This year’s FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen was an incredible experience. There were fantastic insights dropped by speakers the likes of Rahm and Ari Emanuel, John Doerr from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Reid Hoffman, CEO of Greylock Partners and co-founder of LinkedIn. I came away from the two-and-a-half-day event with three “aha” moments because of their potential impact as game-changers for marketers.
The New Native Advertising
Consumers are interacting with brands nearly all of the time. In the past, no one was watching and no one really cared, but new digital platforms and big data companies are about to change that. Companies like Storehouse are giving consumers a platform to tell and share their story, many of which involve brands. Organizations such as Ban.jo are capturing those moments and are beginning to alert brands. This “new native advertising” is likely to grow out of naturally occurring brand experiences that are quickly amplified and shared with others — real people, experiencing real brands, in real time. As this trend evolves, look for the role of the agency to shift from that of being the creator of disruptive ads aimed at grabbing your attention, to amplifier and distributor of consumer-generated organic ads.
Jet.com recently launched to bring club discount shopping online. Its innovative business model is built off the “smart cart.” As consumers fill up their cart, the price of the items begins to change based on availability of the item and the shipping location. Jet.com sources items from small businesses and tries to fill orders from local merchants. For example, say you buy a baseball and a bat. You’ll receive one price; however, add a baseball mitt, and the price would change for all three items depending on what type of mitt you buy. To get the best price, wait a couple of days for shipping. Buy it immediately, and you’ll pay another price. Jet.com promises a saving of 10 to 15 percent by using the advantage of filling orders locally and then passing along to the customer the shipping costs saved.
The Internet of Things
Connected cars are coming. Actually, you could argue that it arrived years ago with GM’s OnStar subscription-based technology. The next evolution later this year promises to include apps, beacons and commerce platforms such as Visa Checkout and Apple Pay. Order a pizza from the Pizza Hut app on the screen in your car, and payment processes automatically. Pull into the specially marked space in front of the restaurant and a beacon alerts Pizza Hut workers that you have arrived for pickup. It also verifies your identity in order to confirm payment. As beacons and autos unite, companies must begin to find ways for that small screen in your car to be the next big opportunity for advertising.
The most mind-blowing thing I saw or heard, though, is Ban.jo. Founded by Damien Patton, the company is what Inc. magazine describes as the “The Most Important Social Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of.” Ban.jo, by mining social media, can figure out what is happening anywhere in the world in real time by looking at a specific place at a specific time. Ban.jo was the first to detect the Boston Marathon bombing, the Ukrainian plane downing and even the Amtrak train wreck in Philadelphia. According to Patton, Ban.jo beat traditional media organizations to the story by eight minutes on average.
Here’s the mind-blowing part: Ban.jo has built a virtual grid of more than 25 billion squares as an overlay of the entire globe. Its software monitors geo-located social posts for anomalies and then flags them for further investigation. It is, as Damien describes, “a crystal ball.” For marketers, it presents an opportunity to help facilitate the new native advertisement I mentioned earlier.
Overall, the event was one of the most insightful conferences I’ve ever attended. From the location (Aspen) to the speakers, the event had a certain energy unlike any other event. It could be because of the amount of start-ups and investors present, but I believe it came from the attendees themselves. I met interesting people from fascinating companies with a shared goal of meeting people and gaining knowledge. If you have the opportunity, put the FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech conference in your budget for next year and book this event. I highly recommend it.
Scott Gillum – President, gyro Washington, D.C.
Scott Gillum has been the CMO of an INC 500 firm and the interim CMO at a Fortune 500 company. Currently, he leads the Channel Marketing practice and the Washington, D.C. office of gyro, a Top 50 global advertising agency. Prior to joining gyro, he spent a dozen years with MarketBridge, providing sales and marketing consulting services to Fortune 500 companies.
His blog, B2B Knowledge Sharing, has been recognized as a top Business-to-Business site, distributing content to a number of online publications. He has also been published in Forbes, Advertising Age, Fortune, Media Post and the Sales Blog. In addition, Gillum is a contributing author to the following books on marketing: Advice from the Top: The Expert Guide to B2B Marketing, PR News Guidebook, and Transformational Marketing: The Best of the Forbes CMO Network.
Follow him @sgillum