Highlights from the Marketing Association’s #DigitalDayOut

This week I attended the Marketing Association’s Digital Day Out. It was a great chance to hear what digital marketing experts think the upcoming trends will be and what we can learn from their campaigns.

It was an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day and consider what might be coming next for marketing.

“Focus on the future, it’s where we’ll spend most of our time!”

~ Wayne Pick, Colenso BBDO/Aim Proximity

Here’s the key takeaways I took from the event:

1. Digital blurs the lines

Digital blurs the lines between advertising and entertainment. Live events merge into online experiences. What’s real and what’s a game is no longer clear cut. Rachel Prince of NZTA shared a campaign which illustrated this perfectly.

NZTA “Flash” Video Game

Flash was a precursor to TinnyVision. Again the target market were young male drivers who believed that car crashes happened to everyone but them. This groups alarmingly makes up 50% of the NZ road toll each year. This group also paid far more attention to video games and movies like Fast & the Furious that social marketing messages

NZTA commissioned Resn to create a video game that mimicked those popular with this audience. They had bloggers blog about their excitement about the coming game and even held a launch party. In every way “Flash” it was treated like a real game launch.

The goal was to merge reality with gaming and show that speeding had real life consequences. Using Facebook as a login method allowed NZTA to literally “flash” player’s lives before their eyes.

NZTA took a risk. They invested a lot into a game that could only be played once. They effectively tricked their customers. Usually this isn’t a good thing.

The reaction was luckily positive with many players sharing again on Facebook but keeping the twist to themselves. The game had 125K unique visitors and 21K Facebook shares.

2. Great tech never compensates for average content

Ever single speaker reinforced this point. Great technology and clever digital platforms won’t ever make up for average content. Rachel of NZTA also shared their Snapchat “TinnyVision” campaign. With Snapchat’s 10 second format it could have been tempting to skimp on the content but the had Taika Waititi direct the campaign. Although it was still filmed on an iPhone to add credibility.

NZTA Snapchat TinnyVision

NZTA targeted young men who believed that the smoking cannabis improved their driving by making them more relaxed and slower. The challenge was to convince drug drivers that they were dangerous due to slowed reaction times. This was a tricky group to target as they usually ignore mass advertising and any “live your life better” social marketing messages.

Confident from their game Flash that they could walk the line between advertising and entertainment NZTA choose a covert approach again.

They released 12 snapchats that showed a group of men getting stoned. This walked a fine line for a government agency who could have been seen to be promoting drug use. Obviously they also risked a negative backlash when the audience released they had been duped by an advertiser.

Luckily reactions were positive with 98% watching all 12 videos, showing that they got the content right and people kept watching right through to the punchline.

Rush Digital/TVNZ “How to get away with murder” Game

Danu Abeysuriya of Rush Digital shared their work with TVNZ to promote the show “How to get away with murder”. They created a complex digital “pick a path” murder mystery that even included pre recorded phone calls to players from the characters. But Danu gave the credit for the campaign’s success to good ol’ fashioned script writing.

3. Make friends with developers

It was discussed that the true tipping point for new technology is when it stops being called by it’s “technical name” and starts being part of everyday language. This struck a chord with me as I wrote a series on augmented reality back in 2011. Uses for AR by marketers included as virtual showrooms and sales staff. While some of the applications still seem futuristic other applications have crept into every day language. Such as reversing cameras which use can AR to guide drivers into parking spaces.

As Danu explained Rush Digital’s work with TVNZ he mentioned the out-of-the-box technology solutions that they built on from FaceTime to cloud computing platforms. He mentioned several APIs they use regularly, showing that the best solutions mix bespoke with existing tools. To keep up with all this technology can be daunting so he had a great piece of advice. Be curious and get to know the developer you work with. Ask them what they’re experimenting with in their personal time. As a marketer need to keep sight of the context and the content but also be aware of what’s coming that may help you tell more engaging stories.

This closer relationship also helps developers (even if they’re hesitant to admit it!). Marketers are obsessed with what makes the customer tick. Their knowledge can help developers with insights into how people actually use their software and what features are the most important in their view. A closer relationship between developers and marketers can only be a good thing.

Rush Digital/TVNZ “Trans tasman tug-o-war”

Danu of Rush Digital shared the virtual Tug-o-War that combines a bespoke anchoring system using 4 tonnes of concrete with out-of-the-box tools like Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft Azure cloud.

Further notes…

Here’s my full sketchnotes from the conference. I find visual notes help

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