The Future Of Advertising…In One Afternoon

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Blog, Robert Waddilove

On March 17th we were very happy to attend APA’s The Future Of Advertising series of talks at BAFTA.

It was a really enjoyable and informative day, with talks from a variety of people, all with interesting perspectives on the current state of advertising as well as what lies ahead.

The main point which stood out for us was the idea that advertising should be fun, entertaining or, even better, a utility. Advertisers should spurn sponsorship, which gets your logo seen but fails to really say anything about your brand. Wherever your brand is, it should be active rather than passive.
Gamification is a popular buzzword at the moment, and Nike has brought a product to market which is a perfect example of how a company is using gamification to enhance their brand and increase sales. The Nike+ FuelBand is a wristband that is able to keep track of the steps you’re taking, the calories you’re burning, and also has its own unit of measurement, NikeFuel. You accumulate and track NikeFuel using the website or your iPhone (and eventually Android) App. You can then, of course, share your accumulated NikeFuel points with your friends. It makes keeping active more fun than it should be, and the ability to share and compete with your friends further pushes this strategy.

Alex Jenkins of Contagious magazine demonstrated another great example of gamification. Västtrafik (Gothenburg’s equivalent of TfL) wanted more tourists to use its public transport network, rather than taking expensive tour buses. Most companies would have just had a poster or placard at the local airport advertising public transport. But Västtrafik felt that by adding utility and the element of fun to the experience, they could increase the amount of tourists using public transport. They created an iPhone app which allowed you to choose from a selection of tours of the city which could be achieved on local bus services. The app then directs you to the appropriate bus stop, and tells you which bus to get and at what time. As you travel, the app gives you a guided tour of your route, giving you appropriate information about the history of the city and the landmarks you pass. It’s a really great idea, and expertly executed, making it easy and enjoyable for people to use.


Another (classic) example of gamification is Air Miles (sorry, Avios). Its popularity is illustrated by the crazy statistic that there are currently 10 trillion unused Air Miles. People go out of their way to rack up Air Miles, taking unnecessary flights and twisting quirks of the system to their advantage: the fun of collecting the Miles is clearly more important to the consumer than spending them and it costs the airlines nothing to implement.


Alex Jenkins (who had one of the best talks of the day) had a great insight regarding engagement. He showed us a video game in which the player controls a spaceship which can add on up to 10 smaller spaceships, which circle you allowing to kick more ass. It became clear to even the best gamers that to get nine was easy enough, but to get the tenth was seemingly impossible. After many enquiries, the game developers made the tenth ship available to purchase for something in excess of $1000. Within a week the developers had made $2million, an astonishing amount of money to raise from a bunch of pixels. But the percentage of people from the community actually buying that tenth ship is even more astonishing – only 0.003%. That sort of figure might not look like much, but if your total audience is in the millions then that’s a very healthy number of dedicated fans for your brand to have.


Chloe Grindle, a Creative from McCann London, built upon the idea of advertising as utility to the consumer. She suggested going one better and pitching not just creative ideas, but product ideas as well. Mixing business with creative, and telling a client how their products could be improved upon or complemented, can lead to more exciting products for the end user and create more business for the agency/production company.


For production companies (like us!), there was an encouraging statistic from Dara Nasr, Head of YouTube and Display at Google: the use of video is growing exponentially and he anticipates that by 2013, 90% of all new content online will be video. Someone has to make at least some of this content – it can’t all be UGC.


It was certainly an energising day of talks and, with the rapid changes in media and viewing habits, it’s clear we’re living in exciting times. A quote from the day rang especially true:

“The do-nothing plan is not an option”.

Link to SohoSoHo’s article on the day