NON-OBVIOUS: Reluctant Marketers, Glanceable Content, and Other Future Trends


HEY THERE! Are you ready for some #adtechSF liveblogging? I hope so because we’re going to be coming at you hard over the next two days, and I could not be more excited.

Quick side note: Did you know people could get Citizen Arrested in Starbucks? Because that just happened right in front of me this morning and my adrenaline is PUMPING. Expect all of the crazed liveblogging as a result. Though, that may have happened anyway.

Okay, we’re getting started!

Rohit Bhargava is going to kick us off with some trends that may or may not be top of mind and how to forecast for what’s ahead. The room is dark and the music is bumping. It’s hard not to be stoked.

Rohit says he hopes everyone is awake. He wants us to imagine that we all have a superhuman skill–the ability to predict the future and to know what’s coming next. Could that help you in your life and in your business? Yes. I probably would have avoided Starbucks this morning!

Now he says, imagine you went in a time machine, back three years. To the moment right before Ed Sheeran became famous. When he got invited to a random conference room to play in front of a small audience. Imagine you have two options.

  1. To capture the experience with your phone and camera
  2. To not be focused on capturing anything, but to watch and enjoy the show

What if you could be that observer guy in every moment of your life? What if you could just enjoy the show and pay attention to it? Could that change the way you think about the future? Rohit breaks it down like this:

A speed reader tries to be everywhere and consume everything. They miss out on everything.

A speed understander is the guy who enjoys the show and observes everything. That is the key to predicting the future.

A trend is a curated observation of the accelerating future. Imagine if you could be in the room with Ed Sheeran before his career takes off. Imagine how inspired you’d be.

Acceleration, idea and impact — that’s what he looks for when looking at trends.

4 Trends That Will Change Your Business in 2015

1: Unperfection (yes, “unperfect.” That’s not a typo): Brands strive to be more human. There is so much pressure to share perfection. We want to tell people what we’re doing and to be portrayed as perfect people. We embrace things that are less than perfect. Why are Uggs and Crocs so popular? It’s not because of great product design (because they’re hideous). They’re imperfect. Put things in misalignment on purpose in order to create discord so people notice and pay attention. We throw away food that doesn’t look perfect–carrots that grow funny or vegetables that look weird. In a soup, who cares? It all tastes the same. Embrace the imperfection.

  • McDonalds can make the Egg McMuffin look round and perfect and like a hockey puck. But they make it unperfect on purpose so it looks like someone actually made it.
  • Hans Brinker Amsterdam: Their brand promise is “it can’t get any worse, but we’ll do our best.” Imagine pitching that as an agency to a client? It works because the experience is so unique (it’s a budget hotel) and because it fits its audience – 20 somethings backpacking across Europe. 20 somethings can’t afford luxury, what they want is a great story. That’s a great story.

Stealable idea: Embrace your rare mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes. As long as they’re rare, you can flip them. Being unperfect is not the same as being broken. Being broken doesn’t work.

2: The Reluctant Marketer: Brands using content instead of promotion to educate and sell. No one wants branded content, but more and more brands are becoming media brands.

  • Pay Per Laugh: There’s a theater in Barcelona that uses a pay per laugh model. When you laugh, you’re charged money. So if you don’t laugh, you don’t pay for the show you just watched. That’s the future we’re working toward. The PR value of that alone is genius. Ticket sales are up.
  • Hilton Suggests: Hilton is answering questions about anything on Twitter.
  • Weber Grills: Publishing books about grilling. They’ve been doing this for years.

Stealable Idea: Be useful instead of promotional.

3. Everyday Stardom: Consumers expect to be treated like superstars. Disney has a MagicBand. It’s a bracelet (that Disney has invested 1 billion dollars in!) that opens locked doors, lets you access your photos, is personalized (characters greet you by name), etc. Kinda creepy, but super personalized. We all on some level want the James Bond moment – when you walk into a hotel and they say, “Hi Name, Welcome back!” That’s the kind of personalization we want.

Stealable Idea: Offer VIP treatment based on reality. Give customers the chance to experience something different.

4. Experimedia: Content creators use social experiments to study human behavior in unique ways. Think of Dove’s Real Beauty campaigns. Those are social experiments designed as ad campaigns.

Stealable Idea: Use visuals to prove your value.

5 Habits of Trend Curators

  1. Watch processes in action.
  2. Empathize with magazines – see what stories are shown, how advertisers are messaging to them, etc.
  3. Being fickle – takes notes with Sharpies. Don’t take a lot of notes. Capture an idea and move on.
  4. Wait a moment.
  5. Use poetic principles.

Don’t think in terms of consuming volume. Think in terms of being curious and understanding. That’s how you predict the future.


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