In the News: AdAge Fortnite & Gen Z

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 link to full article.

AdAge Tom Edwards Commentary

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Google I/O 2019 Trends & Analysis

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.

Google I/O 2019 Trend & Analysis

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FB Messenger & Evolving CRM Strategy

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.

Facebook Messenger & Evolving CRM Strategy

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In The News: AdExchanger & F8

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 usage behavior. 

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 connections. 

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. 

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Facebook F8 Recap & Reaction

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.

Full recap & analysis of Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference

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April Fools Day Trends 2019

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.

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In The News: AdExchanger & Apple Live

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 hardware cycles.

It’s 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.

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Apple Live Event Recap & Reaction

Today’s event was all about Apple’s focus on new services. Normally these events discuss Hardware & Software, but today was all about new forms of subscriptions that allow consumers more control while showcasing Apple’s strategy to not only provide access /navigation/curation of entertainment but also serve as an end destination with new original content for gaming & entertainment.

Apple also provided a shock to the financial services system with the launch of Apple Card. With an interface and features yet to be seen by traditional banks, Apple is making a bold move towards controlling multiple facets of the consumer journey, all without advertising and an emphasis on privacy.

Here is the full recap:

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Tom Edwards Funko Pop Adventures

Recently, my wife had a fun idea to get a custom Funko Pop to take with me on my travels and use that to chronicle events, speaking engagements, and trade shows. These adventures will be logged here on the blog via the #Tompop page as well as Instagram be sure to follow/subscribe to see all the fun.

Special thanks to All Star Custom Figures

Carnegie Dartlet Keynote

What a great week! From the OnCon Icon Awards to delivering a keynote during the 2019 Carnegie Dartlet Conference, it was a great week in Orlando!

What was great about #CarnegieConf, besides the fact that it was hosted at Walt Disney World, was the amazing audience of higher education professionals. They were highly engaged both during the talk and via social.

The talk centered around how technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. From the role the camera will play as a bridge to intelligence, why the Pixar Theory explains AI adoption, and how spatial computing combined with virtual assistant proxies will change our view of reality.

Time to leave Disney but can’t wait to be back!

Book Tom for an event here.

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19 Trends for 2019

As technology seamlessly integrates into our lives we will continue to move towards a time when our technology adapts to us vs. us inputting into the technology.

2019 will accelerate the convergence of experiences. The shift from desktop and mobile to voice, vision and touch fueled by intelligent systems will be a key focus for the coming year.

We will see the role of voice-based assistants evolve towards predictive proxies, advancing hardware will unlock spatial computing (AR/VR/Mixed/Hyper Reality) and rapidly evolving iterations of artificial intelligence will transform the camera and how we interact with the world around us. 

We hope you enjoy our 2019 trend predictions. We filter the coming convergence through the framework of Empower, Exponential, and Enhanced

The 2019 Trend analysis from my team and I live at http://theinnovationlounge.com.

EMPOWER – Technology that empowers consumers

EXPONENTIAL – Technology fueling intelligence and autonomous systems.

ENHANCED – Technology that is blurring the lines between physical & digital

BEYOND – Tech that is on the horizon for consideration

Each not only discusses the technology, but also the short and long term implications for marketers to consider.

EMPOWER IMPLICATIONS

EXPONENTIAL IMPLICATIONS

ENHANCED IMPLICATIONS

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2019 Trends Digital Twins & Spatial Computing


One of the bigger trends in 2019 will be tied to Digital Twins… but why? Here is a full video breakdown. 

WHAT ARE DIGITAL TWINS

A digital twin refers to a digital replica or model of a physical asset (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various purposes such as simulation of performance.

So It’s Primarily For FACTORIES COOL? WHY SHOULD I CARE? 

The primary use cases are tied to Industrial IOT scenarios.The Digital Twin serves as a bridge between physical and digital. The physical asset has IOT sensors that constantly collect various forms of data and feed the information to the digital twin to analyze and run predictive simulations. The findings from the virtual models can then be applied to the physical asset.

MY HYPOTHESIS – APPLICATION TO CONSUMERS 

There is a possible connection to consumer experience use cases tied to physical sensor data and virtual assistant proxy simulations.

What’s going to enable the use of consumer experience digital twin experiences at scale will be 5G connectivity. 5G will fuel connection of IOT frameworks as well as edge computing to reduce potential latency and the ability to process information as close to the source as possible.

This will allow connectivity and enhanced data transfer capabilities of the 20 billion IOT devices that exist today. 

ROLE OF THE PROXY WEB

2019 will also see the accelerated adoption and dependence on virtual assistants. There are now over 1 billion devices that provide voice assistant access today.

90 Million use voice assistants on smartphones and 45 million use them on smart speakers per month.

Digital assistants are an on ramp to further usage of AI and robotics. As virtual assistants move towards the center of the operating experience we will continue to move towards what I call, the Proxy Web.

PROXY WEB

This is where our virtual assistants begin managing certain aspects of our lives behind the scenes.

Our proxy will be able to communicate with other proxies and align preferences to map where to eat for dinner with a friend, it knows our food preferences and schedule.

This preference ownership and ability to communicate with other proxies and nodes in systems could be the key to unlocking spatial computing simulation at scale.

DYNAMIC SPATIAL COMPUTING EXPERIENCES 

One of the key areas of focus in 2019 will be the further melding of physical and digital experiences. We have seen the rapid democratization of various forms of spatial computing.

Spatial Computing is using the physical space around us as a medium to interact with technology.

This includes AR, VR, Mixed Reality, Hyper Reality and more. The goal with my digital twin hypothesis is to not only deliver a one size fits all experience but creating personalization at scale through spatial computing.

Digital Twin type simulations may be the key to connect custom reality overlays based on preferences driven by our virtual assistants. 

IDEA in Action

I am a Star Wars fan…. the retailer Target normally goes big with Star Wars in-store promotions when there is a major film release. With the digital twin simulation concept, based on my personal preferences, my virtual assistant knows that I have a strong affinity for Star Wars based on my behavior, this includes voice queries, watching Star Wars Theory videos via YouTube, my past purchases of Funko Pops,etc…

Instead of plastering the store with physical Star Wars promotional material, Target could have pre-mapped various spatial computing “experiences” that are triggered based preferences discoverable via my virtual assistant.

An in-store sensor network could feed previous trip information of me and other guests with a similar affinity and allow for the Star Wars focused simulation to be adjusted in real-time to get me to a specific area of the store or special offers on say retail specific Funko Pops.

The Digital Twin becomes the intelligence engine to enhance the base physical store experience and create a personalized experience based on predictive digital simulation. 

The ultimate goal being to have the environment and experience personalized to me based on multiple simulations and a connection to my preferences.

Questions? Tweet to Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Turning AI into ROI Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver a keynote to the Discover card Pulse network advisory team covering the topic of converting AI into ROI.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced with a detailed look at multiple facets of artificial intelligence including how the Pixar Theory, all movies are on the same timeline, foreshadows the path for how consumers will adopt AI fueled technology.

Next, we reviewed AI’s potential impact on business results and consumer behavior. The talk also covered the rapid convergence of multimodal technology experiences and the role AI will play in shifting behavior towards the intelligent camera via computer vision and virtual assistants.

The talk ended with a deep dive into the new AI driven 4 P’s of AI marketing and key points to consider to start to prepare for integration of AI into all facets of business.

For more on this topic I recently joined the AI Today Podcast and discussed a number of these topics and more.

AI TODAY PODCAST – Episode 50 – Enhancing Experiences with AI Interview

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 or subscribe via YouTube

United Airlines & Executive Perspective Interview

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Hayzlett of C-Suite TV to kick off season 7 of Executive Perspectives. We discussed digital disruption, conversational experiences, artificial intelligence and best practices for leveraging data to connect with consumers.

screenshot-2016-12-15-13-34-43

Now, I have heard from multiple sources that the interview is available On-demand on domestic and international United Airlines flights.

Here is a transcript of the full interview.

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Path To Purchase Expo Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote during the Path To Purchase Expo.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and how the convergence of all of these will impact the path to purchase.

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AI Today Podcast Interview

AI and cognitive technologies are enhancing many different industries and providing significant ROI for early adopters. However, AI is also providing benefit in improving our various experiences in life. In this podcast, Cognilytica analysts Kathleen Walch and Ronald Schmelzer interview Tom Edwards, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer at Epsilon Agency, who shares insights into how AI is impacting marketing, customer experience, and more. He also shares how the “Pixar Theory” fits into the general vision of technology adoption and how, as a culture, we’ve come to accept AI in our daily lives.

Topics Discussed:

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

 

In The News: Ad Age AI & Brands

Recently, my commentary on data & AI was included in an Ad Age piece on the role of data, artificial intelligence & brands.

Here is a link to the full article.

Here is my full commentary based on Ad Age’s original question…

Ad Age: We’re seeing more agencies now offering services for AI solutions, but how do you see this shaking out? What will separate the ones who will succeed with the ones that do not?

TOM: Offering an AI service for clients is one thing, but the key is understand that data is the fuel for AI. Without a solid understanding and corpus of data as a starting point for AI driven experiences consumer facing experiences have the potential of falling flat.

The organizations and experiences that will succeed in the short term with AI will understand that the consumer facing experience should not try and solve every possible outcome for consumers.

We have conducted research on user expectations of AI and there is one fundamental truth for adoption of AI and consumer facing experience adoption across generations and that is ease & convenience. Whether it’s managing personal time, predicting financial needs, or order replenishment through AI. The key is to understand that AI solutions need to seamlessly make consumers lives easier.

What will truly separate AI solutions over time are the ones that have both structured & unstructured data at the core that is built to action against consumer needs, will design for multimodal experiences beyond mobile and desktop, and be prepared to fully guide consumer experiences via virtual assistant ecosystems as AI becomes a proxy for consumers over time.

The organizations that can market to both consumer and systems will win the day. It’s no longer just the consumer decision decision journey as system based marketing via AI is now here and will continue to take on more responsibility for consumers.

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Evanta CMO Summit Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Evanta CMO Summit in Dallas, Texas.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and new themes introduced by the Apple WWDC 2018 that happened earlier in the day.

Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the role of data for AI as well as the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs ultimately becoming a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital reality and how immersive computing, augmented reality, computer vision and the intelligent camera will forever redefine our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by artificial intelligence. This includes a date when project it will all converge as well as 4 new P’s of marketing.

It was an awesome crowd and I really enjoyed the 30 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

Financial Brand Forum Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Financial Brand Forum.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on Data, Artificial Intelligence, Multi-Modal and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing,  and much more.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations. Specifically looking at the behaviors of Gen Z and the evolving role of the camera.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the role of data for AI as well as the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge as well as 4 new P’s of marketing to consider building future state strategy around.

It was a good crowd and I really enjoyed the 45 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

MarTech Conference Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at MarTech West 2018.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance to focus on Gen Z & Computer Vision, The evolution of the camera from capture to communication and much more.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a good crowd and I really enjoyed the 45 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360