Now the wheels are finally in motion on the Social Media train, I find myself becoming increasingly keen to focus on the next big thing, and the approach to make it all a reality.
But first thing first: what IS the next big thing?
For me, the next significant phase in marketing is a [much deeper] convergence of the real and digital worlds, in a way that will not only amaze, but adds value to our every day activities.
OK, before I go off into crazy ideas land, I’d like to say that Real:Digital Convergence isn’t a diversion from Social Media. It’s a build on it.
Social Networking has enabled us to locate and connect with many more like-minded people than would be possible for the majority of us in the real-world. And thanks to that, we’re able to efficiently distill the masses of information on the internet, through [explicit and implicit] recommendation from those like-minded people, on what’s worth a look/read/buy and what’s not.
R:D convergence simply extends the ability to do the same distilling of information [to aid fast & informed decision-making] in the real world.
So now to the fun part: what it could look like.
If I were a VC, I’d be backing MIT labs’ Sixth Sense, which conceptualizes R:D Convergence exceptionally well.
I imagine being out shopping, seeing a product that I like but am unsure about, and using a ‘reviews’ gesture to project the latest reviews [from my social networks and beyond] on the product or my hand; and a similar thing when out looking for a good restaurant to eat at. Of course, you could do this research at home, but this doesn’t work for spontaneous decisions. A critical success factor of this then, would be the speed or returning the relevant information, and displaying it in a way that makes it quick and easy to absorb – you are, after all, out and about and unlikely to have the time to read a novel to inform that spontaneous decision.
I then drift off on thought-tangents, thinking about the introduction of unique product/service codes (perhaps in place of bar codes, and on business cards) that are instantly recognised by your Sixth Sense-style device: simply give it the reverse-review gesture and up pops the ‘what YOU will love / hate about this product/service/company’ [based on a personal profile, built on your internet behaviours, previous reviews, diggs, likes, blog comments, etc]. You can later tell it how accurate it was in guessing, which teaches it to adapt for later reverse-review requests. Ooo, this would be good!
And then there’s the combination of real world image recognition [eg, building outlines etc] combined with mobile + internet capabilities (location + web content/data] to provide a situation contextual internet… and it’s already starting to happen, with early Augmented Reality applications starting to appear: check out this Real Estate AR app from Holland.
Truly Interactive Advertising
In a similar vein, I see new forms of advertising developing too, along the lines of an ‘integrated sponsor’ model. For example, in TV, the products and services (whether a car, clothing, furniture, or even fast-food) used in the program could be clicked to get info on that product, including the ability to ‘[Facebook] Like’ the product, and even purchase it direct from your screen.
In this model, the retailers loan the products for the TV program rather than paying for traditional advertising; the production company no longer has to buy the products in, and; the consumer gets an opportunity to have a richer experience and the ability to build stronger association with their favourite shows, by ‘owning’ the lifestyle it represents, as well as benefitting from fewer interruptions during the show. The retailer also could benefit from increased exposure [no ad skipping] and measurability [click-thru; 'like'-ing etc].
OK, I’m going to stop there before I get tangled up in my own thoughts. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – what do YOU think the next big change in marketing will be?