Published: 2nd Mar 2015

It’s true. We’re excited about technology.

- true team

Last week Team True attended Technology for Marketing & Advertising 2015, an event in London promoting technology-powered marketing.

The event highlighted the merging of marketing and technology in this connected age.

It’s difficult to imagine how you could consider yourself to be a marketer today without being heavily involved in digital, considering today’s customer is always connected. Yet in many organisations, marketing and digital are still seen as separate entities, having different approaches and different budgets. The traditional marketing department takes care of ‘offline’ marketing whilst working in parallel with a digital or ecommerce department doing ‘online’ marketing.

The insight: There’s no separating physical and digital media

In a world where human activity increasingly occurs online, we are rapidly approaching a point where the offline and online worlds are merging into the same space. They are becoming so intrinsically linked that companies may be missing opportunities if they don’t join up their thinking and combine these different silos.

James Chandler of Mindshare described the merging of the physical and digital in terms of this timeline:

    • Twenty years ago, people existed purely in the physical space.
    • Ten years ago, people had digital experiences on their desktop computer. Then they turned the computer off, and went out into the physical world, and the two things were nicely compartmentalised.
    • Today, the digital world is part of the physical. We all have smartphones in our pockets. We wear, live, and breathe tech. For millennials, there is no difference. They don’t understand the concept of existing in a world that was purely physical – where people weren’t constantly connected.

The insight: The way people consume has changed forever

Marketing is no longer about spending lots of money above the line. It’s not about expensive TV ads – the amount of TV that millennials consume is declining. It’s not about reaching people through newspaper advertising either – when was the last time you saw a young person reading a newspaper, particularly a broadsheet? Youngsters today consume media in a markedly different way to the traditional methods common to the older amongst us.

The insight: Brands need to connect with millennials on their terms

Marketing is about brands connecting with people in the space that they exist in. And in the case of teenagers and young people, they exist in the space occupied by the digital device carried around in their pockets. To a millennial, there is no such thing as ‘dead time’ – the time you need to fill when you’ve missed a train, or when you’re waiting for someone. This time is now filled by taking your phone out your pocket, consuming digital media, and having conversations with your friends in the online space.

This is a huge opportunity for marketers, and if brands don’t adapt their way of communicating and connecting, they could be left behind.

The opportunity: Wearable technology

Today, this connected space is very much about the mobile phone, but what about tomorrow? Will the phone give way to wearable technology? Lots of people were talking about wearable tech at TFM&A. It’s another growth opportunity for brands to connect with people. At SXSW last year, Pepsi sponsored a ‘bioreactive’ concert where Lightwave wristbands were handed out to the audience. The wristbands fed data back to the DJ in real time, allowing him to adjust the lighting and track selection to enhance the audience’s experience.

Wearable tech is perhaps not such a new concept. We have always worn technology - wrist watches, glasses, and contact lenses are all wearable tech, albeit without quite so many circuit boards. Wearable tech is evolving rapidly as technology advances, as we put ever more sophisticated gadgetry into tiny devices.

This could open up the market for some interesting products in future. Aviva are currently touting their new Drive app which monitors customers’ driving and rewards safer drivers with lower premiums. There could be applications for a similar app to bring down medical insurance premiums, such as an implant under the skin that monitors how much exercise you do. Could we ever see a world where medical treatment is more proactive than reactive? Where implants tell us that our cholesterol is too high and we’re headed for a heart attack?

The opportunity: Beacon technology

Beacon technology is something that is of great interest to us at True – we have a number of clients in the physical retail space and we’re always exploring ways to help them connect with their customers in even smarter ways.

We visited a couple of suppliers at TFM&A who are doing some cool things with beacons. Beacons are able to recognise the presence of a smartphone nearby and can be used to trigger a targeted message or offer via a native app. Even where customers haven’t downloaded a native app, they can track footfall by using Wi-Fi signals to log data about how customers move around a physical space. This can be very powerful in helping retailers to understand more about how their customers are shopping and analysing where they are lingering.

The opportunity: Kentico 8.2

We were pleased to see our partner Kentico at TFM&A this year with an even bigger stand than last year. They were very busy demonstrating the latest version of Kentico 8.2 which has recently been released, but took a bit of time out to discuss their plans for version 9 with us.  The last few Kentico releases have been about improving ecommerce functionality, marketing automation and the user experience, but in version 9, they are looking to make the product even better for developers. This is good news for us – at True, we feel like we are already pulling out all the stops in terms of developing robust software applications on top of Kentico, using technologies such as MVC, automated testing and Continuous Integration, so it’s great to hear about their plans to make these features even more integral to the core product. We can’t wait for version 9 now! Watch this space!

The opportunity: Digital Asset Management

Extensis bowled us over with a demo of their Digital Asset Management (DAM) product, Portfolio. We are often asked by clients to recommend DAM systems, and we were impressed by the maturity of Portfolio. It’s undergone a recent makeover, and the interface was slick and easy to use. It was also remarkably fast, even when searching a database of 35,000 assets. The speedy responses are a result of replacing the SQL Server database in favour of Elastic Search – a file system based indexed search which Google uses. The DAM is incredibly mature, and offers a fully-fledged API, making integrations with other systems possible.  We can think of a lot of uses for this in combination with CMS products, so we’re excited to take this back to the True Lab for a bit of further R&D.

We’re driven by the possibilities

Technology moves so quickly, and we are always so focused on building great applications for our clients in our day to day jobs, that sometimes we don’t stop and think about where all this technology has come from, how it is evolving and where it is all going. Days out at events like TFM&A are a great way to stop and take stock of all the exciting things that are happening in the digital space, and get really fired up by the future possibilities - which are endless.

- true team