AR, AUDIO & DIGITAL BLINDERS
My first ‘real’ job after I finished my MBA degree many years ago was working for the Yellow Pages. I was responsible for exploring how the company might flourish in the dawn of the Internet era (narrator: not well). Looking back, the prevailing view (especially from digital-know-it-alls like me) was that everything that could be digitized would be digitized, and made better once put on a screen. I remember rolling my eyes when Red Herring magazine published that ‘the future of online purchases is here – it’s called the credit card.” Digital blinders.
I was thinking about that article today, after reading that both Meta and Apple are delaying their AR headsets. Is augmentation necessarily better if it is on a screen? Maybe the future of augmentation is here, and it’s called audio. No need to convince people to wear headsets in public, just keep those Air Pods in. No need to push buttons, just use your voice or be alerted geospatially. No need to disrupt your current flow or social context by switching focus, just listen.
But what are we listening to? From a content perspective, this is where I think some interesting changes are happening. Podcast pioneer Bill Simmons recently gave an interview where he shared that audio content is becoming increasingly reactive to news and culture (not just evergreen). Further, new shows are being launched with companion podcasts where critics and/or creators discuss the episode immediately after it airs. Spotify also recently released research on the audio habits of Gen Z (with Canadian data, eh!) that reinforces how young listeners are spending more time going deeper into their niche interests through audio. So, while social audio is fading, Spotify is becoming like reddit or Google in audio form. I expect to find content and answers relating to anything that I am interested in right now. The audio longtail.
FUTURE OF WORK VS. REALITY
The conversation I seem to be having most often with my clients these days is around returning to the office. What does hybrid mean? How do I measure productivity? Can I build culture remotely? Microsoft released an excellent report on the New Future of Work that applies data and perspective to these questions. I found this table really useful – mapping different meeting objectives to different meeting modes. A smart exercise to do together with teams to establish a shared understanding of working together.
The meeting objective that jumped out for me was #15: ‘Build trust and relationships with one or more individuals’ - it requires a face-to-face meeting (not Zoom). How does this play out in the Future of Work, as building relationships are a critical part of building a career and reputation? Scott Galloway shares thoughts on the matter. I suspect that it’s what most bosses are thinking, but are careful not to say (except Elon Musk). This return-to-work bias is also being seen in some VCs, who prefer to fund start-ups that work IRL.
ADVERTISING & CULTURE
If you’re a marketer confused about the death of third-party cookies, you’re not alone. According to Digiday, 71% of agency and brand execs “are worried and don’t know what’s next”. One thing that might come next is not using data at all – as Meta is apparently developing ‘Basic Ads’ that would not be highly targeted or expensive. A counter-intuitive offering from a platform known for hyper-targeting.
From a creative standpoint, I thought this quote from an ad exec was interesting – “TikTok is one of the places where culture is created”. We often get so focused on audience targeting and production in digital advertising, we forget about the distinct cultures within different social networks. It’s not about specs (does it fit), it’s about context (does it belong). You can’t blame the platforms who continue to put out useful resources to help advertisers:
How to Market on Twitch
How to Market on TikTok
The Long & Short of YouTube
MONEY & THE METAVERSE
It seems like one of the main way companies are making money in the metaverse is by consulting clients on how to make money in the metaverse. Snark (partially) aside, McKinsey recently published some useful background material on commercially navigating the metaverse and Standard Chartered did the same.
Publicis Groupe also recently introduced a lion avatar named Leon as its new Chief Metaverse Officer to help educate clients since “the metaverse isn’t a destination, it’s a real-time learning moment for all”. The company released a YouTube video of this announcement staring the animated lion. Shout out to the Publicis PR / Social team for the decision to not allow people to post comments.
- Product Thinking: A smart piece by Julie Zhuo on Product Thinking. The P-word is used in many contexts and job titles these days – this is good grounding.
- Economist & Education: Interesting perspective on how the Economist launched courses, leveraging its expertise, staff, and brand into a new revenue stream. An untapped opportunity for many.
- Visualizing Media: Love this perspective from Troy Young on visualizing (or revisualizing) media, exploring how mental models are changing for different mediums (HT/ to Brian Clarey for the Substack reco).
- Behavioural Economics Guide: Behavioural economics and nudge theory is all the rage in ad land, this is a good resource and here is a smart video from Rory Sutherland on the subject.