I spotted a really interesting talk on TED this morning, given by former NFL footballer Chris Kluwe. He was talking about the future of virtual and augmented reality, technologies that are destined to change our lives as much as the internet or mobile phone. Primarily, he was describing their usefulness in sports; in giving athletes extra information at critical moments and in giving spectators a richer experience by showing them the action from the athlete’s point of view.

He finished his talk on a much more expansive note; exploring the idea that this technology can make humans much more empathetic, because in a very literal way, we’ll now have the opportunity to experience the world as others do. This has real meaning for advertisers, because the concept applies as much for brands as it does for people.

There is a relatively well established conversation about how advertisers can exploit VR and AR technologies by inserting their messages into the user’s experience. But what’s more interesting is what advertisers can learn about consumers, by so directly plugging into their point of view. This is the ultimate form of ethnography and if we can harness its power effectively, it should provide us with a new quality of information about everything from users’ experiences with products and services, to the relationships that consumers have with the people in their lives. If brands can use this technology to gain a better understanding of their consumers, they should be able to communicate with their public in a more empathetic, and ultimately more effective, way.

It seems that advancing technology is about to change the limits of what we can learn about consumer behaviour.






The Joy of Travel

May 22, 2014

It tends to be a time of year when I do a bit of travelling. Some social, usually centred around a rugby trip or two, my now annual trip to Madrid and a smattering of business travel which this year includes a few conferences.

I enjoy business travel as I do enough of it to be stimulating and inspiring and not too much of it that it becomes a chore to the detriment of matters elsewhere.

Most recently I have returned from Cascais, just outside Lisbon, a seaside town that seems to have the conference market of Europe cornered. For me alone, this was my third conference there over the years and as far as I could see there appears to be a steady stream of traffic there from all sorts of organisations from all over Europe.


The Joy Of Travel


One of my favourite quotes, from the philosopher du jour, Alain de Botton, is that “travel is the midwife of thought”. I couldn’t agree more. There is something about being away from the ongoing maelstrom of the modern working day, and having the time to gather ones thoughts, be it on the plane, train or automobile that gets one from A to B. Add to that an inspiring agenda about what our company’s view, vision and agenda are for the coming 12 months, which was interspersed with many other fascinating talks and my thought process was in full flight.

The most talked about speaker at our recent conference was Steven Cotler, telling his personal story of how he, most unconventionally, snapped free from the handcuffs of Lyme disease, which, in turn, inspired him to research the biology and chemistry of the brain, and what is needed to get us into a state of what he calls flow, that place where we are in the zone and firing on all cylinders.

So I’ve returned inspired, seeking my flow and armed with a suite of tools to inspire the flow of others. Great conferences inspire great sharing. Time to get sharing.





Fáilte Ireland’s new ad campaign is doing a great job at making us remember just how great this Island really is. Having just watched the latest ad, I was quickly reminded of a 3 week holiday that my parents took me on around Ireland when I was younger.

Being 12 at the time I was rather put out that we didn’t go on our annual sun pilgrimage to Spain and so made it my mission not to enjoy the holiday – after all “who would want to go on their holidays in Ireland?”. Well apparently I do. I had actually forgotten about my excursion around Ireland (I suppose fifteen years is a long time) but Fáilte Ireland have brought back my memories and I now feel the need to phone my parents and apologise for being such a brat.

I had obviously suppressed the many highlights of that trip; kissing the Blarney Stone, looking for Fungie the dolphin, learning how to windsurf with my Dad, watching my mum fail in her attempts to surf, the food, exploring caves, hill walks…. the list goes on and on.

But one thing that really does that stand out now that I’m in my late twenties (sigh) is that I want to do this holiday again and soak up everything that Ireland has to offer and actually appreciate it this time.

Make sure to check out their #ThisIsLiving ad above. I, on the other hand, have a phone call to make and a longing to listen to Five who provided the soundtrack to my Irish holiday.

– Rachel



We spend a lot of time trying to predict where audiences will gather. Traditionally, we’ve use research to tell us who is most likely to consume what media and how much time they’re likely to spend doing it.


Technology is fundamentally changing this. In digital media, we can now follow individuals in real time based on their actual exhibited behaviours. Still, this method is based on existing behaviour; the technology serves messages to individuals based on data it has aggregated from the behaviours of the wider community. The method, real time bidding (RTB), has been an absolute game-changer in digital media buying, particularly for companies selling products online. What it does brilliantly is gather responses. What it doesn’t do is build brands.

Coming into the mainstream now is the area of predictive social intelligence. Blab is the company leading the charge in this arena. The company was founded in 2013, with the objective of creating “opportunities for you to not only become part of the conversation, but to get in on it early enough to steer it, use it for inspiration, or adjust your strategy.” Basically, the technology mines enormous amounts of data to predict what online conversations are about to become important.

Marketers have been trying hard to mine the value of social media for more than five years now. The best case studies are those where brands have been able to connect with burgeoning topics of conversation online. The Holy Grail is when a topic explodes and a brand is right there with it. Oreo achieved this during the Superbowl power outage of 2013 with their ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet. Just how overused this example is, is proof of how difficult reaching this Holy Grail is.

Predictive social intelligence promises to change that. If we can predict the important conversations of tomorrow, we can prepare to exploit them as they explode. This promises to have a transformative impact on the usefulness of social media for brands. The first brands to take advantage will have the biggest opportunity to influence consumers. The race is on!





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