Media, tech and marketing fails that didn’t live up to the hype


Media, tech and marketing predictions for 2016 are still filtering through my inbox like a music playlist on a continuous loop. Yet while the first part of any year should in many ways be a time for new perspectives and thinking about foreseeable trends, it’s also a great opportunity to look back at 2015 and reflect on industry trends that were hugely hyped, but didn’t land with the same bang.

Matthew Knight Matthew Knight head of strategic innovation London Internet of Things technology matthew knight

Connected devices, wearables, Apple watches, Internet of Things, etc

In 2015 we seemed to create more “things” that didn’t connect to each other elegantly, rather than create a system of interconnected devices and platforms – did someone forget that we have open interoperable protocols like HTTP?

Some brands are getting it right. NEST for one lets me turn up the heating from work, while my NEST camera spots my cat lighting up an e-cigarette under my NEST smoke alarm. Thank god for IFTTT at least.


The Holy Grail of better integration of data with digital media means making everything more human, more personal. How are those assorted tank tops working out for you, Mr. Yakamoto? But beyond display ads that serve you a little picture of something you just looked at on John Lewis, I don’t feel we’ve seen the real opportunity yet being best leveraged.

Ad blocking

Put down your storyboards and worry about the latest technology threatening all of our salaries in the marketing business – quick. Even Apple was supporting turning off advertising at one point when it started allowing in-app ad blockers.

Well, until it decided to backtrack and remove them from its App Store altogether. The entire industry started to freak out that perhaps people didn’t like the idea of advertising, and could now start to ignore it – with some reports claiming almost $22bn lost in revenue worldwide .

Based upon conversations with colleagues at Carat though, the impact has been negligible, and our ability to still build reach across platforms, using programmatic to get the right message in front of the right people at the time, hasn’t been hugely affected.

More significant changes would be seen if the Parliamentary Health Select Committee gets their way on advertising restrictions on HFSS products on Television before 9pm.

Back to the future

It was the year of the hoverboard, and this has to be the biggest fail waiting to happen for 30 years. The exploding Lithium Ion batteries are like Doc Brown intentionally sending a message from the future telling us that we’re not ready for this level of responsibility yet.

However, it’s not all bad news.

Connected devices are prompting us to think about the wider ecosystems that people move effortlessly around. For example, Whirlpool hasdeveloped a washing machine that integrates with Amazon Prime to order detergent when it’s running low.

Ad blocking is forcing us to think about ways to invest our money in creating valuable services rather than advertising for our audiences, such as Santander using their digital OOH spend to show people where their nearest Boris Bike station is, rather than pushing its products.

And the most heart-warming examples of personalisation are a subtle ways of creating more human experiences, Tesco-owned coffee chain Harris + Hoole for example have my name and photo on record through their loyalty card app, and each morning I’m greeted by name and asked whether I’d like my usual, rather than a scrawled misspelling of my name in sharpie on a cup.

So perhaps these aren’t necessarily failures. They’re just part of the innovation cycle, steps on the path to creating more personal, valuable and frictionless experiences, and bravo for those companies with the courage to invest in new ways of building relationships with their audiences.

Apart from perhaps exploding hoverboards – they’re just dangerous.


This article first appeared on Brand Republic's The Wall Blog on 16/02/16

Matthew Knight Matthew Knight head of strategic innovation London Internet of Things technology matthew knight
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