We find here that putting aside your day to day work, debating the latest trends and hot topics and asking each other “what’s next?” is a really valuable use of time. We make time to do this internally, and more recently we’ve extended this to clients, contacts, partners and suppliers outside of equimedia. Being able to get together and discuss new ideas and opportunities within the digital market is what our roundtable sessions are all about.
We hosted another roundtable on Wednesday, our second of 2014 already, and I wanted to share some outtakes from that session, as we had some great discussions which threw up some interesting points.
1. Wearable tech
One section of the roundtable discusses some of the latest technology under the theme “beyond the mouse”, with “wearable tech” just one element within that.
Conversation kicked off around Google Glass, and competitor models like the Vuzix option.
Can we really see ourselves wearing glasses like that?
Won’t the small screen in front of the eye be irritating and difficult to get used to?
The general opinion in the room was that such obvious wearable tech like the Google Glass would be a little frustrating, and take a lot of getting used to – although in fairness we’re yet to try them! The discussion did lead to ‘early adopters’ though and a younger audience, so we were in agreement that there is definitely a market of willing guinea pigs that will jump in early. Price also came in to the discussion;
How much will they cost?
Will that put people off?
The consensus was that early adopters will be happy to front up the money. The younger audience was talked about a little more. As a group we discussed the growing trend, particularly amongst a younger demographic, of the expectation of something in return, or for free. Will Google Glass therefore be another route to market for advertisers? And will the younger audience mind? Perhaps not if there is a discount or freebie in it for them when it comes to purchasing a pair. We shared a spoof video from The Onion that hints at just this, with its spoof ad showcasing the Google phone that “whispers ads in to your ear” when you’re on a call. This got a laugh – with people then saying they wouldn’t be surprised by anything Google do!
Thinking about early adopters, we had one in the room! Smart Watches cropped up in the discussion, with one attendee saying they had purchased a Pebble smart watch a few years ago. His feedback was that it had its uses and benefits, like being able to spot urgent emails quickly – but also its downsides, as he’d then need to get his phone or laptop out to respond to that email!
Smart watches aren’t the newest of concepts, with the first debuting in 1972 (launched by Pulsar) but they are becoming increasingly mainstream with new offerings at this year’s CES show from big brands such as Casio, and with Pebble quoting 250,000 unit orders following their $10m investment from crowdsourcing platform Kickstart last year; just think about Kevin Bacon in the EE ad with his Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch on!
2. Smart TVs. Or in fact “dumb TVs”?
Keeping with the tech theme, we talked about “Beyond TV”, and the subject of Smart TVs arose.
Smart TV sales are on the up, with research from Mintel stating that 20% of the UK owned a smart TV at the end of last year, up from 17% in the summer of the same year – indicating that growth is quite rapid. Global numbers support this, with Smart TVs expected to represent 55% of total TV Sales by next year.
However, while people all over the world may be investing in Smart TVs, it appears they aren’t making the most of the new functionality, with various research pieces suggesting that less than 50% of Smart TV owners have even connected the device to the internet!
So, is this type of technology really needed, or wanted? People in the room at the roundtable yesterday had various opinions; one supported the research by saying he had never accessed the internet through his Smart TV, while another used his now and then – but only for connected TV viewing.
What we discovered from the discussion seemed to be that most of us haven’t yet upgraded to a Smart TV, because we use other devices to connect to the TV to make it “smart”; Ryan plugs in his iPad directly, Jamie accesses Netflix through his family’s Wii console and I use Airplay for accessing music.
From that, the term “dumb TVs” was coined and we seemed to be in agreement that we’d be happy with a TV that was just that, a TV. One we could then plug peripheral devices into, to make it “Smart” in a personal way. Keep it simple was the message. We don’t want TVs going the way that other devices are, with the need to upgrade every 2 years, or less (yes, I’m looking at you Apple!).
That covered the connectivity element of the new Smart TVs, but on the other hand there was lots of appreciation for the new viewing advancements; 4K screen clarity and curved screens. We were all still wowed by that.
At equimedia we have successful relationships with a handful of UK charities, and we had a charity representative at the session yesterday. Talk within the “Beyond Social” element of the roundtable naturally seemed to focus around not for profit examples, and these proved to be great conversation starters.
One, relatively new, opportunity we have tried with one of our charity clients, and the charity contact had tried independently, was Thunderclap.
Thunderclap is a “crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together”. In a nutshell, it helps brands to amplify their messages (typically not for profits with campaigns to promote, such as Parkinson UK’s Parkinson’s Awareness week) by setting targets, and meeting those targets by storing up tweets using the relevant hashtags, and deploying them at once, rather than in the typical trickle of tweets. This often results in trending hashtags, which then support further discovery from more people within Twitter; the snowball effect.
The example shared with us in the session was where Thunderclap had been used to support a new campaign coinciding with an app launch. The hashtag did trend, and promotion of the app through the Tweets helped boost the app to #1 in the app store – so great success.
This does lend itself to campaigns and tactical activity as the effects are relatively short term, but make the required amount of noise when needed.
When we’ve discussed this at previous roundtables with attendees from other sectors, people are always interested and want to consider how it would work for them. As I said, charities and meaningful campaigns with clear messages to support lend themselves nicely to this. If you’re a financial institution or looking to just promote a product, it can be done, but we’d say “tread carefully!”.
Other hot topics
Outside of the wearable tech, Smart TV and Social conversations we covered lots of other topics, including;
- Rising CPC costs on Google
- Something we at equimedia call Googleflation!
- Paid Search
- We were asked, do you only need Google, or should you consider other search engines too?
- We also heard from SMEs and their opinion that the AdWords interface is becoming increasingly complex – hence the need from support and guidance from agencies like ours
- And finally, perhaps the marketing phrase du jour, “Big Data”
- Who is really using it? Am I behind the curve? Both typical questions we’ve heard a lot recently
- Did you spot the quote from Mark Ritson in Marketing Week regarding the belief that just having access to “Big Data” will answer all your marketing problems… it made us laugh!
Overall, it was a really lively and interesting session, touching on lots of new and innovative opportunities within the digital landscape.
I always enjoy hearing and learning from people client side, and more so outside of the agency world – it’s intriguing to get different takes on things and I find these roundtable sessions really stimulate ideas; I’ve already shared some content ideas (light-bulb moments in the session) with the client teams this morning. So, and not being biased here, I’d say the roundtables are valuable sessions that are worth attending – and we put on a great lunch too to say thanks for heading out of your office!
If you’d like to know more, or are interested in attending, drop me an email or a tweet – we’d love to hear from you!