Emerging Media in the Manufacturing Industry

manufacturing and mediaMore than a decade ago, the American Journal of Business published a definition of emerging media, describing it as something that will a). Alter the influence of distance, b). Increase the volume and speed of communications, c). Enable interactive communications and d). Permit the merging of media forms.

Though the rapidly changing nature of emerging media can make it difficult to define, examples are easy to identify: Emerging media come built in to cell phones and are a part of daily Internet news communications. They can be video games, apps, marketing packages or multimedia platforms. They are social sharing or relationship building networks. We might even wear them now, on our heads (Google Glass) or wrists (Apple watch)

It is quite unusual to find companies these days that haven’t realized or are still struggling to understand the importance of emerging media to their overall marketing strategies, but they do exist…

Having held positions previously in industries where emerging media – social media in particular – were a high priority to the business at hand, it was initially hard for me to adapt several years ago to a manufacturing environment. The manufacturing industry has been notoriously known for lagging behind when it comes to using less traditional forms of media.

An article in Automation World in 2011 quoted a senior level global marketing manager for Cisco Systems as saying this about the manufacturing industry and social media: “They’re not using social media enough as a listening post or as a means to provide communications with plant operations.”

Then in 2013, a third party logistics company, Cerasis, found that while 80 percent of manufacturers at that point were using social media for marketing purposes, they still preferred outbound marketing methods, such as networking tradeshows and advertising. Additionally, research presented these findings about manufacturers:

  • They use social media passively – reading and consuming content, instead of creating it.
  • Some 60 percent read online discussions.
  • About 30 percent actively participate in discussions.
  • Only 7 percent actually initiate a conversation.

And then this about consumers:

  • They make some 60 percent of their buying decisions by viewing content online before even contacting the supplier or manufacturer.

From the Public Relations Society of America in 2013, Donald Wright and Michelle Hinson claimed in a report that new media have changed the rules of the game in every part of strategic communication. Over the past decade these new communication vehicles have not only turned upside down everything people knew about communication but also have dramatically changed the business of managing relationships.

It is vitally important that the manufacturing industry recognize and find ways to implement strategies that involve new and emerging media, but to many, social media in particular is still a novelty. Some of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers online is finding and building a following with target audiences, and developing content that those audiences will find interesting.

Of course this is all more difficult with B2B marketing than B2C marketing, because the B2B community is smaller, typically already well-versed in the products they’re interested in buying and make purchase decisions based off of rationale as opposed to emotion. With B2B, relationship building and maintaining is of utmost importance to a strategy.

In the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by social media guru Michael Stelzner, it was found that most marketers are using social media to develop loyal fans (72 percent) and gain marketplace intelligence (71 percent). Since 2013, marketers have had increased benefits to their business, where the largest increases were developing loyal fans, which increased to 72 percent from 65 percent in 2013, followed by increased sales, which jumped to 50 percent from 43 percent.



But How Is Emerging Media Improving the Industry?
When people think of manufacturing, they think of hard hats, heavy machinery, processing conveyor lines and safety vests, but the industry is so much more than this. Though manufacturers have been slow to adopt, emerging media IS having some effect on the way these industries operate, do business and communicate with their employees. Greater uses for emerging media can be had internally in manufacturing.

Many manufacturers are learning how to operate Business Intelligence (BI) systems by integrating their enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Some manufacturers currently using socially enabling technology applications include Ford, Coca-Cola and Harley Davidson.

For example, Automation World wrote that at Coca-Cola, the same phones used in offices have been deployed in warehouses with a voice-activated warehouse picking system used by forklift truck operators. The converged network used by these phones links them back to the company’s IT systems, integrated with the SAP ERP system.

Aside from internal benefits of emerging media, social media is more about the customer. For example, in 2000, Proctor & Gamble said that about 15 percent of its product ideas came from outside of the company. Since then, due to social media outreach and monitoring, that number has risen to 50 percent.



What Do Manufacturers Say?
Despite the facts and the obvious changing face of today’s marketing world, manufacturers still lag behind – either out of fear of the unknown, stubbornness to abandon old habits, or corporate politics – but are fast realizing the untapped potential of emerging media. For example, in the last two years, the manufacturing company I work for has, hesitantly, joined some social media channels to harness the power of those areas for relationship building and staff recruitment; implemented a CRM and a computer-connected phone system; and are in the beginning phases of updating the company’s ERP software. Likewise, robotics and 3D printing are playing a role in the manufacturing process on shop floors.

It was a long time coming, but emerging media is set to change the face of the manufacturing industry as a whole just as it is changing the world.

Several manufacturing communications industry experts from my company agreed that emerging media is changing the industry for the better. Here’s what they had to say.

    • “Emerging media is changing the way manufacturing companies market product offerings and communicate information about those products. In the past, the only way to get product information out to prospective buyers was through printed literature. The internet has made getting that information out a little easier, but the prospective buyer had to go look for it. By using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, that information can be blasted out to groups without them having to sign up or opt-in to email distribution lists, which might inevitably be perceived as junk mail. Emerging media types like Twitter and Facebook are also viewed as less intrusive than the traditional email blast.” – Bryan Myl, Marketing

 

    • “Not too many years ago, ‘effective two-way communication” was the gold standard for judging how well a manufacturing company – or any company for that matter – communicated with, and responded to, its internal and external audiences. Now this seems like a two-dimensional model. Like printing, communicating has exploded into three-dimensional reality driven by relationships that cannot be limited to linear planes or command-and-control lines. Now it’s all about social communities, transparency and authentic engagement. Your “brand” is what your audiences think and say about you – and it doesn’t always align with what corporate, PR or marketing espouses. Therein lies the challenge for professional communicators in manufacturing – how best to use today’s amazing and ever changing communication tools to help build and nurture the relationships essential to success.” – Myra Hunter, Senior Communications Specialist

 

    • “Emerging media is changing the role of communications/sales personnel in the manufacturing industry because it is a facet of business that can no longer simply be ignored by those in heavy manufacturing. Going back only a few years, social media in particular was seen as an exclusively recreational activity by leadership in our industry. Now, as the line between work and play becomes increasingly blurred in regards to emerging media, thought leaders in heavy manufacturing are realizing that communications and sales personnel can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines. The potential benefits of participating in emerging media are too great, and not only that, our youngest generation of customers now expect it.” – Jordan Byrd, Marketing

 

  • “Our company has been slow to embrace emerging media, but is now venturing into this wide new world with a news blog, social media and this summer, our first IP targeting campaign. A company known for 110 years for its “Golden Rule” business philosophy, we have built and maintained loyal relationships with our customers the “old fashioned” way – face-to-face. And that will always be important to us, but there is growing support for the use of new technologies and channels to help us reach and engage all our constituencies – internal and external – and we are seeing that across the industry. It is too soon to know the impact of these new technologies on our business, but I believe we will see, as others have, the usefulness of these strategies along with the tried and true.” – Joy Carter, Communications Manager

Do you see other positive changes or trends in the manufacturing industry where emerging media is concerned? Can you name some manufacturing companies already knocking social media out of the park?

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How Will Google’s App Re-Engagement Feature Improve Your Campaign?

Smartphone AppsPhone apps have become a pretty important part of our everyday lives.

You want to know whether or not it’s going to rain on you during a road trip? There’s a weather app for that. Need to monitor how many steps you take when you power walk in the evenings? Plenty of apps to choose from.

Need a recipe, a definition for a word you’ve never heard of, a date…? No problem – your smartphone’s app store will offer you a variety of options, both free and paid.

According to comScore, in 2014 more people spent more time in apps than they did on desktop computers, and it is estimated that by 2017, mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe.

As impressive as these number are, Google has reported that 60 percent of all apps available are never installed, while 80 percent are only ever opened once. It is estimated that the average smartphone user has 36 apps on his or her phone already.

What does this mean for a business with an app and a goal to meet?

It means that people interact with apps when they have a specific use for them or need to solve some issue, and you should be making your app memorable among the competition and as useful as possible for your users.

How Google AdWords Can Help You with This
Google, who has taken note of the mobile app craze, has many fancy tools that can help you make the most out of your mobile app campaign. Some of these include:

  • Developing ads and an app store page. Create ads and an app store page that clearly show how your app can meet people’s needs
  • Promoting your app with a “Mobile app installs” campaign. With this campaign, you can create custom app install ads that run exclusively on phones and tablets. Adwords will even allow you to promote your app to people who are more likely to be customers, based off of their existing app installs and usage. This strategy has been known to increase downloads of a particular app, with some businesses claiming as much as a 30 percent increase in downloads.

    ad promotion

    Google search shot of a mobile ad promotion involving grocery store apps.

  • App Conversion Tracking will help you track that you are accurately tracking and attributing installs. According to Google AdWords, you can measure AdWords performance reliably by installing the AdWords conversion tracking SDKonto your app, which counts only confirmed installs and doesn’t rely on estimation to attribute conversions.
  • AdWords app is now available for you on-the-go. Google announced in early March the release of a new AdWords app (only for Android currently) that allows businesses to access and make changes to their ad promotions on-the-go.

In March, Google also announced it would be enhancing its app promotion features by offering video app promo ads – immersive video ads that highlight how users will interact with your app – and Conversion Optimizer for in-app buyers.

But one feature that interests me most, is Google AdWords’ re-engagement offerings.

Re-Engagement Defined
According to Christina Fournier of More Visibility, promoted re-engagement should be thought of as a gentle reminder that a user already has an app on their device to solve the problem they are currently working on.

Getting a user to install your app is just the first step. Now you must get them to continue using your app. App re-engagement will allow you to direct your ad traffic by way of “deep-links” into an app instead of sending your mobile traffic to a landing page on your website. With app re-engagement, you can send traffic to a specific page within your app.

Why Is The Re-Engagement Tool Good For Business?
This feature will allow for more specific messaging while reaching app users who have more interest in a product or service. Specifically, advertisers will use lists to target specific groups of people, based on how they interact with the app, including those who haven’t used the app recently, those using specific versions and those who took specific actions within the app.

Google also says that these types of ads allow flexibility for counting conversions, bidding and targeting. Likewise, the app helps people complete an activity they already started and can recommend they try out specific features or levels.

Though these features are all well and good, simply having something to remind users that your app is there is probably the top selling point of re-engagement. Google does specify that this type of ad works best for apps with a significant number of downloads, as they work to encourage users who already have the app and have been engaged with it previously.

Re-Engagement for the Future
It can be said that in the SEO realm, web search is still far ahead of app search. Mike Fyall of Wired described re-engagement best when he said “Deep links help us understand the content inside apps so we can categorize them in a smart way.” With deep linking, ads will have the ability to become more meaningful to app users and more effective for advertisers.

Should You Trust Curated Content News Websites With Your Branded Message?

Word Art about Content Curation

Recently my company entered the world of social media…

We joined Twitter.

Yes, I know, we’re a little behind considering 93 percent of marketers use social media for business… and that statistic is two years old now! We’re slowly and cautiously tiptoeing into the 21st century of social media marketing. Each time we get a new retweet or follow, it becomes a point of excited discussion.

Last week, one of our branded news stories was chosen for placement on a news website we had never heard of. Upon examining the site (whose content focused on one major theme: Issues related to the water industry), I quickly came to the conclusion that the site curates content from all over the web on the topic, writes a catchy piece of intro text and then places the story on its site, with credits and a link-back to the original source. The site was broken into helpful water-related sections such as “Technology” and “Environment.” It was quite interesting reading, and, if I were a water industry professional, I probably would have bookmarked the site.

As excited as we were to have our content picked up from Twitter and then linked back to from a site that focuses on important issues in a particular industry, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted about this “service” that had been freely bestowed upon us.

Is this a legit site we want our brand to be associated with? What unnamed person is making the calls about the content they are choosing to put there? Why did they feel we were a good fit?

I realize that a link back to our website from a site that is probably heavily visited by professionals of the water industry – an industry we want to be associated with – could only increase our website traffic and possibly open up avenues to conversation or even a purchase order.

But I couldn’t help but feel a little put out… no one even asked if we wanted to be included on this site.

If our story had been chosen for publication somewhere like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, would I have felt differently?

I think my answer would have to be “yes.”

These publications – well-known and respected – have spent countless years building their reputations by way of publishing quality news pieces that are well-researched, written and edited by journalism professionals. I feel they’ve earned the right to be a good judge of quality content.

Maybe I’m just being a journalism snob, having hailed from the newspaper industry. I do love reading those curated content news sites like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Upworthy myself – and sharing their content on my various social media platforms. I know curated content has its uses.

But, these are my top issues with curated content news sites and those illusive souls who manage them…

#1. I don’t know to whom I’m entrusting my brand.

Though the news site that chose to include my company’s content was very well-designed, organized and aesthetically pleasing with good quality content, WHO exactly is it that has chosen to put my content on their site? What makes them an authority on how to categorize, summarize and present my content? There is no obvious biography or description of who owns, operates and/or manages this site.

#2. Loss of Control

This issue effectively puts my content and the presentation of my content out of my control. According to Curata, when using curated content, acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. The key is that you are not cause harm to the original author by sharing their work and to not share too much of their work.

The site curator for the website that used my company’s content definitely did not use too much of the content, and the attribution is front and center. However, if I had been asked, the entire name of the company would have been given attribution and not the shorter Twitter handle from which the story was pulled. I also wouldn’t necessarily have put the content under the “Technology” section.

I could just be a control freak…

#3. Is the Branding Obvious?

One thing that has always irritated me about curated news sites is that I often have a hard time figuring out how the author of some story is connected to the site that their content is being presented on. A nicely curated site will take the time to make sure this information is prominent, but if your content is promoting a product, do the readers of your now borrowed content understand this? Are they making the connection? Are they remembering the product and/or the brand?

My guess would be, most of the time, no.

#4. It’s Often Difficult to Measure Curated Content ROI

In “The Single Biggest Problem With Content Curation,” Michael Cheng, Cofounder of Sniply, writes that, “in order for there to be a measurable return, an action needs to take place, and the most directly measurable action is a click-through. Whether it’s to your landing page, an Amazon page, or an Eventbrite page, there simply needs to be a click-through opportunity.” Cheng argues that social shares, likes, retweets and/or favorites simply aren’t enough to measure results of content curation.

But, I’m not entirely anti-content curation…

Content curation, by nature, has blown up with the proliferation of social media and social sharing. To pretend that it does not play a significant role in today’s marketing landscape would be naïve, for one, and, second, foolhardy on the part of any marketer. Pamella Neely of Web Marketing Today offers one definition for content curation: it is the technique of choosing content from other websites and assembling it into a useful piece of information. Yet, content curation, to most experts, is also the simple sharing of another’s content with your own audience – such as a retweet on Twitter.

A survey by Trapit analyzed by the Huffington Post found that 74 percent of marketers believe content curation is an important element of a content strategy, while roughly 76 percent of marketing professionals share curated content via social media channels. Audiences enjoy curated content sites so much because, instead of having to sift through the overwhelming abundance of online information, they can find exactly what they need in one place without much searching.

The benefits of content curation are obvious. It can:

  • Increase traffic to your website or webpage
  • Build credibility among your followers
  • Establish you/your brand as a thought leader
  • Create a good relationship between your brand and curators of your content

To ethically curate content from the web, Curata offers these three “best practices:”

  1. Reproduce only those portions of the headline or article that are necessary to make your point or to identify the story. Do not reproduce the story in its entirety, and retitle the headline.
  2. Prominently identify the source of the article and provide a link-back
  3. When sharing images, unless you have explicit permission to share a full-size image, always share a thumb-nailed image at most.

Visit this link for the full list of best content curation practices

Though my opinion about a curated content news site still remains somewhat on the leary side, I can’t deny that the curator of my company’s content followed all of Curata’s best ethical practices for content curation, up to retitling the headline. I think if a site goes to the trouble of following all of these best practices when curating another brand’s content, they are, grudgingly, probably a trustworthy source.

What do you think about content curated news sites? Do you have any examples of content curated news sites who aren’t following best practices?

5 Photo Crowdsourcing Platforms for Brands Wanting More Authentic Stock Imagery

New York Times cover shot

The Wednesday, Jan. 28, cover of the New York Times showcased nine crowdsourced images of the winter storm.

On January 28, the New York Times featured a story about the blizzard that had been raging across the northeastern half of the U.S. The blizzard itself wasn’t necessarily anything new in January for that part of the country, however, the nine images that dominated the front page along with the story were…

Two days earlier, the Times had asked their readership to share their Instagram photos of the storm with the paper by using the hashtag #NYTsnow, and the nine images were later selected this way. At the time, this was the first instance where crowdsourced photos were used on the front page of the paper.

Stories like these are becoming more common as media, marketers and advertisers alike realize the importance and usefulness of crowdsourcing and user-generated content (UGC).

According to Tanya Dua of Digiday, UGC and crowdsourcing are attractive to brands because they make them more approachable, their campaigns more authentic, and they build greater loyalty and engagement among fans who get to become co-creators of content.

Crowdsourcing is usually when a brand has a problem and petitions its consumers for a solution. It helps a brand create new content, while providing an opportunity for recognition of participants within the brand’s social community. Campaigns created through crowdsourcing are unique because they’re a departure from the more traditional types of marketing strategies, and they can generate a lot of buzz for a brand.

Last year, AdAge said that 2014 was the year that solidified crowdsourcing not just as a trend, but something that is here to stay, with big name marketers adopting the strategy and profiting from it. For example, PepsiCo increased its crowdsourcing by 325 percent in 2014, and other big name brands ran successful campaigns including McDonald’s, Disney and Coca-Cola.

Not only do crowdsourcing campaigns help build consumer loyalty and increase engagement between consumers and brands, but they are also more cost-effective than traditional forms of marketing because they eliminate the need for a brand to go through the motions of producing their own content.

With the popularity of crowdsourcing, new services are beginning to crop up that offer brands options when considering the use of crowdsourced content.

The Birth of “Photography on Demand”
In the world of marketing and content creation, the need for unique, eye-catching images in the content creation process is never ending. We need images for our blogs; images are needed for landing pages or to accompany product descriptions; we need images for social media campaigns and/or email marketing.

In the days of old, brands would turn to such online paid image services as Getty, iStock, Dreamstime and many others. But images on these services, though professional, are often well-used, and brands today are beginning to look for more relevant, timely, and less stale forms of photography to include in their communications materials, combined with opportunities to provide them with a closer connection to their fans. Plus, with the proliferation of many different forms of mobile technology, photography is no longer limited to the professional photographer with traditional camera in-hand.

Several mobile crowdsourcing services have cropped up in the last five years to feed this photography-on-demand need. Here are just five you might want to take a deeper look at if you are thinking of using crowdsourced images for your next campaign (Note: These are NOT free services).

Scoopshot

Scoopshot home page

Scoopshot is a photo crowdsourcing service launched in 2010.

Launched in 2010, Scoopshot is a photo crowdsourcing service that seeks to connect both amateur (mobile) and professional photographers with media companies and other photo-buying entities. By 2014, Scoopshot’s free app had been downloaded around 600,000 times, and the service had paid out more than $1/2 million to amateur and professional users worldwide. You can search the sites inventory of images, or you can request a “ScoopShooter” to collect you specific photos or videos.

In Scoopshot, a brand who is looking for specific images can do a manual search by localized area, or can pinpoint a specific area on an interactive map. By doing this, the map will show you how many photographers are in your chosen area.

You’ll then create a task, set a title for your project and a description (you’ll answer the question “what type of photos do you need and why?), and then post your project. You have the option to pay a ScoopShooter per photo/video, or you can choose a package that can range from $500 to $2,000. Not only can Scoopshot crowdsource images, but brands can run photo competitions, do content marketing, gain consumer insights and much more.

CEO of Scoopshot Niko Ruokosuo said of the service in 2013: “For the first time, [brands] can request exactly what they want and receive it within minutes and without spending a fortune. The birth of on-demand photography will be as much of a game changer for the photo industry as iTunes for the Music industry.”

Twenty20

Twenty20 Cover image

Twenty20 is a crowdsourcing photo service that caters a little more to the artistic community.

Twenty20, formerly Instacanvas, lets users turn images into physical products like wall canvases, prints, t-shirts, smartphone cases, magnets and greeting cards. In 2014, the company began allowing users to license their work commercially as stock images, and the site has quickly begun to gain steam with advertisers and content marketers looking for more authentic stock images.

The site caters to two types of users – mobile photographers looking to advertise their images, and individuals and/or brands needing images. As of April 2015, the site serves almost 260,000 photographers, more than 150 different countries and has an inventory of almost 50 million images. More than 30 percent of all Twenty20 buyers purchase a second item from the site within two months, according to the company. The company offers a “Zappos-style” return guarantee, but sees less than 0.1 percent of all purchases returned.

Twenty20 caters a little more to the artistic community, and non-photographers have to pass certain criteria before their images will be made public on the site.

Foap

Foap cover image

Since its launch, Foap has amassed 500,000 registered users.

Launched in 2012, Foap allows smartphone users to monetize their photos by selling them through Foap’s marketplace for $10 and keeping 50 percent of the revenue. Like Scoopshot, Foap offers brands the option to create tasks – called “Foap Missions” – to find content from top Foap photographers.

According to TechCrunch, Foap has run nearly 200 ‘Missions’ for Fortune 500 brands and leading advertising agencies over the last two years, and has amassed 500,000 registered users who on average upload 30,000 photos per week. Brands who’ve utilized Foap include Volvo, Heineken, Honey Maid, Master Card and many others.

Snapwire

Snapwire cover image

Snapwire is one of the newest crowdsourcing image services.

Having just emerged from beta mode in 2014, Snapwire is the newest service attempting to connect the new photography generation with clients who need their talents and are willing to pay for it. The site has already attracted more than 8,000 users and 50,000 image uploads.

According to a Gigaom article in mid-2014, Snapwire is different in that it specializes more in creative collaboration and crowdsourcing. Anyone can submit a request for an image and assign it a budget. Photographers can then upload their images and/or ask questions to the buyer. The buyer selects finalists, which rewards the photographer with profile points.  Snapwire collects 30 percent of the earnings with 70 percent going to the photographers themselves, who also get to keep the copyright.

‘Moment’ by Getty

In 2013, in an effort to compete with mobile crowdsourcing services like Snapwire and Scoopshot, big-name stock photo service Getty Images quietly released its own mobile stock photography app ‘Moment’ to their current contributors. A year after its launch, Getty Images had posted more than 200 requests to ‘Moment,’ photographers had submitted more than 120,000 in response, and the amount of image views on the app totaled more than 3 million. ‘Moment’ currently appears only to be available for users with Getty Images contributor contracts.


These are only a few of the mobile crowdsourcing photo services making headway in the market today. If purchasing images through one of these services is not an option, other crowdsourcing techniques can be utilized on social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Flickr. You can run a photo contest on your social networking sites, asking users to hashtag their posts and images, or you can simply ask your fans for images just as the New York Times did.

If you choose to gather your own crowdsourced content, remember that new rules are always emerging about how to use UGC and crowdsourced materials, and you should be familiar with what you can and can’t do.

Have you had experience using any of these emerging mobile crowdsourcing platforms? Do you think that mobile crowdsourcing tools are here to stay?

Marty McFly’s “Back to the Future” No Competition for the Real 2015

back-to-the-future-2Flying cars, hoverboards, double ties and fax machines everywhere – the 2015 of Marty McFly’s popular 1989 film Back to the Future II was overrun with high-tech gadgets and trends that, at the time, intrigued our minds and made us hungry for what was to come.

Flash forward more than 25 years, to the 2015 of today, and the scenery looks quite different – flying cars are still a fantasy, and, though a French artist created a hoverboard several years ago, the contraption doesn’t quite function like the hoverboard’s of Marty McFly’s future. Who wants to wear one tie, let alone two? And the fax machine’s fate was sealed with the introduction and proliferation of email.

Back to the Future II, and other futuristic movies like it, seek to depict emerging media and trends of a particular time period, fascinating us with their mysteriousness. But just as certain aspects of the film’s visionary future haven’t yet come to pass, others quickly went the way of the dinosaur, a huge testimony to the abruptly changing digital landscape of today’s world.

Defining Emerging Media & It’s Influence
In 2008, writer’s Dale Peskin and Andrew Nachison of IIP Digital described emerging media in such a way: “The relationship between traditional media and the public is changing, a trend these information professionals call “We Media.” This emergent journalistic process allows the Web’s social network to produce, analyze, and disseminate news and information to technologically interconnected publics unbounded by geography.”

Emerging media is anything innovative, interactive and dynamic. Digital T.V., social media, wearable technology, webcasting and smart phones would all fit under the umbrella of emerging media, among others.

Emerging media influence our lives on a daily basis – from the personalized Pandora station we’re listening to on our smart phones while connected to the Bluetooth in our cars, and the video we just shot, uploaded and shared with friends on Vine, to the T.V. show we’re interacting with in real-time through hashtags on Twitter, and the outfit we just chose to purchase based on the coupon we received by email or text after entering the brick-and-mortar store – emerging media is changing the way we interact with each other, but even more than that, it is changing the way we interact with brands and marketers. Here’s a great video from Ball State University that delves further into the definition of emerging media:

“Innovation in information technologies has thrust humankind into an era of democratic media in which almost everyone can have immediate access to news and information, and become creators and contributors in the journalistic enterprise.” – Peskin & Nachison, Emerging Media Reshape Global Society

The above quote reveals the importance of emerging media to our world today: It has changed – is changing – the way we consume and use information, and how we want to receive it. Marketers and content creators have a unique challenge – not just in understanding the way their key audiences are using emerging media – but how to stay on top of this constantly evolving landscape.

Trends to Watch in 2015
Just as the creators of Back to the Future II hypothesized the advancements in technology for their time period, each year, WebMedia Group publishes an annual report on emerging tech trends they predict should not be ignored. Their 2015 Annual Report includes some interesting scenarios, but here are just a few:

  1. Deep Learning – Artificially intelligent computers are now capable of “deep learning” using neural networks. For example, robots will eventually be able to recognize objects they haven’t seen before and navigate to new locations on their own. Chappie, is that you? Deep learning will intersect with numerous fields, aiding in manufacturing, medicine and retail, to name a few.
  2. Uber-like Services – With a $40 billion paper valuation, certain features of this simple app that connects passengers to drivers will be all the rage other businesses try to emulate.
  3. Data Privacy – With the rising popularity of new technologies – such as the FitBit, which collects data on users through a third-party analytics tool – coupled with continued data breaches, 2015 will see more demand for digital consent agreements and increased transparency.

Can you think of other emerging media upcoming in 2015 or on the horizon? Likewise, can you predict other types of media or trends that might just meet the same demise as the once trusty fax machine?