Brands and agencies cite TV convergence, AR and 3D printing as big opportunities at The Drum’s 4 Minute Warning

TV convergence, transmedia storytelling, augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing, were among the hot topics discussed at The Drum’s 4 Minute Warning event in London yesterday.

Speakers from brands including Google, Paddy Power, and Telefonica Digital and agencies Collective London, Dare and TH_NK gathered to debate which are the biggest opportunities for marketers in the rapidly evolving digital arena.

Bite Communications head of innovation Justin Pearse said next year will be an “empty creative canvas” in which clever agencies can be innovative without being tied to a scheduled structure of major national events, including the London Olympic Games and the Royal Wedding, which dominated 2012. “It was potentially easier to piggy back on the back of these national events and tap into this public emotion, but it is also a real opportunity for brands to be creative,” he said.

He cited AR and 3D printing as major areas of opportunity, with both providing new ways in which brands can bridge virtual and physical worlds in their campaigns.

Telefonica Digital’s global head of partnerships Kelly Wearmouth was among the speakers to agree AR will play an increasingly important role in marketing next year. “AR can help bridge the route to content across multiple touchpoints. “We believe AR makes mobile very interesting within the media mix. Multiple touch points can be brought together via AR technologies like Aurasma because it means you can get people to content much faster in a very accountable way. You can now see where people are interacting with press ads and out of home ads – which gives you a rich tapestry of data and increases targeting capabilities,” she said.

Aurasma’s head of global partnerships Matt Mills said publishers are seeing great results from using AR. “GQ did its first ever cover-to-cover AR magazine. No one had done it on that scale before. It’s the next stage of AR – it’s moving away from being gimmicky to something that is useful and can be measured. Magazines using Aurasma for example can tell how many people have engaged with their pages and their ads. They can also make more money from advertising, as they can charge more for linking their offline and online advertising together,” he said.

3D printing was another hot topic discussed at the event. Collective London’s CEO Nick Constantinou told delegates there are some big opportunities for marketers which use 3D printing. “It’s hard to predict the success of technology. Is 3D printing a flash in the pan or a real game changer? We need to forget the technology – people focus on that too much and the result is there are too many acronyms – AR, QR, NFC, we need to forget all that and focus on understanding human behaviour and how real people live their lives – that’s when it becomes useful,” he said.

Meanwhile consultancy Decipher’s MD Nigel Walley said the BBC’s Connected Red Button service, launched this week, will help drive “proper convergence” to mainstream audiences for the first time. “The BBC has launched something that is immediately available to over 1m homes. In the digital world it’s not the same – take QR codes as an example – there are relatively few using these in comparison to TV-type audience numbers. But when the BBC switches this on it is available for main stream audiences and the convergence of the web and the TV is a hugely exciting factor. We now need to roll this out to commercial TV so advertisers can get involved.”

Challenges and opportunities around transmedia storytelling was another key topic discussed during the event. TH_NK community strategist Rob Hinchcliffe said there has been a major shift within broadcasters from a top-down permission-based culture of production to a more experimental, cooperative approach. The agency is currently working with Channel 4 to create the transmedia content for its forthcoming drama series Utopia.

The biggest challenges when creating transmedia content is ensuring the broadcaster and digital agency teams are synchronised and working closely from the ground up, according to Hinchcliffe. “In TV sometimes changes are made to the show or script as late as the day before it’s due to broadcast – that makes it hard to create transmedia stories when you’re not aware of what these changes are,” he added.

Time-shifted viewing also creates challenges for creating transmedia experiences, given there are fewer scheduled, collective experiences around which it can create content that delivers real value to the viewers.

“The answers to all these challenges are to get involved early. We got involved stupidly early with Utopia, sitting down with the writers and producers from the get go. That is rare. Stuff you see that’s rubbish is when it’s been an after-thought. Getting involved early is happening more now, and it is vital for it to be successful,” he added.

Elsewhere at the event Google’s head of agency creative partnerships Hamish Nicklin said the creative advertising sector should learn from the technology start-up space to apply more agility to their creative processes.

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