By Micaela Fouhy & Ashley Branch
As marketers and media gurus in an ever changing digital and technological world, there are so many trends to keep track of. Lucky for you we’ve narrowed down our top 9 trends you should know.
1. iBeacon. With the help of Eventbase, iBeacon (an indoor positioning system that allows devices to broadcast and receive information within short distances) launched an application that helped SXSW participants coordinate their schedules with notifications for shuttle arrivals, automatic check-ins at events, etc. The app also allowed for real-time audience interaction during sessions, where attendees could network with colleagues at specific sessions, participate in discussion forums, and answer live audience polls. Developers see the potential for iBeacon/ beacon technology in retail, healthcare, education and much more. In addition to helping consumers find retail locations, it can also help teachers create a better environment for students or streamline a doctor’s login process at a hospital.
2. Wearables have your back. Wearables are going to be a part of your life whether you want them or not and with today’s technological advancements, there is something in every shape, size, color, or measurement that will suit your needs. Whithings Activité Pop secured its position as a wearables darling by co- sponsoring a lounge space with Mashable.com at SXSW: Guests were able to wear the smart watches at a silent disco and track body movement and fitness activity from busting their sick dance moves. Wearables are poised to help enhance everyone’s life in one way or another. From tracking physical activity for health to improving your swing for the next charity golf game. Wearables have your back.
3. Making Strides in Artificial Intelligence: IBM Watson wants to make you a burrito. In 2014, IBM announced the development of its new artificial intelligence (AI) named Watson in an effort to create a new model for cognitive computing and ultimately enhance human experience. Most recently, IBM chose to focus on Watson’s knowledge in the kitchen – Engineers have developed a VCF database to help Watson learn what combinations in food smell and/ or taste good (VCF stands for Volatile Compounds in Food) so Watson can develop new recipes. IBM also created a processing module to guide Watson in understanding implicit references in recipes and breaks down each step so that the language (which is written for humans) doesn’t confuse him. Watson is proving to be quite the chef and we can’t wait to try these recipes on Refinery 29.
4. Virtual Reality is no longer reserved for really bad Sci-Fi movies. Co-founder of Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, gave a talk at the SXSW gaming convention this year on the future of virtual reality. Palmer Luckey announced that the consumer version would be ready at the end of 2015, meaning that we are all one step closer to actually dunking on LeBron James in NBA 2K. Virtual reality is also proving to be a really useful tool for teaching, not just gaming – Toyota partnered with Oculus Rift to create a “distraction driving simulator” in a full sized stationary car. This demonstration is in conjunction with Toyota’s TeenDrive365 initiative to encourage young adults to stay safe on the road.
5. Brands are serious about connecting ecommerce and social media. In-app purchasing is proving to be a very important territory for retailers and should be considered in marketing discussions. American Express is the latest company to throw its hat into the ring using Twitter’s API. AmEx Sync is a platform that allows you to tweet and find deals on your favorite retailers and add them to your pre- existing credit card. Thought leaders in the tech industry are interested to see how this new program will stack up against Amazon’s Tweet to Buy program. Amazon’s campaign allows Twitter users to add a product to their carts or wish lists without leaving the app. Users simply connect their Amazon account to their Twitter account and reply with #AmazonCart to any tweet containing an Amazon product link. The product is added to the cart and they can switch over to Amazon to complete the purchase at another time. Consumers are constantly faced with purchasing decisions and creating a simple, faster purchasing process may make a serious difference in the future for social app users.
6.Snapchat and Kik battle to dominate the publishing world. Earlier this year, Snapchat unveiled the Discovery feature with publishers like CNN, Cosmopolitan, ESPN, and Vice. From “Five Life-Changing Bobby Pin Hacks” to updates about your favorite professional sports teams, Snapchat has changed the way its users can consume brand content. That is until social messaging app Kik announced they are also planning to work with publishers . Some of the publishing partners for the Kik app include BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, and NBC News. Kik is claiming that its platform is different because users can opt-in to receive exclusive messages from publishers/ brands and then the companies have the opportunity to engage more with those specific users. There are over 50 publishers and brands using handles on the Kik app and claiming that the opt-in option allows for a higher user engagement rate.
7. Privacy and Personalization. At SXSW there were over 112 official session names with the word “privacy” mentioned. It is evident in today’s digital world that consumers are simultaneously giving up their privacy to share data to have a customized experience. The real question is… can you have both? By allowing brands to deliver more relevant information to consumers (contextual marketing), we are already sharing a lot of information about ourselves. Think about that fitness band you are wearing or the brand post you like on Facebook – all that information about you is being saved and shared. Speaking of privacy, Yahoo is getting rid of passwords. They introduced “on-demand passwords” at SXSW which allows for the users to enter their Yahoo account using a short password that Yahoo texts. Yahoo has decided to use a second step authentication method that allows for a more secure login process.
8. Tinder, Instagram, and Bud Light. Ex Machina, a movie about a young coder who has to interact with the first female robot created as part of an experiment, pulled a fantastic PR stunt at SXSW with a little help from Tinder. The marketing team put together a Tinder profile for Ava (the main character in the movie) who is part human, part android. When users matched with the fake profile on Tinder, the app asked questions about what makes a person human and what attracted them to her. After answering a couple of questions the user was directed to an Instagram account promoting the film.
Who knows if the relationship formed from the stunt at SXSW, but Tinder and Instagram are now partners . Tinder users can now link to their Instagram profiles allowing for even more mutual connection possibilities.
Bud Light is the first brand to take advantage of this new relationship with its “It’s a Match” ad on Tinder. The video only displays to Tinder users 21 and over and appears when users swipe between potential matches in the app. Tinder seems to be following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram to explore advertising opportunities
9. Live Streaming. Meerkat exploded onto the scene at SXSW Interactive this year. Twitter just introduced new livestreaming app Periscope as a direct competitor. While it is only available on iOS (for now) it boasts a better user interface with a cleaner design and gives users the ability to save videos for later. Brands and celebrities have now caught on to the live streaming trend. For example, DKNY gave viewers a look into what their fashion closet looked like, Spotify posted behind-the-scenes video of an Irish folk singer from the Villagers band, and Jimmy Fallon rehearsed his monologue for his late night show. Meerkat had the benefit of launching first and gaining a ton of traction at SXSW so it’ll be interesting to see how it competes with Periscope! Remember Slingshot and Ello? We don’t either.ship formed from the stunt at SXSW, but Tinder and Instagram are now partners . Tinder users can now link to their Instagram profiles allowing for even more mutual connection possibilities. Bud Light is the first brand to take advantage of this new relationship with its “It’s a Match” ad on Tinder. The video only displays to Tinder users 21 and over and appears when users swipe between potential matches in the app. Tinder seems to be following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram to explore advertising opportunities