How convergence will change the media landscape in 2014


At Carat we believe that Convergence is the driving force behind everything we do and the vehicle that allows us to deliver on our promise of redefining media and driving better business value for our clients - therefore, it stands to reason that we would see this as our main Trend for 2014. That's why we have asked some of our top thinkers to take a look forward at how convergence and its resulting technologies will affect marketing in the 12 months.

The connections between offline media and online shopping are becoming closer; in-store targeting of consumers’ mobile phones is becoming reality; and it will become easier and easier to pay for goods and services via mobile as frictionless payments take off. 

  • Beacons – converging mobile and retail
Both Apple and PayPal are testing technologies that use Bluetooth to communicate with smartphones within buildings. 
Dan Calladine, Carat’s head of media futures, says: “Apple is currently trialling what it calls iBeacons – a way of sending messages to iPhones that can include coupons, information and potentially lead to in-store mobile payments, in a way that could link physical purchases back to ad exposure.”
Meanwhile PayPal is testing a Bluetooth-based payment system and Macy’s is testing iBeacons, in an integration with the Shopkick app. 
“The single source tracking within iOS could potentially track exposure to advertising, and correlate that with purchases, if paid using the same iPhone, and also provide lots of retail analytics,” says Dan.
“It could also be used as a reversal of showrooming - people who research products online could then be quickly guided to the right part of a store to make a purchase."
Dan says Beacons have the potential to change retail. “Marketers need to think about how they can be used to improve the shopping experience, and also what you will need to do to take advantage of the new sorts of analytics,” he says.
“Remember that Beacons don’t need to be in the same place all the time – they can move around, and so be used for location-based ideas, like treasure hunts.”
  • Offline inspiration converging with online shopping
Dan Hagen, head of planning at Carat, says much of people’s online shopping inspiration can now come from offline media.
“It’s all about the gap between inspiration and purchase and how consumers now get inspiration for what to buy from offline media – more so than they have for quite some time and this is because of mobile and wishlists,” he says.
“People see an ad for lingerie and quickly whack it on a wishlist on their phone and save it for a time when they are shopping… ie Cyber Monday.”
  • Frictionless payments – converging mobile and purchasing
Dan Calladine says: “Just as Beacons could make shopping easier, making payments could also be easier. Over the next 12 months we’re likely to see a rise of ‘frictionless payments’ – that is, making payments between people and companies much easier over social networks and messaging platforms. Assuming that it’s not bogged down in different competing standards, like other mobile payments have been. 
“In China the messaging app WeChat let you send money in a message to merchants on the 51Buy site. In November 2013 Xaoimi sold 150,000 smartphones in less than 10 minutes on WeChat, with all the payment done by messaging. In the US Square Cash enables customers to send cash to friends through email. In the UK, Barclays’ Pingit lets people send money by phone to friends and businesses.
"Amazon is rolling out a ‘Pay with Amazon’ button for peope to embed on their sites, and PayPal has launched ‘login with PayPal’ that will allow something similar.”
Twitter is now also using ‘cards’ to offer enhanced functions, which could include payment. 
Dan says brands need to be ready for the commercial opportunities of selling to people directly through messaging and social networks through one-click buying. “Are your followers ready to spend money with your brand?” he says. “What could you sell?” 
  • The Endless Aisle – the convergence of physical stores and e-commerce
David Peters, head of sponsorship at Carat, says: “Bricks and mortar and e-commerce are going to be two distinct concepts in the mind of marketing managers, but no longer relevant for consumers.
“Consumers will expect to have similar and seamless shopping experiences. It will mean make the online experience less clinical/straight-to-the-point through emotional, inspiring video (see Kate Spade) and working on the timing of delivery; on the other hand bricks and mortar will have to recognise and leverage the digital browsing and add potentially sociable experiences.”
  • Deliveries – converging sales and product
Dan Calladine says: “The main convenience of high street retail over ecommerce is the ability to get the goods immediately. Many online retailers are now experimenting with same-day, and in some cases same-hour delivery in local areas, or ways to make deliveries more convenient.
“Even if we discount the ‘Prime Air’/Drone’ story as a stunt, Amazon is still very active in pushing rapid deliveries in key areas, including evening deliveries on the day of order, and Sunday deliveries to Prime members. 
“eBay has bought Shutl, the same day delivery company, and also signed a deal for click and collect at other physical stores. eBay Now offers delivery ‘in about an hour’ in some US cities.
“Google is testing ‘Shopping Express’ in San Francisco, delivering from stores in Toyota Priuses (and don’t forget they are working on a self-driving car…)”
Dan says brands now need to be focussed on the immediacy demanded by customers. “Life is getting faster, and people expect faster and more convenient service offline and online,” he says. “Is someone offering a worse product, but managing the delivery and local fulfilment better?”
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