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mind expanding examples of objects with meta layers

IoT, voice, predictive search, contextual search and so on. In “the future”, lots will happen very differently. Part of that lot, are very simple and mundane interactions and tasks. These two videos help not only expand ones view of how these simple things will be carried out in ways that might still seem magical, but also provide proof of how imminent this magic is.

Here’s interacting with a knob that isn’t there, but the interaction with that non-present knob is physically there. Get it?

Build further on ordering coffee instantaneously from the coffee maker with “pre-emtive orders” and/or voice. “Buy more coffee”. Beep.

I can definitely dig that future.

Hiring people, managing people, protecting people

It’s always interesting to hear how Google think and does things. I guess anybody in a business where smart and creative people matter – which is in increasingly so as we move beyond the need for mere knowledge workers – would be wise to listen and reflect.

Another management issue with regards to people being able to think up brilliant stuff and producing wonderful ideas, products and services, is that of time, focus and effectiveness. I’m increasingly sure that handling constant interruption, time theft and other sources and reasons responsible for disturbing our cognitive abilities, bandwidth for thinking – basically our time to focus and get things done. One at the time. I really love this piece about his students and multi-tasking, by the brilliant Clay Shirky. He recognises the fact that what the situation calls for, is really protecting people from what they don’t realise. That is a key responsibility and future (present) competitive advantage.

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away…

the value, or not, of online advertising

From a brand communications perspective, some of the most interesting things happening are around new ways of connecting to people that, at least, buy or use your product. I say at least because today there’s nothing holding people back from promoting and selling your brand, if they dig it. And there’s nothing holding brands back from not making that more likely. I like what Rick Liebling touches on in this post about the future of retail, and how brand advocates can/should/will be viewed differently from an organisation-boundary-perspective. More thoughts on that in a later post.

At the other end, brands need to continue to “just lightly nudge” people into buying their services and products and display advertising is, from a user behaviour and media usage pattern perspective important. A few bits that are connected happened to pop up about the same time.

Google says that its technology could be a game-changer, in that it will create an advertising product that can command a premium.

“Display inventory to date has been limitless,” said Faville. “It could be that prices for viewable inventory become higher as advertisers’ confidence increases in the system. There is a high likelihood of these ads being seen as valuable to marketers.”

From The Guardian/technology

“The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen. The average American family hasn’t time for it, it will never be a serious competitor to radio broadcasting.”
– The New York Times in 1939, by way of Dave Trott.

Via Gustav von Sydow

“Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires, as may be done with dots and dashes of Morse code, and that were it possible the thing would be of no practical value.”
– 1865 Boston Newspaper, by way of Dave Trott

Via Gustav von Sydow

Premiumization is likely to happen. Exclusivity formats too. And likely to work, because it actually should work. We will break free from terminology like display vs ondemand TV vs online TV vs Broadcast TV etc and see more clearly. Nobody ever clicked on a TV ad, yet we know it works. Mere exposure effect is real, etc. Just a reflection.

Being Agency Of Record

A while back there was an ongoing discussion about the future of the advertising agency. That time it was not about them moving into service design and products, the way it is now (agencies are always needing to change into something else it seems, or at least talk about it), but it was about digital agencies vs. tradtional agencies as “agency of record”. Did the traditional ones get it? Would the digital ones grow up? It turned out it wasn’t so dramatic, and I would say that the agencies acting like good consultant are probably the ones still referred to as AOR. Why? Because good consultants don’t have one truth, as in It’s all digital now or social media is where it’s at or TV is dead – X is the answer etc.

No, good consultants start with their clients and then look for what seems to be true for clients’ situations. Quite nuanced. Less of an agenda, other than end results. More open and likely to identify connections and not just dots.

This is why Heiselman thinks that advertising will become a sales tool not a brand building one. The only way to clinch the deal is to offer a deal, and that is my big concern. If people are constantly bombarded with special offers, they will soon become sensitized to them.
– Nigel Hollis, in Will advertising become a transactional tool

> Data driven, contextual (dumb or otherwise), centered around offers.

Advertising vehicles that allow you to “engage” and have “conversations” with your brand’s heavy users by promising precision targeting provide very limited opportunity to grow your business. In fact, they often distract you from your proper objective – attracting new customers.
– Ad Contrarian, The Hidden Danger Of Precision Targeting

> On the belief that people want to engage with brands. For some, often few, that is the case, but it’s definitely not be all end all.

What are people’s aspirations? How does the brand play a role in it? I would employ anthropologists and psychologists and look at cultural analyses. We should be doing that with channels and places and spaces that consumers are engaging with every day. While advertising has tended to be more channel-orientated I’m not sure we, as strategic planners, have been putting the same emphasis on understanding as we should have. That’s what I’m hoping to bring.
– Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning, Agency Development, Google, on “How brands can humanize their digital experience (PSFK)

Those consultants, agencies and other companies who want to understand how things relate, that don’t love specific tools and solutions more than others, are the AORs. By understanding what needs to be done while not necessarily being able to do all themselves.

design as building invisibility

government uk screen shot

“Something we’re trying to do in particular is let design get out of the way and let the user get to what they want,” Terrett says. “You shouldn’t come to the website and go: ‘wow, look at the graphic design’. We haven’t yet achieved that in most web interfaces; they’re still getting in the way [and] you can see the graphic design everywhere. We need to get past that.”

– Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service, UK

Design is a multifaceted word/occupation/skill/mindset/purpose/tool/thing/etc. Being much about removing as much as possible, making things invisible, takes it into a very interesting place. A place where Google has been for very long, but very few brands would consider worth going. A place where many art directors would freeze to death, yet a place many artists have lived. A place where minimalism is a close relative.

“I don’t know if I want to make any strong predictions, but I hope that technology disappears more and more from my life and you forget that you’re using it all the time instead of feeling like you’re burdened [by it].”

– Alexander Chen, Google Creative Labs

Whether or not this makes you sad, it kinda indicates what you pride yourself in doing, and what design is to you. If design is making things prettier or more useful. One designer (definition 1) could design useful, human centric service, and another designer (definition 2) could make that design “pretty”. Both say they’ve done their “design duties”. Personally, working in strategy, and creativity that activates that for brands, I’m very much for being purpose driven and hence defining what you do by what happens, the outcome. Everything in-between is a means, and really quite unimportant for very long in a project. The in-betweens, for all I care, can be invisible.

“We’re trying to get design out of the way” from Dezeen on Vimeo.