Category Archives: Digital

What skills do strategists need for experiential campaigns?


It might seem obvious. Experiential strategists need all the same skills as other strategists: critical thinking; curiosity; a love of the data and the ability to distill insights from it; understanding of people, how they work and how they don’t; ability to communicate; ability to collaborate; creativity. So far, so good.

But to brief, and work with, experiential creatives there are other skills that flow from this list but which aren’t necessarily always found together with them. And these are the skills that make a strategist successful (or the opposite of course) in experiential campaigns.

No one is watching you

When you’re thinking about experiences you are never thinking about a short (30second), light-touch experience. Even the simplest experiential will take longer than 30 seconds, (including product sampling, which involves the first and second reads, the take and the environment, before you are able to walk off) and it won’t be only one channel you experience it through. You can’t assume focused attention in the vicinity of your message. It isn’t delivered to you by a platform.

Your creatives have to create the platform using all the channels at their disposal. Which leads us to…

Multiple-channels – One space

You have to think about multiple delivery systems working together – people, uniforms, film, print, 3d, sound, lighting, technology, content etc have to deliver your message coherently. Get one of these wrong and you fail to deliver on visitors, leads, sharability and ultimately business value. I’m not joking. Try getting leads with the best product specialist you have with an uninspiring brand film. Or an off-brand product specialist at a fabulous, on-brand one-off event. Let me know how you get on…

You have to be able to create a brief that works for all your creative stakeholders at once, deliveirng an over-arching concept – as well as being able to create briefs that apply specifically to film, interactive, architecture and environment, sound – you get it.

User experience plus

And then there’s the audience.

You have to consider visitor experience. You’ve created a public moment – how are people going to know it’s even there. You are going to have to signpost it with other media or with physical properties. Events don’t just happen – not even flash mobs!

Then you have to be sure that whichever entry point you visitors come through they see as much of your message as possible, without coralling them like cattle or chaperoning them as if they are at a private view.

And you have to consider digital CX in your specific physical space. People are rarely sitting down to engage with you via mobile – they’re walking around.

It’s more like a street than a gallery. (especially if you are in the street…). And people are much less malleable than you think.

No one wants to stop to download one time only apps.

They are going to walk in front of your beautifully positioned AR, unless you know enough to know they will do that and can work effectively with creatives to deliver spaces that effectively direct people where they engage – and where they don’t.

And this is not to mention that you can’t even guarantee that the objects you loving placed perfectly for your audience will even be there tomorrow. People steal from experiences – regularly – even fixtures and fittings, like gear sticks…

Evolving experience

As more brand and media planners are being asked to brief campaigns delivered fully through experiential, so the ability to work across platforms becomes key to creating effective experiential strategies. But how do you upskill?

You have to explore insights differently, test your propositions against behaviors not just thoughts and motivations and emotions.

Look at different things – not only ads and culture, but how you and others move through the world physically.

Ask yourself, what you would really be prepared to spend time doing? What seems like a great proposition might quickly prove infertile when you sense check outputs against that simple question.

Use verbs instead of statements and imagine you are using this idea across multiple channels to see if it works.

Flex your mental muscles. And have fun.MCS

What blogs should I follow?


 

blog icon information internet
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have just purged the blogs I follow and I find myself looking for some new perspectives.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear them! Send me your comments below or on twitter.

Looking forward to your suggestions!

SXSW Review Part 2 – Beyond VR/AR


For the second of my reviews of SXSW I was struck by the importance of VR/AR/MR, this year it was much higher priority.

The VR Cinema was booked out. I had to wait 2 hours to have one of the experiences! – 11:11 by the SyFy Channel. It was an interesting example of how storytelling is becoming more gamified, with 7 linear, interlocking stories delivered inside a coherent universe and a challenge to find the last ship off a dying world.

There were other very different experiences such as an art piece based on the telegrams that were sent from the front in WW1 in which nothing could be written but only options crossed out. And an abstract environment created out of the words of a Bolivian journalist in the 19th Century.

What is  clear is that the industry is exploring what boundaries can be pushed through the medium . There were talks on VR and the Law, Race and VR, Sexuality and VR and the now familiar ways that VR can build empathy. There were also explorations of how these technologies may impact humans moving forward.

IMG_1574.JPG Helen Papagiannis is an expert in AR and brought together these threads in her talk Augmented Humanity. She is exploring multiple AR delivery mechanisms not simply through sight but also taste, touch (haptics) and sound. And she saw it enhancing the capabilities of human beings much in the same way that Kasparov did the use of AI.

Image result for bose ar launched their AR glasses – not Augmented Reality but Audio Reality. The idea is that you can now experience truly immersive sound through headphones that respond to where your ears actually are. This isn’t Dolby Surround Sound, it’s sound delivery that changes just as it would if you were outside, heard a dog bark and turned to look for it.

It’s all signaling a move towards greater accessibility and immersion in the space. And a richer media world for us all.

Styling better creative briefs


We all dream of writing that brief which makes a creative team sit up and say “My god! This is it, I get it, I love it, I love you, I know exactly what I am going to do!”

Unfortunately that’s more the exception than the rule and the situation is made worse by the fact that planners/strategists/”thought ninjas” (or whatever other name by which you like to be known – polite only) are primarily verbal people.

Why does that make it worse?

Because most of the time we are talking to primarily visual people. If you put a 3 page A4 document in front of a designer it’s not likely to be viewed as a brilliantly incisive piece of valuable thinking. It’s more likely to be seen as a boring tract of unnecessary detail or, in the worst case scenario, a sleep aid.

There is science behind this of course – research into learning styles. There are 4 key learning styles –

  • Aural or Auditory – learners who like to discuss, listen, repeat and debate in order to learn.
  • Visual – learners who grasp ideas more easily if they are illustrated, graphically represented or arranged for instance by using charts and mind maps.
  • Visual (verbal) – learners who take in information through words read/write
  • Kinesthetic – learners who need their learning to be connected to reality through demonstrations, exhibits, case studies etc.

Too often we’re guilty of  putting out briefs and information in ways that are unusable or difficult for others to process, and then we wonder why our carefully crafted masterpieces get ignored.

How to combat this?

  1. Write less – please can we have no more 3 page A4 tomes as briefs. Even I can’t bear them and I love writing (viz and towhit…)
  2. Include imagery – Combine the fundamental  requirements and insights with one picture that expresses the whole concept
  3. Think about immersion – Can we use physical space to brief, experiences to drive understanding?

We now use a brief that has a full page image and 2 pages of ppt size and I’ve found it to be really useful in helping me communicate both fact and emotional concepts. I haven’t yet had an occasion on which to use a Kinesthetic approach but would love to hear from anyone who has on what worked and what didn’t.

CES Trends 2018 – Tech and Experiential


It’s a busy time of year at Imagination. We cover SEMA, LA Autoshow, CES and Detroit in 3 short months. The good thing about that is there is a lot to digest and explore and some interesting things to bend your mind around from what the B2B experiential landscape looks like to where technology trends are going in the next 12 months.

Here’s my report from CES  which picks up on some of the trends we were seeing in our Experiential Trends report and identifies a couple of themes from the tech world that we will definitely be using in our future autoshow program.

You can download the paper here…

Imag_CES-Trends-01162018

Best Use of AR – Event Tech Gold Award


I’ve said before I love working with the creatives in Imagination, nothing is impossible to them. Plus we get to work with incredible partners such as Unreal, Kitestring and NCAM. And here’s another example – a world first use of AR at the Detroit autoshow to tell stories about Ford’s cars when people can’t actually see inside them.

We just won a Gold award for this work in the Event Tech awards.

AI and experiential


A shot of drawings from Quick,Draw!AI has made it’s way into our lives without us really noticing.

The ads that recommend products you might like? Machine learning.

Siri, Alexa? They use AI to develop ever better wake-word detection (the words that wake them up and start them listening) and speech recognition.

And of course the ever popular Quick, Draw!

But working out how AI might impact on our own work lives is of course way more interesting. For instance, what will AI do to the world of experiential design?

Threats
The demise of the middle classes is the very latest apocalpyse promised by technology. But the threat is real. AIs work faster and can be more accurate than us, picking up nuances that humans miss. Examples?

  • We know that AI can plan moves to outwit a GO! master. So AI could plan the optimum path or paths through experiences. That would do away with the need for architectural design experts.
  • AI can analyze big data and derive insights in such a way that there may be no perceived need for strategists, particularly if the strategists have focused their attention solely on data and measurement rather than emotional connection and behavioral economics
  • AI can assess creative outputs and recommend universally appealing stories or interactions that deliver much of the work of human creatives, faster and more efficiently, and possibly even more effectively. IBM Watson was asked to make recommendations for a film trailer of the film Morgan. Check out the rather unsettling results. 

But as with every threat the flip side is the opportunity.

Opportunities
From the research I am currently reading and the pilot projects we are working on at Imagination I can see some interesting opportunities for experiential design agencies that hinge on doing at a more intricate level what we should always be doing – making more effective, emotionally affective experiences for our audiences.

  • AI can deliver a new way of measuring volume and behavior inside experiences that gives new levels of detail. Instead of self-reported research responses which are always biased we can map experiential user journeys more accurately. As one example, we can look at whether people really ended up where we wanted them because they were attracted there, or driven there.
  • Facial mapping technology can help us determine high and low value experiences much faster than we have been able to do previously. This opens the possibility of more adaptive experiential spaces – screens that change content responsively, according to what most people in the space want, or to create shock and excitement with content that no one is expecting?
  • Speech enabled environments that can deliver personally crafted stories from a huge data set, via your mobile, on the fly. Imagine that for museums.
  • Identifying the places and moments inside an experience that require more human interaction.

Currently AI needs human input to be of value. Maybe it will reach a point where it doesn’t need human input.

But one interesting observation from game 4 of the 5 game match between AlphaGol and Lee Sedol.

The moment where the program made it’s fateful mistake in that match was the moment that Lee Sedol made an unexpected and unpredictable move.  We love to believe that humans are rational, predictable and definable. But if behavioral economics has taught us anything it’s that we are more emotional or ‘irrational’ than we like to believe. That’s where AI has problems. But that’s where experiences truly bring value to the marketing mix.

We are, after all, animals that thrive off emotional connection, so much so that it actually creates health in us.  So experiential designers should consider ways to work with AI as a way of generating more of that irrationality that seems to be a characteristic of humans to deliver emotions that drive brand energy.