Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Is Augmented Content the Future of Advertising?

"People don't need advertising."

So began the presentation by Nick Parish of Contagious Magazine fame at an event hosted by the Institution of Communications Agencies on May 14, 2012. Despite Nick's candor, the audience full of Creative Directors and Account Execs didn't flinch at his words. They listened as Nick gave his central thesis: the old way of advertising—of influencing behaviour—is dead. It's disruptive and it interrupts the content that people truly want to consume.

His alternative is a shift in the way we think about marketing to people: from disrupting the content that is being consumed to augmenting it. By intersecting the worlds of technology, communications, and culture, advertisers can break through the zeitgeist with content that's useful, relevant, entertaining, and that ultimately enhances the current experience. Augmented content, as opposed to advertising, isn't about views or impressions, it's about engagement and reactions.

Where will most of this engagement with augmented content take place? The living room, of course. It already has everything set up to be the key venue for this type of activity. It's got:

  1. Content (ie. TV shows, video games, tablet apps)
  2. Platforms (ie. TV)
  3. Technology (ie. Wifi)
  4. Infrastructure (ie. couches, coffee tables)
  5. Behaviour (ie. media consumption)

Here are the best examples of brands building specific campaigns around augmented content rather than traditional advertising...

(1) Coca Cola's Polar Bears Watch the Super Bowl

Designed as an experience that would stay open on your computer screen or iPad during the entire football game, this website featured the brand's well-known mascots reacting to live footage as it happened. They even reacted to the Superbowl Ads—getting particularly upset during a Pepsi ad.

The objective of this augmented content experience is purely to entertain.

The brand, a sponsor and facilitator of many extreme sports events, including snowboarding, created a multi-dimensional experience when watching taped footage of a snowboarding event. Using the Shazam app, viewers could watch a "helmet-cam"-style POV video stream on their smartphone, synced up with the bird's-eye perspective shown on TV.

The objective of this augmented content experience is to enhance the existing content.

For the other football (aka soccer), Heineken took their sponsorship to the next level with an app that allows you to play along with the game, make predictions about plays and the score. It was based on two insights: (1) 80% of those who watch the game do it alone at home; (2) When you watch sports, you really do feel like you have an influence on the game.

The objective of this augmented content experience is to go beyond entertainment and enhancement, and truly engage people as they're watching the game. Very cool!

In conclusion, augmented content:
  • Complements existing behaviours
  • Uses the brand as an interface
  • Can ultimately create networks of the unacquainted

What do you think about augmented content? Is it the future of advertising, or an expensive fad?


  1. Interesting that you cite the Coca Cola bears as a example, I remember hearing a lot of flack from people that is was pretty lame - which is a very expensive risk.

  2. From what Nick mentioned, engagement was pretty high from those who liked it and reserved a spot - something like 28 minutes of time spent with it open. Not bad!


Copyright © The Planning Notepad, 2024