76% of consumers say their everyday lives depend on tech and 93% of consumers agree that technology is our future. Indicating a heightened increase in digital media engagement.
Omnichannel engagement and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become vital ingredients in today’s recipe for digital interaction. What’s more, these interactions need to channel creativity in order to keep consumers engaged and build meaningful connections.
Accelerated transformation and an over-saturated digital space has helped bridge the gap between the creative industry and technology. This is driving more innovation and pushing businesses – especially those in the creative industries – to keep up with the latest advancements and ever-changing audience behaviors, including:
- 35% being happier to engage with brands on digital channels since the pandemic started
- 46% agreeing that technology now plays a greater role in how they engage with brands
It’s no wonder that this year’s theme for World Creativity and Innovation Day is collaboration.
The technology and creativity collaboration
The creative economy is expected to reach a value of $985 billion by 2023,. This includes media, advertising, and the entertainment industry.
Driven by the pandemic, the influx of digital channels and streaming platforms, paired with the rise of AI, has led to a new wave of innovation that is reshaping the world:
- Creative content comes from across the globe, blurring geographical boundaries
- Digital becoming conversational and shoppable
- Virtual experiences becoming interactive and immersive
Entertainment and technology
Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime shifted the gears of the entertainment industry towards digital experiences prior to the pandemic. However, 2020 led to the rise of streaming services – both regional and international. These digital platforms fueled growth for the industry to reach new audiences:
- worldwide online video subscriptions hit 1.1 billion in 2020, a 26% rise from the previous year
- audio streaming services yielded $13.4 billion globally in 2020, making up 62.1% of the total music industry revenue, and saw a high of 487 million global subscribers by the first quarter of 2021.
However, with customers juggling between multiple streaming providers in search of offers and exceptional creative content – the subscription churn rate average was 35%. This has led to a challenge for cinemas and traditional television needing to compete with the on-demand convenience of streaming providers.
That’s where AI and customer data comes in.
- AI helps creators and streaming providers match the right content for their audiences. Algorithms classify customer preferences—from movies streamed, or music listened to recommend content tailored to a specific user.
- Couple that with sentiment analysis and the ability to garner feedback from their customer’s favorite digital channels helps contextualize to understand how the audience feels.
- Customer data and marketing automation helps creative campaigns perform better with the ability to measure and track performance. This also produces accurate data insights that can foster creativity and innovation.
Digital channels and shopping
Mobile apps and websites are already prime digital spaces for online shopping experiences.
Now with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp allowing customers to shop where they connect and chat, this has led to a new interactive shopping experience that converges creative content with commerce.
For example, with WhatsApp Product Messages you can not only showcase your products with rich media messages but also interact with a salesperson, and shop without leaving the chat. Customers can also visit a shop from a business’ Instagram profile, feed, or Stories – and can browse products, explore collections, and purchase products seamlessly through the in-app browser.
Social commerce sales are expected to reach more than $45 billion in 2022, and it is largely enabled by the creative economy. Influencers play a key role here, especially with Gen Z and millennials who are more likely to be inspired by an influencer posting about a certain product or trend. To attract and increase shoppable experiences, brands not only need to invest in the right influencers but create campaigns that cut through the digital clutter.
AI and customer data will drive more curated shopping experiences, and omnichannel communication technologies will sync all digital channels to deliver a cohesive journey. It’s about empowering customers to buy where they consume content and vice-versa.
Across platforms, these innovative experiences will boost revenues and opportunities for both advertisers and creatives, along with increasing engagement and brand loyalty.
Virtual and physical events
The pandemic led to a widespread closure of in-person events, replaced by online ones. However, the ones to succeed were those creating meaningful content.
Now that the world is opening up again, venues need to invest in technology to offer immersive experiences that include live streaming and AR/VR.
This could include:
- Livestreaming to reach a broader audience on the digital channels they prefer
- Leveraging mobile apps or social networks to help people find each other during events, or add value to enhanced experiences with real-time partner offers
- Creating exclusive experiences such as meet and greets on your customers’ favorite chat app, live perks that can be availed via a QR code, or AR/VR experiences to create memorable moments
2020 saw the start with the One World: Together At Home event that was livestreamed on YouTube and saw artists from all over the world perform and engage from their homes to yours.
Taking it a notch higher, Fortnite became a virtual destination for users to hang out with each other and attend virtual concerts headlined by many popular artists including Marshmello, Ariana Grande, and Travis Scott. The concerts alone saw a live audience of more than 12.3 million people.
And when the world started opening Warner Bros hosted a virtual party for their film In the Heights on Roblox. The party brought to life the Washington Heights neighbourhood with music, dance, and Latin American culture in the virtual world. Visitors to the virtual neighborhood had the opportunity to hangout outside the film’s store, contribute to murals, and watch behind-the-scenes videos and interviews, including a dance tutorial from the movie’s choreographer, and play interactive mini-games.
Creative protection with NFTs
Copyright laws and intellectual property frameworks helps secure the creative industry to a certain extent but the rise of blockchain and NFTs has led to an additional layer of security.
NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’, which is developed to have a unique digital identity. A bitcoin, for example, is fungible. You can trade one for another and have exactly the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card, however, is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different.
Developers are taking advantage of this trend to code new sets of tokens. Attached to these unique tokens are a visual identity; or a piece of art. This brings ownership to digital assets that might otherwise be easily copyable, while enabling additional layers of programmability and rights management.
Brands are taking advantage of this, with Nike recently acquiring RTFKT, a non-fungible token studio, to merge culture and gaming. The acquisition follows Nike’s recent filing of new trademark applications to produce and sell Nike-branded virtual footwear, apparel, and accessories for use in virtual environments.
By Q3 2021, NFT sales had generated an estimated $10 billion, compared to around $100 million in 2020. Supporting greater customer relationships and loyalty by offering exclusive goods that unfold value over time.
The journey towards the metaverse
With technological innovation and creativity creating immersive experiences, we are slowly entering a new era of digital experiences with talk about the metaverse. This means a digital space combining platforms, experiences, customers, and marketplaces where interactions take place in 3D via Augmented Reality (AR) or VR.
Our CEO Silvio Kutić said: “During 2022, increased understanding of the Metaverse concept will compel businesses to consider how they prepare for a digital world characterized by augmented and virtual reality shared spaces. The Metaverse will be a place where customers and businesses connect – for commerce, for brand events, for community gatherings, for support. Businesses need to be relevant and useful in these spaces, perhaps building environments where customers can learn and get the help they need. Troubleshooting is a great example. Guiding customers through complex steps can be hard work but VR will make the process so much easier for both customers and agents.”
In fact, Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026, and metaverse technology platforms are predicted to be valued at $800 billion by 2024, according to a December 2021 Bloomberg report.
Disney became a frontrunner Disney by integrating the physical, digital, and virtual worlds to help customers navigate through their theme parks and digital platforms. Through a virtual-world simulator they reproduced one of their theme parks into a 3D realm. Providing highly immersive and personalized 3D virtual experiences without requiring to wear an augmented reality AR viewing device. Talking about the metaverse, their CEO Bob Chapek said: “Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse, and we look forward to creating unparalleled opportunities for consumers to experience everything Disney has to offer across our products and platforms, wherever the consumer may be.”
Trends like shoppable media, virtual events, AR for shopping, immersive learning, and streaming will all converge towards the metaverse.
A real-world example of that is Balenciaga’s partnership with Epic Games to integrate high-fashion Fortnite skins. An in-game Balenciaga-themed hub was developed that included a virtual store where customers could purchase from along with a real-world clothing line. Giving visitors the perfect blend of digital and physical worlds. And to market it – above the virtual store, an animated billboard featured the walking dog Doggo in a hoodie, while in the real-world similar billboards were placed at their New York, London, Tokyo, and Seoul stores.
The true magic will come when technology tools and platforms allow everyone to create and collaborate on experiences. As communications experts this is something we’re already preparing for – and are certainly excited about.
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