Every day a new article comes out boasting that this will be the new year of Augmented Reality or Live Video, and by now most CPG brands have finalized their 2017 activation plans. While we wait to see which of the top trends work for the new year, let’s take a moment and reflect how we can improve our approaches for executing some of these trends.
Messaging Apps: Think Content Not Chatbots
Messaging apps such as WeChat have been successful in China as they offer more built-in functionality than SMS/MMS texting (e.g., booking movie tickets, calling cabs, checking the weather). Those same built-in functions are still being rolled out in the U.S., so brands placed their bets on building chatbots within platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to engage consumers directly. However, even though thousands of chatbots have been built, adoption has remained flat. When we look at how consumers use Messenger or WhatsApp, their top behavior is sharing content among friends and family. Whether it be a new Joe Biden meme from Facebook or a YouTube video, content that is made for social media is being shared in messaging platforms instead.
Virtual Reality: Think Immersive Environments Not Headsets
For both brands and consumers, Virtual Reality has been a letdown in 2016. Even as adoption of devices like Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear grows into 2017, VR in its current form is held back by the required headset that displays immersive environments. It is difficult to appreciate the spectacular environments built in the Unity Game Engine when the user is limited to sitting down to avoid nausea or has a cord connecting the headset to a computer. One of the few brands that pushed VR beyond the headset was Lockheed Martin with a school bus that took children on a Trip to Mars. Rather than handing each child a headset, they replaced the windows on the school bus with screens that projected the scenery on Mars and adjusted the display based on the route the bus took.
Augmented Reality: Think HoloLens Not Pokémon Go
For all the hype Pokémon Go generated, it proved a simple concept – consumers are interested in adopting AR. However, it may have blinded marketers into thinking that smartphones are the best places to get consumers to engage with it. While Pokémon Go was a major financial success for all involved in the launch, the actual AR functionality that let users have monsters appear in their backyard was hardly used due to performance issues and battery drains. The real value with AR lies in the ability to overlay information onto tangible space. Rather than aiming to create a new Pokémon Go, think about how innovations such as Microsoft Hololens are adding helpful information as users need it to their environment. While Hololens is still limited to relying on headsets, notice how it does not take the user away from the real world but adds more functionality to it.
Live Video: Think Story Premise Not Shock Value
The last trend is one Facebook decided to make their company focus going forward – Live Video. Now that anyone with a smartphone and internet access can publish their lives in real-time, brands are figuring out how they can play in the space. Part of the hype from consumers is that anything can happen and some brands may be considering what types of shock value that will keep viewers engaged. However, before our newsfeeds are flooded with stunts and gimmicks let’s ask ourselves – is shock value really the only way to keep viewers interested? Following his 2015 Yule log video, Nick Offermans did another live hour-long New Year’s Eve countdown of himself sitting on a dock silently sipping whiskey while waiting for 2016 to end. While not much is going on during the hour, the premise was clear – many of us cannot wait for this dreadful year to conclude. A simple idea can add a brand new spin to how we leverage each trend going forward.