Rob

You can now create your own AR lens on Snapchat

This week Snap launched a new feature called Lens Studio that will let third-parties develop their own custom AR lenses for the Snapchat app, opening the floodgates like they did with Geofilters a couple of years ago. Expect a load more stupid little AR cartoons like the dancing hotdog seeing the light of day over the next few months.

Lens Studio is a free desktop app for Mac and Windows with easy to use guides and tools that students, creatives, and developers alike can use to bring their creations to life. Whether you’re just starting to dabble in 2D animation or are a professional artist interested in creating your own experiences, Lens Studio makes sharing your creation with the world fast and fun!

On a side note, I love the short, simple explainer videos that Snap uses to announce each new product update. They’re generally no more than 30 seconds long and show a brief use-case of the product to get the point across. Nice.

Posted by Rob in Augmented Reality, Snapchat

Serviceplan Middle East Diary

Last month I was featured in the SPME Diary. Read more here.

HI, I’M ROB!

I’m originally from Ireland but have been living in Dubai for almost 7 years. I started at Serviceplan Middle East one year ago this week although it feels like much longer than that. I joined just as we were making our move to the new office in Dubai Design District, which was a pretty exciting time for the agency.

I AM PART OF THE DIGITAL TEAM

…And work on everything from websites and digital display campaigns, to content creation, apps and other digital concepts for clients like Danone Nutricia, BMW, DIFC and MAN Truck. We’re currently working on a set of Facebook Messenger chatbots for one of our clients too which is really interesting!

I’M CRAZY ABOUT TECH

…And a sucker for gadgets. I’m passionate about how technology is changing our world, as well as how it can facilitate creative marketing and I’m always looking for the next big thing and for how we can make our clients first-movers. I send out an internal digital newsletter every week to make sure everyone is up-to-date on all the exciting new tech possibilities to get people’s creative juices flowing.

I LOVE READING AND TRY TO GET THROUGH A BOOK EVERY WEEK OR TWO.

It’s actually such a good way of disconnecting from the always-on life that most of us live these days hooked up to our smartphones and laptops. I love writing too and try to keep my own blog updated as well as writing the occasional piece for the Serviceplan blog and a couple of magazines in the industry. I also love playing video games and am crazy about football, including a pretty heavy obsession with Manchester United.

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Tech

Facebook is testing moving News + Brand Pages to a separate feed

A Facebook update that is currently being tested in 6 countries will make the default Newsfeed just for friends (and ads), and a separate feed for news and brand pages that you follow. The knock-on effect for brands and publishers could be devastating as pages in test countries have seen a dramatic drop in traffic since the test began as highlighted by Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik. Organic reach for brands on Facebook fell off a cliff back in 2014, but a shake-up like this could make it even tougher for Pages to get noticed – unless they are willing to pay of course.

 

Posted by Rob in Facebook, Media

The opportunity in interactive video

Originally featured in the August 27th 2017 issue of Campaign Middle East

It’s hardly a revelation to say that video content has never been as popular as it is right now. Whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, Display, or increasingly, Snapchat & Instagram, more and more of users’ time online is spent consuming video in some form. By the end of this year, KPCB estimates that video content will account for 74% of all online traffic, and Mark Zuckerberg has even said that he expects Facebook to be almost entirely video within the next five years. But while the digital video format itself has never been more accessible, many of the digital video ads that tend to make it out into the wild don’t truly take advantage of the opportunities that digital channels allow. Most still ape TV spots that have been adapted to digital – a new format but an old mindset. While television is a passive channel, digital is not, and its potential is currently not being fully utilized. Consequently, we seem to have reached a point where viewers have become numb to video on digital channels – not surprising when you consider the slew of formats that seem to have gotten increasingly aggressive in recent years such as un-skippable pre-rolls, auto-playing sound-on ads, and now the particularly jarring mid-roll videos that burst into your viewing experience half-way through.

Viewers are fed up of video ads taking over their digital experiences and forcing them to passively bear witness to their marketing message. In 2017, most consumers are used to interacting with content on digital channels, especially on mobile. Many expect a certain level of interactivity. Users are familiar with gamified experiences and tend to tune-out at the first sign of a countdown to skip an ad. As attention spans seemingly decrease, passive content just isn’t grabbing users’ attention as it once did.

Things are looking up though as the range of functionality open to digital video is getting broader and broader all the time. Interactive videos have been around in some form for a few years now, but this trend is starting to become more prevalent of late, especially outside of advertising. Just this summer Netflix introduced a series of interactive shows for children that allow them to make choices throughout each episode that dictate the journey the episode takes. This all seems like quite a novel idea for kid’s TV shows, but imagine being able to control what happens to your favourite characters, or reveal alternative scenes in shows like House of Cards or Game of Thrones. What better way to keep viewers engaged than by getting them involved and letting them influence the the content itself, right? The same goes for advertising too.

Choice-driven videos have been shown to work especially well in a story-telling and educational capacity. The UK Resuscitation Council used such an approach in a campaign to teach viewers the basics of giving CPR by presenting them with an emergency scenario where they have to make a set of choices to save someone’s life. The thinking behind it is that involving the viewer in the process in this way provides for a much more visceral experience, and by getting viewers to interact with the content, they are much more likely to absorb the information.

We are also starting to see more examples of mobile video utilizing the particular features of the smartphone itself to enable the viewer to interact with the content in a more intuitive way. AdColony’s new Aurora HD mobile video ad format lets users manipulate video content by tapping, tilting or swiping during a video. A recent treasure hunt style video to promote the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie showcased the impressive graphical elements that can be used to immerse the viewer in the video while adding a gamified element to the experience. Similarly, a recent campaign from Visit Britain let viewers use their mobile device’s gyroscope to switch between visual tours of several different parts of the country by pointing their mobile either North, South, East or West to see what each part of the country has to offer.

These features can be used in a host of ways to let viewers define their own journey, answer questions, buy products, access exclusive content, complete forms and much more, all from within the video itself. There’s still a great deal of potential left to explore with interactive video, and with Facebook trying to muscle in on TV-style programming with its new ‘Watch’ platform and Snapchat et al yet to truly take advantage of this format either, advertisers better start thinking about how they might adapt their current approach to video for a more interactive future.

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Campaign Magazine, Mobile

Two of the best AR implementations I’ve seen yet

I absolutely love this implementation of Apple’s AR kit! Imagine sitting down in a restaurant and being able to physically see your food on your plate before you order? I’ve being thinking of this as a really practical AR use case for a while but I’m seriously impressed at how well this prototype looks.

In the automotive industry, Chevrolet have rolled-out an impressive AR virtual showroom in Korea that let’s users check-out the latest models wherever they are.

Posted by Rob in Apple, Augmented Reality