Programmatic Pants

Clay Schouest is the Chief Strategy Officer of Carat APAC.

3 million years’ worth of human development and the spirit of inquisitiveness had been reduced to which colour underpants Wayne would select that morning.

5 – 7 minute read


 

It’s 2050. Advertising as an industry has long been dead. That’s because choice, preference and conscious decision making is no longer a practiced human activity. It’s been replaced by the complete automation of our lives.

The last day of the last active choice was registered on the 10th December 2049 by Wayne Clayton in Singapore. The automation of decision making had reached the point where everything in life was managed through machine-based algorithms. By 2030 everyone on the planet, save for a few self-proclaimed luddites, had already fully embraced this automated life.

Wayne also practiced life automation apart from one single conscious decision – he reserved the right to choose his underpants every morning. This was his sole act of self-expression and his only remaining mechanism of protecting his individual identity.  His right to choose was not an act of political defiance, rather it was his way of reminding himself that he was still part human. He treasured his multi-coloured, multi-patterned pants collection in the same way an art collector treasures the uniqueness of craft in today’s context.

But on that 10th of December morning Wayne woke up feeling tired and slightly hungover from the previous night’s soma binge. He decided he didn’t have the energy nor the straight sight to choose his pants. Upon waking up and realising he would probably be late for work, he rolled over and capitulated the last act of human free will. “Alexa”, he croaked, “please select my pants”. And that was how the last active choice on earth was given up to an algorithm. That is how programmatic conquered pants and with it, the last choice in the world.

That is how programmatic conquered pants and with it, the last choice in the world.

The futurist Ray Kurtzweil’s dream had finally become reality.

So how did we get here? Most experts trace back the point of departure to the last ever Olympic games in Tokyo 2020 – this was the first occurrence of real time deterministic data combined with the known genetic code of each individual athlete to accurately predict the outcome of every sporting event. The IBM Watson’s algorithm was so accurate that it was not only 100% correct in predicting the Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists, but also the exact placement of the remaining athletes. The act was hailed as a breakthrough in predictive technology.

But in 2020 life automation was still in its infancy. Artificial intelligence and machine learning was still largely restricted to the automation of industries and large scale projects such as IBM Watson. Its exponential growth would soon gradually start prevailing in all aspects of life thereafter.

Initially the promise of machine-learning-based algorithms was celebrated as an ingenious way to improve life and a testament to the spirit of human progress.  In the beginning the algorithms offered limitless choice. In a world where everything was connected and predictive, the possibilities to enhance life seemed endless.

The use of algorithms in advertising provided the ability to customise exact offers and brand messages specified to meet the exact needs of the know individuals’ preferences, habits and predilections. It was a marvel of prediction. In fact, algorithmic advertising had become so accurate that it was able to predict and stimulate behavioural consumption demand before individuals actually knew themselves.

The use of algorithms in advertising provided the ability to customise exact offers and brand messages specified to meet the exact needs of the know individuals’ preferences, habits and predilections.

Gradually by 2030, machines had become so intelligent and predictive that choice had begun to reduce and narrow. The advertising industry was the first affected by this reduction of choice. The algorithms had become so smart at predicting and stimulating future demand that people started to become less inquisitiveness, less spontaneous and more passive. It was more convenient to let algorithms make choices for them. The result was a self-perpetuating bubble whereby the machines started narrowing down choices and reducing randomness based upon its excellent predictive optimisation techniques. Like abandoned gold mines of the old west, advertising and marketing as industries ceased to be productive and were shut down completely.

This narrowing down of choice was the beginning of Singularity.

At this stage not all were happy with the increasing automation of life– artists and religious leaders being particularly sensitive. By 2040 these two seemingly incongruous groups had formed a strange bedfellow’s alliance called the “Spirit of Randomness”.  They argued for spontaneity and inquisitiveness and practiced random acts of kindness as demonstrations of the human spirit.  But things turned dark and the alliance was eventual disbanded after the machine learning intelligence agency predicted and prevented random acts of terrorism that had been planned by the group to hack and sabotage the world’s central neural computing network system.

The automation of life had become so predictive and optimised that almost no choice remained. The sheer accuracy of predictive optimisation had reduced choice to a single point.

By 2045 the writing was on the wall. The automation of life had become so predictive and optimised that almost no choice remained. The sheer accuracy of predictive optimisation had reduced choice to a single point. The repercussions from this was a sea of sameness. Almost everyone wore exactly the same clothes, had exactly the same driverless car model, lived in exactly the same apartment layout, listened to exactly the same music and worked in exactly the same industry – mining solar energy to help fuel the ever-increasing power needs of the super computers.

And by 2049 it was only Wayne left with his single conscious choice of which pants to wear in the morning – 3 million years’ worth of human development and the spirit of inquisitiveness had been reduced to which colour briefs Wayne would select that morning… The end of self-conscious thought and choice happened not with a bang, but with a morning fart and a whimper.

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Artificial Intelligence: The Age of the Many, of Mediocrity… And the Realisation That Bob Marley Could Still Be Alive

Jasper Distel is the Regional Associate Strategy Director for Carat APAC.

Essentially, I still see advertising as an arty-farty, craft industry, not an automated factory. It’s humans that create and inspire; however, it’s undeniable that technology is here to help us do our jobs ‘better’. But what will that mean in the long run?

8-10 minute read


 

We could all be living in an alternative Matrix-esque reality where Bob Marley is still alive and singing—at least I seriously hope so because today’s music needs a bit of a “Redemption” from its present banality. That random thought is what I woke up with, along with a dry mouth and slight hangover, from the previous night’s beer-fuelled, marathon discussion.

During a recent trip to Korea, I had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting tech peeps. We then decided to continue the evening at a Korean-Mexican restaurant…because that’s what you eat when you’re in Korea. After at least six a couple of drinks, we started deliberating over Artificial Intelligence…as one does during a night out.

For those of you who do not know what Artificial Intelligence is about exactly, don’t worry. It’s just something that will most likely take over your job in the next few years. And it’s HUGE. So huge, it’s true. Believe me. There is a reason they’ve already labelled it as the next industrial revolution. According to ‘specialists,’ AI will have a bigger impact than the previous three revolutions combined. For now, all you need to know is that Artificial Intelligence is H-O-T as hell and will have an impact on everything we do. Impact is not the right word—it will redesign entire industries, from the ground up. I can hear you thinking, “Jasper, stop with that futuristic Terminator mumbo jumbo bullshit”. Fair point; so let’s get back to Bob Marley and his current whereabouts.

 

Our geek-out session had reached a lull and was just on the verge of dying off when—as if on cue—we received a redemption in the form of pop star Hatsune Miku when one of her songs started pumping through the restaurant sound system. Our conversation was immediately revived and took on a new dimension.

After one of my new techy friends told me more about her, I was transfixed by the potential she represents. Never mind that her music is actually pretty shit, Hatsune Miku is possibly the best thing I’ve heard about in a long time. How the hell could I have missed something this big and significant? I felt like Cersei Lannister during her walk of atonement.

For everyone who doesn’t know who Hatsune Miku is (and I truly hope I’m not the only ignorant one) she is a 16-year-old pop star from Sapporo, Japan. Hatsune has impossibly long, turquoise hair held in place by two pigtails and big, bright blue eyes that seem to take up half her face. She started her career in 2007, opened for Lady Gaga and partnered with Pharrell Williams in 2014, and sold out ten major US venues during her 2016 world tour. She has millions of fans around the globe and has already produced over 100,000 songs. Yes—you read that correctly—100,000 songs in only 10 years. That’s an incredibly high rate of productivity. One could say she has a machinelike efficiency…and one wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that.

That’s because she isn’t real. Did I forget to mention that? Well she’s not real in the flesh and blood sense of being ‘real’. She’s actually a piece of code with an avatar and a voice that is completely programmed like a synthetic instrument, processed and smoothed by algorithms. Think Max Headroom for the digital economy…on steroids.

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We know AI can already recognize emotions based on people’s facial expressions and general body language, as well as discern what songs will be popular among an audience. Hatsune, as a non-human, can capitalize on machine learning, adapting as new data comes along, even without being explicitly programmed.

Imagine being at one of her concerts and halfway through the show, she scans the crowd and realizes that they’re not 100% feeling it. On the spot she will be able to change her repertoire, based on machine learning, and get people excited again. Yep, machines toying with your emotions…live.

This is when Hatsune becomes more ‘real’ and brings up philosophical questions about what actually is real. Music has always been about the artist conveying and evoking emotions from an audience. As a Nirvana fan, it’s their raw, somewhat unbridled emotion that stirs the human spirit inside me. I love the emotional rollercoaster; it makes me feel alive. If Hatsune’s music stirs an emotion in her audience and if she can interact with and alter those emotions, then isn’t that real?

Music has always been about the artist conveying and evoking emotions from an audience. If Hatsune’s music stirs an emotion in her audience and if she can interact with and alter those emotions, then isn’t that real?

This is why I was so mesmerised: Could we programme a Bob Marley AI-fuelled avatar and get him to start producing music again? He would compose new and original songs and hold concerts—and he would be real because he would be capable of interacting with audiences and evoking emotions from them.

Call me old school, but something about this thought disappoints me. And it starts a bigger conversation about the impact technology has on different industries, like our own. Essentially, I still see advertising as an arty-farty, craft industry, not an automated factory. It’s humans that create and inspire; however, it’s undeniable that technology is here to help us do our jobs ‘better’.

Many agencies have already been experimenting with facial recognition and deep learning in digital OOH screens. In 2015, Posterscope experimented with a fictional coffee brand in ‘the world’s first ever artificially intelligent poster campaign’. These bus stop ads could read the reactions of its audience and adapt its artwork and ad copy accordingly over time. Actually, not that much time was needed; in less than 72 hours, the campaign was creating posters in line with what’s considered current best practice in the advertising industry—insights that took decades of human trial and error.

In less than 72 hours, the AI-aided campaign was creating posters in line with what’s considered current best practice in the advertising industry—insights that took decades of human trial and error.

In the long run, what effect might this have on the people responsible for ground-breaking, creative work?  Could algorithms and AI produce work of the same calibre as our creative, human geniuses? Will machines be able to deliver stories that amaze us, that make us laugh or cry? Possibly.

In the beginning, AI could provide—en masse—an artificial crutch that enhances the creativity of those who are less inclined. However, a tipping point may come about when we rely too heavily on the aid of algorithms at the expense of human creativity. Remember the pre-Google Maps era, when we still had to rely on paper maps to get from A to B? We had to think on our own and figure out the best route to arrive at where we wanted to be, if we arrived there at all.  Could a creativity-enhancing AI actually make everyone less creative and even more mediocre?

How might this play out over time? In my mind, this conjures up the somewhat strange metaphor of Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. Stay with me here: His head represents truly ground-breaking, innovative work done by a select few creative masters, while his body represents the newly AI-enhanced creative masses. In time, with the aid of AI, his belly will get bigger and bigger, while his head will remain the same, or may even shrink. Got that? Welcome to the age of Mass Mediocrity.

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Hatsune’s cheery pop song eventually ended, and I half expected a newly created Bob Marley tune to follow. It didn’t happen, at least not yet.  We finished our Korean-Mexican food and one of my lovely companions turned to me and said the magic words, “back to the future”.

 

Muchas gracias to Clay Schouest for connecting the dots and with the edits.

Retiring the Canary

Clay Schouest is the Chief Strategy Officer of Carat APAC.

Are we entering a ‘new norm’ for advertising where growth in ad spend and economic growth enter a new relationship? It seems we might be.

5 – 7 minute read


Global advertising spend has generally always acted as the canary in the coalmine for the general state of the global economy. When ad spend goes up so does economic growth, and when spend contracts so generally does the economy. This is the first year in many that global economic forecasts for growth are going up whilst the advertising growth rate is less than the previous year. To be exact, the overall economy is predicated to grow 3.6% in 2017 versus 3.1% actualised in 2016, whilst advertising growth rates are forecasted to be lower with a 3.5% increase in 2017 versus 4.1% actualised in 2016.

This scenario suggests a couple potential scenarios:

1.  That economic growth may be about to slow, or that advertising may actually exceed its initial forecast.

2.  That we are entering a ‘new norm’ for advertising where growth in ad spend and economic growth enter a new relationship.

Could it be that less advertising spend is required to achieve growth?

It’s the latter that I would like to explore. Perhaps we are starting to see a new norm for advertising. Could it be that less advertising spend is required to achieve growth? This would suggest advertising investment is becoming more effective at achieving like-to-like sales.

One could assume this may be down to the influence of the peer-to-peer economy. In other words, the power of fully-scaled social media whereby ‘earned’ media is becoming increasingly more influential on achieving sales.

It could also be attributed to the increasing shift toward addressable advertising—advertising that serve ads directly based on demographic, psychographic, or behavioral attributes associated with the consumer instead of projecting what content a particular audience will be consuming.

To use this Adweek example: Whether your target audience is watching TBS at 2 p.m. or ESPN at 10 p.m., they’ll be served your ad. And it is served to your target whether they’re a heavy or a light TV viewer because the ad finds the audience versus the old model of having the viewer come across the ad. And advertisers are only charged on impressions that are served to their target audience.

Over the past few years, the impact of new ad technology has increased the prevalence of addressable advertising with better, and more accurate targeting and optimisation that requires less advertising spend to achieve sales, and in turn reduces wastage.

The growth in advertising investment allocated to addressability has increased over 2,000%. Currently only 10% of all advertising is invested in this way – and analysts predict it will be exponential in the coming years (30% by 2018 and almost 50% in the US by 2020). The scalability of addressability is on our doorstep.

It could be attributed to the increasing shift toward addressable advertising with better, and more accurate targeting and optimisation that requires less advertising spend to achieve sales, and in turn reduces wastage.

Does addressability equate to better effectiveness? There is also evidence to suggest yes. In a recent study by the analytics group D2D the effectiveness of addressable advertising was measured versus a control group panel. Those plans that contained elements of addressability outperformed those that did not. The study concluded addressability done in the correct way can influence effectiveness by a factor of 10X. This will most likely increase as it becomes more scaled.

As more platforms and media goes addressable, traditional ‘fixed inventory’ advertising will become less and less. This coupled with the fact that people also consume less advertising and have more ad blocking technology installed might ultimately spell the death of advertising as we know it.

The creation and distribution of brand messages will be addressable and largely embedded in entertainment-based content or embedded in general utilitarian aspects of our daily lives. Reminders will pop up on our digital screens and household items – such as a message from our favourite yogurt brand on our digital fridge door, or a message about allergy relief medication relayed by Alexa in the morning when we ask for the day’s weather forecast.

It feels like the old adage of “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half” may be coming to an end all together. Coming back full circle: are we entering a ‘new norm’ for advertising where growth in ad spend and economic growth enter a new relationship? It seems we might be.

 

Women at Work: Rise of the Female ‘Millennipreneurs’

Bonnâe Ogunlade is the Regional Associate Insight Director for Carat APAC. This article originally appeared in Campaign Asia.

Especially in Southeast Asia, young women are reinventing the way businesses are created and operated.

5 minute read


 

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Image courtesy of the Lean In Collection, a library of images devoted to the powerful depiction of females and the people who support them.

In Asia Pacific’s emerging markets, the development of technology and the proliferation of mobile phones is opening up new career paths to women. Consequently, we are seeing a bourgeoning trend of female ‘millennipreneurs’—entrepreneurs under the age of 35—especially in Southeast Asia.

Access to global networks via social platforms, mobile apps and digital payment methods is allowing young women to break the cycle of working menial jobs for a meagre allowance.

In Asia Pacific alone, there has been a twofold increase in the number of active internet users since March 2015. This translates to 1.8 billion internet users and 4 billion mobile connections. Speaking in broader terms, the number of mobile connections in APAC alone equates to more than half of the world’s population.

 

Young and restless: New face of business in emerging markets

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Image courtesy of the Lean In Collection.

Dentsu Aegis Network’s recently released whitepaper, “Amplifying the Voice of Female Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia,” found that female millennials are more likely to start a business than their older counterparts. In Vietnam and Thailand respectively, 86% and 73% of current entrepreneurs are aged between 18 and 34. Further still, millennipreneurs are likely to have launched twice as many companies as baby boomers.

In Vietnam and Thailand respectively, 86% and 73% of current entrepreneurs are aged between 18 and 34.

So what’s so special about the young and restless? Behavioural trends suggest that most millennials are synonymous with ambition, authenticity and early adoption of technology. They use tech as a seamless enhancement to their lives and value convenience over cool. Additional traits embodied by millennipreneurs are leadership, boldness and a social conscience.

This translates to millennials having clearer expectations of brands and choosing to interact with those that offer transparency and are aligned with their values. It also places them in prime position to create companies that resonate accordingly.

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Photo courtesy of Financial Times.

One notable example is Hooi Ling Tan, the female co-founder of Grab, a ride-hailing mobile platform (reportedly worth US$3 billion). At the tender age of 32, the Harvard Business school graduate, who hails from Malaysia, ranked 17th on Fortune’s 40 under 40 list. What’s also revealing is the increasing number of women included in this list year on year.

 

Positive effect

However, despite the increasing number of women-founded businesses, Dentsu Aegis Network reported that nearly half of female-led business ventures are self-funded. This may be due to the disparities they face in terms of funding and legal systems.

Shannon Kalayanamitr, the female founder and chief marketing officer of ecommerce platform Orami, a self-confessed advocate for women, states in an interview that there remains a double-standard in terms of how men and women are perceived and treated in business. (Kalayanamitr is a member of Campaign Asia-Pacific’s 2016 40 under 40.)

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Image courtesy of the Lean In Collection.

What the industry needs to realise is the significantly positive effect of female entrepreneurs on both emerging countries and businesses. According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, companies helmed by women make on average 13 percent higher revenues than those run by men. This rings truer for businesses led by ambitious young women with revenues rising by 9 percent to 22 percent amongst millennipreneurs. In fact, if there were greater parity between male and female business owners in terms of access to capital, women would potentially be able to lift the GDP of emerging markets.

According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, companies helmed by women make on average 13 percent higher revenues than those run by men.

Furthermore, our research shows that almost all female business owners are willing to mentor others and have the impetus to inspire a single child to a whole community. Young female business owners are tremendous role models as they tend to be more concerned with their social impact and are very conscious of giving back.

To foster both a financially and socially progressive environment, we must encourage women and girls into business, provide them with early access to the right knowledge, support and funding and direct them towards positive role models.

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Image courtesy of the Lean In Collection.

Brands need to keep pace

Research has proven the capabilities of successful female millennipreneurs in disrupting and shaping the digital economy, especially in emerging markets. Women are using mass technology to tap into local consumer insights to create powerful offerings that resonate by providing transparency, immediacy and convenience. They are reinventing the way businesses are created and operated and, they are commanding the way platforms, providers and devices evolve.

Rather than try to market, persuade and preach to millennials that they should heed what they are doing, brands need to start considering how they too can assimilate themselves into the lives of consumers in the meaningful and impactful way.

In recognition of the growing force of the millennipreneur, leading companies like Facebook and Google have even dedicated significant resources to emerging market developments for small businesses. However, some global brands are stagnating in the face of smaller more agile and relevant competition. These brands need to ‘stop’, ‘look’ and ‘listen’ to these women and their consumers or face extinction. Rather than try to market, persuade and preach to millennials that they should heed what they are doing, brands need to start considering how they too can assimilate themselves into the lives of consumers in the meaningful and impactful way that millennipreneurs are so adept at doing.

Searching for Marketing’s El Dorado

Clay Schouest is the Chief Strategy Officer of Carat APAC.
This was originally
presented at the Advertiser International Association 2016 conference in Beijing on 25 June.

The marketing world is chasing the dream of data, but in our pursuit, are we losing something equally important? And how will this affect our hiring policy?

5 – 7 minute read


El Dorado is an allegory. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, El Dorado is a legendary lost city, one overflowing with gold and precious stones in fabulous abundance. Over time, and creative interpretations, El Dorado has been used as a metaphor to represent the ultimate prize that one might spend one’s life seeking [1]—wealth, success, happiness, etc.

In Voltaire’s Candide, El Dorado represents an ideal society where everything is perfect—Paradise, you might say. The main character of the book commits his entire life to obsessively searching for the lost city, searching for Paradise.

Sadly El Dorado turns out to be only in his imagination—a place that does not and never will exist.

I’d like to spend a few minutes pondering what I believe to be our industry’s search for El Dorado: data, specifically the idea of data as the answer to all our dreams. We currently seem to have a myopic obsession with all things related to data.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: the Digital Economy

We are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution: the First powered our trains and the transportation industry with steam; the Second increased productivity through electricity; the Third revolutionised our world through computing; and now the Fourth is about new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds [2].

Our industry has never been more exciting. The fourth industrial revolution provides new means for better outputs and is impacting all disciplines, economies and industries—even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.

In marketing we often refer to the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the Digital Economy. By 2020 we prophesize our industry will be 100% digital and organised around data. China is leading the charge and will most likely be the first market to get there.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds.

There are now more bytes of data left behind by our behavioural digital footprints than there are stars in the universe. To be exact, there are over 40 trillion terabytes of data and that number is growing every day. All this data represents the opportunity to get closer to consumers like never before, even predicting what they want before they know they want it. For example, AI technologies are now commonplace within our industry. We are using them to communicate, get to know our consumers and provide products and services based upon their interests.

We are now closing the gap between interaction and transaction. By 2020, all the media we consume, whatever the format, will link content with brand commerce. That is a brilliant thing for both business and consumers. As an industry, the ability to maximise ROI at the moment of receptivity with message and media makes our work more accountable. We know from studies that ROI improves up to 55% when we develop connected experiences that link content and commerce.

The future is bright; there is no denying that. One might say El Dorado is now within reach—or is it?

How this affects hiring policy

I can’t help but feel uneasy about how our industry is preparing for our bright future, and more specifically, the type of talent and capabilities we are hiring to help get us there. We seem to have an unbalanced hiring policy towards the talent that we recruit to realise our future vision. Our cumulative marketing brain talent pool has become lopsided—seemingly favouring the left, more analytical side, over the right, based on creativity and lateral thinking.

Why? That’s partly because it’s new and partly because people are coming to grips with how to manage, organise and classify data. In a recent survey of what keeps CMOs up at night “data” was cited as the #1 driver of how companies and organisations are structuring themselves. So it’s no surprise that when we look at LinkedIn, up to 70% of the new job postings from within the past year have “analytics” in the title or job description.

Our cumulative marketing brain talent pool has become lopsided—seemingly favouring the left, more analytical side, over the right, based on creativity and lateral thinking.

Are we headed in the wrong direction?

So here’s my point of controversy:

Today when I look around the industry, I see a bunch of organisations, clients and agencies who are convinced that data is their El Dorado. I believe data is a means not the end. The end is fundamentally about touching the human spirit, creating an emotional connection—that is what will fuel growth.

In fact, when you look at the top driver of business value, it is creativity, by far. Creativity contributes to business value far more than any other factor. Additionally, if you look at the skillsets required to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as outlined by the World Economic Forum, creativity also tops that list [2]. The power of an idea is just as important as ever; that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the ability to design and amplify ideas in the digital economy.

So let’s make sure we develop and stimulate the right brain again. Let’s hire more creative minds to help deliver great ideas that fuel those data-led approaches. And when I say creative minds, I don’t mean creative in the traditional sense. I don’t mean copy editors; I mean lateral thinkers.

Data is a means not the end. Creativity contributes to business value far more than any other factor.

Let’s remember data is not our El Dorado. It is not the end goal. To truly succeed in the digital economy, we need data solutions that inspire more creativity. In order to realise that ambition, we need to attract and retain more creative thinkers, not just data analysts. Let’s think and plan for our long term future.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Dorado
  2. The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab

Mobile Video; Is Sound Still Important?

Without trying too hard, think back to an ad you fondly remember seeing on TV. Depending on your age and where you’re from this will vary drastically, but what made the one you’re thinking of memorable?

It almost certainly provided some sort of emotional reward (was funny, inspiring, nostalgic etc). You probably remember the characters (if there were any). How about the music? Or the jingle that you couldn’t get out of your head? There’s a good chance that for most of the adverts you remember, you also remember a song that helped take you on an emotional journey and made the ad memorable. Or jingle you’d find yourself unexpectedly singing in the shower (and hopefully for the advertiser concerned, remembering or even talking about the brand as well).

 

“Thank you for the music” 

Effective jingles have just that; the power to stick in your head. Whether with an accompanying tagline or just a melody, they can be used for years, remixed and contemporised. An obvious example is McDonald’s globally used and long standing ‘I’m lovin’ it’ jingle (here in a Japanese ad). Reinforced through various media touchpoints, jingles are another brand code that help build mental availability of a given product or service.

Playing a different role, a good soundtrack can really help dramatise the story. A recent neuroscience study found that music can ‘make or break an ad‘ with ads driven by their soundtrack being more effective at creating long term memory associations. I always think of the Cadbury Gorilla with the Phil Collins soundtrack. I remember the anticipation that went with ‘in the air tonight’ building up as that big gorilla sat at the drumkit against that purple background. Levis use of Shaggy’s Mr Lover Lover is another (showing my age). In fact most good ads have great soundtracks.

 

Mobile muting 

Now to the point of this article; would your favourite ads work in a social feed?

Think about how we consume video content in social feeds on mobile. Between 75% and 90% of Facebook usage in Asia is on mobile (depending on the country) and globally the platform has over 8bn video views a day. However when these videos start (like on Twitter or Instagram) they autoplay with the sound off.

This is a big challenge for advertisers and their agencies. I continue to see brands across the region persisting with putting content made for TV onto social platforms. This typically results in a very poor view rate (which translates back to a very high cost per view) and little to no impact on brand metrics (lifts in awareness, purchase intent, etc). This is because there isn’t the time to build the story to a captivated audience like with TV, or to wait for the ads emotional apex, fuelled by the power of a soundtrack, to introduce the brand.

Newsfeed environments certainly don’t seem audio friendly. A recent Digiday interview found up to 85% of Facebook video plays without sound. However online video formats can also struggle to deliver audio. Many top publishers have video units that also autoplay without sound, or that are click to play (and therefore often ignored).

 

No sound, no go? 

Great video ads have sound, so does that mean I should forget social video?

The short answer is no. However you should forget running ads created for TV on social platforms.

I’d recommend still advertising in social as it’s important to have an audience first approach and be where your audience is. With 30% of online time being spent in social (which rises north of 50% in certain SEA markets) it would be a mistake to stop just because your TV ads don’t work particularly well. Its also important to note that the typical buying method for social is CPM, which means you’re paying the same for a static post as you are for video. You’re not getting ‘ripped off,’ you can always run a static ad, but the opportunity lies in customising your content to work most effectively on the platform. This includes formats like Canvas or cinemagraph on Facebook, or GIF’s and scratchreel ads on Twitter. And not forgetting good old video that can be re-edited so it gets across your key brand message faster and without sound (re-sequenced, using subtitles, etc).

Facebook have an internal department called the ‘creative shop’ that works with agencies to give guidance on how to create video that best works on the platform. Unsurprising as it’s in their best interests to keep the ad dollar gravy train going. They advise things such as the ‘3 second audition’ which means captivating your audience straight away. A great example is Apple musics Taylor Swift ad that ran on Facebook and Instagram. The massive advantage here being for millions of people Taylor Swift will certainly make you stop scrolling. It’s also worth noting that apparently Drake’s iTunes sales of the”Jumpman” track in the ad rocketed 431% as a result; showing music can work too (sometimes).

TSwift-Apple-Music

Sound friendly digital platforms 

Newsfeeds and certain online video units aside, there are other digital platforms where sound can work for you and is even encouraged. YouTube for example are keen to emphasise the power of sound to help captivate a viewer and not skip TrueView ads. Snap Ads, 10 second video ads on Snapchat also play with sound. As do value exchange ads found in gaming apps and some online video formats.

The point is however, whilst sound can indeed play a powerful role in dramatising your product or story, you’ll need to customise your content experience to reflect how people use it. Just putting a made for TV video on any these platforms will not have the desired effect. I’ll go into more detail on this in a future post.

Finally, don’t forget how just as video consumption has changed due to digital, so has the way we listen to music. Platforms like Spotify offer ads that can play the same role as radio and deliver that jingle, but often offer accompanying video or visual units that offer click-thru opportunities. With more than 2/3 of users still using the free service meaning they can be reached with advertising which could result in people singing your jingle in the shower.

So there you go, from my perspective audio is still very much alive in the platform first world of digital marketing. Like everything else, it’s the approach needs to be reconsidered.

 

Jonathan Rudd is regional head of digital strategy at Carat APAC.
This is being republished from https://jrudddigital.com