The iPad: The Second Coming of the CD-ROM
The morning got off to an early, but energetic start with a great discussion about the future of the tablet, led by Brian Burke from Smashing Ideas Inc. The topics of discussion ranged from a consumers unwillingness to purchase apps to the advantages offered to the web experience by the more intimate tablet interface. The key question on everyone’s mind, and quite honestly, one that our clients ask when considering taking their brand to the tablet, is what makes the tablet experience different than that from the web? Why should they consider a unique tablet experience when their website displays “just fine” on the tablet? And if you spend any time on the tablet, the answer is quite simple: the tablet plays a much more intimate role in your user’s life than their computer does. The tablet encourages the user to use gestural actions. Consuming content requires you to use your whole arm, which activates more neurons than clicking a mouse. The tablet encourages you to invite the content you are consuming into your personal space. And the panel theorizes that as we get more and more used to engaging with brands on a tablet device, we will begin to reject controls that separate us from the content we are trying to consume. But if there is one key takeaway from this session, it happens to be a philosophy that I believe in very passionately: when designing an experience for the tablet, don’t get sidetracked by stats. Instead, think about the role the device is playing in your audience’s life when they are consuming your content. Are they at their local Starbucks? Are they on their couch late at night? Or, while we may not want to think about it, are they in the bathroom? Regardless of what the answer to that question is, create a tablet experience that complements the “how” and “where,” not just the “why.”
Alternative Channels of Distribution
The purpose of this session was supposedly to discuss “alternative” channels of content distribution, and given the savvy level of many attending SXSW, I believe we all assumed that channels other than Facebook and Twitter would be discussed (sad that many of us consider Facebook and Twitter “mainstream”). However, the panelists themselves represented major brands (AmEx, Warner Bros and Smirnoff Diageo) who actually still DO consider Facebook and Twitter alternative to the web and traditional forms of media. And given the relative success American Express Go Social and the fact that movies can be made or broken through social media, Amex and WB had a few nuggets that I thought were worth passing along to you:
- The loyalty marketing world is not shifting to digital rewards. Instead, it’s using the digital platform to extend their offering.
- The beauty of the digital reward is that for the first time, brands can actually engage their audience and quickly enable that audience to influence others.
- When developing your social loyalty program, you cannot forget that it’s a journey, and you may make a mistake along the way. That’s OK.
- Don’t ask for ROI to justify that journey. It’s a crutch for the fearful. What is the ROI that marketers are getting from bus backs or mass transit campaigns? And did your client ask you for an ROI then?
As a digital marketer, the last bullet hit home more than any other statement made during the discussion. Why? Because as a digital marketer, you are accustomed to tracking every touch point and sometimes, the data can be scary. It’s that fear that may stifle innovation, when in reality, if that same data had been available for offline tactics, some of the more brilliant marketing campaigns may have never come to be.
Social Role-Playing: Brands and Publishers
This session discussed how brands have evolved into taking on the role of publishers as they embrace the broadcasting capacity of social media channels. This panel was of particular interest of mine because I specifically wanted to hear the insights of panelist Sarah Smith who is the Director of Online Operations at Facebook. Other panelists included EB Boyd a reporter at Fast Company, Kevin Barenblat CEO of Context Optional, Justin Merickle VP of Marketing at Efficient Frontier, and Halle Hutchinson Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Expedia.com. The point that resonated most with me is how they all agreed that the definition of a good ad has greatly changed. Before, the more distracting and attention grabbing an ad is, the better. Now, the more an ad seamlessly integrates itself within customers stories and overall social “talk” or chatter, the better. Smith stressed this notion while giving Facebook’s Sponsored Stories as an example of branded messaging assimilating itself with friend’s stories. With this shift in marketing and advertising, the skills of the staff has to appropriately shift as well. More and more are marketing professionals being required to possess reporting skills in order to meet the demands of daily content generation.
Shut Up & Draw
This panel discussion consisted of three panel speakers: Dan Roam from Digital Roam, Inc., Jessica Hagy from Creative Mercenary, and Sunni Brown from sunnibrown.com. The topic of the panel dealt with how more and more companies are reinforcing the whiteboard culture because of the benefits that visual language can bring into a presentation or sales’s pitch.
As a designer it’s important to be able to sketch out our ideas, but what I learned from this discussion was a how important a simple sketch can be in expressing any idea regardless if you can draw or not. It has been proven that drawing or using simple visuals to articulate even the most complex concepts such as mathematical equations can improve your thinking. Surprisingly, you’ll also even remember it longer that if someone said it. In addition to the talk, they walked us through a few quick tutorials that taught us to take a simple statements and rapidly transform it into a visual displays .
Overall, here are few tips to remember:
- Visual language is not meant to be beautiful. If you’re stuck, start by drawing a circle.
- Do not judge your drawing skills. The point is not to be perfect.
- Create as sense of confidence. To be smart is to “see.” There’s nothing more to it.
Humanizing B2B brands with Video & Comedy
I chose this session because more and more of our clients are asking for video. Presented by Tim Washer, senior marketing manager of Cisco, this talk was one of the more entertaining presentations so far. His work has appeared in Advertising Age and AdWeek and The New York Times and he has also a comedy writer/actor, and credits include Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, SNL and the The Onion Sports Network.
Along with sharing some of his favorite videos that he wrote and produced, Washer mentions some great advice and rules on how to go about bringing humor into our own videos. Here were a few examples:
- Humor can be a wonderful way to simplify your message. Start simple and sometimes you have to fight to be simple.
- Bringing humor in B2B videos can be successful because it’s unexpected.
- Identify your natural employee storytellers and arm them with the ability to create shareable content.
- Don’t talk about the product.
- Always try and evoke a positive emotion.
- Humanize your brand.
- Humor is like giving a gift to your audience.
- Look into nearby film schools to resource out video if your budget is tight.
- One of the strongest connection we can make with another human is to make them laugh.
- Finding a key editor is important but finding an editor that can edit humor is essential.