Marek Wrobel vigilantly tracks emerging media tech for Havas Media Group. And once a month for The Drum, in the Media Innovation Round-Up, he explores ‘new and shiny’ tech and its role in the ever-evolving marketing mix.
Clubhouse and the NHL
Clubhouse and the NHL are collaborating on exclusive social audio events ahead of the Stanley Cup final this year. Wait, isn’t Clubhouse dead?
Well, no one can blame anyone for thinking this after seeing some of the recent headlines. But these headlines say less about Clubhouse and more about the double-edged nature of hype – it can lift you up, but once it’s gone and you’re a fad, you must work twice as hard to prove your value.
The app is now available on Android, opening it up to new audiences. It has also made some high-profile hires, which hopefully means the UX will continue to improve, and it’s focused on nurturing a network of content creators – launching a creator fund and enabling listeners to send money to creators. The last bit is crucial as it’s clear that while Clubhouse can’t compete on quantity and the reach of the competitors looking to enter the social audio space, it can hope to win on the quality and authenticity of its content.
Twitter’s Spaces and Spotify’s Greenroom have both launched already and Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms will be appearing later this summer. Since Spaces has been around the longest, it is already showing what Clubhouse will have to deal with, as not only has Twitter introduced ticketed spaces enabling creators to earn money, but it has also made them available on the web version of its service, meaning no app installs are necessary to access them.
Social audio is not going anywhere. So, whatever happens with Clubhouse, I urge you not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and look at the bigger picture, which in this case is the shift to the democratization of audio – a process we’ve already seen happening across news, video and social media.
Allrecipes and Snapchat
Allrecipes has become the exclusive food category partner of the Scan feature within Snapchat, enabling Snapchatters to access recipes based on ingredients captured by the camera. So, could visual search drive value for brands?
What makes the concept of visual search so attractive is the simple fact that we – humans – are visual creatures. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, put it best when he said: “People have always been visual – our brains are wired for images. Writing was a hack, a detour. Pictorial languages are how we all started to communicate – we are coming full circle.” I don’t know about you, but for me word-based searches, requiring me to try and describe everything, do feel like a detour sometimes. That’s why, in certain cases, visual search makes much more sense.
Furthermore, research shows that a lot of people – mostly younger generations – tend to agree, with 62% of gen Z and millennial shoppers wanting visual search to be part of their shopping experience. The major tech players including Google, Pinterest, Snap, eBay, Amazon and Microsoft’s Bing have followed suit and introduced visual search features.
SoundOut and sonic branding
SoundOut has released its SoundOut Index, which measures and proves the effectiveness of sonic branding. With sonic branding on the marketing agenda for a while now, should marketers be taking note?
Humans are visual creatures. The problem is that we are constantly bombarded by – mostly visual – advertising messages. While in the 1950s we were exposed to 250 advertising messages a day, now it’s over 5,000, and believe me when I say this is the most conservative figure I’ve found.
This takes us to a situation in which most people are now living in a state of ‘continuous partial attention’ – paying attention to a range of information all at the same time, but only at a superficial level. That’s why brands are now becoming more open to incorporating other senses into their marketing efforts in a more strategic way. Don’t get me wrong – sight will remain the center of the sensory marketing universe, but for brands to stay relevant and keep their marketing efforts effective they need to branch out.
Why is sound so powerful? Well, we hear even if we are not listening. Additionally, sound is strongly connected with our memories and emotions. Marketers have known this for some time, with the best examples being iconic sonic logos or catchy jingles. However, sonic branding is much more than that. It’s about how you use audio across all brand touchpoints. Luckily, we are seeing more and more brands approaching audio more strategically. Mastercard is the poster child of this movement – going as far as releasing a single – but it is far from the only player in this space. And now, with digital audio going through a sort of renaissance and emerging platforms such as voice, there are more opportunities to leverage the potential of sonic branding than ever before.
TikTok and social commerce
Research from Bazaarvoice has showed that shopping on TikTok has increased by 553% in the past 12 months. Will 2021 be the year of social commerce?
Historically, social media has been seen as better equipped for the middle and upper funnels. The influx of new features over past few years has expanded the role of social platforms to include commerce and customer service. And by ‘influx’, I mean to say that not a week goes by without yet another announcement on social commerce features from one of the main social players. Social commerce strategies are built around three main elements:
Launching shoppable ad formats, whether it’s just including clickable hotspots, experimenting with livestreaming, or making it easier for businesses to set up online stores on their platforms.
Streamlining checkout experiences, which are arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, aiming to make the process as smooth and easy as possible by removing extra steps in the purchasing journey, such as clicking out of the social platform.
Partnerships with established e-commerce platforms. Shopify is at the top of the wish list, with almost all major players announcing some sort of integration with the ever-growing e-commerce platform.
However, there are also challenges that need to be addressed. Some customers are still wary of social commerce and express fears over security, account privacy and seller legitimacy. On the other side, retailers question the UX as on social platforms they usually sell one item at a time, instead of trying to get shoppers to buy a basket of items like they do on their e-commerce sites.
And finally, the question about who really owns the customer relationship (and data) remains – arguably customers who purchase goods through social platforms are effectively their customers, with brands losing access to data and control over the user experience.
Read my last round-up here. If you’d rather get my weekly video briefings (they’re short and sweet, I promise) get on my mailing list here. And remember to sign up for The Drum’s weekly Future of Media briefing here – you’ll see me in there from time to time.