AOL’s very own digital prophet, David ‘Shingy’ Shing, was as electrifying as the suit he was wearing at the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ RESET conference in Sydney today, dissing innovation and disruption, and giving marketers an insight into what they can expect in the future.
Sporting his trademark glasses and a hairdo held up by pomade, Shingy began his presentation by talking about innovation.
“This is a word that people use and say ‘Hey man, innovation is the new new, isn’t it?’, and I’m like ‘No, no bloody way’, because I think innovation is out, and I think it’s about invention,” he said.
“Innovation is about change. Invention is about creation.”
Shing then addressed the three Cs in digital marketing – culture, code and creativity – and stressed that brands need to avoid “over-indexing” on any of them individually.
“[Google Glass] is an example of when Google doesn’t quite get it right, because what happens here is that if you over-index on code and you forget about culture, you end up with David No Friends,” he said.
“But what I do think is amazing is that if you leap forward 18 months, Snapchat are now coming out with these things called Spectacles. This is going to be a phenomenal hit. Why? This is not recording every element of your life – this is recording conversation at a barbeque if it’s interesting, and little snippets and pockets of information that have been coming to you.
“That’s part of the new culture that you have to think about, so it’s about figuring out what the balance is.”
Shing then revealed the most overused word he hears when going in meetings with marketers –’disruption’.
“When you think about ‘disruption’, it’s not just about technology – you need to think about your business model, because that’s the thing that sucks arse,” he told conference attendees.
Shing went on to say that marketers need to understand that technology is changing people’s behaviour, but what it isn’t changing is our needs.
“We’re humans in our DNA. Our needs are wrapped up in the culture of where we are, and you can never change it,” he said.
“There’s a sense that we all want to be connected as humans. Now, is technology enabling that? Possibly.”
When talking about human needs, Shing said the discussion shifts to the four different types of realities – augmented, virtual, real, and mixed (for example, the idea of pushing around augmented reality in a physical sense).
“Here’s the golden opportunity. If you and I sat down and watched a film together, it’s a linear story, and if I laughed in a scene and you cried in that scene, and we had different emotions at the same time, you can’t change the content because it’s a director’s point of view, and that’s what’s been going on for way too long.
“The reality is as soon as you put [a VR headset] on, you are now into a lateral story – you are the person who is going to be the director of your own content and experiences, and it’s going to change dramatically in the future.
“If you think VR is amazing today, it’s nowhere near as amazing as where it’s going to be, because what’s happening is a lot of start-ups are building senses inside the googles so they can determine whether you laugh or whether you cry in scenes. We’re going to build content that changes and manifests.”
Shing noted that when done simply, augmented reality can really inspire people.
“What I really love about augmented over virtual – it’s shareable, and that’s very, very important to justify the production of that content,” he said.
However, Shing’s heart is with real reality right now due to stunts like this:
Shing talked about the fact that 360-degree phone cameras and drones is landing in the hands of creatives who are experimenting and producing amazing content that provides a different point of view.
“And that’s important because distinction in the way things look in the iconography of content is also vastly important to your identity as a brand,” he said.
Shing said the challenge for brands and marketers is figuring out how to create beautiful content using this technology in a cost-effective way.
The New-Age Consumer
According to Shing, consumers are no longer just consuming content.
“Those days are dead and buried, because now what you’ve got to deal with is the the creator, the critic and the curator of experiences,” he said.
Shing said we’ve entered a world where personal expression is now a form of entertainment, and as society is fed with more and more content, marketers have to think about out how to reconcile that.
“One of the reconciliations is that your audiences now have an audience,” he said.
However, Shing pointed out that a surge of insecurity has forced a lot of the younger generation are locking their social media networks down by making them private, and that’s where brands can run into trouble.
“If you think it’s all about open, it’s not,” he said. “People are cleansing the brands that they care about, and are only following people they want to, and are closing their networks down to have intimacy.
And as the world shifts into closed, inter-connected networks, Shing said advocacy is going to be more important than awareness in advertising, because people’s behaviour is influenced by their peers more today than ever before.
He also encouraged brands to let consumers contribute to it and co-create, and praise and reward them for their efforts.
“That’s the secret of what companies need to do for those consuming their content,” he said.
“It has to be grounded upon something that’s highly portable, some sound and motion, and is grounded upon reality.
“The most successful brands will be the ones that can reflect cultural change in their marketing.”
Shing believes experimentation is really important for brands, but to do that, marketers have to think about “re-framing”.
“It’s not enough to re-mix the budget anymore – you have to turn things upside down and invent,” he said.
“The second thing is you need to find the right people. It’s not about the celebrity culture – it’s about the culture of influence, so find people who are really authentic influencers of your brand and enable them to co-create with you.”
Shing said digital and physical cannot be separated.
“You need to bring them together, because people don’t delineate between physical and digital, so it has to feel like the same vocabulary,” he said.
“And lastly, you do need to fall forward. You need to experiment, because not everything can be a win, and you have to celebrate failure because the sooner you fail, the quicker you can succeed.”
AI and Data
He also stressed the importance of marketers getting artificial intelligence (AI) right.
“AI is very important, but most people get it wrong because what happens is they start with a kernel of an idea and they try and grow their knowledge base out,” Shing explained.
“I would turn it the other way around – start with a broad knowledge base and give massive context to people immediately, and hand it off to the humans.”
When it comes to utilising data creatively, Shing suggested that marketers look to the signals and not just the “speadsheets of noise”.
“It used to be about personalised data. What you really need today is contextual, but where it’s really headed is predictive,” he said.