CJRW at SXSW Day 4: Virtual reality, Snapchat’s popularity and smart ad campaigns

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 143 views 

[email protected]: Day 4

Editor’s note: A team from Little Rock’s CJRW advertising agency is providing highlights of several conferences from SXSW to Talk Business & Politics.

The schedule for SXSW Interactive was packed full of the biggest names in the digital world (and also J.J. Abrams!), and the streets were jammed rickshaw to rickshaw. In short, it was another day in Austin, and we made the most of it with some great sessions on smart ad campaigns, professional Snapchatting, intellectual property law and copyright infringement and VR storytelling. Here are the hits from SXSWi Day Four.

Smart Ad Campaigns: It’s Not About the Product
By: Brian Kratkiewicz (@briankrat)

Ben Mand, SVP of Brand Marketing & Innovation at Plum Organics, JR Badian, the VP of Digital Marketing and Social Media at MasterCard Worldwide, Rebecca Coleman, a founding partner at Something Massive and Roo Ciambriello, a writer for Adweek participated in the SXSW panel session entitled, “Smart Ad Campaigns: It’s Not About the Product.”

The panel discussed the fact that in many of today’s most effective ad campaigns, the brands and products themselves are nearly invisible. Numerous brands are now choosing to create campaigns that inspire real connections and meaningful conversations with their target audiences. They also discussed how to ensure that your brand doesn’t get lost and how to develop a lifestyle campaign that delivers strong ROI.

Ben Mand from Plum Organics, the makers of various parenting and family products, discussed that you really need to understand your consumer in order to create the best and most effective advertising. He said that you have to understand a parent’s journey and get deep into what their life is like and then dig even deeper into understanding their interests, challenges and passions. You need to engage in a relatable, supportive way.

Plum, for example, uses all emotion and lifestyle imagery in its marketing with the only mention of Plum at the very end of the commercials. Lots of brand ads portray the perfect family, but you really need to show a more real version of life and families. People question ads that only show perfection. People want to be engaged with, not advertised to. Mand also spoke to the fact that you have to be inclusive in terms of including and speaking to all parts of society, i.e. LGBT, because they all use your products.

J.R. Badian from MasterCard focused on addressing your customers’ passion points and being authentic. Passion points such as music, travel, sports, etc… will truly allow you to grab the attention of your audiences and stand out. MasterCard doesn’t use actors in their advertising. They only show actual card users and their life experiences. This helps the brand to be more relatable and real to consumers. MasterCard’s point of view is that experiences mean more than things, and they apply this thinking to their campaigns, using their actual cardholders to express the message.

Rebecca Coleman with Something Massive, the agency for both MasterCard and Plum Organics, discussed creating advertising based on emotion, not product attributes. MasterCard has taught them that consumers make decisions on emotional connections, and that they have to continuously adjust their messaging to make sure they are connecting with consumers’ emotions. She mentioned that, for the most part, consumers already know product benefits, so you don’t need to hammer them over the heads with them. This gives you the edge over brands that just talk about their product benefits. Something Massive’s campaign for Plum Organics showed is how Plum’s products fit into the lives of parents.

Coleman mentioned that her agency used to adjust the advertising they created to try and address lightning rod issues in advance of the ads actually running. Now they stick to what they think will actually make the best emotional connection to audiences. You can’t worry about making certain parts of society mad with your campaigns or you will end up with ineffective, vanilla campaigns. You can never make everyone happy.

Coleman also talked about creating unique content for each marketing platform as a key to success. For example, for True View ads on Youtube, Something Massive created specific ads for this medium for Android Pay. While they paid for 30-second commercials, they actually created two-minute spots. If you have the option to run a two-minute ad when you’re only paying for 30 seconds, why wouldn’t you?

All of the panelists spoke to how they measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. They talked about the fact that you need to drive awareness and form relationships, initially, that turn into trust with your brands. You need to give consumers the content and information that they need to learn about your products and make informed decisions. Once you’ve done this you can worry about the usual metrics such as sales, coupon counts, clicks, etc…

The panel also talked about the fact that frequency of exposure and retargeting are major keys to success. You must have effective reach and frequency, continuously hitting people from all angles to generate the best results. After enough exposures and connections, something will click with consumers and make them interact with and purchase your products. You can never say that one specific thing made the sale connection happen, it’s always the combination of all of the campaign elements that make it happen.

360 Storytelling in VR
By: John Cater (@MrJCater)

It’s no secret that Virtual Reality is positioned to have a big 2016, especially with companies like Oculus and Valve launching consumer-accessible headsets this year. For a long time, hardware was a major concern. Now there are a number of companies tackling the hardware efforts. The new problem is content. There’s a serious lack of quality, engaging content to support and draw consumers to the new technology. This is the problem that SXSW session “Ultimate Empathy Machine: 360 Storytelling in VR” wanted to discuss.

In a panel setting, a group of storytelling pioneers discussed many of the trials and tribulations they experienced while working with this technology. The panel included Andrey Doronichev, Product Manager for VR Apps at Google; Austin Mace, CEO and Founder of SubVRsive; Jim Geduldick, Marketing Manager at GoPro; and Sarah Hill, Chief Storyteller at Story Up Studios VR.

Parts of the discussion explored the difference between what people call VR and “360 Video.” While 360 Video is great content that can help draw people to VR technology, it’s not a truly virtual world. However, all panelists agreed that 360 video is extremely valuable to the advancement of VR and provides solid content for entertainment, storytelling and many other use cases. Both YouTube and Facebook support 360 video, making it easy to distribute and get content in front of users. Already, 360 video is viewed up to 7x more often than traditional video, and users are spending up to 8 minutes watching. That’s some serious engagement. Why is that and why does it matter to the story your brand tries to tell? Because with 360 video a consumer can watch the same video over and over, with a different takeaway each time.

Brands need to find ways to create and bring 360 video to the web. Just in the same way responsive design has become an industry standard in web design, we need to future-proof by gearing up for the 360-video tsunami that is coming. Google is donating cardboards to schools for use in education. Of course, this teaches the kids about whatever subject the content is discussing, but it also gets them accustomed to how these cardboard “viewers” work and how content is consumed, developing a trend of adoption set to take off. The question is, who will be ready when it does?

Creative Thievery = What’s Yours Is Mine
By: Josh Walker (@joshwalker1007)

Continuing a series of very informative sessions about the legalities of using copyrighted material was today’s panel discussion called “Creative Thievery = What’s Yours Is Mine,” featuring Hrag Vartanian, Editor-In-Chief and Co-Founder of Hyperallergic Media; appropriation-artist Jonathan Rosen; Mary Crosse, Executive Producer for Derby Content; and arts-and-entertainment lawyer Sergio Munoz Sarmiento, who delivered the session’s most helpful and sometimes counterintuitive insights.

At issue in the discussion was whether and when it is legal to use copyrighted artwork, images and content in a subsequent work and profit from the result, but there are broad implications to the panel’s advice. The session took the format of presenting several famous examples and having the panel weigh in on whether or not the usage was legal, whether it was moral, and how the usage was judged by the art world.

In the 1960s, the iconic Marlboro Man posters were seen by pretty much everyone. Philip Morris hired a photographer to shoot the ads. Richard Prince (not the photographer) took some of the ads, removed everything but the images, and sold the works as his own for thousands (and they are now selling for millions). Prince argued that who he was and the method and location of his presentation made them transformative works of art. In short, they were used in a different context, and this change of context offered the viewer a new interpretation. Think of it as added value, similar in some ways to a professional athlete signing a t-shirt.

But here’s something to consider: before the internet and the rise of social media, the appropriation of someone else’s work could be considered radical. The act itself was a statement, and the result was almost inevitably a transformative work of art, just by its nature. But today, the use of copyrighted images in memes and social media is ubiquitous. It’s the moral equivalent of driving two miles over the speed limit. Can the use of these images ever be considered radical again? We see it every hour. If the medium is the message, then everyone already received it loud and clear about two decades ago.

Here’s a more recent example. The very same Richard Prince that sold the Marlboro Man images as transformative works of art recently printed 12 snapchat images taken from users who were unaware of their usage and sold them for $90k each. Nothing was changed in the images. They were simply scaled up, printed and sold. Prince argued that the gallery setting created a context in which the images were transformed into original works. This one is still being decided, but as Sarmiento noted, “The U.S. has the most lax fair-use code in the world.”

He then explained that the courts use a 4-point system for determining copyright infringement in such cases. These are purpose and character (how and why), more factual or more fiction?, how much is taken and does it go to the heart of the matter, and is there economic harm?. The details of this system are a little beyond the scope of this article, but, in essence, to reuse content without committing copyright infringement, you need to do so in a way that is unique in its actual look, language and structure. Nothing can be copied exactly. And doing so in a way that disparages the original source can lead to serious financial consequences. An idea cannot be copyrighted, but the specific way it is expressed can, under some circumstances.

Sarmiento ended the session with a valuable lesson on how to approach content by saying, “The more creative a design is, the more protected it’s going to be.”

That Snapchatter Makes More Than You
By: Elizabeth Michael (@LizzyMichael)

Panelist Talia Goldberg of Bessemer Venture Partners; Kendall Ostrow of United Talent Agency; Noah Kulwin of Re/code; and Taryn Southern, a YouTube Star/Actress/Video Blogger brought unique perspectives on the democratization of the talent business. Apps like Snapchat, Periscope and YouTube make publishing easy for content creators. As their popularity rises organically, Hollywood adjusts. Essentially, fans are telling casting directors who they want to see on the big screen now.

Talia Goldberg noted that 60 percent of U.S. teens are consuming and creating content on Snapchat, and that Bessemer Venture Partners is most interested in investing in new startups with platforms that allow users to create high-quality content fast. The rise of video on mobile is no surprise. Basically, your phone is turning into your #1 video delivery device – whether that is your favorite TV show, your friend’s birthday party last weekend, or your favorite YouTube star’s latest tutorial. And, the money isn’t coming only from the investment side. Internet stars have to eat too, right?

Kendall Ostrow represents many of these online influences just like typical celebrities and helps them forge partnerships with brands. Brands are willing to pay big bucks for online influencer’s endorsements or organic integration into their content. She says what’s most important is making sure the content that comes out of these partnerships makes sense for the brand and the celebrity. Currently, she said that brands are very interested in VR/360, so they have just invested heavily in being able to produce that video content.

Taryn Southern noted that many brands look to her for metrics to report on campaigns that she or other influencers in her media company produce. Video views on YouTube are counted after 30-seconds, while on Facebook they are counted after only three seconds. On Vine, videos continually loop, so views can climb into the millions very easily. She notes that there isn’t a baseline to accurately compare different platforms, so it is important to be upfront and honest on the front end about expectations with brands. Ostrow noted that nascent platforms like Snapchat have little to no reporting capabilities, and recommended using a third-party, like Naritiv, for reporting.

The direct engagement on Snapchat is exciting for brands, online sensations and traditional celebrities. The democratization of the talent business will only continue to expand as more quick, high-quality video publishing platforms come online. The power is in the hands of the public.