Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Advertising

Like gamers, sneakerheads constitute a passionate fan base. Much more than a passive audience, sneakerheads—who collect, trade, and/or develop an exhaustive knowledge of sneakers as a hobby—represent a culture that dates back decades. Sneakerhead culture can in fact be traced back to the 1980s, when the popularity of Michael Jordan and his line of Air Jordan shoes, as well as the explosion of hip hop music, made the idea of collecting shoes not only possible, but cool.

Sneakerhead culture overlaps with other cultures such as hip hop and fashion, making sneakerheads as an audience especially culturally relevant. Even if they are not your audience, understanding how brands court sneakerheads can be instructive to you. That’s because understanding the innovative ways brands have reached out to this group can inspire you as you reach out to your own market—and tap into a culture to make your brand more relevant.

Here are a few interesting and effective ways in which brands have recently reached out to sneakerhead culture:

Empowering Consumers to Be Retailers

In August 2019, Adidas announced a partnership with the social commerce app Storr. Storr, which allows consumers to open a store from their phone in three clicks, is now part of a campaign in which individuals who are part of the Adidas Creators Club can literally become “social sellers” of Adidas goods. The Creators Club membership program was launched in 2018 as a way for the most passionate Adidas fan base to enjoy early access to products and special events.

Now about 10,000 Creators Club members will have an opportunity to become sellers and share their love of Adidas product. Sellers will receive a six percent commission from each sale, with an option to donate to Girls on the Run, an Adidas partner organization dedicated to helping young women reach their full potential. Chris Murphy, Adidas’ senior director of digital activation, said to Fast Company, “If you think about where our consumers go to get advice or ideas, it’s their friends, it’s sneakerheads, it’s people in their social sphere already, so why not let those people sell on our behalf?”

Celebrating the Culture

Also in August, Foot Locker announced a “We Live Sneakers” digital campaign in conjunction with the launch of Nike’s “Evolution of the Swoosh” shoe and apparel collection. Content for “We Live Sneakers,” which rolled out online and on Foot Locker social platforms, is meant to resonate with die-hard sneaker fans of all ages. As Patrick Walsh, Foot Locker’s vice president of marketing, North America, explained to Total Retail, “We want to authentically connect with those who have made Foot Locker a part of their sneaker-obsessed journey. ‘We Live Sneakers’ is a glimpse at what it means to be a sneakerhead, and the ways in which it impacts the most meaningful moments of everyday life.”

The campaign underlines the fundamental respect Foot Locker holds for its sneaker fans. As Walsh notes, “Sneakerheads are . . . very well-informed consumers and have a variety of interests, including art, music, photography, sports, etc. . . . Foot Locker strives to be that intersection between sneakers and all of their other passion points, as well as serve and empower sneaker culture and all of its members.” By partnering with Nike, Foot Locker hopes to create a win/win scenario in which both brands attract attention and engagement.

Providing an Experience

This isn’t the first time Foot Locker and Nike have teamed up. In 2018, sneakerheads joined Foot Locker’s first “The Hunt” augmented reality (AR) scavenger hunt. Players ranged across Los Angeles, smartphones in hand, unlocking geo-targeted AR clues in a bid to be among the first to acquire Nike’s limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers. The game, which involved the “collection” of objects in AR, and completion of three game levels, began at 11:00 p.m. local time after the end of the Los Angeles Lakers’s first home game of the NBA season. Completing all three game levels unlocked an access card to acquire the shoes. The treasure hunt, which imparted a fresh, fun vibe to the sneaker release, underscored a key role that an experience can play in the consumer process. As Ron Faris, GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, shared with Highsnobiety, “For many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

What Advertisers Should Do

The lessons here are clear. When reaching out to your ideal demographic, don’t forget to:

  • Tap into a group’s passion and make it work for you—even as you empower individuals to benefit financially or, as in the case of the Girls on the Run donations, do good. It’s especially instructive that Adidas empowered sneakerheads to become social sellers. You don’t need to use a native app to do so; consider platforms such as Instagram depending on where your audience likes to hang out.
  • Respect and celebrate your audience. Tell their story and connect with their passion points in authentic ways. When you do those things, you turn customers into loyal tribes.
  • Leverage technology to provide an experience that will resonate along with your brand. The Foot Locker AR experience tapped into sneakerheads’ love of sports and play. Foot Locker did not apply AR just because it’s a cool technology; Foot Locker understood that AR when used as a game would engage sneakerheads specifically.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to make your brand more relevant with digital advertising? We can help.

Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Marketing Mobile

When is the next Pokémon GO going to come along to make everyone love augmented reality (AR)?

This is the question on the minds of many technology watchers who are waiting for another AR breakthrough. But applications like Pokémon GO don’t happen very often. The real value of AR comes from people and businesses using it to share immersive experiences that complement our lives rather than making us drop everything and focus on AR.

Perhaps that’s why Apple has been careful to sell AR as an evolutionary tool that will enrich how we live, whether through practical application or content that engages. At Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Apple accentuated tools that should make AR easier to use – perhaps not glamorous developments, but important ones.

ARKit Update

For example, Apple announced an update to ARKit, its software development toolkit for AR (and competitor to Google’s ARCore). Among other improvements, ARKit will capture the motion of a person in real time with a single camera. As Apple noted, by understanding body position and movement as a series of joints and bones, you can use motion and poses as an input to the AR experience — placing people at the center of AR. Apple also announced human inclusion, meaning that AR content realistically passes behind and in front of people in the real world, making AR experiences more immersive.

Those improvements matter because for AR to attract advertisers and consumers, it has to offer something different beyond what anyone can experience in a 2D world. As it stands, AR is catching on with advertisers. According to eMarketer, global augmented reality ad revenues are expected to rise from $779 million in 2019 to $1.2 billion in 2020 and $2.6 billion in 2022 – not a huge number, but higher than $166.7 million generated in 2017. Most of that money is coming from display advertising. Making AR more powerful and immersive will build more momentum.

Making AR Easier

Apple did something else: made AR easier to develop. With new Reality Composer and RealityKit tools, developers will be able to create AR apps easier on Apple’s operating system. As Apple noted, Reality Composer helps anyone create AR apps even if you lack 3D experience.

But responses to the news have been underwhelming, partly because Apple is restricting these tools to its own operating system. But another reason is that journalists seem to be waiting for that next AR killer app to capture their imagination, and software development tools are not going to do that. Perhaps the AR version of Minecraft will be the next killer app. Meanwhile, advertisers will continue to create AR that engages, such as Toyota’s new AR experience and Snapchat’s ongoing AR features. People may not use AR every day, but when they do, they remain highly engaged. Apple isn’t creating engagement – but it’s giving businesses tools to do so.

For more information on how to build advertising that engages consumers through digital, contact True Interactive.

Image source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/highlights-from-wwdc-2019/

Retailers Ramp up Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Retailers Ramp up Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Retail

Last March we wrote about the increasingly important role that technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have in the marketing field. Since then, major businesses have continued to apply AR and VR to support a number of functions. Retailers have been especially keen to use these technologies for shopping. For example:

  • To capitalize on the uptick in mobile holiday shopping, Macy’s has launched an AR app that lets shoppers see pieces of furniture virtually within their homes, following the successful pilot of a VR experience to make furniture shopping more immersive. According to Macy’s, shoppers using VR headsets to view Macy’s furniture had more than a 60 percent greater average order value than non-virtual reality furniture shoppers.
  • Walmart recently announced the launch of new AR scanning tool in its iOS app to help customers with product comparisons. Unlike traditional barcode scanners (which allow price comparison on one item at a time), Walmart’s AR scanner can be aimed at multiple products on store shelves to view details on pricing and customer ratings.

Some studies predict the global economic impact of virtual and augmented reality to reach $29.5 billion. Although this number may sound overly optimistic, I do believe there is a lot of value in these technologies yet to be exploited. Both VR and AR have the potential to be among the most valuable tools in any marketer’s arsenal simply because they offer intimate and engaging experiences. They allow brands to build a more profound connection with consumers by offering personalized, interactive experiences. In addition, when combined with artificial intelligence, these technologies have the potential to help make life easier by empowering users to take immediate action (like completing a custom order on the spot).

VR and AR Defined

Even though they may look similar, VR and AR are different:

  • Virtual reality: refers to any kind of experience that places the user “in” another world or dimension usually by way of a headset with special lenses.
  • Augmented reality: the term we use when we place content “into” the real world by using cameras (e.g., Pokémon GO)

Although some brands have rushed to experiment with augmented reality on social media platforms, others are using AR and VR to support commerce. One of the cleverest campaigns was that one from the Spanish fast fashion retailer, Zara.

Although their storefronts may have appeared empty to the naked eye, they came to life when people pointed their phone’s camera at the shop’s window (or in-store podiums) after downloading the Zara AR App. This app enabled users to see seven-to-twelve-second sequences of models Léa Julian and Fran Summers wearing selected looks from the brand’s Studio Collection and allowed the viewers to instantly order any of the looks shown at the touch of a button.

 

Tommy Hilfiger is another example of a retail brand that has also deployed AR technology to improve the shopping experience in their stores. By placing digitally enhanced mirrors inside the fitting rooms, Tommy Hilfiger gave customers instant access to information like styles, models, sizes and colors available both in-store and online. The experience also allowed shoppers to request a new size or color without leaving the room and suggested other products to browse. These smart mirrors made product discovery much simpler and promoted sales by helping users find the right style.

iMirror for Retail from Pieter on Vimeo.

But the business potential seems almost unlimited when AR/VR is combined with artificial intelligence. An example is Salesforce’s Einstein AI technology, which was subject to practical testing along with Coca-Cola. As noted in this article from Diginomica:

Einstein was trained to recognize, identify and count the varieties and quantities of Coca-Cola bottles stored in one of its cooler display cabinets, simply by analyzing a photo taken with an iPad or iPhone. […] Einstein can then take that stock count and combine the information with predictions based on known seasonal variations, weather information from Watson [the IBM AI system], and upcoming promotions, to automatically calculate a restocking order.

There is no doubt about the potential benefits of new technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence for both consumers and businesses. In the ever-changing and dynamic world of digital marketing, it would be safe to expect tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook to soon develop and introduce new features that accommodate for these technologies in their portfolio of products and services.

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Branding

Apple’s September 12 special event was mostly about hardware product launches, as it usually is. But Apple also reminded us of the company’s commitment to building an augmented reality future.

First, let’s recap a few of the big announcements:

  • Pushing into healthcare: Apple also revealed the latest version of the Apple Watch 4, which features a slew of personal wellness features such as the ability to monitor and report when the wearer experiences a fall and better heart monitoring/reporting. The Apple Watch is one essential element of Apple’s growth as a healthcare player, with the development of wellness apps being another essential element. In coming months, watch for Apple to make more announcements about healthcare as part of a broader strategy to develop its services.

The above announcements have dominated the news. In addition, two developments caught my eye:

  • Augmented reality for learning: the launch of a new iPhone app, HomeCourt, which uses augmented reality (AR) for basketball training. As reported in GeekWire, HomeCourt uses AR to track basketball shots. According to GeekWire, “AR tech built into the iPhone — including the newA12 Bionic chip— and artificial intelligence technology developed by HomeCourt maker Nex Team can detect a hoop and basketball to measure kinematics, trajectory, release times, and number of shots made.”
  • Augmented reality for play: the announcement about a new real-time augmented reality game, Galaga AR. As VentureBeat reported, “This AR adaptation of Galaga comes from Directive Games. When you look at your iPhone screen, you can see a bunch of alien-bug spaceships that you have to shoot down. You’re not only trying to survive, but you’re also trying to beat the other players. It was a pretty cool demo, with a lot of blasting onscreen and loud sounds.”

These launches are not so much about sports and gaming – they are signs of Apple’s continued growth as an AR leader. CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his passion for AR. It’s telling that Apple demoed two very different forms of AR – one for training and one for entertainment. Both learning and entertainment comprise the sweet spot for AR.

As I noted earlier this year, various AR apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

You can take it to the bank: AR is going to continue growing for both business and pleasure – and Apple will have a leadership role in that growth. For more insight into how businesses can use AR to build their brands, contact True Interactive.

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Social media

The 2018 Facebook F8 Developer Conference created an opportunity for Facebook to change the narrative about the embattled company. At the annual event, Facebook usually unveils new products and a glimpse at the company’s future. This year’s event just happened to occur only weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill defending the company’s approach to data privacy. So you can be sure Facebook was eager to inspire coverage about something besides Mark Zuckerberg going head to head with angry legislators and trying to assure investors that Facebook is improving its approach to protecting user data.

And Facebook delivered with a slew of announcements and demonstrations that reminded Facebook watchers of its commitment to connecting people through an ever-evolving social platform. Highlights included:

  • FaceDate, a dating feature in which Facebook members can make their profiles to non-friends who opt in to look for someone to date. With FaceDate, Facebook is reinforcing its core mission of connecting people, a mission that Facebook periodically updates as it did last year with the rollout of the “bring the world closer together” mantra. It looks as though Facebook wants to bring the world closer together one person at a time and in relationships that go beyond friending. It’s a reasonable move that doesn’t stray too far from Facebook on its best day: connecting people.
  • Augmented and virtual reality: Facebook has been marching down a path of creating augmented and virtual reality experiences for some time, as manifested by the purchase of VR firm Oculus in 2014. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg placed AR/VR at the far end of a 10-year roadmap. Facebook F8 showed that Facebook appears to be right on schedule. The company released Oculus Go, a lightweight, relatively affordable VR headset that liberates VR from the confines of a stationary computer. Oculus Go is important because it’s supposed to make VR more affordable while delivering a reasonably high-quality VR experience. Meanwhile, on the AR front, Facebook showed off progress with its AR camera for interacting with AR content in the real world. Among other announcements, Facebook disclosed that AR is coming to its Messenger platform.

Facebook also embedded AR into the actual F8 experience, such as with an AR scavenger hunt in which participants looked for objects using their devices. Through the hunt, Facebook tested with the camera (accessible from inside Facebook) by, in effect, relying on F8 attendees as the test group. Although there is nothing inherently new about an AR scavenger hunt, the hunt gave Facebook a chance to test target-recognition technology, which unlocks AR effects without requiring you to tap on your camera app. The feature is not yet available and so F8 amounted to a beta test.

For two days, Facebook succeeded in repositioning itself as a media company shaping the future of social experiences. Some of the news coverage reflects the kind of narrative Facebook wanted to tell at F8:

Never mind that Facebook’s AR and VR experiences still come down to providing developing tools disconnected from consistently good content. What matters is that Facebook changed the narrative. For a larger rundown of everything Facebook announced at F8, go here. And contact us to discuss how to build your brand on Facebook.

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Marketing

I recently blogged about businesses adopting augmented reality to make the consumer experience more dynamic and exciting. On March 14, Google reminded businesses that augmented reality is coming whether they use it or not. The search giant and media company said that it has developed a tool that makes it possible for developers to turn Google Maps locations into augmented reality enhanced make-believe settings.

In a blog post, Google said,

The mobile gaming landscape is changing as more and more studios develop augmented reality games. In order to mix realities, developers first need to understand the real world — the physical environment around their players. we’re excited to announce a new offering for building real-world games using Google Maps’ tried-and-tested model of the world.

Game studios can easily reimagine our world as a medieval fantasy, a bubble gum candy land, or a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic city. With Google Maps’ real-time updates and rich location data, developers can find the best places for playing games, no matter where their players are.

Now let’s connect the dots about what’s going on here. Remember how the skyrocketing popularity of Pokémon GO turned real-world businesses into make-believe Poké Stops and Gyms where Pokémon GO players could do battle with Pokémon and collect rewards? Well, nearly two years later, millions of people still play Pokemon GO, proving that a game using augmented reality:

  • Has staying power.
  • Can draw people to real-world location – creating foot traffic and sales for brick-and-mortar businesses such as coffee shops, stores, and restaurants.

Now, we’re seeing an explosion of more games that will probably have the same impact on businesses – experiences such as the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, Ghostbusters World, and Walking Dead: Our World.  All those augmented reality games are coming in 2018, and the Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, and Walking Dead games were developed with the Google ARCore toolkit for developing augmented reality experiences.

Here’s what’s going to happen this summer:

  • An uptick of augmented reality promotions from the studios producing the movies associated with the games. These promotions will likely involve co-brands with restaurants and other locations where fans can play the games.
  • Brick-and-mortar businesses jumping on to the augmented reality bandwagon when they see how many consumers are using their mobile phones to play the games near their locations, even if those businesses don’t co-brand with studios. We’ll have businesses promoting themselves as the hottest place for Harry Potter fans to battle Lord Voldemort, and stores offering promotions for fans to celebrate the joy of playing Ghostbusters together – just as brick-and-mortar companies did with Pokémon GO at the height of its popularity.

At the center of all this action: Google. Google, like Apple, is developing the tools to make augmented reality spread. Google sees the future and wants to be an active participant by creating augmented reality based marketing and advertising of its own. And Google has the power to shape that future.

By making an augmented reality toolkit available, Google is opening the door for many, many more augmented reality games to get developed way beyond the major titles being released by studios and Niantic (creator of Pokémon Go and the new Harry Potter game). If Google has its way, more businesses and developers will work together to create their own customized games relying on a business’s location. The development could become huge – or also create some augmented reality burnout if too many games get developed at once. Ultimately, consumers will decide which games win and which ones fall by the wayside. As Pokémon GO showed, people will respond to an experience that engages them.

To discuss how to create a more engaging digital brand, contact us. We’re here to help.

ARe You Ready for Augmented Reality?

ARe You Ready for Augmented Reality?

Marketing

Glasses. Lenses. Apps. Games. Ads. These are all examples of products and experiences being shaped by augmented reality (AR). While not entirely new, AR will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers throughout 2018.  Various apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

The last few years have brought a glimpse of what augmented reality can do. Popular apps such as the Pokémon GO game, Ikea Place, Fitness AR, and MeasureKit introduced the world of augmented and virtual reality to our actual reality. Unlike VR, which creates a false reality, AR enhances your surroundings and adds to your current reality.

Snapchat

One example of a brand already incorporating AR is Snapchat. Snapchat introduced AR advertising features through its lenses and is launching a new AR Lens Studio. Brands are able to use these lenses to advertise their products as well as their brand name on social media in a more interactive setting. What sets these lenses/filters apart is the more engaging and lively nature of the tool. Customers are generally more inclined to convert when they are given an actual experience. The lenses also make for a more memorable and fun way to target millennials.

Shopping Ads

Augmented reality will also enhance how shopping ads operate. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers, increasing engagement rates, building brand awareness, and potentially drive conversions. AR will enhance these ads to be more interactive and memorable because AR makes it possible for users to view much more than a flat image. Imagine being able to view a product in its actual setting, sampling clothing without having to drive to a store, or even taking a 360-degree tour of how furniture will look inside your own home before you decide to make a purchase. In fact, the Ikea Place AR app provides this functionality already. Place allows for users to sample furniture within the comfort of their own homes.

Another app similar to Ikea Place is from Houzz. Its app allows the users to virtually remodel or redecorate their homes before actually committing to these larger, more permanent changes. AR makes it possible to configure a potential purchase from the comfort of your own home, saving you time from having to make returns when a product doesn’t work well, or even previewing renovation changes before they take place. Experiences such as these represent the future of shopping ads.

What to Expect

Apple and Google have already created their own AR software kits and introduced them into their operating software — Apple’s ARKit in iOS11 and Android’s ARCore. Many resourceful apps have already been launched using this technology. In January 2018, Apple announced that many “customers are now enjoying close to 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps spanning every category on the App Store.” From these platforms, we can expect to see more apps include AR features. From games, fitness tracking and coaching apps, to shopping tools and travel apps that include interactive maps — the list of uses for augmented reality goes on and on.

The technology to improve these apps will still be developing well into 2018, but we can expect to see more and more businesses incorporate AR into their marketing strategies. ARe you ready for what 2018 and the world of augmented reality will bring?