The lines of experience

It’s been an exciting couple of years hasn’t it? The whole offline / online thing… the internet went from being a place you visited to ‘digital’ which exists in multiple places simultaneously and intrinsically woven into our lives. The Eco-System effect. How about this one, you’ll like this and be repelled at the implications in equal measures. There are some bars and clubs in the U.S using a novel technology to help partygoers decide where to party. SceneTap, an American start-up, uses cameras to scan the faces of those who enter and leave participating establishments. Its software then guesses each person’s age and sex. Aggregated data is streamed to a website and mobile app. This allows punters to see which bars are busy, the average age of revellers and the all-important male-to-female ratio. The bar owners gain publicity and intelligence about their customers. For instance, did a promotion aimed at women attract many?

It’s the phone angle. You can adapt your behavior in advance when things used to be essentially ‘pot-luck’. We’re almost cyborg in nature by virtue of having our lives augmented with mobile. We can see through walls now. Bye-bye FourSquare, I’m not going to ‘check-in’ because it already knows I’m there and tells people if I opt in to be auto-detected.

Many companies face the challenge of creating entirely new behaviours for new products. However, my thinking is that behaviour change is far more successful when it aligns with a habit we’ve already formed, which apparently shapes nearly half of the decisions we make every day.

Around 74.2% of the UK’s population, totalling 47m, will go online at least once a month this year on a range of devices including smartphones and tablets, according to eMarketer stats… and that number has almost quadrupled in 5 years because of the rise of the smartphone. We’re all getting smarter at astonishing rates.

I’m also loving the Nike Fuel Band and it’s bigger applications… At SXSW this year, to promote the Fuel Band, Nike essentially turned the inside of a venue into one huge Fuelband wristband with the same colored lights and ability to track energy level. Except in this case, Nike was tracking the energy level of the whole crowd.

Across town from the gig they had rigged up lighting in a building to react to the audience at the gig. The more energetic the crowd, the greener the building became, so that people outside the event could witness the level to which the crowd was going off. It helped that Nike picked two very high energy bands for this show: Diplo and Sleigh Bells. Nike measured the crowd’s energy level by placing Nike FuelBands on the wrists of a large number of attendees, then tracked the activity using customized wireless technology that functions similarly to the way the iOS app works. It’s an extreme example but think about it… using digital, people influenced the lighting at another location. I remember when I got my first feature phone in 1997 people said I was mad because the SMS thing would never take off!

What happens when all these new ways of doing things start converging and the lines start to blur? For instance… Online sales are expected to reach to a staggering $317 billion by 2016 in the U.S which is phenomenal, right… but I’ve always had this hypothesis that online sales aren’t just about convenience, they’re also about data. People love the fact that they can see something rated or reviewed, or find obscure things that are just too difficult to find on the high-street. It’s a demand thing. I’d be fascinated to see what starts to happen when those ratings and ‘easy to find’ influences start popping up in more Urban environments – “Hey Pete, there’s a huge footfall of people like you occurring at this place not too far from where you are right now & they’re all buying things you might like, let me lead you there“. Augmented behavior offline using online data. Could be huge.

Users understand the importance of the internet and a bad experience can go a long way; 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience online according to a report by KissMetrics. So take that sentiment offline and there is this whole “don’t go in there Pete, a lot of people like you had a rubbish time”…

Then there’s the growing behavior around tablets. Sure, it was bound to happen, we just needed Apple to lead the charge, but it’s the way they’ve altered and augmented behavior that I find astonishing. 69% of tablet owners make a purchase on their device every month, according to stats from inMobi and Mobext. 50% of tablet owners spend at least an hour a day accessing media content on their tablets, and 72% use it while watching TV. So it’s not a huge leap ahead of us to assume ‘shopping the adverts’ is just around the corner. The advertising they said was dead is just about to be supplemented by technology. My behavior doesn’t change, but the experience is augmented by the ability to just a button on my iPad & buy what I’m watching. Makes sense. Especially if there are “100 people like you all doing the same”.

According to an IAB/ValueClick study, 52% of consumers are happy to see online advertising because it allows them to view content or use services online at no cost – they’ve brought their offline viewing habits with them. But 55% said they would rather see advertising relevant to their interests and 59% would prefer a lower number of relevant ads than a higher volume of irrelevant ones. So how long before that mobile or tablet you use influences what adverts you see while you’re watching your favorite shows, so when you reach out and buy it instantly you’re actually just choosing to buy from things you’re really only interested in. I don’t have a dog, don’t show me adverts for dog food… Augmented advertising comes to the TV experience. It’s all totally feasible now.

Digital experience crossing over in the real world is becoming more and more a reality and the next few frontier years are going to be really exciting. The possibilities are endless and impact on our lives can only be positive.

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