Virtual reality (VR) got a boost in attention over the last few weeks with high-profile announcements and campaigns at SXSW and the Game Developer Conference (disclosure: Samsung is a client I work on). Coming out of these conferences though, the question now becomes ‘so what’? You may remember agency strategists clambering on how Meerkat and Periscope apps were the ‘next big thing’ out of SXSW 2015, but are almost nowhere to be seen now. Looking at VR in a similar light, the product has some substantial barriers to mainstream acceptance; cost, ecosystem size, and usability.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/
Getting to the ‘so what’?
I feel we are still a few years and product iterations out till VR truly hits the mainstream. The question then becomes, what value are we then able to pull out of the ‘Year of VR’? Virtual reality as a concept is a means of escape and an immersive experience. Perhaps what marketers should take away from the conference is the idea of depth and experiences in what they are trying to promote instead.
Providing deeper marketing experiences
I don’t think VR technology is entirely out of the picture yet. For larger brands, there is still the availability of 360 videos that provide deeper visuals on a consumer’s mobile device. Otherwise, being better at telling a story about your brand, or about what your company does could be a great focus also.
Avoiding ‘The Next Big Thing”
Not to sound jealous because I’ve only gone once…. but a fault of a conference such as SXSW is that those who come away from it try to grasp at what the next big trend in marketing/tech will be. In my honest opinion, changes are more likely to happen organically and over time (Ex: Snapchat as a viable platform) rather than overnight. I found SXSW to be more of a general learning experience where marketers can see more of the ecosystem around them, and be able to perfect on the basics. The need to jump onto another big trend is potentially dangerous, resulting in lost time and money for something that isn’t tested and perhaps not quite strong enough to be in the public eye.
Yesterday we saw the addition of “angry”, “sad”, “wow”, “haha” and “love” join the familiar ‘like’ when it comes to user response to Facebook content. While previously content was measured by a single like or negative action (unsubscribe, report, unfollow) this new set of engagements brings a new layer of complexity to the simple Facebook post.
Effects on the newsfeed?
What Facebook has yet to describe is the effect that each new reaction has when it comes to ranking content. Will content receiving more “Loves” get higher newsfeed priority over content that receive just “Haha” or “Like”? What does getting an “angry” mean?
With a previous focus on getting single engagements, whether its more video views, comments etc., adding 5 new reactions could throw content strategy for a loop. A brand with a focus on humor related content could instead now rank posts by how many “Haha”s it gets.
Another thing to consider is when would “angry” and “sad” reactions come into play. Are there particular moments when a brand wants to generate particularly strong emotions?
How to Track?
Measurement structures will also be affected by the introduction of these new engagements. By having the ability to chose the ‘angry’ engagement, measuring by total engagements doesn’t necessarily prove if a post is more or less successful anymore. Already a ‘Love’ may have more value than a simple like, and a post made to engage fans with ‘Haha’s could be deemed a failure if instead it received ‘Angry’ and ‘Sad’.
We still need to see the full impact of how the new ‘reactions’ feature alters content flows. An observation I’m already seeing is that a as a single click option (versus a hover and select) general ‘like’ engagements are still the most dominate engagement. After a week or so (once initial excitement has died down) there should be enough data to evaluate the impact and see what (if any) changes to tactics and overall strategies need to be done.
Over the past few months I noticed I haven’t been exposing myself enough to what I would consider ‘smart reads’. Working for Christopher Berry I would occasionally get what he coined ‘waves’ of articles, many of which I still have in a make shift digital library. As an exercise and a means of getting some content up on here I figure I would start up my own version of this and try to get these ‘waves’ together as a means to summarize my own top reads for the month. The Goods:
Truthfully I need to sit down and give this a full read (perhaps a blog post is in order…) but the data set analysed on this one is massive! An analysis of 700MM words from 75,000 social media users is probably one of the largest studies of online text out there. What was done on here is pretty awesome as well. Looking at demographic and personality influences , the study takes a look at what common trends occur within these different subgroups . I figure I would group these together.
- First there is this a research paper from JWT on The State of Men which is a quant/qual analysis of the state of Western Men ( the sample is 500 American and 500 British guys) and shared knowledge from a select group of international experts.
- A great follow up to the above article is Ad Week’s “The Millennial Male is Not Who You Think He Is“. I think first it’s a great analysis of the not so rosy picture of the millennial guy, but it also highlights the importance of working off of actual research vs. personal perception in regards to audience insights and planning.
Next up is the article Analyzing bias in opinion polls using R which looks at whether there is bias in political polling . This blog post looked through 14 years of German polling data and did what I feel is a good job at visualizing and doing a comparative analysis of all its sources. To finish this off I’ve included two articles that are a bit more timely rather than deep. The big players online (Google and Microsoft) have started to reveal how they plan to combat the growing ineffectiveness of the tracking cookie in getting you customized ad results. The articles below share a glimpse of their individual plans:
So this was done in a bit of an ad hoc manner but here are the articles that were top of mind for me over the past while. As I mentioned earlier this is a project that I’d like to keep going on a monthly basis. I’ll likely release the next wave in mid November. If you want to join in on this, feel free to share your own top reads for the past while in the comments below.
After being without my family in Toronto and now Montreal I’ve learned that that there are certain places and activities that make living somewhere more comfortable.
I’ve now been 8 months in Montreal and having a week off has made me realize that there are certain things that make me more comfortable living out here. Recently my biggest discovery is that knowing the location of a good book store is important to me. Back in Toronto it was Swipe Books and now here in Montreal its Drawn & Quarterly. Having good quality books available to big creature comfort to me…. yup I’m a nerd.
There are other things that give me comfort. Whenever I’ve needed to think I find myself going to the Vieux Port/ Old Montreal to check out the old cobbled streets or have a view of the St. Lawrence seaway. I also have two bakeries that I tend to frequent and a Thai fast food place I go to when I don’t feel like cooking. In terms of person to person contact I’ve also discovered the Montreal New In Town Meetup where I can go and grab beers with people who are in a similar spot to where I am.
Rather than just living in a place, I think connectedness is important and that’s where knowing things are comes into play. We aren’t just people who go from home to work and then home again. Having a feeling of familiarity and comfort in your surroundings helps with your state of mind.
What is important (for me at least) to do when you live in a new place?
- Explore your neighbourhood. Knowing what is around in your immediate vicinity makes you feel more comfortable and as a side benefit can give you places to check out later for activities.
- Find places relevant to your interests. Not having access to activities that you previously had can be a bit of a downer. Find a comfy coffee shop or seek out a place that provides access to the activities/classes that you’ve enjoyed. This provides you with a feeling of continuity.
- Find a group of like minded people. Going to a place alone can be tough. Having a group of people that you can talk to and share experiences with makes things a bit easier and can relieve feelings of frustration and isolation.
So while I’ve been unpacked for a few months in Montreal I’m still sort of still settling in and understanding my surroundings. In another 8 months I’ll have to see where things go!
If something is new, more technologically advanced or simply has more moving parts we tend to generally think that something is better. Simple means that someone hasn’t been thinking about something hard enough about making it better right? Well I’ve learned in at least the case of shaving that this isn’t necessarily true.
First thing out of the way, I am one hairy dude and my hair tends to sprout up like weeds. If you were to do a poll of men to ask how often they shave I’m sure you’ll generally hear that they shave every two to three days. Well for me it’s almost every day with the exception of weekends and holidays where I tend to give my face a rest and just generally look like a hobo otherwise.
The downside I used to experience with growing in a thick mane is that multi blade razors would clog up and become ineffective. Of course this then means that you’re constantly replenishing your razor supply. This changed about a year and a half ago when a fellow co-worker of mine suggested I try out shaving with a safety razor (not so much like safety scissors) of which afterwards I was hooked!
After getting the metal handle ( a Merkur razor) and a 20 pack of blades I was set. It was a bit of a bigger upfront cost ( about $60) but it felt really good having the metal handle in hand when I shaved. Outside of this my experience was generally the same as usual. I would wet my face, plaster on some shave gel or foam and then begin gliding the handle across my face.
In general, a clean blade netted me a really smooth experience. It feels like having the single blade results in a more accurate shave with less need to return to the same spot. With my face unfortunately nicks and cuts still occur but they’ve been less painful and much less unsightly which is a plus. All in all its an enjoyable experience.
Getting Sucked In:
Learning recently that a buddy of mine straight blade shaves as well has gotten my thinking of exploring my other options in shaving. Recently I’ve picked up a shave brush and soap package and have been experiencing a different way in how my face gets prepped and lathered up. Something about getting myself an antique razor handle also draws me in. Seeing the old pop open razors has a bit of an allure for some reason.
For something that men do fairly often in life, shaving is something that has become very casual and routine. What was once a social experience of going to the barber and getting a hot shave, has now become more of a commodity. For myself, noticing the small community of those who invest more into their regular shave I’ve started noting new products and to potentially add to make my daily morning routine even better.Getting the parts I need may not be as easy as going around to the corner store but I’d consider that another part of the overall experience.