The idea that challenges can create opportunities is a widely cited motivational quote.
With the rise of ad blocking in 2015, marketers faced a significant challenge, as consumers demonstrated their willingness to use technology to improve their media experiences while marketers realized that carpet-bombing digital media with banner ads is a short-sighted strategy.
While ad blocking presented a major challenge to marketers, some new alternatives to what is now known as traditional digital advertising emerged in 2015.
Here are four of 2015’s most innovative advertising technologies:
1. Game-changing live feeds via Periscope and Meerkat foster deeper relationships with audiences.
Google Plus’s Hangouts have let marketers host live video feeds for fans for years, but the format was limited by Plus’s lack of popularity. In March, though, a startup called Meerkat allowed for similar types of live video feed broadcasts via Twitter. Among the early adopters were Red Bull and Starbucks. The former offered behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Red Bull Double Pipe Finals in Aspen. Starbucks presented a live feed from its roastery. While neither drew huge audiences, the platform, plus Twitter’s competitor, Periscope, opened up new possibilities for brand interactions. By summer, Nissan employed Periscope for the unveiling of the 2016 Maxima at the New York Auto Show. Taco Bell used it to plug a new breakfast item with a humorous mock press conference.
Periscope or Meerkat are definitely game changers as they have broadened brands’ reach while humanizing them by showing a less-staged, more realistic look. All of this is increasing brand affinity while creating deeper relationships with their audience.
2. Billboards that read emotions
Billboards, even digital ones, are justly seen as a one-dimensional vehicle for advertising. But what if one could actually read the emotions of passers-by and use that information to tailor its message? That’s the thinking behind a billboard that M&C Saatchi created this summer for a fictional coffee brand called Bahio. The billboard, which uses Microsoft’s Kinect technology, reads people’s smiles. The more smiles, the better the ad message is seen to be performing. This gives brands a new outlet to share their messages.
This billboard demonstrates how machine learning has evolved and how brands can keep going deeper with personalization. Perhaps in the near future we will come to a time where advertisers can show us videos ads based of our heart rates, life histories, politics views, breathing or even past interactions with the billboard.
3. VR-based media
Subscribers of The New York Times print edition got a surprise on Nov. 7, when the newspaper shipped some 1 million Google Cardboard devices. The viewers were designed to let readers experience “The Displaced,” a video feature about war refugees. The package also offered a glimpse of advertising possibilities with a VR ad for GE. Not to be outdone, Facebook, which is readying the release of its Oculus Rift headset in 2016, introduced 360-degree video, which let users manipulate video with their cursor to experience a more panoramic view. Scroll around a video of a room, for instance, and you can see the adjoining room. So far, Ritz crackers and AT&T have tried out the ad unit. Expect to see a lot more VR-based media in 2016.
4. Snapchat Discover
Who would have guessed a couple of years ago that Snapchat – the app best known for letting teens sext without consequences – would become a media powerhouse? The company proved it’s more than just a curiosity with Snapchat Discover, a media platform that features outlets like Vice, BuzzFeed and CNN, among others, which load content that disappears after 24 hours. As Snapchat proclaimed when it introduced the feature in January, “This is not social media. Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
In a weird way, Discover harkens back to that old media mainstay, the print newspaper.
In the coming year, some calls will be easy to make. Yes, VR and AR will be huge. Data-based targeting will become even more refined and effective. However, there are likely many technologies that will take us completely by surprise. That’s what makes the media world of this era so challenging but also so exciting.