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July 22, 2013


Consumer trends that will impact B2B marketing strategies: Prepare for the Visual Tsunami

by Tom De Baere
The Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect– Digital World Championship. The finals...

The Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect– Digital World Championship. The 2013 finals…

Although you might be in B2B marketing, I think you want to know about what’s currently happening in the consumer world. There are definitely some early warning signs of trends that are coming your way…

Communication with motion

Not so long ago, in March 2013 to be precise, Red Bull organized the Red Bull Crashed Ice Kinect– Digital World Championship. In this competition, Red Bull uses a Microsoft Kinect.

Wearable technology shows a trends of people wanting to interact with technology.

Wearable technology shows a trends of people wanting to interact with technology.

This is just a first example we all know, of how people interact with technology today. There are more examples: Nike has Nike+, in which a smartphone app logs your exercise activities. You can then share your walking, running, or biking results with your friends on social networks.

They now also developed “Nike Fuelband“: it’s another wearable electronic which looks like a wrist watch. Little lights indicated how much exercise you had that day, indicating if you reached your exercising goals for that day.

People want instant access to information

People want instant access to information. Google Glass, or this early prototype of wearable LCD contact lenses are early signs of what's to come.

People want instant access to information. Google Glass, or this early prototype of wearable LCD contact lenses are early signs of what’s to come.

The encyclopedia Britannica printededition stopped being printed after 200 years this year. That’s because people consume information differently today.

Today, people want instant access to information. What’s the weather going to be today? Where are the traffic jams? What’s the name of this street?

Instant access to information, that’s what they want. That’s why you have Google Glass today and maybe an Apple iWatch in the future. Further down the road we have LCD contact lenses knocking on our door: researchers of the university of Ghent (Belgium) are working on LCD Contact Lenses which would display information on or retina when we need it.

Crazy? maybe. But that’s what they said of the first “Nokia Communicator”. Who would carry that clunky brick in his pocket? Now we are all having large smartphones.

Disappearing user interfaces

Wi-Fi based gesture recognition, developed by computer scientists at the University of Washington?

Wi-Fi based gesture recognition, developed by computer scientists at the University of Washington?

Bart De Waele (@netlash) recently pointed me out to this trend: buttons are disappearing. And it’s true: we all now have tables and smartphones in which we expect these things to be “swipe” and “touch”.

Increasingly technology is removing the natural barriers we had before (keyboard and mouse). These old user interfaces are now replaced with touch, gesture, motion, and voice. We only have to wait before “odor” is added to that list.

Oh wait, “odor” is already part of that list: Smell-O-Vision developed a small extension to your smartphone capable of releasing “odors”. They claim it enhances the gaming experiences by adding e.a. gunpowder scents. Or you could send a text message that included a romantic perfume scent.

At the University of Washington, computer scientists have developed Wi-Fi based gesture recognition, called Wi-See. It detects little changes in the signal when you move your arms. You can then turn on lights with moving your arms, anywhere in your home, using the Wi-Fi signals in your house. Or flip the channel on your TV. Or Change the song on your stereo. All this without “Kinect”-type of camera’s watching you.

Tsunami of visual content

social media photosharing 2013Every “plugged-in” marketers knows this one: every 60 seconds, so many millions e-mails, video’s, search queries, blog post etc. happen.

With the social media explosion, driven by Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other smaller players, we only have seen the start of it.

Photo sharing on these networks is taking an exponential growth, and remains to grow at astonishing rates. The same is true for the number of video uploads on Youtube: everyone is showing the 25 hours per second, while today it’s actually 100 hours per second.

An exponential growth of photo sharing. And the real Z generation hasn’t even started using smartphones in their professional and daily lives. Generation Z is one name used for the cohort of people born after the Millennial Generation.

Memoto is an example of future wearable tech fueling this growth of photo sharing: A tiny, automatic camera and app that gives you a searchable and shareable photographic memory, by taking and uploading a photo every 2 minutes.

Crazy? Maybe…

90% of all internet traffic will be VIDEO in 2017

streaming video going globalThis tsunami of visual content is not only in the form still images.

GoogleTV, NetFlix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes. All are examples of video on demand services, streamed over the internet.

The success of these services is caused by the increasing reluctance of people to be forced to watch advertisements. And if they cannot watch the content in their region because of regional copyright protections, they’ll try to bypass that using so-called “proxy’s or anonymizers” like ‘Hide-My-Ass’, ‘StrongVPN’ or ‘IPVanisch’. That in most cases illegal I guess, but it is a trend.

To me this is the next steps in ‘advertisement blindness‘. People already recorded TV-shows in their DVR’s so they could skip advertisements. People where already blind for on-line banner ads (99,9% don’t click on these banners).

The next step is a massive run for streaming video services over the internet. Apple is to rumored to be working on an “advertisement free’ TV. And that is to me a great example of good marketing: giving people what they want.

Video going mobile, with issues ahead

Fixed Line Internet Traffic, peak times, US, 2013

Fixed Line Internet Traffic, peak times, US, 2013

All of this video is causing a massive amount of data flowing over the backbones of the internet. All this video is delivered through so-called ‘Content Delivery Networks (CDN)’. These are solutions which basically ‘buffer’ the content somewhere close to you, so the content can get fast enough to you, to many people at the same time.

Today about 50% of the total fixed internet traffic is caused by Netflix and Youtube (Sandvine VPNStudy 2013). In Europe we see similar numbers, only not caused by Netflix, but by Bittorrent and Youtube. That’s because Netflix is not yet widespread in Europe, and so people are going the illegal way, through Bittorrent.

Get ready for this: today about 40% of all traffic over mobile phone networks in the US is video.

With the current logarithmic growth of video consumption, mobile and fixed phone networks won’t be able to deliver this huge amount of bandwidth. The CDN’s and 4G/5G networks won’t be able to pull all of this traffic. At least, they won’t be able to do that for an acceptable price. Satellite is the solution here.  But that’s another debate.

Anyway. All of this to say that we, all of us, we are going mobile, and we are going video.

Prepare for these trends

So people are increasingly communicating in real-time with motion, voice, and vision. Maybe not such a surprise after all. But these trends are happening really fast. And they are massive.

I think B2B marketers need to be aware of the magnitude of what’s happening here, and prepare themselves in the following ways:

  • Provide instant access to information: transform your sales or marketing systems,  into systems that are capable of instantly providing people with the information they want. Don’t let them wait to download a video, a whitepaper, billing information, service portals, e-commerce sites, or whatever information you want to offer them. And in case you haven’t done this already, transfer as much of your customer touch points to the digital world, and make them accessible on mobile devices.
  • Integrate visual communication into your tools: go Youtube, go Slideshare, go Flicker, go whatever social visual network which is relevant to you. Make sure people can find your content on these networks (SEO), and integrate the networks on your site. For every piece of visual content, have a call to action point to a second piece of slow content available to drive people further to your company and its products.
  • Start taking video serious: convince people internally that video is the way to go. Create a monthly video, or a weekly video. It isn’t that difficult: just use a commercial HD recorder, tape your raw content, and have it finished by a professional company. It won’t cost you as much as you think.
  • Mobile is taking over the world: and you should be ready. Literally every piece of digital platform, portal, site, whatever must be fit for mobile consumption. It should deliver the same brand experience as wired devices, meaning that people who are used to interacting with you using a PC, want to have exactly the same functionality when they interact with you using a tablet or a mobile phone.

Thank you for reading this far.

What other trends do you feel B2B marketers should be aware of? Let me know in the comment fields below. Please share this article with your peers.


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere


P.S. Also check out the Slideshare presentation I made about this topic.

P.P.S. If you like this post or the presentation, please share with your peers. Thanks.