By Debbie Friez, Tech Editor
What was the best technology had to offer communicators in 2013? I reached out to leaders in the capital area and asked them to share their thoughts on the biggest trends, apps and advances for 2013. The answers were varied with one outstanding trend – wearable computing.
Shashi Bellamkonda, VP digital marketing, Bozzuto and adjunct, Georgetown University:
2013 was the year of wearable computing and innovation in ads. While Google stepped forward with Google Glass, Samsung introduced a smart watch. I have watched with interest how Undertone has introduced responsive ads that are interactive and also have an element of interactivity and make good use of the media.
It is inevitable, going into 2014, that the multi-device experience will expand from using an iPad to interacting with a device you are wearing with the mobile device in your pocket. Advertisers will create ads that are screen agnostic and have a great interactive experience.
Mike Schaffer, director of digital strategy, Hager Sharp:
One of 2013’s great innovations for communicators hasn’t really started to impact us yet. The “bio-hacking” or activity-tracking world (think Nike Fuel, fitbit and others) is starting to greatly expand, with millions of people logging their daily activities and food intake. I’m waiting for health and fitness brands to partner with companies in this sector to distribute messaging and content. Imagine an exclusive deal offered to you because of your fitness success? Or a gym trying to recruit you because you’ve struggled on your own? We are starting to track our food, and map our activities in such great detail, that tech-savvy communicators will soon leverage the data with great returns. The foundation was laid in 2013 and this may explode in 2014.
Leigh George, vice president, digital strategist, Social@Ogilvy:
I surveyed my Social@Ogilvy colleagues. Their responses included wearable tech like Google Glass, new instant messaging platforms like Snapchat and existing platforms that added messaging like Instagram and Coin.
For me, it was Uber. At first I thought their ice cream, kitten and Christmas tree deliveries were silly, off-brand stunts. But now I see the pure genius in what they’re doing. They’re repositioning themselves from a car service to a logistics company. They’re the next Amazon.
Geoff Livingston, president and founder, Tenacity5 Media:
I am going to say Vine because it forced the whole market to move towards short social networking-based video. And now we have SnapChat, Instagram and Vine all vying to own the market. The end result is better easier storytelling for the mobile phone, the primary Internet access device of the decade!
Danielle Brigida, senior manager of social strategy and integration, National Wildlife Federation:
I think this year has been the year of the camera trap, we’ve learned so much from simply observing nature. From a communication’s perspective, I think the advances in sharing photos, whether it’s through airplay, shared Facebook albums, Instagram or Snapchat. I’ve loved watching people engage with photography and continue to share experiences. I think continuing to bridge online and offline experiences will come into play in the future. I also think continuing to design for mobile technology (not just in apps, but sites that are flexible and more visual) will be a huge next step!
Dan Horowitz, senior vice president and partner, Fleishman-Hillard Digital:
I’m really excited to try the new Nielsen Brand Effect for Twitter surveys, which just came out of beta. We’ve been working with partners like Dimestore and Vizu to measure the effectiveness of our digital display and video campaigns, especially on issue campaigns where there aren’t clear KPIs like sales or leads. But now we’ll be able to measure the lift from our Twitter-promoted campaigns as well, to see if we are moving the needle with that distinct tactic. As the pressure increases to demonstrate results, these types of in-line studies are critically important, as they provide close to a real-time view on what’s working, what we should change, and what we can do to improve results next time.
Jonathan Rick, president, Jonathan Rick Group:
2013 was the year virality went mainstream, and it did so by way of viral headline. If we takeaway one tech lesson this year, it’s that a good headline can be a silver bullet.
As websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy have demonstrated with truly remarkable success, if you want your content to go viral, you need to spend as much time packaging it with a click-baitish headline as you do writing the post.
This isn’t easy. As even the smartest experts have discovered, when it comes to predicting which headline will do the best, your gut is gullible. Instead, you need to need to test, test and test some more. Indeed, done right, a good headline can spur a police investigation or help raise $300K for cancer research.
Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategyLabs:
I think making the Internet of things is really catching fire. If you’re a communicator and you’re not at least conversant in what’s going on in that space you’re at a dramatic disadvantage. With this technology you can build anything from a James Bond style bookshelf opener to a Spongebob Skill Crane that you can play with over the Internet. Finally, if you’re looking for an easy to use platform, give SmartThings a try.
Amir Zonozi, social media strategist, Zoomph:
Platform? IFTTT (if this, then that), it’s still under the radar of mainstream. Which means it’s still awesome. It puts the Internet to work for you, and allows you to simplify your life and automating platforms and bending the rules. For example, you could have it text you in the morning whether to bring an umbrella to work with you if it is going to rain, automatically save every Facebook photo you are tagged in, or text a significant other when you leave work by using your location. Home automation and wearable tech is the next wave of technology, this is the infrastructure that will lead it all!
Pebble watch, is the bad ass top tech of 2013, without the hype (or douche-iness) Google Glass carries, this technology successfully integrates wearable tech into mainstream lifestyles with quick and easy notifications to your wrist, AND it’s waterproof! Tons of room for customizations from geeks to everyday person you can do from monitoring your run to controlling your music, and play games. Forget Samsung’s feature-vomit mini-phone on your wrist, Pebble nailed it.
Shonali Burke, president & CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.:
One of the most useful tech tools I’ve used this year is AwayFind. It’s freed me of constantly checking email, which means I actually get to work without worrying about clients and others wondering why I’m not replying immediately. I highly recommend it!
Denise Graveline, owner, don’t get caught:
For 2013’s best tech improvement, I’d have to say all of the updates, apps and functionality improvements Evernote has made in the past year – decidedly unsexy, but they have turned it into a real workhorse. I attribute that to two things: Evernote’s strength in attracting investment and plowing it into new improvements and apps, and the long view of the CEO to make this a company that’s not planning to go away. The mindset is “What else can we do to make this easier or more useful for you?” There are too many to mention, but some of my favorite Evernote improvements are voice-to-text notemaking, recording Skype calls right into your notebook, and the sharing functions.
Debbie Friez, tech editor, Capitol Communicator:
I agree with the wearable tech and multi-device trends, and I see them continuing to push boundaries in 2014, especially in the area of privacy. I recently learned of WhatApp, a messaging service, which is very big in other countries, and just taking hold in the U.S.