What’s next? Oculus is a novelty now, but marketers better figure out how to use it to sell toothpaste

by: Lucinda Southern on 26 March 2015

Representatives from Microsoft, JCDecaux, Mashable, Adara and ESI Media gather to discuss what's the next best strategy in reaching the always-on consumer

Preoccupation with what is coming next is impacting Blue Chip companies across all sectors and verticals, established media businesses and advertisers. The intangibility of ‘data’, our decreasing attention spans, and the next big disruptive media platform around the corner, moving quickly to stay ahead of the curve is a top priority for organisations.

The theme was rife at Advertising Week Europe in London, with a panel chaired by Wired editor Oliver Franklin-Wallis, with industry representatives from ESI Media, JCDecaux, Microsoft, Adara and Mashable discussing the implications and lessons for brands.

On data leading to innovation

Looking at Gen Z and their relationship with media, in light of Facebook’s announcement that it is distributing content from publishers like the New York Times, the point was made by Elizabeth Harz, President at consumer data intelligence company Adara, that Millennials are their own media company, collating their own content and creating data across multiple touchpoints, so the need for attribution and smart data collection has never been more important.

The main concerns felt in order to drive forward change, says Harz, is the consolidation and simplification of advertising and marketing technology, “this cannot happen fast enough,” she says, “when you look at the Lumascape we need to get through the distraction of the plumbing and get to actually applying this.”

“With so much data at our disposal, energy trumps intelligence every time,” claims Jonathon Oliver, head of innovation at Microsoft. “Energy drives creativity, creativity drives innovation and that’s how you lead to an innovative culture.” Oliver explains reaching a point of creative abrasion, a process which fosters being able to hold opposing ideas in unison, combining it with enough attention and focus to deliver those ideas, and be agile enough to get audience feedback quickly.

“Technology businesses only respect innovation,” he says in another amorphous repetition that many companies are concerned with, “that’s the super conductor to staying ahead and continuing to disrupt yourself.”

On emerging tech and virtual reality

Stacey Knight, director of Futures and Content at JCDecaux, says they have been using Oculus Rift for brand campaigns with Centre Parks, where clients have been keen to exemplify immersive experiences. She says “gaming and entertainment brands this makes sense for, but if it were a toothpaste brand I wouldn’t recommend Oculus Rift.”

From Mashable, Chief Revenue Officer Seth Rogin explains that “Right now we look at Oculus as a novelty. But if I’m a marketer and lots of people are using it, then I’ve got to figure out how to sell toothpaste on Oculus Rift.”

On the power of predictive algorithms

Rogin introduces another revenue driver for Mashable, Velocity, a social listening forecasting technology that it has been able to license out to agencies.

It has big potential for reputation management, it predicts when things are about to trend over social media, highlighting to managers if people are about to talk negatively allowing them to react quickly.

It can also be used for ad targeting, he says, explaining that advertisers who cash in on a trend when it reaches 20,000 shares are, in effect, paying a tax. “We have a saying that when something is trending it is trend dead. Velocity aims to indicate when things are on the upswing of virality.”

With brands placing more of their chips on content marketing, it will be the adoption of technology tools like Velocity that will help keep them clued up with what’s coming next. Unfortunately the consolidation of marketing and advertising technology is not looking like it will happen any time soon.