Here’s How Diageo Vets Emerging Formats Like Voice, VR & More



The approach is simpler than you might think.

Voice, VR, AR. There’s a dizzying number of emerging technologies on the minds of marketers today—so how are brands supposed to know where to test, and where to invest?

Jason Acker, Digital Director at Diageo joined VaynerMedia’s Patrick Givens at SMWLA to discuss how brands and agency partners should be assessing the role of emerging formats in their marketing mix. The talk was moderated by Mashable business reporter Kerry Flynn.

Start with your objectives

Acker and Givens agreed that brands shouldn’t dabble in emerging formats unless it makes sense for their objectives. In other words, marketers should not be asking, “What can I be doing with Amazon Alexa Skills?” Rather, they should be thinking of what business or marketing objectives, if any, could be uniquely brought to life via voice search.

Acker shared an example from Diageo, in which the spirits brand used VR to emphasize its social responsibility objective of raising awareness around the risks of impaired driving. The brand created an immersive VR experience in which participants could experience what it’s like to be involved in a tragic car accident, both as a passenger and as a driver. In this instance, the impact of VR on moving people to emotion in jarring and realistic ways served the brand’s mission to educate consumers about drunk driving.

The immediate opportunity: AR

Among the emerging formats discussed, panelists agreed that AR is currently the most accessible for brands—though, it’s also something that brands have been talking about for some time with little action. “I think I have a slide from 2008 that talks about VR,” said Givens.

Since AR is such a broad umbrella, knowing what you want to achieve is necessary to honing in on the right opportunities. AR could mean a custom app designed to improve consumer experience (e.g. a paint company that uses AR to help match colors) or it could be something as frictionless as a turnkey Snapchat geofilter that’s designed to connect with people at a specific place and time.

Are these formats even scalable?

Kerry raised an interesting question during the talk, which was, given the limited scale of many of these formats—there are only about 10 million Amazon Alexa devices in the U.S., for example—should they even be a priority for brands?

“I tell my team to consider how challenging it is to create a social ad that stops someone from scrolling,” said Givens. “Then, consider something like VR, where a user has to stop what they’re doing and strap on a headset. There’s a lot of friction there.”

Still, there’s value in experimentation. While voice search hasn’t reached mass adoption, it’s certainly growing. Givens said people using voice search at least once per month is up 130 percent year-over-year. People are trying for the first time, and they are coming back.

In addition to the value inherent in capturing learnings before these technologies take a stronger foothold, Acker says that marketers can think of emerging campaigns as part of their communications planning. A first-to-market campaign can be PR-able, and the buzz generated from reaching a small, yet influential, audience can be significant.

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