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2020 Marketing Technology Trends

  1. 2020T R E N D S
  2. 2 Each year, we look back on the past and ahead to the future, to find technology trends that impact how brands and marketers communicate and provide value to their consumers. In 2020, we’ll see some of the building blocks of the past few years come to fruition, as technology begins working for us instead of the other way around.  To make it easier to understand these trends, and where they play in the larger technology ecosystem, we’ve laid out a framework that focuses on the three major technology platforms. The Web, which digitized information. Social Media, which digitized people. And The World, which leads to the digitization of places and things. Each of these frameworks is at a different point in their maturity curve and the trends that we identify are meant to push the platform forward.  To get the most out of this 2020 Trends Report, take time to think about the implications of each trend on your brand and how customers can benefit from the ever evolving technology landscape.  Upfront
  3. Three Major Technology Platforms 3 Level of Maturity The Web DIGITIZE INFORMATION DIGITIZE PEOPLE DIGITIZE PLACES & THINGS Social Media The World Indicates where our upcoming 2020  Trends fall into the maturity level of each respective tech platform. Hint: We're at the forefront!
  4. 4 Table of Contents 5-11 The Web 12-20 Social Media 21-29 The World
  5. 5 The Web Digitize Information
  6. 6 Over the last few decades, the web has allowed us to digitize the world’s information and improvements in hardware have enabled us to access it at the snap of a finger. In 2020, we’ll see improvements through the web framework in ways that provide more  freedom, security, and utility for all.  Blockchain technology, led by the proliferation of cryptocurrency, will begin the shift towards decentralized systems. Search engines, such as Google, will innovate to keep users within search from consideration to conversion. The barrier towards utilizing and developing applications with artificial intelligence will break down, enabling new and improved use cases for your average developer. With that comes the continued adoption of virtual assistants and proxies, that will ultimately act and make decisions on our behalf.  For marketers, keeping up with these trends will ensure that you’re offering an experience to your consumers that uses technology to address their needs and wants in a way that feels seamless and personalized.  The Web - Introduction
  7. 7 In recent years, cryptocurrency and the blockchain, in general, have undergone a hype period. It looks as if the era of ICOs and marketing promises are behind us, and we’ll begin moving towards legitimate use cases. At its current state, data processing on the blockchain is too slow to handle major consumer-facing applications. The promise of completely decentralized payment networks, asset tracking, voting applications, and social networks are still a ways off. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t steps being taken to push forward. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, controlled by members of the Libra Association, will launch in 2020. The Association, made up of a consortium of financial services players, will be responsible for overseeing the currency and designing incentive programs to reward early adopters. The goal of Libra is to introduce cryptocurrencies to the general public, make it easier to provide financial services to the 1.7 billion people around the globe who are considered ‘unbanked’, and drive commerce on the Facebook platform. Crypto Moves into the Early Majority Implications Sending money at the push of a button is nothing new for developed countries. It's the developing and underdeveloped countries that Facebook has its' eye on. The social network wants those new users to view Libra as their bank. This guarantees that a portion of their spending is done through Libra and on Facebook. The more commerce that occurs on the network, the more the company can charge for advertising. It should be noted that Facebook has assured the public it will not use financial data to influence advertising. Most recently, Twitter announced that it was funding an independent team to research and build an open-source, decentralized social media framework. Moves in this direction aim to reduce the amount of abuse and misleading information that users see. The more people Facebook can get to use Libra, the more the company will be able to charge for digital advertising.
  8. 8 Announced at Google I/O, in 2020 the search giant is upgrading traditional search. Search will now put a larger emphasis around context and utility. Google will enhance the depth of news around a topic while providing relevant secondary information. Instead of directing people off the platform, Google will look to provide answers on their platform, without sending you off it. There was also a heavy focus on integrating computer vision and augmented reality within search. For example, if a user searches for a Great White Shark, not only will they receive information about that shark, but they’ll also be able to view an augmented model of one. Furniture companies will soon surface their entire product category to be viewable in 3D, all within search.  Search, Your One-Stop Shop Implications For brands and marketers, this update is incredibly important to be aware of. Marketers must ensure that they are following best in class SEO practices as more productized information surfaces within Google Search.  For brands that lend themselves to 3D imagery; like CPG, apparel, furniture, and accessories, this update is one that should be of utmost importance in 2020. Consumers that start their journey on Google search, may never have to leave the search results page. That’s what Google hopes will happen. Marketers must use the most up-to-date, data-markup techniques to allow their content to be machine-readable, surfacing what’s most important. Following these practices will also ensure that your brand’s content will surface on Google Assistant. Think of Google Assistant as Google Search, but lighter and more concise. If a consumer asks Assistant for a specific product or brand, your content must be optimized to respond to those queries, otherwise, you risk losing that consumer before their journey has even started. Consumers that start their journey on Google search, may never have to leave the search results page.
  9. 9 Implications Siri Shortcuts offer a way for brands to create ease and convenience in consumers’ lives by enhancing their mobile applications. Shortcuts help surface information and services that users are seeking out. Marketers should look to enhance their mobile app usage UX by offering relevant Shortcuts. The voice space is one that is primed for growth in 2020. Alexa and Assistant will continue to expand their services into historically ‘dumb’ devices. Marketers should look to find utility in voice services, utilizing the ease and familiarity of Amazon and Google while looking for ways to utilize Siri. For inspiration, check out easyJet’s Siri Shortcut, which allows users to quickly check their itinerary and flight updates. Siri shortcuts provide ease and convenience for consumers and serve as Apple’s building blocks towards a larger, voice-focused OS. Amazon’s Alexa Skills and Google’s Actions saw incremental improvements in 2019 and we expect the same to continue in 2020. Codeless versions of voice development software will continue to lower the barrier to entry. While some brands and marketers will optimize their current applications, others will jump into the field after being on the sidelines.  In the next year, the most exciting improvements in the voice space will come from Apple. In iOS 13, Apple updated its Shortcuts app to make it easier for developers and third parties to create Shortcuts. Given the creativity that these tools allow for, it’s no surprise that Apple fans were quick to create fun and useful applications. In the next year, we expect Apple to continue improving its Shortcuts app. There are also rumors of a voice-focused operating system on the horizon, most likely entitled SiriOS. With SiriOS, Apple would be competing with Amazon and Google by extending Siri beyond its current limitations.  Siri Takes the Stage
  10. 10 Implications Brands can leverage pre-trained machine learning models for all sorts of ML applications like machine vision to filter through mountains of UGC for brand safety or using natural language understanding and generation to build a unique chatbot. An example that mixes new models with pre-trained algorithms in the real world is New Balance’s New York Fashion Week stunt. Enhancing digital signage with an embedded machine vision model of local fashion trends, they trained it by observing fashion in a Manhattan neighborhood. Using this model and camera-enabled signage, they detected fashion anomalies and rewarded individuals who made a personal fashion statement with a new pair of kicks. Ultimately, AI platforms and off-the-shelf algorithms will do for AI and Machine Learning algorithms what photoshop did for image manipulation; easy access to powerful tools will put AI and ML within grasp of more and more people. It used to be that any machine learning (ML) and AI initiatives required access to mountains of data to train models, engineers to build and maintain a robust data pipeline and data scientists to develop algorithms. Nevermind the expensive hardware needed to run the models. And this is all before producing a validated machine learning model! Thankfully, the field has advanced exponentially in the past few years, and dozens of AI platforms and marketplaces have sprung up to make these capabilities accessible to those without a cadre of engineers and Data Science Ph.D.’s. AI-as-a-Service It's no longer necessary to have a team of data scientists and PhD's to leverage machine learning and AI. Algorithm marketplaces and AI platforms are making the technology more accessible than ever before.
  11. 11 Implications Universal access to games on any device will change the economics of videogames again, and there will be a stronger emphasis on game “stickiness,” and brand partnerships. Games like Fortnite that can regularly reinvent themselves while establishing strong brand partnerships are building the business model of the future. We’re about to see another shift in the gaming universe – high fidelity game titles available on any device. Nearly ten years ago, the Free-to-play model changed gaming forever, bringing gaming to the masses, and monetizing a global userbase. These social and mobile games broke the stereotype of gamers being hardcore console fanatics. The most popular games in the world were on Facebook and mobile apps for iOS and Android. This change in the economics and form factor of videogames increased the audience by more than 10X.  With major announcements from Microsoft XCloud, Google Stadia, Playstation Now, and Apple Arcade last year, the battle for console gamers is missing something – the console. We may be a few console generations away from seeing these machines disappear entirely, but the convergence of cheap cloud computing, cross-platform play,  and the emergence of 5G point to a future where even the most advanced games may not need a dedicated console. Gaming moves away from consoles The changing demographics and economics of video games are creating powerful new opportunities for brand partnerships.
  12. 12 Social Media Digitize People
  13. 13 The advent of social media, leading back to the early days of MySpace and your 10 Top Friends, has brought with it the digitization of people. In 2020, the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more will face scrutiny over privacy and security risks but will continue to provide new ways for users to interact and connect digitally.  Facebook Messenger will evolve to become a central point for conversational experiences, communication, and commerce while Facebook’s focus will shift towards that of a group ’town hall’ mentality. TikTok will continue its rise to dominance through short-form video, capitalizing on GenZ’s propensity to create. People will find solace with the personalized communication and screen-less experience of podcasts. And ultimately, many will decide to take a digital detox for periods, turning off the noise in an attempt to turn inwards. Social media and brand marketers should look to these trends as inspiration to innovate their current offering while taking into account that the generational divide in social media is stronger than anywhere else on earth. To reach the right audience, you must know where your consumer interacts.  Social Media - Introduction
  14. 14 Last year, Facebook allowed users to upload images taken with depth-sensing cameras such as portrait mode and view them in a 3D format. Tilting the phone allowed you to view the object in a slightly different manner. In 2020, look for more of that content to infiltrate feeds, snaps, and stories. Social media platforms are providing more ways for users to utilize their depth-sensing cameras. What started on Facebook has now spread to Instagram and Snapchat. Even further, Snapchat's new Spectacles allow users to capture and view images and video in 3D. With so much content on our social feeds, utilizing 3D posts is one way to stand out. Brands like Wayfair and Jurassic World have allowed users to view furniture or popular characters in a 3D format. This type of content also lends itself well to augmented reality. Users can go from manipulating a 3D object, to interacting with it in their environment. 3D Imagery Infiltrates Social Implications The infiltration of 3D objects in our social feeds is part of a larger trend in which our static digital experiences are moving towards a more dynamic experience. The manipulation of the augmented world will be expected. Taking steps today to offer up 3D content is a building block to the future of AR experiences, in which those 3D models can be shared, manipulated, and purchased in augmented environments. They will also be searchable, as Google has announced its intention to showcase 3D objects in its search results. Preparing 3D content for social media will benefit your brand presence online as well as within augmented reality experiences.
  15. 15 Implications In 2020 discovery of content will become more user-friendly and marketers will have more options for ad buys and sponsored content. The inherent creativity of the platform allows for fun ways in which brands can connect and engage with their consumers.  TikTok will also look to expand its content generation capabilities outside the main app. A new SDK will allow content creators to ‘share with TikTok’ from their respective curation, creation and editing apps. As the company expands its targeting options, so will the advertising opportunities.  Experimentation is key, nothing is perfect in the world of TikTok and frankly, the weirder the better. TikTok’s reach will expand next year, as the company opens an SDK allowing users to upload videos from third party editing apps. TikTok exploded in 2019. The video-sharing app, which empowers users to create viral video content with fun effects, now boasts over a billion active users worldwide. In Q1 of 2019, it was the most downloaded app in Apple’s app store, with over 33 million downloads.  The bulk of TikTok’s users are 24 years old and younger, which makes it a compelling place for brands trying to reach a younger audience. The most successful way that we've seen brands use the platform is through hashtag challenges.  A hashtag challenge, like Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge, involves the brand choosing a song and inviting users to create a video and dance to accompany it. During the week leading up to National Avocado Day, the #GuacDance challenge received 250,000 video submissions and 430 million video starts, resulting in more than 800,000 sides of guacamole served.  The Year of TikTok
  16. 16 Implications The obvious implication when it comes to marketers is that the fewer options for engagement, the less that branded posts will receive. However, that would be taking this trend at its surface level. Instead, try digging a bit deeper. Consumers that feel this way about digital channels are looking for brands to reach them in more organic ways, even empathizing with them. Catering to consumers’ mental health and assisting them in their digital detox will be a trend that resonates well throughout 2020. Miller Lite was quick to act on this trend. After finding that people will spend five and a half years of their lives on social media, and 50% of 21-27-year-olds will meet up with their close friends a few times a month, the brand decided it had to take a stand. Unfollow us on social media, and we’ll give you a free beer – giving new meaning to ‘It’s Miller Time’.  3 billion people around the globe are social media users. Social media platforms have proliferated almost every society we have on earth. We share our lives, view others, connect in groups, consume our news, shop, entertain and educate. With all the positives that social media has brought us, there are some glaring negatives.  The adverse effects that bullying, vanity metrics, and addictiveness have become a burden. A growing number of people say that they are overwhelmed. As a form of detox, they're looking to shut off. In return, social platforms have provided some solutions. Instagram will start to test removing ‘like counts’ from U.S. users’ posts, a move that they have already employed in foreign markets. Doing so will help to prioritize users’ mental health over that of the company’s profits, creating a safer space on the internet.  The Digital Detox Catering to consumers’ mental health and assisting them in their digital detox will be a trend that resonates well throughout 2020.
  17. 17 Brands should look to Facebook Groups to communicate with highly invested and loyal consumers. Facebook has faced myriad challenges in the last few years. From Cambridge Analytica to stagnating growth and a fleeing younger demographic, the platform knew that it had to find a way to reintroduce purpose into users’ lives. In early 2018, a change in algorithms resulted in a prioritization of content from groups, friends and other content “that matters.”   Ultimately, it was the first of those that had the biggest impact on the platform. In an attempt to put Community at the center, Groups will be a central part of Facebook in 2020. Brands will create their own linked Groups, in which consumers can interact with other like-minded individuals and get advice from community managers. For example, Peloton linked their Peloton Riders Group to their official page and have been able to foster conversation within the group that would not have been possible elsewhere.  Fostering Community through Groups Implications Outside of creating your own linked Group, brands now have the possibility of interacting with other Groups. An athletic footwear company might find value in talking to users that are part of a running Group. Members of those Groups are more invested and loyal to the cause than say someone who simply followed a page. Previously, those users could not have been reached organically without paying for an ad. Brands should be careful with the type of content and conversation they put out there within these public confines. Content should be curated around the industry that they're in, not their brand. This will make it easier to spark discussion, build trust and show that your brand cares about the industry it’s a part of. 
  18. 18 There are currently over 700,000 active podcasts with over 165 million active U.S. listeners. In 2020, these numbers don’t look to be slowing down. Due to the limitations that screening presents to users, we’ve seen that podcasts act as a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives. Brands and marketers have seen benefits from this rise in a few ways. Podcast advertising has resulted in almost 70% of listeners claiming that they were made aware of new products or services. In 2020, we expect massive growth in the area of branded podcasts, giving marketers a self-owned medium to communicate, away from the limitations of social algorithms. Tinder, in partnership with Cosmopolitan, launched a branded podcast entitled “Single, Swipe, Repeat” which focuses on the modern dating world. Tinder partnered with Cosmo to promote the show among the publishing brand’s owned and operated properties. In another example, HBO’s Chernobyl created a companion podcast to its popular mini-series, which averaged a million downloads per episode. Growth of Branded Podcasts Implications Consumers have more options than ever when it comes to podcasts. When they find a show they like, they tend to stick with it. Marketers should use podcasts to help either promote their products and services or create and promote their shows. In 2020, we’ll see plenty of brands try the latter option, and plenty of them will fail. Those that do break through the clutter and succeed will be rewarded with an engaged audience and an owned platform to communicate on their terms. Promoting organic shows may be the hardest part, so be sure to look for a publishing partner that shares a similar audience. Branded Podcasts are expected to swell in 2020, the ones that break through are poised to create a valuable communication platform.
  19. 19 Implications Facebook’s push to make Messenger the center of its ecosystem is a testament to its focus on private interactions. As more and more people shift their mobile communications to Messaging, it will become important for businesses to have a reliable presence within the ecosystem. With 2 billion+ users communicating within Messenger, the move to integrate the back ends of Instagram and WhatsApp at some point in 2020 will bring enhanced utility to the service by bridging the gap between all three services. Through Messenger chatbots, marketers can automate lead generation and CRM to provide utility and drive sales within the conversational platform. As this behavior becomes learned and expected, businesses that do not employ automated assistance may miss out on valuable engagement opportunities. Facebook wants to put Messenger in the center of its product ecosystem. The Messenger experience will evolve to be the central hub of how users communicate with their friends and family. There is a shift towards how we connect with loved ones, share experiences and the ephemerality or short lifetime, of them. Co-viewing will push users to hang out with in the Messenger environment and seamless messaging across devices will allow conversations to persist throughout their day, complete with a new dedicated desktop app.  Additionally, Facebook's plans to include an integrated cryptocurrency as well as PayPal competitor, Facebook Pay, will open new engagement and revenue channels by expanding commerce options and introducing micro-payments. The Messenger Ecosystem Facebook expects Messenger to be the focal point of its product ecosystem – creating rich opportunities for personalized communication with consumers, at scale.
  20. 20 The World Digitize Places and Things
  21. 21 The digitization of places and things has only just begun. It’s the ripest platform for innovation and one that will see the most growth as we move into 2020 and beyond. 5G networks, edge computing, improved hardware and access to complex algorithms will usher in an era of experience that allows consumers to interact with the world in a way that was not previously accessible. Immersive experiences, thanks to the reduced latency & capabilities from 5G networks, will evolve to reshape fan experiences, enable new ways of film making, and provide utility for the end-user. Our product packaging will evolve, enabling marketers to expand on their product's story through attached digital content. And, while our physical world becomes digitized, 2020 will be the year that we begin to populate another shared world through augmented and virtual reality. Marketers can look to these trends as the cutting edge of innovation, providing entirely new ways to bring products to life, interact with consumers and turn their static consumer journey into a living one.  The World - Introduction
  22. 22 The out-of-home (OOH) advertising space is one that is primed for innovation in 2020. Cheap sensors and computer vision algorithms allow what used to be static billboards or bus stops, to make sense of their surroundings. Giving them the ability to dynamically change content and enhance experiences.   5G networks and powerful mobile devices will allow consumers to interact with these experiences in near real-time with little to no latency. Pokémon Go, notorious for pushing the boundary when it comes to experiential executions, recently took over the streets of New York to bring players together to help defeat Team Go Rocket. OOH displays such as posters and billboards went dark, replacing Pikachu with Team Go Rocket characters. Pokémon Go players were then given the chance to battle the villains, working together to take them down. This stunt from Niantic was just the latest in brands combining mobile experiences with OOH ads. Combining augmented reality with location-based experiences can create massively shared experiences, generating interest for a product or service while engaging existing and potential customers. The Cognition of OOH Advertising Implications Combining OOH advertising with a mobile component will become a powerful tactic in 2020. Key use cases will be driving consumers to visit physical locations and assisting them down the purchase funnel via digital tactics. While marketers must be cognizant of privacy concerns, the ability to personalize and engage an audience through these means is ripe for creativity. Whether it’s commerce, connection or enabling creativity, combining a digital aspect with your OOH ads will elevate them from a static experience to one that’s dynamic, providing measurable results to drive your bottom line. Combining augmented reality with location can create massively shared experiences, generating interest for a product or service while engaging existing and potential customers. Go to and watch this billboard come to life!  
  23. 23 Consumers will come to expect a layer of augmented or virtual information attached to product packaging. Connected packaging is not a new trend, but one that will accelerate in 2020. The increase in learned consumer behavior, reduction in the cost of hardware like NFC chips, and improved software within mobile computing will propel this trend.  The proliferation of Google Lens will be a catalyst. The camera application can scan and display information such as pricing, nutrition, directions and more. Uncle Ben's was not content with Google showcasing traditional search results in this instance, so they took control over the experience, surfacing branded content, relevant recipes and product info based on the package that the user scanned. Given Google Len’s popularity, we’ll likely see more brands activate in this way in 2020.  Likewise, in recent years, consumers have become more apt to interact with things like QR codes and NFC chips. Böen wine demonstrated this by equipping their bottles with NFC chips and asking consumers to “Tap Our Cap”. The wine brand was able to tell its story through a mobile site while ensuring that the actual product was a part of that experience.  Product Packaging - Connected  Implications Connecting digital content to packaging will provide marketers with the opportunity to expand on the story of a product. Giving them the ability to tell the equivalent of a TV commercial in a retail space that previously would not have allowed for that type of expression.  As retail services transform into more of a consideration space and purchases shift online, it’s important to make it easy for consumers to go from product to digital. Giving them the tools to do so with a relevant story will help to drive consumers down the purchase funnel and allow for more personalized communication with the brand.  Marketers will have the opportunity to expand on a product’s story by attaching it to a digital experience.
  24. 24 Augmented Reality can provide utility in ways that are otherwise not possible. In 2020, we’ll see more augmented reality applications provide utility by combining the physical and digital worlds in ways that feel seamless and useful. Take Google Maps for example: Google’s Live View AR provides a layer of digitized information to shows users where exactly they should be going, overlaid onto the real world. The result is one that solves a major user problem, in ways that only AR can. Google Lens, in conjunction with Google’s Live View, will utilize computer vision to ensure that the physical world is one that is searchable. While Google’s main search engine categorized the web, Google Lens aims to categorize the physical world. In the last few years, the platform has matured to the point in which Lens can now recognize over a billion+ things.  Imagine walking around a new city utilizing Google Maps Live View for directions and coming across a restaurant you’re interested in. Pointing your camera at the storefront will bring up ratings, reviews, prices and the exact way to ask for the chef’s secret special. You’re seated and again point Lens at the menu to confirm your appetizer choice. After the meal, you use Lens to split the check and leave the correct tip.  Google Embraces AR for Utility Implications The above scenario is one that is playing out on a daily basis. The current window into augmented reality effects comes through our phones. This inherently provides limitations to how we can interact with these experiences. As that window moves from our phone into glasses and contacts, our daily lives will feel a bit more like the above scenario. Today, brands should ensure that their content (pictures, videos, and copy) is marked up in the most effective way for Google’s algorithms to appropriately find and display it. Just as optimizing SEO allowed web pages to rise to the front of the web, optimizing visual content will allow it to rise to the front of the augmented world.
  25. 25 Implications In a recent study, YouGov found that augmented reality was the most likely technology to make consumers think that a brand was innovative. With the technology’s barriers to entry falling and, thanks to 5G networks and web-based frameworks, creative boundaries expanding, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen an increase in scalable executions.  For brands and marketers, the goal of engaging a user to accomplish a task is one that doesn’t come easily. Location-based AR games and experiences will have to innovate to offer new and compelling reasons why users should engage. As we move closer toward the convergence of entertainment, commerce, and education, we haven’t scratched the surface around AR's creative possibilities.  Location-based AR games, thanks in part to Pokémon Go, were some of the first in this category to gain mass appeal. Since then, competitors such as “Ghostbusters World,” “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” “Men in Black: Global Invasion” and “The Walking Dead: Our World” have engaged consumers in their own version of the augmented world.  Brands have also seen the benefits of engaging consumers in augmented games. Ally Financial partnered with Hasbro's Monopoly to transform U.S. cities into a virtual board game. Acting as a virtual scavenger hunt, consumers were able to find “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards across major cities in order to collect virtual tokens with the goal of the game being to promote financial literacy.  Recently, Niantic announced that they’ll soon open a self-serve platform for SMB to sponsor locations within their games. This creates a lucrative way for marketers to drive foot traffic via AR games.  Location-Based AR Brings the Fun Based on a recent study from YouGov, brands that employ AR based experiences are likely to come off as ‘innovative’ to consumers.
  26. 26 Implications There are a few ways that brands can find themselves capitalizing on this trend. At some point, Horizon will almost certainly include advertising opportunities such as virtual billboards and contextual placements. Virtual malls and third party shops will be available within this world, selling physical as well as digital objects.   A virtual world of this sort comes with it the ability to create an entirely new class of products and services. Innovative marketers should look to find ways that they can provide value to those that decide to hang out in Horizon, assisting them with ways to build their virtual worlds or providing services that help advance their virtual lives. A new world brings with it an entirely new set of opportunities. Facebook’s Horizon offers a new place for people to socialize, entertain, and build - while offering potential new places to reach consumers. The promise of virtual reality (VR) took a step further in 2019 with the launch of Oculus Quest, the first all-in-one headset that offered full immersive capabilities without the need for a high-powered PC. For the first time in history, the price point to explore the world of VR was low enough for the average consumer to enjoy.   In 2020, Oculus will capitalize on this trend by creating a virtual place where users can hang out, build, socialize, and be entertained. That world is called Horizon, and from the looks of it, the experience will be similar to that of Ready Player One’s Oasis. Avatars, which represent physical users, will help to build and traverse this virtual world, spending time and money in the process.   Similar to that of smartphones, we expect that the price of mobile VR headsets like the Quest will continue to decline in the coming years. As the price of entrance decreases and capabilities increase, we’ll see that some people will be more apt to spend time in the virtual world than the physical one. While we don’t yet know what this trend will mean for society as a whole, we do know that it represents an opportunity for brands and marketers.   A New World, Brings New Opportunities
  27. 27 Visual search isn’t just for search giants anymore. Despite the overwhelming dominance of Google, Pinterest, and Bing in the visual search space, brands and retailers are finding incredible value incorporating visual search capabilities within their owned channels. Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest, stated: “The future of search will be about pictures rather than keywords.” We’d hesitate to exclude keywords and voice from that statement, but with the incredible rise of visual search beyond the major platforms, we think he’s on to something. Snapping a photo and uploading it to a brand or retailer’s search tool allows consumers to find items that are hard to define with words. For brands with hundreds or thousands of SKUs it will be far easier to find a specific item instead of scrolling thorugh endless search results. Users can also go beyond direct matches and get contextual search results – for example: “these items pair well with the shoes/food/furniture you uploaded.” Increasingly search behaviors will lean more towards contextual information and pairings like these. Now go ahead and use that random photo of an avocado to find the perfect guacamole recipe. The World is a Branded Search Bar Implications Brands should look to go beyond SEO basics like ALT tags and indexing to thinking about the different UX that a visually driven search function provides and plan future updates to their websites and other properties accordingly.  Platforms like Google Lens and Pinterest revolutionized visual search, but the technology is now available to every brand with a product catalog.
  28. 28 Feeling the action isn’t enough. Being immersed and directing the action? That’s the aim of tech giants like Microsoft, Intel, and other players like 8i. All of which have made multimillion-dollar – and in some cases 100 million-dollar bets on volumetric capture capabilities. These studios use hundreds of cameras to capture a person or object and stitch the images together in real-time to create a 3D model for use in virtual environments like Augmented or Virtual Reality. Entire scenes with several actors can also be filmed this way, creating a whole new level of immersion with the ability to direct the camera as if you were the cinematographer.  Volumetric is the New Video Implications As VR and AR gain traction, they’ll need a vast library of assets to build the immersive experiences that will make the platforms viable for a mass audience, and modeling everything from scratch is neither scalable nor cost-effective. Volumetric content won’t eclipse the popularity of video and text next week, but the first wave is already showing incredible promise. Brands like Samsung have built entire worlds for virtual reality using this tech, while others have used it to create Snapchat and Instagram AR experiences.  Big studios are making big bets on using volumetric capture to create a new generation of immersive, 3D content, but the technology is rapidly becoming more accessible.
  29. 29 Implications Many of the infrastructural components for immersive XR experiences are ready to scale; however, 5G coverage and adoption of capable handsets remain the most significant bottlenecks. We anticipate a sudden spike in hi-resolution and hi-fidelity AR/VR experiences as 5G networks proliferate, and 5G mobile devices reach consumers en mass.   Last year, two events with little news coverage marked a new step forward in the evolution of immersive technologies: 5G-enabled augmented reality in sports arenas. At AT&T Park in Dallas and SKTelecom Happy Dream Park in Korea, newly installed 5G hardware enabled sports fans to engage with high-resolution augmented reality experiences that interacted seamlessly with their surroundings, performing flawlessly despite the density of cellular connections.  5G will bring more immersive experiences in both Augmented and Virtual Reality due to the increased speed, lower latency, and higher efficiency in handling more connections. All three of these are necessary to create immersive experiences that will help XR technologies gain mass adoption. With file sizes that are much larger than streaming video, increasing density of device connections, and the need for zero-latency reaction time to create realism, 5G will usher in the next evolution of immersive experience. 5G Brings Hi-resolution AR/VR The components for highly immersive, hi-resolution AR/VR experiences already exist. Once 5G is accessible via handsets and network coverage, we expect to see a sudden spike in these types of engagements.
  30. 30 Creative Technology & Innovation Team Jeremy Olken Sr. Innovation Strategist @JeremyOlken Ian Beacraft VP, Digital Strategy and Innovaiton @ianbcraft