In this pre-Christmas post from our founder Jeff Coghlan, and following on from his recent talk at the brilliant SASCon event (Organised by the equally fantastic Ear to the ground) he warns his fellow creatives to stop always shooting for the obvious target. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should!
Matmi’s been in business for nearly 15 years and we’ve never been afraid of following trends or experimenting with new technology. But we’ve learnt the hard way that just because something’s the ‘next big thing’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right thing for you or your studio.
When brands first started to engage with digital solutions, it was all about websites trying to replicate the print advertising model – it was banner ads all the way! These may have worked for a little while but most of them are now clicked by accident rather than being an effective brand engagement tool.
We’ve got to be smarter than that and that’s why we first started creating branded interactive content.
Surely there is a better way? We think so…
Statistics now show that pre-roll videos are actually much more effective than straight banner ads but even their effectiveness is already on the wane. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years it’s that you can never, ever stand still. You always have to be on the lookout for something better, more creative, more innovative, more engaging.
So we should never accept the status quo, even if we’ve found something that works, but we also need to be careful that we don’t just jump on the latest bandwagon just because everyone else in the industry is talking about it. If the technology, the infrastructure or the consumer appetite is not in a place where brands can really add value then it’s often just as important to wait.
For example, QR codes came and went really quickly but very few people did anything genuinely creative with them – they were just using them because they were there. Right now, it’s all about virtual reality, and the world and his wife seem to want all their brands on the Oculus Rift.
VR’s undoubtedly going to make big waves in the years to come in some form or other but it’s still nowhere close to having enough mass-market penetration, or simple understanding and acceptance, to use it for a brand campaign.
Augmented reality has also done the rounds over the last few years but, again, many have simply used it to allow people to access content that they could have got to just as easily in a myriad of other ways. With our project for The Smiler ride at Alton Towers, and our more recent Babybel Buddies Bowling game, we’ve tried to be a bit more creative with it. The proof of the pudding is clear – The Smiler app has had more than four million unique plays and over 650,000 unique users, and is still being played regularly over a year since it was first released.
So, where are we going now? What are the trends that will help brands reach their customers in all new ways in 2015 and beyond?
For us, it’s the merging of physical and digital experiences that will mark out the trend setters from the me-too’s next year. One of the more exciting technologies that we reckon has got the potential to help make that happen is iBeacon. As an industry we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with location-based digital content. It’s about WAY more than just spamming passers-by because you happen to know they’ve visited your store before.
Early smart phone developers failed when they tried to crow-bar in PC and console style interfaces in their games and apps, instead of working with the unique strengths and possibilities of touch screens. It’s a lesson that applies equally to any new technology, including location-based tools. It’s vital that as creatives we look first at what something can do, instead of trying to make it do something that doesn’t suit it or that we can already do elsewhere.
Why re-invent the wheel just by forcing a new tyre on? Why aren’t we changing the vehicle altogether?
We’re already working on some really exciting new physical-meets-digital experiences, making use of technologies like iBeacon, RFID and AR, and we can’t wait to show you some of it next year. In the meantime though, we hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and are ready to head into the new year and grab those new challenges!
A very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year from the whole Matmi crew!