Weekly Roundup: June 8th

Observations June 11, 2014 7:18 am

*As always, originally published on R/GA FutureVision. Happy reading!

Privacy Update: One Year After The Snowden Revelations

  • Edward Snowden set in motion a series of revelations about NSA spying on June 5th, 2013. One year later, it’s safe to say that privacy and personal data are top of mind for today’s consumers: scandalous stories break on an almost daily basis about governments spying on citizens and companies misusing personal data, and mistrust and fear is growing after numerous attacks by criminal hackers. Just this week, we learned the NSA is collecting millions of photos around the web each day for facial recognition targeting and Vodafone revealed that government agencies can tap into phone calls in twenty-nine countries.
  • With these (and many other) revelations, it’s no surprise that 80% of Internet users believe privacy in the digital age doesn’t exist anymore. Increasingly, individuals are trying to find ways to protect themselves online. Corporations are also making a more concerted effort to educate consumers on their online privacy, and give them the tools they need to protect their personal data. Google announced an encryption tool for Gmail this week, and the Reset the Net campaign is spreading the word about NSA-resistant privacy tool.
  • But the privacy debate is a complex story, one complicated by the benefits consumers receive from giving their personal data to brands. The growing demand for personalized products and services is made possible by the influx of data; moving forward, consumers will have to balance the desire for personalization with the trepidation over being tracked. Is there a middle ground, and a way for brands to responsibly collect data while providing personalized products and service? The FutureVision team explores the issue in our latest trend brief, “Privacy, Personalization, and Earned Data.”

The Connected Home: Apple 2014 vs. Microsoft 1999

  • Among the slew of updates and announcements Apple announced at this year’s WWDC, the company confirmed last week’s rumor of an automated home platform. According to Apple, Home Kit attempts to solve one common challenge to the home automation market: standard communication protocol. “By promoting a common protocol for home automation devices and making a public API available for configuring and communicating with those devices, Home Kit makes possible a marketplace where the app a user controls their home with doesn’t have to be created by the vendor who made their home automation accessories, and where home automation accessories from multiple vendors can all be integrated into a single coherent whole without those vendors having to coordinate directly with each other.” In December of 2013, Qualcomm announced the AllSeen Alliance in an effort to create a standard for the Internet of Things, so Apple faces competition for defining the common communication protocol.
  • Home Kit users will rely on Siri and voice commands to control the home, which is eerily similar to a 1999 Microsoft video, which imagined an smart home controlled by making commands to virtual assistant “Astro.” Although Microsoft predicts that the control hub for a smart home is through a PC rather than a mobile device, the video was amazingly ahead of its time in technology predictions; identification through facial recognition, connected lights and thermostats, and a digital scanning tool that automatically adds grocery items to a list.

Must Read: The Emerging Global Web

  • Take some time to flip through this great presentation, “The Emerging Global Web.” The presentation highlights how the web is changing; 15 years ago, developed nations drove Internet traffic, but now it’s traffic from emerging markets that are showing the real growth. Mobile is at the heart of this change, and has allowed consumers in emerging markets to connect to the web.
  • Mobile is transforming how people shop (Commerce is huge on Instagram, Facebook, and messaging services, as well as virtual markets) and how people bank and pay for goods(MPesa and Alipay), and unlike in the West, QR codes are booming in popularity. And rather than be restricted by constraints like lagging infrastructure, brands in emerging markets are finding innovative solutions to reach consumers through mobile services.

FV Feed: Social Commerce 2.0?

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as saying, “If I had to guess social commerce is the next big area to blow up.” Fast-forward four years, and social commerce has not yet lived up to the hype. Early experiments like Facebook Collections and Facebook Gifts largely floundered, and while Facebook is still far from figuring out social commerce, other networks like Twitter and Instagram are making strides:

Twitter has doubled-down on commerce, hiring former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard as the head of commerce last year and Google’s Philippe Dauman Jr. as a director of commerce partnerships to making Twitter an easier place to shop. Hashtags have emerged as a powerful shopping tool, with Amazon trialing #AmazonCart and Starbucks finding success with their recent Tweet-A-Coffee campaign.

One thing to note, however, is that commerce on Twitter (or any social platform) is still not a seamless, one-click endeavor… but one that Twitter could soon solve with a “Buy” button.

Instagram is also a burgeoning social commerce channel, and the platform’s hurdles to commerce makes buying with a hashtag easy. Because Instagram currently doesn’t support commerce, or even urls in posts, current attempts at commerce are completely manual and difficult. Yet the platform’s visual nature and popularity with fashionistas has made it a hotspot for social commerce. Zappos is piloting a personal stylist service through Instagram and Vogue (along with a myriad of fashion bloggers) are experimenting with Like to Know It. In Kuwait, Instagram commerce is so popular, even grandmothers have an Instagram business, and in the US, small retailers like Fox & Fawn in Brooklyn are seeing up to 90% of daily transactions occur on Instagram.

Why, despite its clunkiness and ad-hoc systems, is Instagram commerce heating up? According to Connie Wang, Head of Style, Refinery 29, “[Instagram is] so much more personal. It’s not a Facebook or Twitter where everything seems like an advertorial. On Instagram, it feels like a discovery because you aren’t there to shop — but if something catches your eye and it’s available, you’re more likely to buy it.”

Will 2014 be the year social commerce finally comes to fruition? We’re still in the early stages, but it should be top of mind for retailers wishing to provide a seamless shopping experience for consumers.

World Cup Fever: Ad Watch

  • All eyes are on Brazil as the World Cup officially kicks off next week. 3.2 billion people watched the 2010 World Cup, making it the world’s most watched sporting event (in comparison, the 2012 Super Bowl only had 108 million viewers). Those numbers also make the World Cup a huge opportunity for brands to reach a global, engaged audience. But in 2010, Nike received the largest share of digital World Cup buzz… besting all official sponsors of the tournament without ever actually mentioning the World Cup.
  • This year, Nike is building a similar level of buzz with its “Winner Stays” spot, and other non-sponsors like Beats by Dre are also making a splash with fans. This week’s most powerful spot, however, comes from Banco de Chile, and features the rescued Chilean miners making a passionate speech about not fearing “The Group of Death.”

Long Reads: On How We Work

  • This article in the NY Times stirred up controversy this week: Why You Hate Work
  • While Sweden, perhaps recognizing that “The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become,” (source: Why You Hate Work) gets ready to test a six-hour work day.
  • The Atlantic takes a look at the open-office plan, and why they are particularly harmful for introverts.

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