Tag Archives: scarletgeek

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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the blending edge

It’s the second week of a new year and I’m halfway through writing three future retail strategies.

Though blurred lines won’t be a new premise for most of you who follow this blog, I thought a handy snapshot of where you can expect them to become increasingly blurred across the year might prove useful as it’s the recurring theme I’m hearing myself explain on a daily basis.

So here are my top blurred lines to expect for 2017;

The line between clicks and bricks

For anyone leading the way when it comes to the conversation between shopping online verses in-store, this will have been on your radar for several years by now, but thanks to Amazon bringing checkout free shopping to bricks and mortar in Seattle, this year comes with a whole new sense of anticipation and threat. Admittedly whilst limited at the moment, given the force behind the world’s 7th biggest brand it won’t be long before they’re popping up all over the globe. The internet will continue to spill out of our mobiles and laptops and into the objects around us, the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived.

The line between humans and intelligent assistants

Not to be confused with Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is autonomous, Intelligent Assistants (IA) are on the rise at a rapid rate. An IA is pre-programmed with data and doesn’t learn autonomously, this means brands are feeling more comfortable with releasing them into their customer service offerings and consumers are more comfortable with interacting with them. The speedy response negates the desire to have an informal chat with a human over the phone and accuracy is vastly improving.

The line between one and many

One of the greatest strengths of the internet is it’s ability to merge consumers needs with others that identify with the same. This pier to pier collaboration is defining what habits emerge and what technology enables those habits.

The line between social power and brand success

Building on this last point, brands are built on what consumers say about you, and thanks to the power of social, what is said is heard far and wide in seconds. You only have to look at the likes of Uber and AirBnB, case studies that are thrown around to show the true power of businesses built on ratings and feedback, to see the reality is that what you say is barely relevant, the true power is with the consumer. Content was King across Web 1.0 and 2.0, Context across Web 2.0 and 3.0. Depending on how sophisticated your brand is, you’re likely somewhere between 3.0 and 4.0 so the consumer is very much your King today.

The line between listening and predicting

Nike built their brand on the philosophy ‘Know me to serve me’ and it sits at the heart of everything they do. Because technology means consumers can have whatever they want at the touch of a button successful brands have a limited window to ‘listen and respond’. The successful retailer will know what a consumer wants before they even know they want it.

It’s clear that the notion of a clear dividing line is drawing to a close.

amazon-go

image found on http://www.theguardian.com – thank you

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Too Punchy apparently…

I originally wrote this for a university blog who asked for some tips for their students on breaking in and succeeding in the advertising industry. Apparently this candid account of my journey so far is too punchy, they asked me to ‘tame it down’, I said NO! I have just the audience who might appreciate this as it is. So I’m publishing it here.

It’s longer than my normal posts, so grab a brew, take five and I hope you find some of this useful…

My Seven Tips for Survival

My job didn’t exist when I was at uni, it barely existed five years ago. I didn’t grow up thinking ‘One day I shall be a Transformation Strategist, or a Creative Technologist’. The reason I studied Art & Design at college is because I liked my teacher who taught design at school and I wanted to create beautiful things.

When I went on to university, the degree was titled ‘Graphic Design and New Media’; my first lesson was on search engines, an introduction to Google, my degree introduced me to Flash, Quark, InDesign and Freehand and on the day I graduated all of those skills were already out of date.

The reason I’m telling you this is that my first tip for stepping into our industry is to understand that it moves and evolves at breakneck speed, there’s a new start up every two minutes and a new technology every one. You have to be on your game every second to stay ahead.

What I did learn during my studies was that design and creativity is a fluid process; the principles of craft, attention to perfection (not just detail) and experimenting with how far you could push the boundaries would always deliver a result. Following graduation I found that print quickly bored me, so I taught myself to code and started to design interfaces, basic brand websites back then, and got excited. Code seemed to not only bend the rules but break them entirely, what you could achieve with dots per pixel rather than dots per inch seemed to know no boundaries, the only limitations were those of my mind. This brings me to my second tip, always push the boundaries and seek terrain unexplored.

Having realised this I quickly sought out the best agency in my area to learn how to do just that, I lived in Leeds at the time. I waited for a vaguely relevant job to come up, then when it did, I hounded them to employ me. I got the job, my first proper footing on the ladder (this was about two years after I graduated), that first foot is the hardest but most important one you’ll ever take.

The job was as an Account Executive, I didn’t exactly love booking rooms and making the tea, but I was surrounded by clever, fun people and quickly identified who I wanted my mentor to be, the smartest most rock ’n’ roll guy in the building who also happened to be leading the digital transformation for the whole agency. I stuck to him like glue for the following four years and he helped me become a savvy client facing strategist, adept in the rapidly changing world of digital. Tip three, surround yourself with the people you aspire to be and don’t be afraid to ask them to mentor you.

When it was time to move on life took me to London. I got a job at one of the leading UK agencies where I learnt how to manage big platform projects and start up enterprise solutions. I worked 12-18 hour days, every day to cram 3 years of progress into 18 months. It paid off, one of the top agencies in the world head hunted me into their team.

From then it was about jumping in with everything I had and pivoting my way through the most breakneck world I had ever experienced. I said yes to everything, then worried about how afterwards. I pushed myself to be the best at everything I took on, failure was not a situation I would accept. Tip four, do whatever it takes, if you don’t someone else will.

The hard work paid off when six months into the job I got a real chance to prove my abilities, arguably the turning point that made my career. Following leading a successful series of workshops I was asked to move to Japan and run the resulting global project for a major client. I had one week to pack up my life, lock up my flat and get on a plane, I didn’t even have an address to go to, it all happened so quickly my living arrangements were being organised whilst I was on the 13 hour flight to Narita.

48 hours later I found myself in an alien environment; I was half the age of the people around me, western, female and not able to speak the language. Was I nervous? Hell yes. I was amongst an incredibly intelligent bunch of people who knew this organisation inside out. Japan is a culture that lends to following a career path within the same company for the span of an entire career, these guys had started on the factory floor and worked their way to the top, then here I was to lead them through a massive change program. I swallowed the nerves, rolled my sleeves up and threw myself in. Tip five; if you’re not shi*tting yourself slightly, then you’re not pushing yourself enough.

Over the next six months I had to adapt daily to navigate many challenges. I started to build a strong team around me and the agency team back in London were nothing short of amazing. We spoke every day, we tackled problems together, when I got stuck they were there, when they couldn’t tell what was happening where I was, I brought them in, it was fluid, with many highs and lows but collectively we succeeded by working tightly together. Tip six; you are only as good as the team around you.

Since starting my career I’ve been a designer, a coder, a planner, a strategist, a client lead and half of a creative team. I’ve built teams, projects and many, many beautiful, useful things. I’ve changed minds and lives, kickstarted businesses, led huge programs, mentored, managed and broken every rule in the book. Most of all I’ve taken risks. Tip seven; don’t be afraid to take risks, it’s how we improve ourselves.

The words of my mentor when I left that first job in Leeds still ring true today, ‘Why will Karen succeed? Quite simply, because she has no fear’.

So my advice to you as you start on your journey in a particularly exciting but turbulent industry, is ‘Just say yes, be brave and jump in’.

What’s the worst that can happen…

jumping-off-a-cliff.jpgimage found on https://developingourwings.wordpress.com/ – thank you

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I Dredd to think…

I’m writing this from one of my favourite cities in the world.

For me Hong Kong is the epitome of where urban dwellings meet the jungle. Tropics growing into brick, buildings built around ancient roots. It feels like a chapter from I Am Legend, except we’re all still very much alive.

The subject of technology outgrowing humans is rife here, I’m collaborating on a project with a friend and it’s come up time and again as this city and the surrounding majors struggle to adopt innovations in a way that resonate with the humble origins the culture is built upon.

This week has left me reflecting on whether sustainable thinking will lend to mega metropolises, or whether global urbanisation will mean that rural areas will get left behind.

As transport becomes more sustainable, more affordable, ever faster and more connected, will it conflict with the debate around borders being reimposed and trade restricted back to regions again? Take Brexit as an example closer to home; if we leave the EU and customs barriers lead to effective restriction to start with, will we note the stagnation that will quickly follow so that when international exchange comes to a standstill we won’t notice the daily conflict?

On a related note but different angle, technology has allowed that we all become producers. Open SDK’s and API’s, 3D printing and crowdfunding all mean that rather than brands lending to personalisation, self made and personally tailored will be the next movement. Will brands play a role in enabling this or will they move to a protective stance on their IP?

I like to think that all my favourite cities are characterised by diversity and as such we will continue to encourage flexibility across the globe, joining forces to build reliance against what could otherwise be a tough future.

But as technology surges with intelligence at it’s core, the biggest question I am hearing repeatedly from all over is whether global cooperation and unlimited interaction will evolve to one diverse world where we see and share everything, or whether the future take us back to the past?

Will Mega Metropolises mean just Mega blocks and Mega highways? Will we live in a Mega City One? Will it be more Skynet than that? So many film references and a tad Dredd I know, but I believe the next few years will impact this more than we care to acknowledge.

I judge you not.

judge-dredd-on-screen-future-still-up-in-the-air-01

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Tell me what I want before I want it…

But stop invading my personal space.

It’s a tricky juxtaposition to deliver seamless personal service whilst not freaking consumers out with a big brother approach. I for one HATE banners, especially the ones that stalk me for days on end, however, I would like my utilities provider to remember who I am and take me to the last place I visited, or a nice welcome back page, rather than straight to paying bills even though I have a Direct Debit set up and they owe me money.

So given we’re seeing the fastest evolution in how we interact with devices ever, and that cloud computing means everything is on hand instantly, how long before intelligent assistants make all of our decisions for us?

The key difference will land when the predictive nature moves from our smartphones into our cars, our homes and eventually our offices en masse. It’s happening already; cars are synced to Spotify lists and traffic lights, in-home devices monitor how many bodies are in a room in order to moderate the heating but, this connectivity is not everywhere, yet.

Wearables are bridging some of the gaps; how long before my GP phones me up because my heart rate is too high when I’m out running or how long before my digital radio wakes me up to Stevie Wonder to sooth the after effect of a bad dream…

I’ve been prototyping with A.I solutions recently and can’t help but wonder when I will be able to curate my party playlists based on who’s attending, when I will be able to book taxis to pick up my guests and drop them off in the most effective order possible, when I will NEVER have to do a tax return again or manage my inbox…

I reckon true anticipatory computing is closer than we think.

Now get out of my cloud.

girl-on-a-cloud

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Minding Change. Changing minds

One day (pick any day in your career), a client will have said to you ‘We’re not set up to do that, this way is tried and tested’, then in the next breath, they’ll ask for scalability with stability.

Big businesses based on structures that scaled in the 80’s when the price of bread was stable and people had one job for life, find it really hard to keep up with the rate that technology and mindsets develop.

Back then the channels were limited and the organisations structured linearly, now we have to deal with forever shifting landscapes and instantaneous communication flows.

I work for a company that has recently gone through a lot of change, as we equally work to help our clients to change, so for the last 18 months I’ve been deeply immersed in what the theory verses the reality can look like, and indeed feel like.

I believe that long-term structural change needs three things to be considered:

  1. Scale; setting a foundation and building upon that in the right way
  2. Speed; ramping up and achieving significant growth quickly
  3. Stability; an output that can sustain the duration and return, over and above the investment

Yet at the very heart of all of this, the thing that keeps me awake at night, and no doubt my business partners too is that we only really succeed when change works at an individual level, because that’s where the passion comes from.

I was lucky enough to talk to Evan Spiegel yesterday, the founder and CEO of Snapchat, he’s young, smart and not bound by the constrictions of big old businesses, he said this:

‘Success is based on leaders that love their people’

It rings very true to me, and as I make my way up the corporate rungs it’s becoming starkly obvious just how hard it is to achieve the balance transforming requires.

change

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In the beginning

We simply had our imaginations.

Then Thomas T Goldsmith Jr and Estle Ray Mann came along with the first interactive game, the ‘Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device’, developed in 1947, renowned for their simulation skills and not their wordsmithing, you’ll be glad to know.

Soon after, we saw a burst of simple interactive programs such as; ‘Mouse in the Maze’, ‘Bertie the Brain’ and Alan Turing’s ‘Chess’ capable of computing two way problems but not complex algorithms. This was shortly followed by ‘Spacewar’ in 1962; a two-player game where you try and destroy each other’s starship… arguably the first true video game, it took around 200 hours to code and was done by some students at MIT.

Where am I going with this?

Well, if we fast forward through the Odyssey’s and the varying intergalactic games to the Atari release of ‘Adventure’ in 1980 where we saw text adventure visualised, albeit crudely, in a plethora of dragons, monsters and sword slaying, through to the help of RAM and better joysticks into the world of Sega Dreamcast and NES where imaginary friends like Sonic and the Super Mario Bros helped us through the 90’s and into today, you’ll see my ramblings are leading to a pertinent question…

In a world where we now have technology that scans brain activity to read our minds, technology that creates worlds that don’t exist and technology that maps us to our surrounding climate, how long before we live in our imaginations, in a virtually real world.

Or, what if I’m already living in it and the world we think we live in is actually virtually imagined.

Wait, what…?Living inside my head

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Does your Ad Add?

Because if it doesn’t, then it’s just pollution.

Brands broadcasting their message online; from TV ads whacked on YouTube to tiny irritating banner messages (that are frankly a bit like an annoying buzzy mosquito), have been the advertising stance for too long.

Before you ask, yes, I hate banners. (Oh c’mon, when did you last click on one??).

Give me a brand genuinely willing to listen to their consumer, rather than trying to out shout their competition in a vanity exercise, any day of the year.

It’s refreshing when you finally get to ‘engage’ with someone in their moment of need online and help address that ‘Oh Crap, I just need to cook something quick, scrummy, yet healthy for the kids’ moment, or the ‘Bugger, my skin is rivalling a prune this morning’ moment… or the ‘What the hell is twerking??’ moment (yep, I’m in Google’s annual report for this one).

Taking that first step to move beyond an arbitrary KPI that doesn’t prove a thing, to owning a moment that lasts beyond the search result is the single bravest decision any brand can make.

So as a brand, are you ready? Not sure? Then simply ask yourself; as an individual, if you were a brand, what would you want people to say about you if you weren’t around to broadcast yourself?

The power of impression influences the conversation. Conversation is a two way thing. Oh, and it often happens ‘offline’.

Add, don’t Ad.

Think consumer first.

A Cool Add

This is a cool Add

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PULS v Samsung Gear S

I’m not sure that ‘next generation’ of wearables is the right phrase for this as we’ve seen a constant stream of evolution in this area recently, but the two that I’m stuck between are Will.i.am’s ‘PULS’ and the Samsung Gear S.

The PULS can be partnered with a jacket that powers it, a backpack to play your beats and shoes that prompt you not to chomp on too many doughnuts (it measures your weight and has a built in pedometer). It also comes with an O2 sim in the UK, which is where it starts to cross into Gear S territory for me…

The Gear S is one of the reasons I’m holding back from getting the iPhone 6, that’s a big (bendy) phone going on right there, not a good look stuck in the pocket of my skinny jeans… whereas the Gear S is just as sleek as Will.i.am’s fashion led creation, also able to put me off doughnuts and seemingly comes with better connectivity through 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth, with the simple touchscreen interface and good ol’ QWERTY keyboard making life simpler still.

Maybe if Will.i.am can stream his amazing tunes as a service that would swing it…

will.iam.s' new smartwatch

Samsung Gear-S

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Less science fiction, it’s really just science

I was just reading about Google’s newest project and it got me thinking about how the gap between science fiction and simply just, ‘science’ has pretty much closed since I was a kid and watching films like Innerspace and Terminator… bear with me…

Google’s new patent sees a range of smart contact lenses equipped with tiny cameras embedded within, to allow for ‘in lens’ photography or assistance for the visually impaired. Google also have lenses that are able to provide measurements of blood glucose levels for diabetics through a sensor that measures the glucose in tears and signals the levels through teeny, tiny LED’s.

Soooo… given we know that human bodies don’t accept foreign objects particularly well and this new lens means we can access the small surface of our eye (which is covered by live cells that can represent our whole body) in a non-intrusive way, how long before a contact lens can analyse what is happening inside our body without actually ever entering it… (that’s the Innerspace reference).

… and how long before we have night vision, or augmented data layered in. How long before we don’t need all the other screens around us, our phones, in-car dashboards… and how long before a simple lens scans everyone around us (Terminator ticked) and along with Arnie and Quaid, Cruise needs to re-draft his Minority Report to be something more actual fiction biased science fiction…

He'll be back...

He’ll be back…

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