Some great reads this week, from a crisis of leadership in agency land, to a hatchet job on Zuckerberg, by way of a potential boom in WeChat AR usage.

Get stuck in...

Media agencies facing leadership crisis

Seb Joseph writes in Digiday about the recent exodus of senior talent from UK media agencies.

Joesph cites recruitment firms and an unnamed media source who suggest senior execs are leaving for tech businesses, where the opportunity to scale an entrepreneurial business is more appealing than hitting a profit ratio at an agency.

Key paragraph:

“Our own research shows us that more and more people will seek to change roles if the company culture is not right for them, especially in the younger age brackets,” [said James Webb, MD at Propel]. “Media is a pretty transient industry at the best of times, so agencies must work hard at creating the right environments, creating career paths.”

WeChat AR - time to jump on the bandwagon?

"AR experiences are getting easier to create and audiences are enthusiastically engaging with them." That's the view of Greg Thiebault, creative technologist at agency 31Ten.

Thiebault has written a very thorough article outlining the differences between native and web AR, and assessing current limitations of the WeChat platform, versus what might be around the corner if the company integrates ARKit or ARCore SDKs (from Apple and Google's AR development platforms respectively).

Alibaba and Tencent have already branched out into AR in 2017, creating Chinese New Year red envelope games, based on familiar (and currently fairly limited) location based AR.

red envelope ar games

Tencent QQ and Alipay red envelope games (via CCTV)

Thiebault notes that "AR is also expected to play a key role in the current Alibaba-led move to merge online and offline commerce (see their acquisitions in traditional retail), resulting in highly integrated purchasing experiences."

Key paragraph:

"It is possible that your creative or technological requirements may demand too much of current technology. Nonetheless, major improvements are on the horizon in the short-, mid- and long-term future - so stay updated! With AR becoming available to mass audiences, the WeChat marketing landscape is likely to change dramatically. First-mover advantage is up for grabs for those who can act fast at the right time."

Marketing budget growth stalls

A Gartner survey has revealed marketing budgets fell from 12.1% of company revenue in 2016 to 11.3% in 2017 (a return to 2015 levels). Gartner surveyed 353 marketing executives at big companies in the US and UK (>$250m in revenue), with only 15% of respondents saying they expected budgets to increase significantly in 2018.

Sarah Vizard gives a summary of the survey's findings and implications in Marketing Week.

Key paragraph:

"While Gartner doesn’t think the declines are a major problem yet, it warns of issues on the horizon if marketing cannot prove its “financial management credentials”. According to Ewan McIntyre, a research director at Gartner, this includes marketing proving it can deal with financial constraints, assume accountability for business performance and build budgets based on future returns rather than past assumptions."

Warby Parker is using face mapping on the iPhone X to provide glasses recommendations

Warby Parker has become the first brand to come up with an innovative use of the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera. Users of the Warby Parker app can scan their own faces and be served recommendations for frames that best suit their face.

It's unclear exactly how those recommendations are made, and indeed there is a lively debate in the comments on this explainer piece from 9to5 Mac. But the feature does perhaps represent a potential change in the way we use smartphone. Alongside AR, could phones soon have much greater 

Key paragraph:

"At this point, Warby Parker for iOS doesn’t actually use the face map to overlay the glasses – it only provides a recommendation. That certainly seems like a feature that could be added down the line, though."

Chatbots are the future of marketing

You may have used some underwhelming chatbots but the technology is very much in its infancy. One person incredibly optimistic about their potential importance is Adelyn Zhou.

Admittedly, Zhou works at Topbots, so she would say that, right? Luckily, Zhou lays out some convincing arguments in this article, not least the massive growth in messaging apps.

Key paragraph:

"Traditional ads are “pushed” upon an unwilling or apathetic viewer, while chatbots “pull” users to engage with them. Strategically implemented and well-designed chatbots can tell your brand story, re-engage audiences, facilitate commerce, and grow your business."

The Zuckerberg delusion

A bit of a hatchet job on Mark Zuckerberg here. The basic premise is that Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election via Facebook ads, and Facebook's aggressive tax avoidance have fundamentally undermined the Zuckerberg rhetoric about community over profit and his recent 'listening tour' of the US.

Key paragraph:

"Big Tech is the new big tobacco in Washington. It is not a question of whether the regulatory backlash will come but when and how."

93 ecommerce UX features that create user flow

I had to give my bumper listicle a boost. if you're interested in ecommerce UX from some of the most innovative retailers such as AO.com, there's plenty of inspiration here.

Key paragraph:

"The examples come from some of my favourite ecommerce sites: Airbnb, AO.com, Argos, ASOS, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Booking.com, Debenhams, Everlane, Lush, Nike, Rentalcars, RS Components, Schuh, Size, Tesco, The Trainline and Toys R Us."

ao.com

Marketers react to the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad

It's been a week since the launch of the new John Lewis Christmas ad. If you've only recently watched the ad, you might be interested to read what a variety of senior marketers think about it.

Thankfully, Marketing Week has done a vox pop of sorts. It makes for interesting reading.

Key paragraph:

"I enjoyed it, it’s beautifully shot, the young boy is a great actor and it’s very ‘on brand’. However it didn’t connect with me or challenge me as their previous ads have done. It’s tough when expectations are so high. So overall I’d say it’s good but not great. There’s definitely scope to be braver and bolder in 2018" – Michele Oliver, VP Marketing at Mars Chocolate UK

Ben Davis

Published 17 November, 2017 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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