Tech Transformations

Introducing our global tech transformations study for Facebook...

We’re delighted to be able to share a first instalment from our major study on how technology is transforming lives in partnership with Facebook IQ. Titled Tech Transformations, this project identifies, explores and ultimately celebrates a host of new forces that are impacting lives globally.

This study had us on the ground in Nigeria (Lagos), South Korea (Seoul), the UK (London) and US (Brooklyn and San Francisco), interviewing experts and early adopters, and conducting ethnographic and remote-ethno methods. We also ran a quantitative survey in all markets, dug deep into secondary trends sources and were informed by internal data analysis from Facebook.

 

 

 

We’ll be able to share much more about the work, including film content, in the coming months, with the trends falling into these five thematic areas:

Personal Sustainability 

In an age where we can monitor, map and predict what’s going on inside of us, technology isn’t just about simplifying our lives. It’s about giving us the ability to engineer the best possible version of ourselves, with the ultimate aim of ensuring our own personal sustainability. 

Mobile Empowerment

As underserved populations in emerging markets gain access to the internet for the first time – notably through mobile devices – they are discovering the benefits of economic, entrepreneurial, educational and other opportunities previously unavailable. 

Playing With Food

As food culture expands online and local cuisine becomes global, there’s a growing consciousness around sustainable food production to combat future shortages and environmental drawbacks. 

Reinventing Rituals

As technology penetrates our everyday lives, it’s altering how we interact with each other, reshaping rituals, transforming old traditions and amplifying celebrations.

Embracing Identity

How people express themselves in terms of age, gender, looks, sexual orientation, relationships, spirituality and more is no longer binary.

Tech Transformations For 2016 And Beyond

Five Trends from CES 2016

With CES over for another year, Crowd DNA creative delivery exec and self-confessed tech addict Tom Eccles takes a look at five key trends coming out of this year's show...

In the world of technology, January means one thing: CES. The Consumer Electronics Show, now in its 48th year, is a showcase of everything up-and-coming in tech, ranging from the regular (televisions, headphones and computers) to the not-so-regular (autonomous vehicles, drones and virtual reality). It is a seemingly endless few days of product launches, demonstrations and conferences. Here’s a look at five key trends coming out of this year’s show.

Virtual reality finally takes off

After being on the horizon for years, it seems like 2016 will be the year that VR finally takes off. Oculus, having launched on Kickstarter back in 2012 before being snapped up by Facebook for $2bn, has finally announced the start of pre-orders for its Oculus Rift VR headset. The goggles go on sale in April, and retail for a hefty $599 – probably out of reach of the mainstream consumer, but an unmistakable step forward for the technology. Along with it comes a raft of competitors: namely the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR – both planned to launch this year.

As the technology powering VR moves forward, so too do the applications it is used for. While the most obvious application is gaming, VR is beginning to expand to other realms such as education and retail. Audi, for example, plans to outfit dealerships with VR headsets, allowing potential buyers to virtually customise and explore any Audi model to their liking.

Wearables MK2

Rewind to last year’s CES, and wearables were all the rage. It was the year of the long-awaited Apple Watch, the year wearables would finally grow up and be adopted into the mainstream. Initial releases, however, fell short of expectations. This year, tech innovators have moved towards single-application devices, designed to do just one thing – and do it well.

New products include the Digitsole, a shoe that houses an in-built fitness tracker, and the Samsung Welt – a digital belt designed to detect bloating, and warn of your impending weight gain. Wisewear’s SOS bracelet turns an innocent looking bracelet into a personal attack alarm, with a double tap sending a distress signal and GPS location to a friend via text message.

Game of drones

Drone tech reached new heights at this year’s CES. From the carbon fibre Yuneec Typhoon, equipped with a 4K camera, to the world’s smallest and lightest drone – the Mota JetJat Nano – drones are clearly well on their way towards the mass market. As drones become smaller and more affordable, they also become more advanced – able to automatically follow owners for the ultimate in-action selfie, avoid impending obstacles, and keep out of restricted areas.

Not content with drones only being used for aerial photography and small deliveries, Chinese company EHang became the first to unveil a drone capable of carrying human cargo. Equipped with in-built 4G WiFi and air-conditioning, the EHang 184 can hold one person and fly anywhere within a 23-minute radius. The passenger simply inputs their destination into the onboard tablet, before being whisked away. The EHang 184 could be yours, for only $300,000.

Connected automobiles

Despite only exhibiting at CES since 2007, auto manufacturers have taken the show by storm – demonstrating the continuing convergence between vehicles and technology. With a 200-mile range, and a relatively cheap $30,000 price tag, the Chevy Bolt could be the electric car to finally break through. BMW’s Air Touch allows drivers to control their vehicle’s infotainment system using gestures, while Ford demonstrated integration with Amazon’s Echo voice recognition – allowing drivers to issue voice commands such as “close the garage door”.

The journey towards driverless cars was also centre stage at CES. General Motors announced a $500m investment in ride sharing service Lyft to create a network of driverless cars, while Kia took to the stage to promise a fully-autonomous vehicle by 2030.

Smarter homes

The ‘Internet of Things’ has long promised a home full of connected devices, from fridges that automatically replenish food, to intelligent thermostats that adjust the temperature based on your proximity to the home. Despite an apparent lack of consumer appetite for such products, manufacturers unveiled a raft of new connected devices at CES. With Samsung’s new smart fridge, you can view inside the fridge remotely – allowing users to check the contents while in the supermarket. It can even alert you to food about to pass its expiry date.

Other smart home devices are simply improvements on already existing products. The Netatmo Presence is a connected outdoor security camera. Where it differs from competitors is a smart algorithm enabling the camera to distinguish between people, cars and animals.

If anything, the latest CES shows us that 2016 will be a year of refinement, rather than brand new innovations. It will be the year that long promised tech, such as virtual reality, finally delivers – while the quest for an all-in-one wearable will be parked in favour of multiple devices, each focusing on one function. Drones, having finally become affordable in 2015, will continue their flight towards mass market adoption; meanwhile, our cars and homes are both gradually becoming smarter, promising to interact with each other and respond in ways previously only seen in science fiction.

Fandom On Film

Video outputs from our ESOMAR award-winning work for Twitter...

Among plenty of Crowd DNA highlights in 2015, a particular biggie was winning ‘best paper‘ at ESOMAR’s global conference in Paris, for our work with Twitter. ‘Future Fan’ explored the evolution of the music fan; also the meaning of fandom more generally; the relevance for brands and the role of social media.

One of the outputs from the project was a 12 minute documentary that we created, celebrating the energy of fandom and revealing exactly what makes fan communities tick. That video is currently outside of the public domain, used by the teams at Twitter, but we can show off this two minute edit, which focusses on how Twitter has reshaped the universe of music fandom.

Future Of Music Streaming

A few hastily assembled notes on the predictions offered at shesaid.so's very interesting roundtable on the future of streaming (sorry, it was early, didn’t catch the name of all of the roundtable guests)…

It’s not a battle. It’s time to stop thinking of physical product and digital/streaming in conflict with each other; the way forward will see more interesting ways of blending the two, and a greater understanding of how they can co-exist in a broader eco-system.

Playlists – they’re a big deal. Getting included on a Spotify ‘Your Morning Coffee’ playlist (or similar!) can have a previously unknown artist racking up plays at a supersonic rate. Playlists sustain track plays better than almost anything else. Bands, platforms and brands all need to be looking at new, increasingly innovative ways to make playlists stand out.

Niche services. Lots of predictions that people will be willing to pay, say, a fiver on top in future for more specialised streaming offerings – one dedicated to classical music, for instance – alongside their more standard monthly subscription.

Higher quality streams. While the offerings may not succeed (hello, Mr N Young) at the very least they spark new debate and keep the big players on their toes – as such, we need the outliers, those who can disrupt and challenge.

Direct from artist streaming services. It’s getting easier to do and the price of the tech is coming down. Expect to see some artists considering what they can do on their own.

Brands and streaming. Automobile and sports/fitness companies predicted to lead the way in terms of brands innovating in streaming-centric music partnerships.

Big challenge! Getting to a mindset where we cherish our playlists and saved tracks on streaming platforms in the way we once/still do cherish our record collections. Rather hard to picture but there’s people working on it…

The next instalment of our #TwitterMusic coverage discusses the changing relationship between brands and the music industry...

Our recent work for Twitter unearthed a treasure trove of insights about the changing nature of fandom and online interaction. Therefore it’s great to see Marketing pick up on one of the more exciting pieces of news for advertisers – that brand-band relationships have become accepted and even valued among music fans.

“… 89% of fans on Twitter like to see brands get involved with music. This is a notable shift from the days when credible musicians aligning themselves with corporations were treated with derision by many music aficionados, who would immediately cry “sellout” at the faintest whiff of brand/band collaboration”

Despite this positive news for marketers, the piece continues to outline that this relationship is governed by strict rules around the fit between the artists and the brands.

“…this doesn’t mean that brands can get trigger-happy by targeting any hot pop star of the moment. It still has to make sense: artist, brand and fan values must align to ensure a solid strategic move… This desire for brand involvement, but not to the detriment of authenticity, is also borne out in the research: 80% of fans think it’s highly important for brands to share the values of the event or artist with which they partner.” 

Marketing cite an ill-judged partnership between Microsoft and Clean Bandit as evidence that it’s still very easy to get it wrong. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting development for the music industry, which has enjoyed a bumper 2015 with the streaming service race hotting up, and artists creating more news than ever (meme warfare, anyone?).

So how should brands ride this wave of positivity? Marketing argue -and we’d agree – that it’s first about targeting the right tribes of fans. Appeal to the right groups and you’ll have “a ready-made group of marketers tweeting on [your] behalf”. Second, it’s about tapping into fan altruism. Brands seen to be genuinely supportive of music will reap the rewards in the long run.

Back at Crowd DNA, we’re looking forward to more insights being shared from the work.

Twitter & Music Fandom

Great to see some coverage of our work into music fandom getting out there - this initial instalment exploring the notion of the retweet as the new autograph...

Published on Twitter’s blog, the post explains: “retweets from artists or bands are now as highly prized by music fans as autographs. New research underlines the role Twitter plays for fans, who can not only connect with their favorite artists and bands, but discover new music and join the buzz around concerts and festivals.

The study, conducted for Twitter by Crowd DNA , found that 74% of music fans on Twitter say a Retweet by their favourite artist is as desirable as a traditional autograph. Findings point to the value fans place in getting recognition from their favourite artists and in seeing their Tweet shared with other fans.”

It also fleshes the thinking out through some nice examples of fan-artist interactions with the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Years & Years, before adding: “as many as 80% of music fans on Twitter use it before, during or after a gig or a festival. And for music fans who can’t make it to live events, 59% say that Twitter allows them to feel involved, wherever they are.”

With a reach which extended from mainstream music to grassroots activity, festivals to nostalgia bands, the fandom project incorporated quantitative work, desk research of academic studies into fandom, ethnographic pieces, plenty of workshopping with experts and, naturally, social media analysis.

How brands can leverage the power of fandom was a pivotal area of focus. Look forward to more findings getting circulated in the near future.