Ralph Lauren has created a 10 minute fashion show by projecting onto a 60ft wall of misted water, and the results (though we’re sure they’ve been optimised) look genuinely impressive. [Watch]. It’s certainly one of the first times we’ve seen real value out of the technology. It’s gone down very well, and for those interested, here’s how they made it: [Watch].

JCDECAUX SENDS OUT THE BILLS

There’s nothing quite like one media channel turning to another to help communicate that it’s ‘still got it’. In fact, we’re a bit late to the game on this one; it happened back in June. But when we heard of it recently, we did slightly love it.

JCDecaux has been busily upgrading its media sites across the world to offer clients far better outdoor digital integration, and they had a bright idea to do it. Spotting that digital platform Google Streetview captures many advertising billboards and effectively preserves them in the digital world, they have calculated the value of the ‘free’ media space and additional exposure that clients had benefitted from, and DM’d a picture frame of evidence along with a whopping cash invoice.

The accompanying letter, taking on a stern tone, was in fact a humble request for a 30 minute meeting with a brand media manager, in a bid to discuss how they could further optimise media plans with their new digital technologies. [Watch].

That’s some pretty cool B2B advertising.

INSTAGRAM GETS ADS AND CATWALKS

It was a significant week for Instagram: adverts finally arrived in the UK, with a ceremonious announcement that a select few brands would be debuting soon. Instagram insisted they’d be high quality; as if you were flicking through your favourite magazine. The ads will always be marked as sponsore, and Instagram is inviting users to suggest whether content is appropriate, to keep relevance as high as possible.

Elsewhere the platform, along with Facebook, had a central role to play in Topshop’s exclusive coverage of its Spring/Summer 2015 collection, aptly named the Social Catwalk. The fashion retailer handpicked five outstanding amateur fashion Instagrammers to cover the latest looks with the hashtag #topshopunique – a full week before the same looks appear at London Fashion Week. Shoppers were then encouraged to post selfies with the hashtag #topshopwindow, appearing live on digital store widow displays. The entire collection was Click-To-Buy, meaning it was available to order live from the catwalk on Topshop.com. And demonstrating the full integration of social with bricks & mortar, personal shoppers transformed areas of the store to reflect popular and trending looks. [Watch].

The promotion has been widely seen as a bid to democratise the release of fashion collections, taking the previews away from an exclusive ‘fashion elite’ to the people who actually buy the wares. Facebook will be happy the retailer chose their channels for content and distribution so exclusively…

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