Digital Trends: 09.01.22

Marketing today can feel a bit like surfing – scanning the ocean to choose the right wave to catch. Trends, like waves, are changing constantly and social media exacerbates the challenge for marketers to figure out what is worth jumping on. As I wrote years ago, brands need to ask themselves the right questions to understand if they should take a stand. Wendy’s and Dove presumably did this when deciding to wade into the recent Lisa Laflamme controversy. A few other brands surfing trend waves include DuoLingo who is incorporating High Valyrian (the fictional language used in Game of Thrones) into its advertising and Chipotle is one of the first brands to test the new social platform BeReal.

If you’re looking for the next trend, social media analytics can help identify promising signals. Magasin has put together a very cool live document that crowdsources shopping insights from Instagram stories. GQ has also published its annual Hype List. To catch-up on social trends from the past week, check out the BornSocial Trendwaters report for a rundown of what’s trending.

A.I. & Art

I hesitate to post much about A.I. because I don’t fully understand it. That’s why it was refreshing to read Kevin Roose’s latest NYT piece that calls on big tech firms to do a better job of explaining what they are working on, without the P.R. spin. Are we on the verge of sentience, or are we still just messing around with gimmicks like hearing dead people talk? The NYT does a smart job of shining a light on how it uses A.I. to optimize its paywall. Would love to see more pieces like this that explore the practical applications of machine learning, even if they are haven't arrived yet.The one area that does feel tangible - judging by my Twitter feed - is A.I. is test-to-image visual art. Apparently an A.I. image generator (operated by a human, I hope) recently produced something that won an art context last week. TikTok is also introducing a basic iteration of this technology with its AI Greenscreen feature. Daniel Eckler (who has a fantastic tech newsletter btw) recently shared a tweet with 25 other inspiring examples.

Fresh Reports

  • Retail Media (Accenture): A must download for anyone trying to figure out why and how retailers are evolving into media businesses. It includes helpful visualizations of the relationships between brands, customers, and retailers in this new flywheel.
  • Value Creation in the Metaverse (McKinsey): Another helpful visualization – this one illustrates the different ‘layers’ that make up the metaverse today. Smart way to frame such an ambiguous concept.
  • Overview of Nike’s web3 Strategy (Kahris.eth): In the 90’s we did SWOT Analyses, today we do web3 strategy overviews. Attention agency strategists: your clients will be asking for one of these soon.

Smart Reads

  • The Smartphone is the New Sun (Benedict Evans): My fav tech writer outlines why and how other tech hardware ‘orbits’ the smartphone, along with new data on how people miss their phones more than anything else.
  • De-Bossification (Rishad Tobaccowala): Smart POV on how we need less bosses and boss-like behaviours in companies today. What qualities, training, and incentives do the next generation of managers need?
  • Rewirement (Wunderman Thompson): Why retire when you can rewire? Love this concept. As someone who is incessantly thinking about what’s next (and approaching 50), this hits 100%.

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