Category Archives: Innovation

Monetising Virtual Reality

I’m on the train back from a conference where I was privileged enough to be part of a panel alongside top guys from the BBC, Unity and Dubit, we discussed and interrogated the money making roadmap for Virtual Reality (VR).

It was interesting and much fun, not least because it’s something I believe is here to stay (no surprise to those of you that follow me), but eyebrow raising too in that the focus across the industry is steering quickly to ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) rather than considering the fact that we haven’t really nailed the craft, purpose or immersion factor yet.

I was asked afterwards by several people; ‘What are your top tips for getting into VR and where is the money?’ (mainly in the same breath) and so thought I’d distill the panel into a post… here goes.

First things first; as with any good content (or business), a VR experience is only as good as the idea(s) at the core. Crack a brilliant concept first and the money will follow (one way or another). During my career I’ve worked for some of the top agencies in the world, of these two spring to mind; one was focused on money first and idea second, another ideas first and money second. The latter is acing it, the first is arguably losing it’s identity, staff and direction. Enough said.

Secondly, again you’ll see the parallel here; you have to build trust. Trust in the medium is growing but headsets aren’t about to fly off the shelf just yet, it’s a slow burn but it will reap it’s reward.  The ‘jazz hands’ have been and gone, the next phase on the roadmap is about creating brilliant and relevant experiences, VR is about immersion not reach. Get this bit right and scale (therefore money) will follow.

Third up; consider the right investment and return model. You can; create an app based service and tie subscription to it, you can launch with experiential then move to freemium and start an economy of scale from there, you can take an AR in-road with an upgrade model, sponsorships, partnerships, branded content… as with any new medium there are many money making ways. However, as with any medium, one will apply to your objectives more than the other. Explore and choose carefully.

It’s a bit ABC but thats because really truly, the basics aren’t actually all that complicated. The playground is big, experimentation is happening, trailblazers are lighting up the way. Those that keep their head but jump in and concentrate on; brilliance, trust and effectiveness (in that order), will be the ones to make their millions in this medium.

See you there.

Minecraft Money

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Cannes Lions 2017: From stories to experiences

Movies like Terminator, iRobot or Minority Report didn’t predict the future, the creators just opened up a new way of thinking within the realms of their scripting.

Similarly, as an industry, we advertisers pride ourselves on creativity and storytelling. We strive to create new ideas and worlds every day and communicate these through stories. Our stories get seeded online and then evolve amongst communities online and offline. They’re influenced globally by opinions and cultures, evolving and developing as multiple varieties from that one original core. The best stories transcend through the industry as ways of inspiring others.

But we must move beyond just stories. In today’s ‘post cinematic’ world we have so many new and exciting ways of creating, telling and sharing experiences; immersive mediums, alternate realities, cognitive and predictive data, connected and intuitive ecosystems. All of these things push the boundaries of storytelling, so why then, when for years we have successfully told linear stories, do we suddenly get ‘tech fear’ and limit ourselves at the hands of technology stressing over whether it’s been done?

This year I was honoured to be invited to judge the Cannes Lions mobile category and it was clear to me that when creativity and technology meet there are a few key trends emerging across the globe:

  1. Tech for tech’s sake is taking a back seat, FINALLY! The pioneers of converging an idea with the pace of life today are really doing their research to nail the killer insight at the heart of an idea, and you can see how this helps the idea evolve but not stray.
  2. That said, few are brave enough to state they don’t quite know what they’re doing (which is OK by the way as long as you are ‘doing’) and so stick digital and social amplification plasters over the cracks in an idea and talk about reach (I’m rolling my eyes now).
  3. Too many brands are quick to experiment but slow to adopt and scale, they come with an award in mind but lose sight of their audience in doing so.
  4. Very few have really, truly wrapped their minds around how to move from telling a story to putting their user at the centre of it to create an experience.
  5. Those brave enough to explore new terrain are doing so with a cause at the heart of it, which is empowering, I salut you.
  6. Ethics and morals aside for a moment, there’s still a ton of opportunity to just do really cool shit that leaves your brand emblazoned on the minds of those you want to buy your product.

Two words in most of the case studies and two that I hear every day are; Disruptive and Innovative. For me, true disruption emerges at the convergence of technologies, ideas and of course stories.

I was excited to see the bar is inching up, however there is a whole new world we can create through the next generation of stories and experiences that is currently untapped.

Whilst I love a good story, it’s definitely left me fuelled to continue to push for experiences, ones that make hairs stand on end, screeches escape mouths and eyes to well up, all of which happened in the jury room #justsaying.

Cannes Lions 2017

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Creating Cultures of Innovation

Innovation is such a loaded word.

How do you constantly reinvent yourself? The team around you? How do you think like a start up when you hit 150 people, 300 people, 500..?

I come across two sets of people every day; the ‘No, but’s’ and the ‘Yes, and’s’. It’s the latter that drive change because they disrupt with positivity.  My starting point is always to invite these guys in and let them thrive for as long as possible.

Once positive disruption is in place (and it needn’t take many people to create a stir) quickly focus on negating potential risk of that running for too long. Once you have something that you intuitively feel is right, start making it. It doesn’t have to be slick, rough and ready is good, but play with it, test it, let others do the same.

Ask yourself; if you were to put money into this how confident would you be that it will succeed?

I can promise you this; regardless of what your idea is you will be more confident once you start making it. You simply can’t get the insight and feedback loop you need from a deck with some words and pictures in it. It’s not the same.

Once you have something tangible, look at what makes it fit for brief, or purpose (depending whether you’re coming at this as an agency or client). The idea itself will die if it’s not put into practice, and quickly.

At this stage you should involve your audience in your beta, this is where you get the ‘authentic truths’ from and where your product will start to improve quickly. This will also help you identify where scale and profitability will come from, which in turn will shape your ‘go to market’ approach.

If you’ve reached this point, well done! You should feel like you have a desirable product or service and this is where sh*t gets real.

There are many ways to go to market, especially with ‘the internet’ enabling us to reach the masses quickly and effectively. Don’t forget to include the audience you’ve just built in your testing, include them as you plan your approach.

Hacker marketing, or growth marketing should never be underestimated, I recommend this book if you’re ready to start getting something out there and you’re a start up, or try this one if you’re an agency or client with an internal team changing the status quo. Obviously feel free to read both!

It doesn’t stop here, once you’re up and running, never stop innovating or disrupting. If you sit on your laurels, someone else will come along and disrupt you, which doesn’t feel good.

Keep pushing, interrogating, improve your product, or move on to something else.

Whatever you do, don’t sit still.

In the words of Steve Jobs ‘If you don’t cannabalise yourself, someone else will.’ And look what he achieved.

stevejobs1image found on Google – thank you

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