At the turn of the previous century, around 120 years ago, the world was undergoing radical change. However, despite an unprecedented rate of industrial change and entrepreneurs tinkering in every third garage in America, no one could predict some of the accomplishments of the next millennium. Nuclear war. Nuclear power. A moon shot that landed, literally. We’re currently going through a similarly disruptive time, and I believe we can also expect some similarly extraordinary leaps (or as my one photographer friend says: “cra-azy shee-yut!”) in the near future. It’s fun to look into a crystal ball. Working in a digital marketing agency, I seem to permanently be peering around the corner. Recently, I’ve been involved in some high level strategy work for our clients and I’m compiling some thought-starters on what lies on the digital horizon. Here are the three most interesting to me:

  • VIRTUAL REALITY

Imagine following a basketball game from the middle of the basketball court. Imagine following Riaan Manser’s crazy exploits as if you were on the bike/boat with him. Imagine movies told entirely in virtual reality. A whole new world opening up, stories directed by tomorrow’s Scorseses, as seen through VR headsets. Imagine a horror movie where you are witnessing the scenes unfold right around you, with the bad guy creeping up over your shoulder.

As Mark Zuckerberg announced after Facebook spent $2b on acquiring VR company Oculus Rift: “The history of our industry is that every 10 or 15 years there is a new major computing platform, whether it’s the PC, the web or now mobile. History suggests that there will be more platforms to come, and that whoever builds and defines these will not only shape all the experiences that our industry builds but also benefit financially and strategically from it.

Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. By far the most exciting platform of tomorrow is around vision — or modifying what you see into augmented and immersive experiences.” So far, the front-runners are all competing to establish their claim to a dominant platform. This will depend on many things, such as removing lag (which, if not 100% accurate, causes nausea in the user), price accessibility and applications. Me, I’m just picturing Star Wars 10, 11 and 12, from the driver’s seat of the Millennium Falcon.

  • HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTION

Imagine meetings where everyone is standing in the same room as you, but no one is actually there. People have been dreaming about this eventuality since R2D2 projected Princess Leia in the first Star Wars, but so far the tech has been clunky and mainstream attempts have appeared gimmicky. This will change, and start-ups (plus at least three mainstream tech giants) in the US and Europe are betting that people who find holographic technology will find an engaged audience

The benefits of getting holography right are enormous — and not just for advertising. Imagine holograms so rich and real that it feels like the person is right there. Think surgical rooms where the best of the world’s best specialists can collaborate across continents. Think distance learning; teleporting teachers across multiple classrooms and university auditoriums. Think of the savings on travel costs for business meetings. And yes (someone has to say it), think of the opportunities in the porn industry.

Holography will only be truly compelling if the imagery reaches a believable reality. Similar to Virtual Reality — wherein the company that successfully removes lag from the technology will be the leader — the company that can trick the viewer into believing they’re talking to a real human will forge ahead.

  • EXPERIENTIAL ADVERTISING

No, I’m not talking about a branded party, or a launch event. What I’m looking forward to are the moon-shots of marketing, where we get to go along for the ride. Think Felix Baumgartner’s jump, only you’re doing it with him — along with 500 other participants. Far-fetched? Don’t be so sure.

We’re transmitting trillions of signals each month. We’re deploying every type of blinking, bleeping, transitioning, shifting and shaking online ad we can muster. We’re spending more than five hours a day in front of screens. When we’re not in front of a screen, advertisers are trying to move screens in our way. We’ve reached saturation point. It’s no surprise that Ad-Blocking Technology was the biggest talking point at this year’s IAB conference in New York. It provides an obvious solution to an obvious problem, one that marketers surely must have foreseen. So, what does this mean?

Brands will have to create hyper-value in order to reach us.

Essentially, the true currency of the new media will be a combination of experiences and old school values — i.e. integrity, authenticity and telling good stories. Only, in this medium, those stories are really kick-ass. This means creating the most unbelievable experiences, in real life, where humans can interact with brands in increasingly exhilarating ways. Think deep (really deep!) sea diving. Think extreme (really extreme!) bungie jumping. Think beyond — deep space travel, Mars holidays, biosphere communes on the poles… hey, even teleporting?

People will have more time, therefore more opportunities to advertise to them. Conversely, people will be more precious about that time. The only way audiences will want to be advertised to is if there is real value added. Increasingly, individuals in the 21st Century will choose to apply Parkinson’s Law. Before the 2nd Industrial Revolution ushered in the five day work week, the working class failed to predict a thing called a ‘weekend’ where you get to spend two consecutive days just chillin’ every week.

Looking forward, wrap your mind around the ‘flexible week’, where millennials work around specific tasks and deadlines rather than 9–5 schedules. If this means working 20 hours in a single week, so be it. This also means an awful lot more time to fill with experiences.

Has there ever been a better time to live? I certainly cannot think of one.

Fred Roed- Heavy Chef CEO

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