I was incredibly humbled to be recognized as the 2020 Digital Marketing Professional of the Year during the recent CX Digital Summit. When I receive recognition such as this I am very thankful for the support of my wife, family, teammates, and everyone in my network.
Next up are the 2021 OnCon Icon Awards in January where a number of you voted and I am incredibly appreciative of your support. Beyond that I am also being recognized by MADCON in 2021 and hopeful we can get back to in-person events by mid-2021.
I am thankful for the recognition and excited to close out a chaotic 2020 and look forward to 2021 and what’s possible!
2020 Digital Marketing Professional of the Year (Global) – Recognized during the 2020 India CX Digital Summit as the Digital Marketing Professional of the Year.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to an amazing Indian audience during the 2020 CX Digital Summit. I delivered an updated version of the Innovation To Reality Keynote focusing on CX and how consumer behavior drives engagement.
The talk focused on the impact of Gen Z consumer behavior and their expectations tied to the camera as a bridge to intelligence. Then, we discussed what I consider the five levels of autonomy and how CX experiences will evolve at each stage. Finally, we dive into the behavioral drivers that will create the shift from mobile being the primary way we interact with technology to our environment adapting to us.
It’s fun to deliver keynotes at 1 am! It’s worth the lack of sleep to engage with audiences across the globe!
I have enjoyed working with Cal Entertainment founder Chris Lee for years as I am an exclusive speaker for Cal Entertainment. We sit down for a fun discussion that covers a lot of ground. We talk about trends across data, AI, gaming, spatial computing, new form factors beyond mobile, as well as some fun with Funko Pops.
1:48 – Introduction and opening statements tied to trends. 3:05 – Creating experiences that go beyond desktop and mobile. 4:10 – Tour of Matrix-inspired office. 4:42 – Awards & BlackFin360. 7:12 – Voice ecosystem and thoughts on Google, Amazon, and Apple. 8:24 – Discuss virtual proxies & how assistants will evolve. 12:00 – How should business leaders think about integrating tech and trends into their existing business with a focus on value creation. 12:50 – The new 4 Ps to consider for marketers. 14:50 – What about small business owners? What do they need to look at? 18:36 – How to apply AI & Machine learning to understand affinities and behaviors. 19:44 – Thoughts on ownership of data. 20:17 – The role of AI & it’s not the enemy via the Pixar Theory 24:15 – Digital Simulation. 25:50 – What about search beyond desktop & mobile? The role of the Google knowledge graph. 27:06 – Moving beyond mobile devices & the rise of smart glasses. 28:14 – Smart contacts are the future. 30:10 – The rise of gaming & how to align with business. 31:55 – What brands should be in gaming? 35:00 – Creating authentic connections. 37:48 – Digital twins & the proxy twin hypothesis. 41:08 – Forecasting trends. 42:18 – Data, experiences, ethics. 45:20 – Blockchain & Industries like Healthcare, Financial Services. 46:55 – Digital rights management 47:30 – Closing thoughts
If you are interested in having Tom speak at your next event, please book with Chris Lee via email@example.com or call 877-300-1888 ext. 101.
I recently had the opportunity to deliver a keynote to an Indian audience during the first Immersive Tech Digital Summit. It’s a new experience to give a full keynote at 3 AM US time, but the crowd’s interaction made it a fun experience.
I delivered an updated version of the Innovation to Reality talk focusing on new trends, pop culture references, and frameworks for the application of technology to enhance business growth.
I also had the opportunity to lead a comprehensive augmented reality workshop featuring industry case studies and a deep dive into platforms and frameworks.
I am looking forward to my next masterclass session on December 5th for the India CX Digital Summit. It’s exciting to continue to expand thought leadership around the globe.
Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch
Empower. Exponential. Enhanced. These are the three words that Tom Edwards of Blackfin360 – a data-driven digitally centric marketing technology executive and professional futurist speaker – uses to describe the evolution of experience as the innovation scene evolves. He calls it ‘innovation to reality.’ Tom recently spoke at the Telco Global Forum event. In his talk, he mentions them as elements that can help drive business and digital transformation.
“Empower is all about consumer behavior influencing technology. Exponential is all about the role that intelligence systems are going to play. And Enhance is all about simulation. These are the foundational elements to align consumer behavior and emerging technology and its impact on business and digital transformation.”
– Tom Edwards
Understanding consumer behavior and how that impacts experiences
For Tom, it starts with understanding consumer behavior and how it affects technology. He estimates that 40 percent of the consumer market consists of Generation Z – the demographic of people born between the years 1996 and 2010. “They are the first mobile-first generation. They learn to swipe before they learn to speak. Businesses must understand that affinity and behavior and how it affects technology.” He says.
Today, we are heading to an age of emerging technologies that these consumers will interface with daily, and it is vital to understand how to connect with them at these various points. One popular emerging technology is the voice assistant technology installed on phones.
Alexa, Google, etc. are the first stage of autonomy in intelligent systems. From the research Tom has done across generations, one particular thing is consistent about why people will adopt intelligence systems into their everyday lives. “That is ease and convenience,” he says. These systems serve as delegates onto which people can delegate simple tasks. So they serve as a bridge between consumers and businesses such that ultimately, the mobile device will no longer be the primary means of interacting with technology. Therefore, organizations need to examine these systems and figure out how to communicate and have conversational experiences with them.
Tom expects that an increase of these proxy-like systems will “require understanding how to provoke emotions from systems” as it is quite different from humans because we will be moving from a human consumer-centric way of marketing to one that is system-based.
How to prepare and what to expect
Businesses have data assets they possess and manage internally. The first step is understanding these assets. However, that is not enough. According to Tom, “90% of the information around consumers is unstructured”. They are found on the open web and in conversations online. Artificial intelligence can play a role in expediting the understanding of what is happening. Lastly, businesses want to understand intent signals. These are indicators that identify users who are actively reaching their line of products, and it is tied to search history. Ultimately, businesses want to make sure that they structure data in such a way that they are consequential across not only traditional search but voice ecosystems and spatial computing. All of these things are interconnected. Therefore, it is vital to have a thorough understanding of what information is available, what is usable, and why.
The role data and intelligent systems will play in the near future
In the voice assistance technology sector, Google wants to make the assistant in such a way that tasks are set up as real-life scenes, thus turning the whole delegation activity into a seamless experience for the user. An example of this is Google Duplex – a new technology woven into the Google Assistant – that reserved an appointment and rented a car! Tom postulates that with systems like these evolving, what we will begin to see is a virtual assistant acting as preference centers.
With the ever-present connectivity that the emergence of 5G networks will provide, edge computing – i.e., location of information processing where people produce or consume that information – in the form of building smart cities that can process data locally and instantaneously will become a reality. While the focus has been on the disruption happening in various industries as a result of these different technologies, it will move to the convergence of these intelligent systems, which will be powered by artificial intelligence that is fuelled by data. That data is what is going to enhance the experiences as they evolve. Training the machine learning models that drive these technologies will involve tons of data so that they can further improve user experiences.
Prepare to make the shift from mobile devices
Eventually, it is not going to be enough to create experiences for traditional desktop and mobile in digital marketing. Voice, vision, and touch are the new modalities that will drive the future of experience, and these are what businesses will need to pay attention to succeed.
In light of these new modalities that are poised to drive the future of experience and digital marketing in businesses, how do you adopt these emerging technologies in your organization? “I follow a 70 to 20 to 10 kind of approach,” Tom advises. Seventy percent of your investment should be on tried and tested technologies that are going to stimulate business and digital transformation, 20 percent for technologies that are novel but you can prove some type of return based on the core objective you are trying to apply and 10 percent or less for technologies you are making educated guesses.
“It is incredibly important to have a three-year road map,” he adds. In addition to the traditional four Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – of marketing strategy, he includes four additional Ps, namely, Plan, Predictive, Proxy, and Pervasive. Plan refers to your data strategy. Predictive involves knowing that data is going to drive a lot of predictive decision making that will get to a point where it can predict human behavior and subsequently lead to the third P, Proxy. Proxy involves understanding that virtual assistants will become proxies or deputies, communicating, and interacting with each other on our behalf, scheduling, and handling tasks. Lastly, Pervasive, you want to understand that you are designing experiences — pervasive experiences — namely touch, vision, and voice that will go beyond traditional desktop and mobile.
In summary, it is about doing what is working today. Next, examine the future experiences that are going to influence behavior and drive business and digital transformation that this article has discussed. Look out for use cases in other industries that you can apply to your business based on your objective and experiment. Finally, review what the 90 percent of your investment has accomplished, what is ultimately coming, and make educated bets on other technologies you want to explore.
Tom’s Innovation to Reality talk is available here at the Telco Global Forum.
Futurist Tom Edwards recently joined Jonathan Lewis Trembley, Founder of Gretrix, and host of the E-commerce Business Podcast to discuss the latest trends in e-commerce. From applications of AI, dynamic product descriptions, to the role of gaming. Check out the six-minute interview.
I recently had the opportunity to join an amazing lineup of speakers for the 2020 Telco Global Forum. It was a great event and I wanted to share a snippet of my Innovation to Reality discussion with Leo Clifford, the Telco Global Forum founder.
Wow! It felt good to be back on stage with a socially distant audience. Yes, I wore a mask on stage per the organizer’s policy, but it was great to be in person! This was a bespoke talk designed to motivate future business & technology, men & women.
The talk covered how a passion for gaming, marketing, and technology, has shaped my career journey. This discussion was more personal and reflective than futurist, but I wanted to provide insights into how various passions have shaped my perspective and translated to driving business performance.
I recently had the opportunity to join Thiago Desouza on his Business Access Podcast. We had an incredibly in-depth conversation across a variety of topics. From passions that have driven my career, technology, and marketing impact post-pandemic, gaming, GenZ, generational gaps, and the future of consumer experience. Timestamps and topics below.
1:25 – Tom Edwards Career Overview
Smooth Fusion (Microsoft)
Telligent (Electronic Arts)
INgage Networks (Chief Marketing Officer)
Omnicom (Strategy Leader – Red Urban, The Marketing Arm)
Epsilon (Chief Digital & Innovation Officer)
Tripleclix (Chief Marketing Officer)
2:50 – Discussing Core Passions
Star Wars & the droids and how the technology-enabled the adventures
Gaming in the 1980s
90’s Computer Hardware
Marketing, Technology, Gaming are core passions
4:10 – Where are we today technology wise compared to Star Wars?
No longer disruption as a new normal
All about convergence, AI, predictive decisioning, virtual assistant proxies, simulation at scale
6:15 – How does it feel when you create a pathway to success for a client?
Love to align technology + consumer experience hits a cultural inflection point
EA Skate example. The first instance of in-game content posted to the web in the mid-2000s
Discuss Data & AI work while at Epsilon
Goes well beyond a transaction, it’s about creating value as a partner
8:30 – Discuss Professional Speaking & Innovation to Reality
How technology will evolve and how we will move from the mobile device to our environment adapting to us through the lens of pop-culture
Empower – technology that enables consumers
Exponential – intelligent systems
Enhance – proxies to full simulation
Discuss GenZ, gaming, expectations of technology and how experiences are evolving
11:00 – How do you feel technology is going to advance post COVID pandemic?
Less about a single use case and application, and more about how technology enables work that isn’t in a physical location
New consumer decision journey… Disruption, Acceptance, What’s next
Acceleration of work from anywhere, have worked remotely for over 5 years
Sparks of inspiration occur at different times of the day.
14:33 – What can businesses do and where should they focus post pandemic?
Focus on core consumer needs
Reflect & reset corporate strategy, especially digitally
The role that data plays
Developing new capabilities
Forecast demand by geography & audience segments
Discuss the cycle of demand
What’s next… How does physical retail compete with online?
18:00 – Communication, Communication, Communication is vital…
Maintaining communication and connection is key
71% of consumers stated if brands put profit over people they would lose faith in the brand forever
It’s important to communicate, but also how are you easing disruption
Content strategy, building it around how creating value, balance selling vs. supporting
Reacting vs. strategically planning
21:30 – How have international businesses been responding?
US quantity based
Bolivia case study/hand sanitizer example
23:00 – Across industries, what techniques and methods work well broadly?
Mapped career against the rising flow of technology & culture
Mid 2000’s social computing
Then consumer social strategy
Data & AI
Next is gaming…
26:15 – Generational Gap & Gaming
29:00 – Experiences like Pokémon Go prep future adoption
Training a generation
GenZ expectations of technology & behaviors such as mixing reality is becoming second nature
30:30 – What happened to Google Glass? What’s next?
Was an early adopter
When it initially launched we weren’t in the midst of a creator society
It was also about form factor… looking at patents and future tech, look and feel will be extensions of style
Apple, Samsung, and others will move us towards a smart contact
Ubiquitous tech + constant connectivity via 5G will drive adoption of new form factors
33:30 – If a client/business asks how can I make it happen?
Not enough time spent on the behavioral side
Single persona vs. affinity iterations & personality types
How does that come together and finding the right levers to connect with individuals in a meaningful way
Easier to look at it from a media perspective vs. using AI as a driver to truly differentiate the experience via structured & unstructured data
Esports sponsorship… “Marketing with to games is fine, but connecting authentically is a different approach” – Chris Erb.
36:55 – The role of personal branding
The accelerator of success was my blog… 500 posts later, how you think, what you have done, and having a content repository is key
I recently had the opportunity to join Christopher Kai on his Gifters Podcast. This is episode 800 of his show and we dive into a number of topics in twelve minutes. From what is a futurist, why emerging tech, data strategy, recommendations for business post COVID, and innovation.
Recently, I was talking to an industry associate and he referenced this topic and video. I have been speaking professionally for years now and this is the process I go through in advance of taking the stage and I thought it was worth resharing.
By focusing your time and effort on knowing your audience, framing and refining your story and following these 7 tips, you will be well prepared to take the stage and deliver a great presentation.
I had the distinct pleasure to join Jeffrey Hayzlett on the All Business show. We had a great conversation discussing topics such as marketing and advertising shifts due to COVID19, shifts in consumer behavior, adaptive digital strategy, the role of AI, gaming + marketing, connecting with GenZ, emerging technology, and 2020 trends.
1:30 – Discuss how brands (w/ examples) are shifting marketing and advertising due to COVID19?
8:00 – Discuss how the consumer decision journey has evolved for everyone.
12:00 – Discuss gaming + marketing = Tripleclix.
15:30 – Discuss behaviors that impact technology adoption.
18:10 – Thoughts on marketers attending live events in 2020.
19:40 – Technologies that lead us into the near future.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss how to thrive in the time of COVID-19 from brand marketing, digital transformation, research on consumer behavior, and more.
This is the second part of a discussion with Andy Frawley, CEO @ V12, & Anders Ekman, President @ V12. This discussion focuses on strategies required to recover and retool due to the pandemic.
Below is a recap of topics along with timestamps.
:15 – Andy Frawley – Discusses Supply Chain & Cost Reduction vs. Go-To-Market Strategies.
1:50 – Anders Ekman – Impact of COVID-19 on organic web activity, the role of online signals and WebID.
3:15 – Tom Edwards – How organizations can reset. 1) Focus on core consumer need 2) Redefining core digital strategy 3) Data sources informing an adaptive strategy to retool and have a faster recovery.
4:45 – Andy Frawley – Outlines the role of adaptive email.
6:30 – Anders Ekman – Discusses speed, disconnected data sets, and importance of connectivity.
7:15 – Tom Edwards – Discusses the importance of a unified view of consumers and connecting with the right partners while maintaining speed and efficiency.
8:45 – Andy Frawley – Discusses the role of CDP’s and integration post COVID-19.
10:50 – Andy Frawley – Role of V12 accelerating change.
12:00 – Tom Edwards – The role of performance based marketing moving forward.
13:15 – Tom Edwards – Blend of paid vs. organic content strategy.
15:00 – Tom Edwards – Views and predictions for marketing in the next six months.
16:32 – Andy Frawley – Views and predictions for marketing in the next six months.
18:00 – Anders Ekman – The role of analytics post pandemic.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss how to thrive in the time of COVID-19 from brand marketing, digital transformation, research on consumer behavior, and more.
This is the first part of a two-part discussion with Andy Frawley, CEO @ V12, & Anders Ekman, President @ V12. This discussion focuses on how channels have shifted due to the pandemic. Upcoming discussions will focus on how to market during this time and ultimately, how to recover.
Below is a recap of topics along with timestamps.
2:00 – Andy Frawley discusses themes for how brands are addressing consumer engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3:00 – Tom Edwards provides a brief background, discusses impact across industries and categories. From shifting consumer behavior, and how brands have adjusted their approach.
4:45 – Tom Edwards outlines the importance of a holistic view of consumers, discusses research tied to consumer behavior, and the importance of focusing on providing value to consumer’s daily lives vs. influencing feelings.
6:00 – Andy Frawley discusses the role of digital transformation during COVID-19.
7:45 – Anders Ekman outlines his view on digital transformation, impact on automotive, experiential learnings, and how to reset.
8:45 – Tom Edwards discusses the impact on B2B marketing, conferences, events, and how brands are developing their COVID-19 responses, as well the importance to focus on retooling for the new normal through data.
10:30 – Andy Frawley discusses how he has accelerated and retooled V12 and their products to support brands to understand who is in the market for products and services.
12:15 – Tom Edwards discusses the role of data and digital engagement. The importance of affinity and intent. The decrease in organic search and how data-driven marketing, regional affinities, and messaging needs to adjust to connect quickly to capitalize.
15:00 – Tom discusses market themes from COVID-19 response, 2021 strategy, and the role of partnerships, strategic acquisitions, and developing new capabilities.
Futurithmic published my latest article covering how GenZ is thriving in quarantine. GenZ is more comfortable with physical isolation. They were part of the first mobile-first generation, and they learned to swipe on a device before they learned to speak.
Connecting with friends through Facetime, or through Discord while playing their favorite games is second nature for them and quarantine will feel like an extended vacation to connect with friends and dive deeper into all forms of entertainment, especially gaming.
This article references how the gaming industry is responding to increased demand, network strains in online gaming, and examples for how different entities are adapting to shift from physical events to digital.
I am pleased to announce that I have joined the leadership team of Tripleclix. I have known the founder of Tripleclix, Chris Erb for over a decade and he’s the best in the business at partnership and lifestyle marketing. I am incredibly excited to combine my passion for gaming, marketing, and brand strategy to drive growth and elevate the Tripleclix brand as CMO.
Tripleclix is a strategic gaming agency focused on developing marketing partners for game publishers while helping brands navigate the gaming industry. With over 60 years of industry experience, the agency specializes in building strategy, promotions, original content, and lifestyle marketing by combining publisher driven gaming content with innovative and iconic brands. Tripleclix acts as the connective tissue through which brands, publishers, and consumers interact.
Be sure to visit Tripleclix.com to check out all of the amazing work created by this team!
Today, Futurithmic published my latest article outlining key 5G events in 2020. What we have seen so far and what we should expect as the year unfolds. From CES, The Super Bowl, to the canceled Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona.
We explore how 5G impacted the shows and cultural moments so far in 2020 while also outlining the key events to come later in the year that will ultimately shape the role of 5G in advancing consumer experiences.
I have the pleasure of working with the Futurithmic team to write a number of articles in 2020discussing the future of 5G and it’s potential impact on various forms of entertainment.
This article explores how 5G will evolve experiences within theme parks and exhibits, enhance wayfinding through computer vision and augmented reality, enable enhanced proximity-based content experiences, digital simulation, and ultimately enhance movie theaters.
This is the second in the series and here is a link to the full article on Futurithmic.com
I was recently recognized by OnConferences as a 2020 Top 50 Global Marketer Award winner. It’s always a great honor to be recognized, especially when the award is determined 100% by your peers. This award originally had hundreds of nominees from across the globe.
In addition to picking up the award, I had the opportunity to also present a number of awards and had the opportunity to share a short story about success which I will post below.
The single most important driver of success in my career has been developing and maintaining a personal brand while in parallel delivering results for the brands I worked for.
I started writing point of view pieces about new and emerging technology, pop culture, gaming, and strategy back in 2007. Now 500+ posts later this helped to propel me as a paid speaker and opened up a number of new opportunities.
The content you create follows you from role to role, it serves as a demonstration for how you think to prospective clients and it also leads to awards. I was on this very stage last year picking up the OnCon Marketing Trailblazer and OnCon Marketing Contributor awards thanks in large part to contributions to the industry through writing.
I would highly recommend that those of you who mentor up and coming employees, that you empower them to develop a POV, allow them to flex their strategic and problem-solving skills and don’t be afraid to allow them to develop their personal brands.
This is how you can go from an employer to a true mentor. And it’s incredibly satisfying to see those that you invest in find their own success.
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with EDgage Magazine to discuss emerging technology trends tied to the technology landscape today, how technology will evolve, the role of gaming and esports, tech impact on higher education, marketing and the future of technology, and 2020 trends.
Give us a snapshot of the technology landscape today (as it relates to marketing).
(Tom Edwards) We live in an amazing time. Technology is culture and culture is technology. So much of the focus the past few years has been about real-time, contextual and personalization at scale. Data’s role in driving decisioning, especially leveraging machine learning to derive themes, perceptions, and occasions, is revolutionizing how we derive affinity and intent signals from consumers. We can now return in time and process millions of conversations to understand unbiased consumer behavior and have the ability to align that with evolving consumer experiences.
Technology and experience will continue to evolve. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education.
(TE) The other major shift is we are quickly moving from desktop and mobile-centric experiences toward multi-modal at scale. This includes voice, vision, and touch. The rise and adoption of virtual assistants, advancements in computer vision and democratization of augmented reality experiences, and the rise of gesture-based experiences make it a great time to be a consumer and marketer.
How will technology continue to impact the higher ed space?
(TE) Technology and experience will continue to evolve. I used to talk about how disruption was the new normal, and how a single technology could have a transformational impact. Now, it’s less about disruption and more about exponential acceleration through intelligent systems. Technology will expand the boundaries of higher education. With the rollout of 5G connectivity across campuses, we will see responsive and immersive augmented reality, high quality streaming for on-demand and live casting of classes, 5G-enabled edge computing/analytics to optimize the on-campus experience, and making IoT more accessible to close the gap between context and awareness.
What role will technologies like AI continue to have on today’s campuses and universities?
(TE) AI will have a significant impact moving forward—from organizational efficiency, enhancing student experiences and redefining coursework, to shift toward critical thinking in support of intelligence augmentation.
Universities can leverage AI to streamline the admissions process, quickly access the sentiment and areas of interest of their student and faculty population, use AI to drive fundraising and create personalized experiences for alumni.
AI will also enhance students’ capabilities to learn—from leveraging visual search and computer vision-enabled experiences to shifting coursework to focus more on critical and strategic thinking and using data and analytics to fuel experiences.
What are things higher ed marketers should think about when it comes to technology?
(TE) I’ve been involved with higher education at varying levels for the past 15 years. I have instructed thousands of students, and most recently lectured at SMU in Dallas. I am also a part of its Big Data advisory council.
For me, it is an evolution of the traditional 4P’s of marketing. Since the ’60s, it has been about product, price, place, and promotion. With the rise of intelligent systems, it is less about the traditional 4P’s and more about the new 4P’s: Plan, Predictive, Proxy and Pervasive.
Plan is having a plan for the use and data: how it is captured, structured, cleansed, analyzed and fed into intelligent systems, as data is oil for AI. Predictive is leveraging data and machine learning to drive predictive decisioning. Proxy is all about virtual assistants becoming personal proxies for individuals. The data plus predictive decisioning capability combined with virtual proxies will give rise to the proxy web where our virtual assistants represent our preferences and interface with other proxies. Finally, pervasive is about designing for multi-modal interfaces at a time when the mobile device will no longer be our primary device but our environment adapts to us.
What should every higher ed professional know about technology?
(TE) Understand that behaviors and expectations of students is evolving. Students are empowered to control experiences. Accessibility has led to ubiquity and Gen Z and Generation Alpha are quickly shifting traditional behaviors.
From expectations of on-demand content, gaming, and eSports to expectations tied to immersive and low-lag experiences. Universities have to evolve their infrastructure toward a 5G future and higher ed professionals will need to rethink curriculum toward data, analytics, and multi-modal experiences.
What kind of trends should they be looking at heading into 2020?
(TE) In 2020, we will continue to see virtual assistants shift toward the center of the operating system. With the rollout of 5G connectivity, we will see a path toward simulation through low latency augmented reality at scale.
We will continue to see the camera used as a bridge to intelligence through a combination of computer vision and virtual assistants and we will continue to see the rise of the proxy web where virtual assistants continue to evolve to the point where we are no longer marketing just to consumers, but also to algorithms and intelligent systems.
Finally, we will continue to see AI-enhanced digital avatars become more mainstream. First in the form of customer support and slowly expanding to more use cases by industry.
Today at 2 PM eastern one of the largest gatherings of concurrent gamers witnessed an in-game event from a galaxy far far away that may redefine the future of multimedia marketing.
Fortnite and the Star Wars team promoting The Rise of Skywalker collaborated to deliver massive in-game event featuring JJ Abrams and a clip from the upcoming movie.
Fortnite is looking to redefine multimedia experiences and offering brand collaborations at an audience scale we have never seen.
With tens of millions of players connected in-game and millions more watching the live event unfold (2.2M on YouTube, 1.1M on Twitch), not only did we get to see a clip from the movie but also interact directly with the content to shift the experience from passive to active. The engagement and excitement were through the roof!
After logging into a queue, players were instructed to go to Risky Reels (An in-game location) and prepare for the show. There was a live countdown.
The day was teased during the recent 2019 Game Awards. Players received a free in-game glider and were promised something that had never been done before in the history of in-game marketing.
After the countdown, The Millenium Falcon flew around and landed and out popped our host Geoff Keighley along with The Rise of Skywalker director, JJ Abrams.
Next came the interactive quizzes predicting what we were about to see.
Finally, an actual clip from The Rise of Skywalker IN-GAME!
The event ended with lightsabers and blaster rifles now being available to all players in the game.
This was an absolutely brilliant move by Star Wars to create buzz and awareness pre-film. Previously, in February 2019, EDM superstar Marshmello performed an in-game concert for ten million concurrent users. This dwarfs what’s possible from a reach perspective for live events and opened the door for others such as Star Wars to build upon the success of that in-game event.
Expect more opportunities for brands to connect directly with a highly coveted audience beyond only sponsoring an esports event. This event included creating value for the players by providing free in-game content to enhance the experience, as well as access to unique content that can only be seen through the Fortnite experience.
Fortnite and other games are looking to redefine awareness and engagement, and those looking to capitalize should start looking to those in the know such as gaming/marketing agency TripleClix. Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, and I discuss how to create marketing value via gaming during Episode 1 of the TripleClix podcast.
I have the pleasure of working with the Futurithmic team to write a number of articles discussing the future of 5G and it’s potential impact on entertainment.
Thanks to everyone that interacted with the post on LinkedIn as it’s been trending in #5G today.
This is the first in a series and a repost from Futurithmic… Here is a link to the full article.
This article is the first in a series that will explore the role of 5G and its potential impact on various forms of entertainment.
For consumers, 5G will bring improved stability and portability of experiences – faster download and data streaming of high-resolution video, lower latency response times for augmented reality experiences, and the ability to experience highly immersive events. It will be possible to seamlessly watch and interact with live events with friends from anywhere in the world.
Today, live entertainment experiences are designed around being physically present at an event. A lot goes into the delivery of live entertainment, from sporting events to concerts, and a majority of these experiences are designed for fans at the venue. But 5G will represent a monumental shift in how we watch and interact with live entertainment in the coming years. With speeds up to 20 times faster than 4G, 5G may revolutionize the game-day experience, seamlessly connecting the in-stadium experience with your location of choice anywhere in the world.
Last year in the U.S., almost 437 billion minutes were spent watching the NFL and college football. That’s nearly 2 billion minutes a day. And when combined with events such as the Super Bowl and the 2018 Winter Olympics, that number doubles. The draw of live sporting events represents an opportunity to enhance experiences from passive viewing of linear live experiences to enhanced viewing through 5G-enabled devices.
5G will represent a monumental shift in how we watch and interact with live entertainment in the coming years.
5G enhanced sports
From life-size digital versions of star players to live stats overlaid onto the field of play, 5G will allow for low-latency enhanced experiences that provide control to the end consumer to completely customize their game-day experience in any way they like.
For example, they could control concurrent video streams of the action through their mobile devices in a stadium. They may even customize virtual reality experiences, in which their eyes control contextual hotspots from within the device to change camera angles, similar to experiences delivered through Fox Sports.
We also saw examples of immersive live entertainment at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, with in-stadium augmented reality experiences. We can expect even more enhanced experiences with the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, as there are plans to deliver 8K enhanced video streams.
Being a fan of the Oklahoma Sooners, I jumped at the chance to watch a game via virtual reality. The ability to control the viewing angles and enjoy enhanced digital overlays made for a unique and compelling viewing experience. Imagine if this was enhanced via 5G, allowing for even lower latency and co-viewing opportunities?
Major sports leagues and teams have already partnered with Verizon to enhance the in-stadium experience via 5G. The NFL and Verizon are working with 13 stadiums across the U.S. for the 2019-2020 football season, focusing on seated areas and select spots in and around the stadiums.
The NBA and NHL have also partnered with Verizon to enhance their live experiences. NBA teams like the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche have all embraced 5G solutions. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, is also rolling out 5G experiences to support both live sporting events and concerts.
Leagues and venues are focused on creating compelling and enhanced experiences. This is critical as traditional viewership shifts towards more interactive mediums, such as gaming and over-the-top services.
Larger-than-life concert experiences
Concerts are another form of live entertainment that can benefit from 5G enhanced connectivity. Lower-latency response times combined with mobile edge computing can revolutionize the use of open-air holograms, projection and object-mapping technologies to create larger-than-life experiences that bend the rules of reality.
But it’s not just live concerts that can be enhanced via 5G technology. The ability to sell “virtual tickets” to attend stage side, control camera angles, enjoy behind-the-scenes interviews with band members and more could form new revenue streams for artists.
An example of a virtual concert that could be enhanced by 5G is the recent collaboration between EDM superstar Marshmello and Epic Games, the creator of the wildly popular Fortnite video game. Recently, Marshmello held a virtual concert that more than 10 million people attended virtually, in-game. A 5G-enhanced connection combined with cloud gaming services could increase that number exponentially when players are untethered from their consoles and PCs.
Over-the-top content providers and solutions have gone from add-ons to traditional cable to the flavor of choice for many Americans. With the commercialization of 5G, the consumer will have even more control over how they view their favorite programs, including live television events such as sporting events.
Over-the-top providers like YouTube TV have been experimenting with augmented reality enhanced overlays and advertising, such as YouTube TV’s recent collaboration with Major League Baseball and the World Series. Now with multi-access edge computing, data processing power at the edge of mobile networks, plus lower latency, we will see an increased throughput of streaming media and (OTT) services.
There is a correlation between the device screen size and the amount of time spent streaming.
5G over-the-top media consumption will also have an impact on device form factors. At CES 2019, I saw several foldable phone form factors. Why would you need a foldable phone, you ask? Consumption behaviors are directly tied to screen size. There is a correlation between the device screen size and the amount of time spent streaming. More bandwidth, combined with faster download times and more options to consume and interact with live content, means that enhanced OTT services will become the new normal. Consumers might enjoy having the choice of a compact screen that can unfold to a larger screen size.
The commercialization of 5G technology combined with mobile edge computing and the democratization of enhanced reality technology (augmented and virtual reality) will not only impact how we work, but it will also have a significant impact on how we spend our free time.
In future installments of this series, we will explore 5G’s ability to enhance entertainment and the idea of ambient entertainment.
Futurithmic – ( Podcast Interview) – Experiential Computing, 5G, AI & more. Tech titan Tom Edwards of BlackFin360 talks about how the blurring of the lines between technology and culture is only going to grow as AI, AR, and 5G become embedded in our physical spaces to replace our smartphones.
Connecting the dots of the technology of today with the future of tomorrow. Here are the timestamps for key topics discussed.
1:38 – Tech Titan Advocacy Award 2:01 – Experience Driven Culture 2:55 – Shift Towards Multi-modal & Enhancing Mobility 4:05 – Ambient Computing 4:50 – GenZs Impact on Emerging Technology 5:50 – Expectations of Technology & Adoption of AI 8:05 – Virtual Assistant as a Preference Center, Rise of the Proxy Web 10:15 – Consumer Choice vs. Ease & Convenience 11:30 – Smart Glasses Adoption 13:00 – Benefits of 5G Connectivity 15:15 – Use cases for combining 5G + AI + AR = Proxy Twin Hypothesis 17:45 – Volumetric Capture 19:40 – 5G & Artificial Intelligence = Edge Computing & Edge Analytics 23:40 – 3 Types of AI 24:30 – Intelligence Augmentation & Predictive Decisioning 26:30 – The Future… Privacy, Presence, Commerce, Enhancing Experiences 29:15 – Gaming, Esports, & Technology Adoption, Interaction Economy
I had the opportunity to provide a keynote on tech innovation for the 2019 Path to Purchase Expo in Chicago yesterday. It was a great crowd, high energy, and with a 30-minute timeslot, we had to cover a lot of ground!
The focus of the talk was discussing the coming waves of technology and how that will impact consumer behavior along the path to purchase. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We also discussed:
the role of esports
the camera as a bridge to intelligence
the role of virtual assistants and commerce
the rise of the proxy web
the 5 levels of autonomy
how the new 4P’s will enhance future strategy
the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the opportunity to partner with Nokia to cover Mobile World Congress 2019. From highlighting key elements of their brand messaging around 5G, amplifying content from analyst meetings to on-camera work on the show floor. I really enjoyed partnering with Nokia.
Today, my full #MWC19 recap was posted on Futurithmic.com the recap views trends from MWC through the Innovation to Reality™ lens of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced. The article covers all facets of experience and 5G. From Devices, AI, Gaming, Live Entertainment, and so much more. You can read the full article here.
I was also engaged as a technology influencer to create cross channel social content, highlight Nokia & their 5G efforts during a recent keynote, as well as on-camera work during #MWC19. When it’s all said and done the content should drive north of 100,000 highly targeted views that will have boosted Nokia’s message during a very crowded MWC19.
Thanks again to Marianne and the entire @Nokia team.
I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the Dallas Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association discussing trends tied to evolving consumer experiences. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally, the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the University of Alabama EMBA Alumni Network Summit discussing trends tied to Industry 4.0. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.
It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.
I recently had the privilege of joining the BIGHR 2019 conference to discuss all facets of AI, digital transformation, intelligence augmentation, tips for integrating AI, and preparing the HR function for the coming culture shift.
Last night my wife and I attended the 2019 Tech Titans Awards Gala. I was a finalist for the Technology Advocate award. This award recognizes a technology advocate/champion for their outstanding leadership in assisting, advancing or accelerating the performance of technology companies and/or the technology community.
It was a really fun night. The Tech Titans awards are like the Oscars for the Dallas technology community. After settling into a delicious dinner and some fun commentary from the Gala committee it was time for the awards presentations to start.
When my category was up for the next presentation the head of North American Customer Marketing & Communications for Nokia, Marianne Strobel did a great job setting up the category and announcing the winner…
After the initial shock of the win, it was time for photos, a great conversation with Marianne of Nokia about their 5G work and more innovations on the way, networking with sponsors and attendees and fun times with my wife Cherlyn from chomping M&M’s pre-event to celebrating post-event Texas-style with Whataburger.
I recently provided commentary to Advertising Age discussing the recent shift in naming convention for Google’s operating system from dessert-themed names to a more traditional numbering system as well as commentary on the new Google Android branding.
Tom Edwards, chief innovation officer at agency Epsilon, says that “although the dessert names and the subsequent tie-ins to different snack brands was charming, it was difficult for consumers to track changes from one version to the next.” He adds: “Moving to a number-based system gives visual cues on the current version while also building urgency to upgrade.”
I was recently interviewed by the Dallas Business Journal for the upcoming 2019 Tech Titans awards show. I am a finalist in the technology advocate category and looking forward to the event! Here is a link to the full interview.
Tom Edwards of BlackFin360 is a finalist in the Technology Advocate Award category for the 2019 Tech Titan Awards. Category winners will be announced at an awards event on Friday, Aug. 23. For more information about the awards event, click here.
As founder of BlackFin360, which covers marketing and emerging tech trends, Tom Edwards has been recognized as a marketing technology trailblazer as well as a leading futurist and speaker.
“I focus on helping organizations understand how consumer behavior is shaping emerging technology and vice versa as technology is culture and culture is technology,” Edwards said.
What started as a technology blog back in 2007 BlackFin360 now serves as a “a repository of emerging technology” thought leadership. As a keynote speaker and technology advocate, Edwards says he helps organizations understand the connection between consumer behavior and emerging technology — from the integration of artificial intelligence, spatial computing and the rise of multi-modal interfaces.
Edwards was also Chief Digital/Innovation Officer for Epsilon where he said he “became fully immersed in all facets of data, AI and technology integration.”
We asked Edwards additional questions about technology. The questions have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization in 2019?
TOM – The biggest challenge is less about my organization and what I see across the Fortune 1000 organizations that I have the opportunity to speak to. There are three primary areas that I consistently see. They are: data puddles, ignoring AI, lack of innovation focus.
Data puddles refers to a comment I heard at one of the world’s largest consumer beverage companies. Most organizations strive for data lakes and data is key to unlocking personalization and connecting with consumers. The reality is most organizations don’t have a consolidated approach to leveraging various forms of data, be it consumer centric data of culture, data of identity and data of intent. Having a strategy for how to consolidate and action data vs. simply collecting is key.
The second challenge is the lack of preparation and consideration of the impact of artificial intelligence on the workplace. This goes beyond system integration, and has to do with impact on culture and how to build a culture around the idea of intelligence augmentation vs. disruption.
The third is a lack of aligning innovation initiatives with core goals of the organization. It’s incredibly important to not just focus on short term revenue, but also generating ideas and empowering the organization to bring innovative ideas forward.
What is something people aren’t thinking about that will change technology in the next few years?
TOM – To me the biggest shift, especially for marketers is that we will be moving from consumer-centric marketing technology to system and algorithm-based solutions. We will see virtual assistants continue to move to the center of the operating system and we will see the rise of multi-modal computing at scale. This includes voice, vision and touch, where our environment adapts to us versus us adapting to it.
Can you recall the moment you decided what you wanted to do professionally?
TOM – My first memory is of the original Star Wars movie. All of my friends wanted to be Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I liked those characters, but I was enamored with the droids R2-D2 and C3PO and how they and the rest of the sentient tech characters seemed to enable the main cast every step of the way. The technology seamlessly folded into their everyday journeys and that stuck with me all throughout childhood and into early adulthood. When the technology revolution hit with the rise of personal computers, mobile phones and software, I knew that is where I wanted to take my career.
Who is your technology hero?
TOM – My technology hero is Hal Brierley. Hal is the CEO of the Brierley Group. He has served as President and CEO of Epsilon, was the founder of e-Rewards, Inc, and the Executive Chairman of Brierley & Partners and he currently serves on the board of an AI start-up (Oculus360) that has been an outstanding strategic partner. I admire that work and career of Hal, his impact to Dallas via job creation and his approach to business is something to be admired.
What should we be teaching children about technology in school right now that we aren’t?
TOM – The future is going to be about augmented intelligence and preparing children, not just how to code, but also how to use various aspects of machine learning to solve problems. Instead of teaching simple math, it’s important to understand specific computing models and concepts for how systems learn. Now, these are reserved for Computer Science courses on the college level, but the sooner we can prepare children for the coming shift of intelligent systems the better.
Here is my full commentary RE: Mixer & Ninja’s Move.
ADAGE –WHAT DOES MIXER DO BETTER THAN TWITCH?
TOM: I have personally been streaming via Mixer (TheBlackFin) much longer than Twitch. I actually preferred Mixer over Twitch as I was primarily an Xbox console gamer and the close integration with the Xbox interface was a great way to quickly and easily stream. You also get USB camera support with Mixer vs Twitch on Xbox.
One of my personal favorite features that Twitch actually just recently rolled out only to Twitch partners is co-streaming. This allows up to four players to stream to a single location. So if you are running a full squad in a first-person shooter you can let your viewers see each player’s POV.
The other feature that I really like is Mixer focuses on time and interactivity vs. just currency to support streamers. Interactivity between streamer and audience is key, allowing your viewers to help direct key decisions.
Mixer’s recent platform update introduced a number of key elements to support time on platform that converts to support for streamers vs. using direct cash so the motivation to naturally engage longer on the platform is a key point of difference. Basically, the cost to the user is less about spending dollars but dedicating your time to show support.
With Mixer, they allow streamers to offer special controls to their viewers, like use X weapon against the boss and allow them to vote. This has been one of Mixer’s biggest points of difference from day one.
RE: Money, Twitch has badges, emotes, and you can have ad-free streams by subscribing to a streamer as well as subscriber-only mode but all of this is directly tied to cash. You are essentially buying accessibility. With Mixer its more about time. The platform rewards viewers for spending time on the platform. Viewers earn all types of virtual rewards just for watching including the key currency Sparks, which allows you to have interactivity with streams.
Mixer does now have a premium currency similar to Twitch that allows users to support streamers called Embers, but it’s not required for interactivity whereas with Twitch its pay to play.
ADAGE –HOW IS MIXER POSITIONING ITSELF WITH BRANDS?
TOM: Mixer brings in around 20 million visitors every month and these are key demographics that brands want to connect with but the ability for a brand to partner directly with Mixer to drive a connection, create a co-branded experience and advertise directly through Mixer is not a viable option at the moment. It looks like Mixer is taking steps to drive more active engagement through the platform and as the audience continues to grow and engage it will eventually open up more direct opportunities for brands directly.
an advertising model across Mixer it’s more about the individual relationships
with streamers and brands directly, similar to Ninja’s Red Bull sponsorship and
product placement in his streams.
Mixer is not directly positioning with brands yet. They are solely focused on growing the community and providing authentic invaluable content for consumers. Ad revenue and the structure around it is future state.
ADAGE –WHAT IS THE AD BUYING PROCESS LIKE?
TOM: No ad buying process on Mixer, brands have to take an “influencer” style approach to reaching audiences on Mixer, that’s through the individual streamers vs. through the platform.
ADAGE – EARLY DAYS, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING/HEARING IN TERMS OF PRICE VS. PERFORMANCE WHEN BUYING ON MIXER?
TOM: No price vs. performance as of yet, but moving forward I would keep a close eye on how Mixer evolves the platform as the shifts and changes they are making are setting up for engagement as a core KPI. Also, all of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next Box) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.
ADAGE: WHY IS MIXER INVESTING IN NINJA?
TOM: Ninja made a lot of sense, not because he is the “best” gamer today as he is not at the top of current players, but his name recognition, ESPN cover athlete and recognition is key to drive buzz around the exclusivity and impact of the deal. Ninja has primarily been a PC player, so for Ninja this makes sense as it pulls in a different audience segment as Mixer has primarily been a Microsoft/Xbox streaming service so it drives more direct connection with console gamers.
Also, Microsoft is focused on blurring the lines of gaming moving forwards between PC and Console players. With xCloud, Xbox Game Pass that opens up cloud-based libraries of games for both PC & Console, it makes a lot of sense to begin to build towards positioning with exclusivity with Ninja.
ADAGE – IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
TOM: All of the positioning and having Mixer in the center of how gaming will evolve with cloud-based services, xCloud, Scarlett (Next XBox) and cloud services, Mixer might be an upstart compared to Twitch and YouTube, but they are sitting in a great position on the coming horizon and bringing Ninja over is a good commitment to kick-starting their move towards taking share.
One of the highlights of my speaking career so far was delivering a TEDx talk in 2018. That talk has consistently picked up views and is now featured on TED.com. I am incredibly excited and humbled to have my work featured here.
Recently, I was on-site at one of the worlds largest manufacturers discussing the convergence of experiences and delivering 2 sets of my Innovation to Reality talk. This session sparked a number of questions from privacy, data and how advertising will look in the 2020s and that is the basis of the commentary below.
My personal position is that over the next decade consumers will “own” their data, essentially through some type of blockchain-powered open ledger technology where ultimately the consumer becomes the trading desk.
This will be managed by their AI proxies via their virtual assistant of choice. The proxy will become the management hub of personal data and consumers via their proxy will approve who/what/when/where the data to be shared. This is why affinity data in the near future will be so incredibly important.
By understanding a passion area, take Star Wars, for example, a retailer can still customize a digital augmented/enhanced overlay experience for you without needing your PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to serve experiences to you. I talk a lot about the concept of the proxy digital twin hypothesis here.
Your personal algorithms will seek out other “affinity links” through the “Proxy web” to make the connection to the appropriate simulation experience. Advertising in the near future will be algorithmically curated through a consumer AI proxy to align the most relevant products and “situational advertising” will become the new normal.
Your proxy will manage situational products & services through your calendar and past purchase history. Here is an example, you and the family are going to the beach, the proxy will curate a list of items from your previous purchases and point out possible “situational” items that make the most sense based on your trip.
It will be less about random products that are loosely based on regression models and past behavior. It will be predictive by nature and built more inside out from the consumer, where the AI proxy becomes the predictive “situational” preference center with the goal of ease, convenience for the end-user.
I recently had the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC during the Innova-con conference.
I provided a tour of tomorrow and highlighted the coming waves of technology based on consumer behavior. The talk discussed disruption and adaptation with concepts, implications, and success strategies based on my Innovation to Reality content series.
I recently had the opportunity to headline the 2019 Print Innovation Exchange in Minneapolis, MN. It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology & and behavior will shift in the near future and how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact the print industry.
The full Evolution of Experience Keynote is available below.
Thank you and please follow @BlackFin360 across social platforms for various updates and a little bit of fun.
I recently had the opportunity to join the NextGen Ninja Show. Host Kory Farooquie and I discuss a number of topics from data, humans over hype, humans vs. AI, dealing with disruption, GenZ, the future and more.
From Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix, Tom Edwards illustrates how pop-culture shows a path for how technology evolves through the filters of Empower, Exponential & Enhanced.
Empower (Timestamp – 5:05) is about the expectation of control and this journey explores Star Wars, Fortnite, Gen Z, the lens as life, how the future is private and the camera is a bridge to intelligence.
Exponential (Timestamp – 15:30) is about intelligent systems that deliver ease & convenience. This journey focuses on the Pixar theory, AI, virtual assistants, the 5 levels of autonomy and the proxy web.
Enhanced (Timestamp – 28:18) is about digital & physical reality and the path to simulation. Here we review all facets of perception, presence, computer vision, digital twins and ultimately synthetic reality while celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the Matrix.
All of this leads to a reimagining of the 4 P’s of product, price, place, promotion to the new 4P’s of Plan, Predictive, Proxy & Pervasive. Finally, we will discuss the actual date when we will see multi-modal interfaces at scale. Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Twitter & Instagram and subscribe via YouTube.
I was recently asked by Advertising Age why/if Fortnite is a social network for Gen Z. The behaviors tied to gaming cannot be ignored and the brands that can seamlessly capitalize on creating value, providing exclusive content and enhance creativity will reap the rewards.
Here is my full commentary:
AdAge : Are you buying or selling the notion that Fortnite is a social platform?
Tom: Fortnite and gaming, in general, is DEFINITELY a social platform, especially for GENZ. It’s not just about the core gameplay. I see groups getting together to create within the game, to conduct private matches with friends and of course for squad play but it also extends to watching streamers via Twitch & YouTube and sharing content.
There is a seamless flow between in-game and associating with game content on the go. Plus with cross-platform play, it doesn’t matter whether you are on Mobile, Nintendo Switch, PC or Xbox you are always able to connect. I see it in my own home as Fortnite has become the starting point for my youngest (11) and his friends to gather, compare in-game skins and then figure out whether they want to create, set up a private match or just play battle royale.
AdAge: Why or why not? Some brands have gotten into Fortnite (Samsung, Nike, NFL, John Wick, Avengers).
TOM: That said, what should brands be thinking about if entering this universe? Brands should definitely consider how they are aligning with titles like Fortnite as well as eSports (competitive gaming). It’s incredibly important to understand the game properly, the fan base and focus on adding value. It’s less about a passive sponsorship and more about creating value or desire through either free downloadable content or virtual items like Skins in Fortnite.
AdAge: Is there anything else you would like to add?
TOM: Gen Z spends 2.5 hours a day with on-demand content and 1.5 hours a day gaming. It’s less about content marketing and more about empowering their creativity. Gaming is a social currency for GenZ. Things like virtual skins are the new Jordans (Although virtual Jordan’s were recently introduced via Fortnite). Gaming culture is now mainstream and how advertisers should think about gaming and the power of integrating with various properties should be at the top of the list for brands that covet cultural relevance.
Here is a quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Google I/O 2019 event. Google continues to build towards an ambient future. The most exciting announcements were tied to the consolidation of augmented reality, computer vision and 3D experiences directly into search results, the next iteration of Google Duplex for the web that is a direct push towards proxy assistants for all, the evolution of Google Assistant moving towards the center of the operating system and how to prepare content for multimodal discovery and so much more.
I recently attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference. One of the more compelling sessions discussed Facebook Messenger’s role in lead generation, consideration, and re-engagement.
This video is my assessment and analysis of the content presented and additional perspective for marketers looking to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s shift towards the center of the Facebook product suite. These changes will result in the ability to reach potentially 2 Billion users across platforms and the globe.
I was recently asked my opinion by Advertising Age about Spotify’s recently announced voice-enabled audio ad experience. The user could receive a voice-enabled audio ad promoting a playlist or podcast while listening on the mobile app. The ad encourages new content that can be accessed by saying “Play Now” Here is the recently published article.
Here is my full commentary below.
(Advertising Age) In a sentence or two, what is your initial reaction to the news?
(TOM) I was excited when I heard the news. I am a big believer in designing multi-modal experiences and further extending the mobile experience via voice is a smart move, especially for an audio focused experience like Spotify.
What sort of hurdles, if any, do you see with technology such as this?
(TOM) The hurdles are less about the technology
and more about ensuring that the user is setup to have a seamless and successful
launch of the experience. With the user microphone permission being an additional
step it may cause some to skip or miss the experience.
Do you believe this is something consumers want? Why or why not?
(TOM) Consumers want ease, convenience and while listening to Spotify to be entertained. If the voice ads are relevant and based on the affinity of the listener then this could be seen as a value ad, but some education or step by step instructions may be required for some users, especially if they have to adjust settings on their device. For most, it will not be an issue, but preparing for all user scenarios and a frictionless path for consumers will be critical to driving engagement.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
(TOM) There is an opportunity for a voice-based advertising experience. Smart Speaker experiences have been very deliberate not to integrate voice as the focus has been on user adoption. There is a precedent for the Spotify “play now” experience with Siri Shortcuts and how they extend native applications via voice. Consumers can set their own intents via Siri to activate a specific action within an app. The Spotify experience adds a monetization angle to the experience.
I was recently asked by Ad Exchanger to provide my thoughts tied to announcements made at Facebook’s 2019 F8 developer conference. Here is a link to the published Ad Exchanger article.
My full commentary is outlined below:
(Ad Exchanger) Does this “privacy vision” feel sincere or is Facebook cleverly positioning its shift?
(TOM) I feel the shift from Facebook to “the Future
is Private” was necessary as the shift reflects how consumers have been
interacting since 2016 when social messaging surpassed open social in terms of
The company went through
a similar shift in 2014 with the myopic focus on becoming “Mobile First” with
100% focus and resource allocation supporting the vision. I see the same focus
here with privacy. It makes sense that this was the macro theme for F8 and a
rallying cry to adjust the product suites. The focus on interoperability and
encryption as well as shifting messenger to be the new connection point for
friends and families is a smart move.
Separately, how much of an impact will the
privacy vision have on how Facebook will be able to monetize?
How this impacts
advertising will be interesting. While the focus on reduced permanence and the
statements around privacy and encryption are good tent pole statements, item #6
in the privacy manifesto was Secure Data Storage. There will also be the
consolation around Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to create a new
advertising network connected to 2 billion people. How data will be used to
support the targeting is TBD but the infrastructure to create new avenues of
reach and the new consumer acquisition ad units that drive to Messenger will be
a key part of their strategy putting the onus on the consumer to share data, as
outlined by the new consumer acquisition ad types for Messenger.
And lastly, how will marketers need to change
their Facebook strategy as engagement moves invariably away from the feed and
more into Stories, messaging, etc.
(TOM) As marketers it’s important to understand the
shift away from content marketing and focus on enabling creativity, utility and
entertainment through Messenger and Instagram. Leaning into the ability to
co-view video, utility through integration of various API’s, understanding the
new payment and commerce capabilities and supporting the creation of AR
experiences. Also understanding how to navigate the shift with FB5 towards
groups and the role that marketers can play to create new types of
There is a lot to unpack and as Facebook continues to shift towards fast, reliable and private experiences, it will be interesting to see how the platforms actually evolve and where new opportunities to drive monetization will come from.
A quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Facebook F8 event. The macro theme was the future is private and it was all about Facebook’s approach to privacy and it’s product suite.
Messenger is going to play a starring role, advances with Instagram and commerce, further maturing of Facebook’s AR toolset, new and exciting VR announcements, a preview of how CRM will evolve via Messenger and what was missing from today’s show. This and more in today’s video.
I was recently in LA and sat down with Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, an amazing boutique video game marketing agency. I have known Chris for almost a decade and we have collaborated on a lot of fun programs over the years.
When Chris asked me to be guest #1 on his new podcast I jumped at the chance. We talk about the gaming industry and what it means for marketers, the future of gaming and consumer experience and a healthy debate about the Seattle Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City. That and so much more. Enjoy!
Yesterday was an absolute blast. Everything moves so quickly in the world of marketing & technology. It’s fun to sometimes take a step back and have a little fun while catching those who maybe moving just a bit too quickly.
Here is a fun “trend” recap video that highlights Pet VR, Smart Meats & Outsourced Relaxation.
I was recently asked for my thoughts about a number of the recent Apple Event announcements. From Apple’s original content strategy, monetization, advertising and more. Here is the published article.
Here was my full commentary on the topic:
(Ad Exchanger) Is what Apple planning a Netflix killer?
(TOM) Apple wants to be the Sherpa and curator of content. Their new recommendation engine is more about aggregation across subscriptions vs. being a content killer. I found it interesting that they are still maintaining partnerships with big cable providers while still differentiating through per channel subscriptions. This isn’t a Netflix killer, but Apple understands that moving forward individuals want control over their experiences and multiple subscriptions will exist. They want to be the “Google Search” of entertainment. This keeps their hardware and services sticky throughout.
With Apple TV+ original content, Apple is focusing on creating programming that will create affinity within their services as well. I would not call this a Netflix killer, but it’s a first step to not only control the navigation of content, but also become a destination as well.
What makes sense in your view for Apple from a monetization
standpoint for its original content and its foray into TV?
(TOM) What came through loud and clear from today’s event is Apple’s
focus on allowing the consumer to ultimately control their entertainment
options. By providing bite-sized subscription services across their ecosystem
they gain a consistent stream of revenue that is scalable and minimizes risk of
yet to be determined how much revenue Apple TV+ will drive in terms of new
subscriptions, but with the amount of talent that was showcased, including
Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and so many more providers, it just
takes a few shows to catch on to drive monetization of original content.
What are your thoughts about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising, what a rev share might be if ads are one of the monetization options?
(TOM) I have not heard anything yet about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising. One recurring theme was re-emphasizing on device data processing and less information being available to 3rd parties. Apple may be less inclined to leverage an advertising-based model as they dive into recurring revenue with subscriptions.
This doesn’t mean the end of advertisers with Apple. As with any program, driving awareness will need to occur outside of the Apple TV+ ecosystem. This is through content, traditional & performance-based advertising. Advertisers will need to focus on other affinity-based channels to connect audiences with programming.