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Ekstasy is a Creative Agency helping brave marketeers and brands conceptualise and produce engaging content and interactive experiences globally

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The beginning of the beginning for digital marketing. Is Augmented & Virtual reality the future?

Digital marketing continues to innovate and move at the same pace as the consumer, actively if not almost competitively. Standing out from the crowd to get noticed has become increasingly aggressive over the last few years. Hello search engine optimisation, hello social media and now hello the ever-popular video content. Video remains the popular method for marketers to create and distribute content to engage with their target audience. Video is the main disruptor for marketers and YouTube and Facebook videos are the 2 most popular distribution channels according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report. It is easy to see why online video content is popular, YouTube has over a billion users whilst 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter . Online video content has proven effective in how brands are currently reaching their audience, 87% of marketers now use online video to target their audience. Everybody is doing it. It is the current trend. However, today’s consumers are always on a look out for fresh exciting content to stay engaged and marketers have now found technology as an effective tool to reach their target audience. Augmented Reality remains popular as AR technology spending jumped from $6.6 billion in 2016 to $12.6 in 2017. AR/VR technologies are also projected to reach $215 billion in spending by 2021. So, what are the reasons for brands to spend on AR/VR? Consumer behaviour is changing, with so many marketing messages being sent to the consumer through emails, smartphone and social media. It is easy for the consumer to totally ignore your messages or even be automatically opted out, even more so with the new GDPR regulations. Brand experiences can break through the barriers by enabling the consumer to get involved with the product, provide an interactive experience and tap into the emotions of the consumer. Co-founder of Immersive Futures Victor Riparbelli suggested that VR is also capable of generating far more empathy in its viewers than any other medium. AR/VR marketing is emotion driven and builds a foundation of empathy for the consumer which is believed to be an evolving behaviour with the consumer. A 2017 Nielsen study found that 84% of VR viewers demonstrated brand recall, compared with only 53% of those who viewed standard video advertising. Virtual reality had helped Greenpeace charity double their sign up by letting festival attendees try on a VR headset as part of a drive to improve engagement. Paula Radley , the Face-to-Face Operations Manager at Greenpeace told Civil Society Media, The success is a combination of VR video, the decoration of the exhibition area and the opportunity for a potential donor to sit down with a fundraiser, which resulted in double the sign ups. Ikea’s well-known use of Augmented Reality has also showed signs that this is the future of consumer engagement. AR has been used by Ikea to let customers preview how furniture looks on their devices before they buy, eliminating any potential mistakes and increase online sales. Which according to Ikea was an area the retailer was struggling with due to rapid changes of digital media. According to company reports, the app was downloaded 8.5 million times , Ikea have reported an increase in online sales which highlight the engagement potential where AR/VR technology has been implemented. It can be argued that AR/VR is the origin of Future Computing. We are currently going through a seismic shift in technology. Only time will tell how far AR/VR can go. Would we see the first ever AR/VR film in the comfort of our homes? And will there be AR/VR adverts in public areas rather than posters and billboards? As far as we know AR/VR technology continues to rise and is now being implemented by brands which has added an exciting new dimension to digital marketing. Immersive technology is currently in its infancy, however, many brave marketeers are experimenting and incorporating AR/VR into their marketing plans. Many large brands such as McDonalds , Velux and Samsung are taking advantage of the new trend which enforces the idea that AR/VR is the future of digital marketing. Here’s what Brent Hall , Marketing Consultant, formerly Global Director of Digital Marketing at Nokia, has to say about it. I’ve led the creation of VR apps and experiences, from a VR app showcasing videos made with Nokia’s OZO camera (RIP) to a shoppable 360 VR experience showing the future of e-commerce and more. It’s important to note that we’re still in the infancy days of AR / VR, this is the time to test, experiment, and prepare for the tipping point. If you’re expecting ROI in dollars and cents, that’ll be a challenge. But if you’re committed to being an innovator, wait no more. The best way to connect with your audience currently is to tap into their emotions, VR/AR technology enables you to do so. Whilst it is still in its infancy, large brands have been quick to utilise this technology. It is only a matter of time before AR/VR technology is used by all marketeers as the ease of use increases and the cost of production decreases. Writer – Tobi Bolanle , AR / VR Partnership Manager @ Ekstasy

Should a Marketeer Hedge her bets on Creative Evolution or Creative Revolution?

As a marketeer you make a very crucial decision each year on the day you finalise your annual budgets for marketing and media spend. So that you have hedged your bets right, you try and base your allocations on last year’s campaign performance metrics. In my opinion, trying to be as objective as possible is both good and also dangerous at the same time. Because to get your brand recognised in a noisy market place your marketing and media spends need to be more than just objective. They needs to champion the uncertain market trends that will reveal themselves over the course of the year. These trends are not objective but highly temperamental. So what can you do to make sure you strike the near perfect balance? Well you try and tell an engaging story. In a 1996 article (01/03/1996) titled “Content is King.” Bill Gates wrote – “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting… When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content-an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important.” So when you try and tell a story with the means of your multi-layered content driven marketing you need to decide whether you should stick to the type of campaigns which proved successful last year or should you be a little more adventurous. Things get even more exciting if you are newly appointed in the decision making role. If your predecessor was not very successful, then you feel confident to revolt against everything they did and draft out a brand new content marketing and media plan. But if they were, then you find it hard to go against the highly successful road map already set in place. On the contrary, if you have been with the company for a few years and have had some good and some not so good years, then what should you do? Do you rewrite the content marketing and media spend rule book or mix and match? I say think like Charles Darwin. Darwin held back the publication of his book ‘On the Origin of Species’ (1859) because the idea of ‘Evolution’ was too ‘Revolutionary’ for its times. His meticulous and systematic research made him realise that life on earth arose by a purely natural process, and not through the design of some supernatural being. So to be a super successful marketeer you don’t just read the performance data points but look for patterns just like Darwin did. That to me is the only way you can trump the volatile market trends. In marketing, systematic Evolution is the key to success and not outright Revolution. This is what I would say should be the basis of a well rounded marketing strategy. It is the only way to be able to hit most of your KPIs, be they – ‘thought leadership’, ‘brand awareness’, ‘lead generation’ or others. The 1911 Britannica noted Georges Jacques Danton’s (a leading figure in the early stages of the French revolution) fierce saying – “Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.” So to summarise, my dear marketeer, do not fear. Be an audacious Darwinian, study the stats and observe the patterns and the winning hand will be yours. And if you still can’t decide or feel stressed then please watch the intellectual discourse between Ross and Phoebe from Friends TV series, arguing about Evolution.