Digital Offers a Powerful Intimacy Between Brand and Customer

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By The Industry School

Immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality bring exciting opportunities for advertisers. Mixing physical and virtual together, virtual reality has the potential to create a powerful intimacy between brand and customer - as shown with headsets like the Oculus Rift platform and Microsoft HoloLens. What’s more, haptic technology will soon enable VR to impact both mind and body.

Anthony Batt, co-founder of virtual reality firm Wevr, told The Guardian in December: “You can see brands creating room-scale simulations where consumers will interact with branded content. For example, Airbnb could create sims for real rental properties so users could experience what it would feel like to stay there.” There are also opportunities for brands to take a philanthropic approach, such as Toyota using VR for its TeenDrive365 campaign educating teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.

These ever-developing platforms are rich and fertile ground for advertisers. In his Business 2 Community article, The Internet of Things is the Future of Advertising, Andrei Klubnikin reckons that in less than four years, there will be 50 billion IoT devices worldwide including smartphones, wearables and new-generation home gadgets. Drinks giant PepsiCo spent 40% of their advertising budget for the Super Bowl last month on digital. From Snapchat to Twitter, mobile to content marketing, the brand used multiple platforms to generate extra value beyond the TV.

In addition, says Klubnikin, the genius of the IoT for advertisers is that it enables companies to talk to customers after a sale to make sure their product works, give advice on how to use it and offer related goods and services. Consequently, brands can then improve both products and marketing strategies. Dan Hibbins, Digital Consultant and Trainer at The Industry Club, says: “The landscape is ever-changing and it’s broader, but from a delivery and production perspective we can be much tighter in how we define and scope our products.”

Personalisation is a big buzzword among advertisers in 2016 and a key area in which specialised digital creatives are highly prized. “It’s about asking how we use the data we have to drive more personal, relevant communications to the consumers of our digital products.” says Dan in his recent film released by The Industry Club.  “Finding good people to do that at the moment is interesting.”

While the online world is already adept in using personalisation and big data, TV is about to go even further. Indeed Sky’s new AdSmart scheme, which geographically targets ads to audiences in order to ensure greater relevancy, has been taken up by luxury car producer McLaren Automotive. Sky claims the platform has reduced channel switching during ads by 33%.

But as personalisation continues to advance in connected devices, privacy and data protection remain paramount. Customers are demanding it and the use of ad-blocking software grew by 41% last year with 198 million active users worldwide, according to a study conducted by Adobe and PageFair. 

“Every month Facebook is in trouble for flouting some privacy law,” says Dan. “And they are not alone. Privacy is at the top of the consumer’s mind. We trust companies with our personal data and our credit cards, and how we secure that type of data is becoming more and more important.”

So what does the future hold? We can expect advances in automation, drones and social platforms, says Dan. To get a sneak peek, advertisers need to understand the youth audience - or better still hire young people. “As the younger crop of creatives come through, they are more connected to their digital experiences,” says Dan. “They are nurturing the changes for others who perhaps are a little stuck in their ways.”