Category Archives: Strategy

Three Characteristics of A Great Leader

Cloud & Tech Summit

Talking about C-Suite innovation. Panelists from left: Nicolas Vanhove (Tutoroo, Founder, Sebastian Wedeniwski (Standard Chartered Bank,Chief Technology Strategist) behind Nicolas, Natalia Kozyura (FWD Insurance, Head of Innovation Center) and yours truly

Week ago I was speaking in interesting panel in “Data & Tech Summit” about “C-Suite Collaboration”. One of the interesting conversation topics was about characteristics of good leader and I came out with three key ones (in addition to rambling about the merits of auftragstaktik):

Consistency

You what to expect from good leaders. They might be strict but they are strict always. They might be ruthless, but they are ruthless always. Employees need to know what to expect from their boss. Clients need to know what kind of person they are dealing with. Good leaders are driven by strong vision and belief on where to take the company and they follow that vision and belief system consistently. Too reactive and unpredictable bosses will result to employees who are not clear on what they are expected to do and not clear on what is company culture. Naturally changes and quick decisions are needed in fast-moving industry, but they cannot be too reactive. Also good leader needs to clearly articulate the reasons when changing the course.

Clarity

Good leader is not jargon machine. “We want to be seamless customer-centric multi-channel service company” would not be something you want to hear from your leader. Good leaders are able to articulate the driving vision very clearly to everyone: employees, customers and other stakeholders. Because the vision and the goals are clear, they also become catchphrases in the company and mantras to share also outside the company.

Curiosity

Great visionary leaders are not (primarily) cost-cutters or maintainers of status quo. They need to be curious about the industry and where the business is moving. Through curiosity companies find their new sources of growth. Creating and cultivating the culture of curiosity is important. If employees asking questions and challenging ways of working, eventually the company will perform better. Good leader challenges but is also expecting to be challenged herself.

It is relatively easy to be a good manager, but it is really hard to be a good leader.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

The Most Effective and Meaningful Ad of the Year is A Tweet

“Will there be people who stop buying Nike because of this?

Yes.

But there will also be others who use this as an excuse to buy another jersey or pair of sneakers. Regardless of how loud the keyboard warriors and voices opposed to Kaepernick get, Nike will remain standing at the end of it all. And as they say, no press is bad press.”

-Brian Cristiano, CEO Bold Agency

kaepernick

This single tweet is already the best AD of the year and already created $43 million in buzz for Nike.

Some argue that brands should not take a stand on controversial topics.

I beg to differ.

Brands should take public stand, when brand has actually something to contribute to the topic. If a brand actually has a stand, it is almost  Now more than ever. Majority of brands cannot actual be bold and shy away of all kinds of (even minor) controversy. Not Nike, this latest ad is just a continuum of deliberate and consistent marketing strategy that they have been following for years. Great brands know that they are not for everyone. Great brands are consistent. Great brands take risks.

Nike´s DNA is all about the athletes. Its main spokespersons (Lebron James among the few) have been vocal about the issues that prompted Kaepernick to knee down during the national anthem. Nike is known for standing by their athletes during their hard times (Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, etc.). Reflected to that, it actually would have been disappointing if Nike would not have been sponsoring Colin Kaepernick. He is a great and brave athlete, who uses the stage he has as a canvas to shed a light to social injustice and is then prevented to practice his profession. Not unlike Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968 in Olympics. Nike is taking a stand, but in a way that is true to their brand and will eventually sell much more apparel.

People (read: idiots) burning Nike shoes will not cost Nike anything (maybe they will buy new shoes afterwards) and actually gives Nike more publicity. All publicity is good publicity, because it is increasing your mental availability. Sure, this campaign will alienate some Nike buyers. Buyers, who are so stupid that they set their shoes on fire or rip their Nike socks.

Good riddance.

Follow Our Rules or Get The Hell Out

For companies, it is as crucial to define target audience, but almost more important is to define who is NOT your target audience.

When we adopted our strict no talking policy back in 1997 we knew we were going to alienate some of our patrons. That was the plan.

If you can’t change your behavior and be quiet (or unilluminated) during a movie, then we don’t want you at our venue. Follow our rules, or get the hell out and don’t come back until you can. 

– Tim League founder/CEO Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Week ago I was watching a film in movie theatre and someone´s alarm clock started ringing during the show. Everyone noticed that expect the guy whose alarm bell was ringing. My movie experiences have many times been ruined by talking or mobile phone4s. And I am not talking about loud action movies or mild noises; once watching European art film where there is practically no dialogue or loud sounds, one couple was having loud conversation about what to have for dinner. So my stance is clear: if you cannot be without your phone for a length of a movie, stick to Netflix.

Alamo Drafthouse is perfect example of movie theatre that truly walks their talk. Because the problem is not that patrons are encouraged to use their mobile phones. Practically every cinema has no- mobile phone policy. But pretty much no one is truly enforcing it. You as a patron are forced to be the “bad guy“, which not only ruins your night, but also probably the one who is texting (like I would care). Alamo Drafthouse is giving warnings of texting and after the first warning you are kicked out if you continue your bad ways. And they are not afraid to kick texters out of the movie theatre (troublemakers are “snitched” anonymously in the food order sheets).

Rules are meaningless if you don´t follow them.

Other movie theatres let short-sighted greed (or ambivalence) to let few bad apples to ruin the experience for majority. What Alama Drafthouse has realized that bully or a trouble maker as a client is never a good client. You should get rid of them, because having a bad client ends up costing you money in the long run. If you have rules and defined target audience, you should be true to it.

 

Interestingly Alamo has also separate program “Alamo for All”, where noise and technology rules do not apply and you are allowed to move freely in movie theatre. This is to create inclusive accessible movie theatre experience for children, guests with special needs and those who cannot behave in normal movie theatre. Again rules are stated clearly and they are followed. In these screenings you are not allowed to whine about texting.

Few lessons from Alamo Drafthouse:

  1. Be true to your target audience. You do not need to serve everyone. 
  2. If you have rules you must enforce them. Rules without enforcement is not called rule. It is called a joke. 
  3. Have some integrity in what you do. 

Because at the end of the day, the only thing defining you are your principles (which you define yourself so they can be super easy as well). If you cannot abide them, everyone will eventually lose respect for you.

Tagged , , , ,

Treat YouTube Bumpers like Print Ads

YouTube Marketing

Me finding something weird under my fingernails during my presentation about Video trends

Yesterday I was speaking in “Digital PR Strategies 2018”-seminar about how to build your brand one video out of time. While rambling about industrial shredders, Finnish midsummer buyers buying cucumbers and condoms, opportunities of Augmented Reality or how we have worse attention span than goldfish, I also talked about YouTube Bumpers (actually connected to our short attention span).

Those 6 second non-skippable ads have been talked about a lot in last year or so. One key drivers for more shorter video ad content is that majority of audience detest most advertising that is pushed to them. Pushed being the operating term; people are consuming content more than ever before and they are fed up with the bad intrusive advertising more than ever before. So if you take a cynical view, using short form content and branding from first second onwards is preparing to fail: “people will skip it anyway so let´s just be fast”.

The truth is naturally more nuanced and there is a role for different lengths of brand content. The important thing is to have distinct roles for the all the different video assets. It is therefore crucial to recognize what YouTube bumpers are and what they are not.

Bumpers are not for brand building or explaining complicated nuances about your product. However, they are useful tool for brand recall and enforcing your unique selling point (if you have any).

Therefore you should not think about 6 seconds as a grand storytelling tool*, but more like a print or OOH. You can communicate one strong message, one strong visual (that is naturally moving because it is video) and your brand. Nothing more, nothing less. Don´t get confused by that is video, think of it as print ad and probably your creative will become much better.

*And yes I have seen the 6 second renditions of literature classics. And they suck balls compared to original material (although some of them are quite funny). But no one in their right mind would even compare YouTube bumper to great literature novel, apples to oranges and so on. 

 

Tagged , , ,

Aperol Spritz Effect: 5 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Negroni

I am more Negroni than Aperol Spritz guy, so here I am enjoying the poison of my choice in the birthplace of the drink: Florence.

Besides the unprecedented heatwave across the world, there is method to current Aperol Spritz* madness. Recent New York Times article highlights on how Campari (owner of Aperol –brand) has been smartly devising a marketing plan and actions that have made Aperol Spritz the go-to drink of the Summer. Below are five tips on how you can make your brand stand out the same way as Aperol Spritz:

  1. Ride the trends (both big & small)

Bigger trend in US is that people are gravitating towards low-alcoholic (or even non-alcoholic) drinks. Aperol Spritz has alcohol content slightly under 10% (of course depending on your mix) that makes it less that your glass of wine but still gives you nice summer buzz.

That trend towards low-alcohol drinks is already mainstream.

For other important trend, you need to dig deeper to current cocktail culture. Americans are starting to appreciate more bitter tastes in their alcohol. That change is driven by Cocktail bars. Progressive bartenders have been using more Amaros (herbal liqueurs mostly from Italy, but recently more and more also from States) in their cocktails and shots of Fernet-Branca have almost become the secret handshake for bartenders. Elevated taste towards bitters has also increased interest to Negroni (my go-to-cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) that Campari has been capitalizing as well on smaller scale with strategic partnerships with bars.

  1. Have distinctive look and feel

The strongest asset of Aperol is the distinctive color (only rivaled by Campari from the same parent company). When person is drinking Aperol Spritz, you immediately recognize the drink. It is characteristically Aperol and it serves as cue that simplifies your selection. It also helps that you have the brand name in the drink: beer or wine can be anything but there is only one Aperol Spritz.

You cannot deny Aperol old Italian tradition. Aperol was invented already in 1919, although it became popular only after World War II. That history brings credibility to the product.

  1. Own the occasion

Campari has made deliberate push to make Aperol Spritz the drink of summer. They have partnered with popular summer hangouts and events concentrating their media push and visibility to those occasions as well. It is easier to own one season than all the seasons; one day instead of every day or create your own small moment instead of trying to carve a part of bigger moment. Campari has been successfully doing it this also with Negroni Week,  event in June, where various bars are doing their Negroni variations and part of the sales go to charity.

  1. Get the product to the people

In the previously mentioned events and hangouts Aperol spritz has also been handed for free. The biggest hurdle with any product is to get it to the hands of the consumers and sometimes it might be worthwhile investment to give the first pop for free. When your product is distinctive and instantly recognizable, the social validation of people using the product starts to spread like wildfire. You can recognize that someone is drinking Aperol Spritz compared to standard glass of wine.

  1. Make it Instagram-worthy

Not only you need to have drink that tastes nice, it also needs to look nice in your Instagram-stores. Campari has been creating different Aperol-branded swag (wine glasses, straws, umbrellas, sunglasses, orange fans) that serve as good props for social media posts and encourage you to share. Photo with you and Aperol Spritz portrays classy but care-free attitude; perfect for Instagram.

Although there is a speculation that Aperol Spritz might be the gateway to Campari Spritz, I don´t see the current popularity of Aperol Spritz as a fad. It is build on solid product with rich history, understanding of the trends affecting category and smart focused marketing campaign.

*And for those who don´t know, Aperol Spritz is a drink with aperol, sparkling wine and dash of soda.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Why Kanye West is the ultimate Modern Marketer?

kids see ghosts

Even the cover art is causing hype. Superflat art piece by Takashi Murakami

As I am writing this, I am listening to “Kids See Ghosts”. It is a collaborative effort by Kanye West and Kid Cudi and in its short 7 song glory one of the best albums of the year. Before that Kanye West´s G.O.O.D. Music label released Pusha-T´s Daytona, album that is even better. Kanye West also has released his own solo (not too big of a fan) and there are additional two albums (from Nas and Teyana Taylor) coming in next two weeks.

We are seeing unleash of new music quite unprecedented in music history with combination of scandalous headlines. No matter what are your views about Kanye, it is very hard to dispute his mastery in creating art and also making people talk about that art.

  1. Understand the new economy

The age of traditional record industry with physical sales is over and now it is all about streaming. Kanye West´s Ye has had 180 million streams and Kanye West ties with Eminem and Beatles as an artist with eight consecutive Bilboard Number 1s. The hype machine around the five week flurry of G.O.O.D Music has been massive and they are constantly topping streaming charts. The mechanics of being popular in streaming  are fundamentally different than in physical world. You need to get people hooked immediately.

  1. Polarizing is better than boring

Supporting Trump? Using Whitney Houston´s bathroom as a cover art? Saying “slavery is a choice?” Using naked look-a-like of your wife to promote an album?

It is hard to agree or approve some of the latest moves by Kanye, but that is besides the point. He is creating news and regardless of your views about him, it is hard to not notice. For majority brands the problem is not that people are talking negative things about you. It is that no one is talking about the brand. We live in attention economy and Kanye West is the master of attention.

  1. Always-in-beta

Starting from Life of Pablo, Kanye West has reinvented the album form. Ye-album was still being tweaked right before the last minute of record listening party. Before the new album, he teased (or trolled) the audience with song “Lift Yourself” consisting of following lyrical mastery:

Poopy-di scoop

Scoop-diddy-whoop

 Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop

Poop-di-scoopty

Scoopty-whoop

 Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop

Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop

Poop, poop Scoop-diddy-whoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop

Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop

Internet was baffled and the song was not in the actual album. With the current timespan of pop songs and Internet full of memes and weird content, Kanye is essentially acid testing different ideas that might be genius or insane. They all contribute to this attention economy that drives streams, concert ticket sales and shares. With the five albums with set release dates, they need to also be released. Art does not live in isolation without connection to the audience. Kanye and his crew are breathing “done is better than perfect” mantra of successful start-ups.

  1. Let your team shine

As one of the most well-known artists in the planet, Kanye West did not just release his own album. He orchestrated 5 weeks of the most talked about musical releases. The sequencing of the albums was brilliant. Insanely strong Pusha-T Daytona started this music unleash. He had not released album in three years so there was lots of hype and the strong quality made it talked about. Ye-album by Kanye would have been hit in any case and in fine way it set the way for Kids See Ghosts (that is objectively listening the better album). Next we will have Nas, who naturally has strong own following and huge interest with his collaboration with Kanye. Teyana Taylor is probably the least well-known of the artists so it makes sense to end with her album as everyone has been raving about the different albums for five weeks.

Kanye lends his star aura to his protégés, but at least in Pusha-T album does not take over. Good leaders are not hogging the limelight to themselves but they use their clout to put their star team members on pedestal.

  1. Reinvent the form

Lately many new albums have been too long and too boring. Culture II by Migos was 1 h 45 minutes. While it had good songs, also plenty of fillers. All of the new G.O.O.D. Music releases are only seven songs and about 20 minutes, that is less songs than in the latest magnum opus (in length, not in quality) from Chris Brown. When competitors are doing things certain way, it might sense to go opposite route. The short and condensed form is also perfect for streaming. Sometimes constraints also help to create the best art.

There are not many artists that are not only creating popular culture, but are truly shaping it. Kanye West is one of them.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Future of SEO: Good Digital Strategy is the best SEO

Intrigue Summit 2018

Intrigue Summit 2018

On the last Wednesday I participated in interesting panel in Intrigue Summit 2018 about SEO and content marketing. Here are three main topics I was speaking about:

  1. Era of black magic quick fix SEO has been over for a long time

Google has for a while been blocking sites that do keyword stuffing or content with many (but weak) backlinks. I already wrote five years ago about how SEO is dead, when Google Hummingbird algorithm was launched. Then security search and semantic search were some of the key drivers then to change SEO landscape. Now the content quality (in the context of fake news) and mobile-friendliness are key drivers determining your search ranking.

Although SEO landscape has changed dramatically, I see surprisingly many SEO practioners in the marketplace talking like it would still be 2005. SEO tweaking is not a silver bullet.

  1. Search is not just the Google search bar

YouTube is the second most popular search engine. Amazon is the most popular search platform for product searches. Voice searches will contribute to 50% of all searches by the 2020.

How much of your search strategy is focusing on video, eCommerce and are you already optimizing for voice? You need to approach your search holistically and it might even be that for your brand Google is not the most important search engine.

  1. Relevant content and great user experience is the best SEO

Even nowadays I encounter clients who think that SEO is a quick fix for their problems. Unfortunately, quite often we found out that actual SEO is ok, but the site sucks. Brands should first focus on delivering the best possible user experience and relevant content. After that you should take care of SEO. Your SEO tricks do not really help if your site is loading too slowly or is not mobile-optimized. 53% of the people will abandon your site if it takes over 3s to load. Google will roll out mobile-first indexing this year, which means that Google will use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking the site on their search engine. If you cannot serve your customers in mobile, game is over.

If you create content that it is interesting to the humans it is easier to tweak it to match search engines than other way around. If you create content solely for search engines, you end up with boring content. The bad thing with boring content is that no matter how much traffic you drive to it, it does not convert.

Capturing people while they are searching is still essential part of the of your digital strategy. Search just is not separate line item in your strategy but closely connected to the whole digital experience you are providing. If you are able to provide great user experience and relevant content to your audience, making your SEO work is relatively easy.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

5 Lessons from Leonardo da Vinci to Every Marketing Professional

“Talent hits a target that no one else can hit. Genius hits target no one else can see”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

vitruvian man

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. You don´t get to this level of of anatomic excellence unless you have opened up couple of bodies.

I recently read the autobiography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. The book was magnificient read and made me appreciate Leonardo even more (as a painter and as an inventor). He was able to achieve so much (majority of it not truly understood and appreciated when he was alive) in many different fields despite leaving quite a lot of things unfinished. Although it is unlikely that none of us reading (or writing) this blog will paint the most heralded painting in the world, there are still plenty of lessons we can take from Leonardo da Vinci and instil in our professional and everyday life:

  1. Have childlike sense of wonder

Why sky is blue?

How are clouds formed?

What is yawning?

These were just a few questions on Leonardo´s notebook. If you keep on questioning on things that others might take for granted you will get closer to the truth.

So as a marketing professionals, we need to always challenge the preconceived notions. We cannot be afraid to ask questions that everyone is thinking but no one dares to ask.

  1. Observe the world around you

As part of his curiosity, Leonardo spent hours and hours observing the world around him. This was connected to his maniacal list taking and notebooks filled from top to bottom and left to right with scribbling about his observations. He had his intense observation skills from his childhood to his last days. It was probably connected that he was not school educated but instead learned by observing and analysing those observations.

Working in marketing means being customer-centric. We need to obsessively observe our consumers and how they act and make decisions in this world.

  1. Experiment with open mind

“Vision without execution is hallucination. Skill without imagination is barren”

-Walter Isaacson

Leonardo da Vinci opened up over 30 bodies to learn more about anatomy. He tested rigorously his hypotheses about different subjects and was also willing to change his preconceived notions when he had different test results or received new information.

Marketing is not science that you can only theorize. It is about active doing and eventually you need to get your hands dirty and start shipping. We need to be also ready to change our approach if results shows so. We should be in state of constant experimentation and improvement.

  1. Find analogies and patterns among different disciplines

Leonard da Vinci was self-learned and despite being a true renaissance man, he was not particularly good in all fields. He struggled with algebra and languages. To learn and understand better different fields, he used analogies to make them more easily understandable for other people and to himself as well. He was brilliant at discerning patterns and abstracting from them a framework that could be applied across disciplines.

As marketing professionals we have to rise above jargon and find easily understandable ways to explain what we are doing and connect it to things that audience cares about (working hypothesis being here that majority of people are not caring about what we do). As marketing communications has become highly fragmented and specialized, we need to force ourselves to actively learn from other fields and keep our renaissance mentality. Different disciplines feed and support each other. Leonardo excelled at painting, but his detours to maths, physics, biology and weapon design made him a better painter.

  1. Procrastinate with peace of mind

“Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work the least”

– Leonardo da Vinci 

For majority of us, this comes quite naturally. However procrastination is not synonym for being lazy. When you’re not actively working on that difficult/daunting task, your mind is actually subconsciously collecting ideas and processing things to prepare you for it.

The most astounding revelation in Isaacson´s book is how much Leonardo left loose ends and unfinished projects behind. One part of it was that his curiosity led him to rabbit holes and as a true renaissance man, he suddenly might be interested in totally different subject. Other part of procrastination was his perfectionism. He carried Mona Lisa with him over 16 years and improved it slowly. He might look at this paintings for hours and then add one brush stroke.

If world´s most greatest artist and scientist was prone to procrastinate, we should not feel bad if we are delaying the start of our latest presentation.

Trust me, it will be better for it.

Tagged , , , , ,

The Only Blog Post You Truly Need to Read About Tech Trends in 2018

7c050ba1-0833-44cb-acff-27f93f7eb28b 2

JWT Mirum APAC SXSW Delegate

As many of you might know I was 1,5 weeks in Austin, Texas in SXSW. I attended probably too much of talks and been quite amped up even after. During the seminar I was part of JWT Mirum APAC delegate and I blogged all the way through from the conference (including some videos). Below I have compiled majority of lessons I got from the seminar.

Besides this I saw my idols Arnold Schwarzenegger, U-God (from Wu-Tang Clan), Bushwick Bill (from Geto Boys) and saw the reunion of one of the most progressive hiphop acts of all time Dr. Octagon. Great trip indeed. Below you can read all my observations and insights from my trip:

Summary

Three Main Lessons from SXSW

All About The Data

Data is The New Oil, but also the Oil Spill


How to make your Data actionable?

How to Lie with Data?

From Big Data to Smart Data: How Blockchain is Enabling Both Convenience and Security of Your Own Data

Don´t Take It for Face Value: Facial Recognition as the New Data Point

AI Requires us to Be More Human

“We have not even reach the limit of human intelligence”

From e-Commerce to V-Commerce

Disruptive Innovation

Cannabis is Leapfrogging Technological Innovation

How to Innovate in Atom-based Industries?

Necrotech: What will Be Your Digital Legacy When You Die?

New Model of Content Creation

How to Live More Fulfilling Life?

How I Found The Happiness in SXSW?

Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Weird Stuff

img_2724-e1521775599282.jpg

Dr. Octagon (Kool Keith, Dan The Automator, Q-Bert) from the Year 3000

Cheetos Vision: The Future of AI? Rapping robot

Deejaying without touch

When in SXSW, prepare to queue

Why Living in Singapore Makes You Perfectly Prepared for SXSW?

I hope that I am able to participate next year as well. It was truly great experience.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Future of WeChat

It is not secret that I am fascinated with WeChat. It showcases the promise of conversational commerce in action. Yesterday I was talking about the opportunities in WeChat in Lead Conference. The different features we all know, but I find the small portion in the end of my presentation about the future of WeChat truly intriguing. We all know that WeChat has made huge leap from communication platform to payment platform.

wechat

WeChat: Messaging platform evolved to payment platform

It is currently the digital lifeline of the whole China, but what they are planning in the future. Below are couple of key points about WeChat future:

What about the global expansion?

WeChat tried to become a global messenger app. They hired Messi in 2013 with big money to be the face of WeChat. And apparently they got downloads but not engagement. Messaging apps lives and dies based on do you have anyone to message with. Techinasia dubbed WeChat´s global expansion “a disaster”. What makes WeChat unique in China is hard to replicate in other markets because of different digital ecosystem, legislation and other monopolies ruling the roost.

Now WeChat has pretty much abandoned these global aspirations as consumer product, but don´t be fooled they are still eyeing for global expansion but less as B2C product but more as B2B offering. There are two main ways how WeChat is creating its global footprint:

1.Being the gateway to China for western brands

WeChat wants to work with International brands to enable them to sell their products through its Chinese online retail platform. The benefit is that companies can then avoid some of the bureaucracy in China when setting up their own retail operations in the country.

“Almost 95 per cent of global [luxury] brands are on WeChat now — in the UK, there is Burberry and Mulberry, in Italy, Valentino, Zegna, Prada, all the big brands. Two years ago, the number was 50 per cent and last year 75 per cent, so the growth has picked up recently.”

-Andrea Ghizzoni (Europe Director, Tencent)

2. Conquering Europe and other markets through payment

Majority of Chinese tourists prefer to pay with Alipay or WeChat Pay, and only 10% would opt for cash or credit cards. This consumer sentiment has not left unnoticed by the western retailers. Chinese tourists are extremely lucrative target audience and if offering familiar paying option can ease the buying process I would be really surprised of not seeing WePay more present especially in western luxury retailers:

“Chinese customers tend to close the sale more quickly when they know that they can pay with mobile. Those transaction times are extremely quick, at under a minute.”

– Candice Koo, the Managing Director of CANCAN

All roads lead to AI

Like other big Internet monopolies, Tencent is making big strides with AI. This year they opened research facility in Seattle solely focusing on artificial intelligence and last year they established AI lab in Shenzen. AI is build around robust data so WeChat has clear advantage as they have vast amount of conversation and connections data. More importantly they also have payment data through its WePay platform. So essentially WeChat is sitting on the most valuable data sources: how people are spending their money? Where people are? And what they are talking about?

“Shopping and search engine data show one type of data, which is purchasing or shopping intent, which is valuable, but different. For example, if you were to build out an Natural Language Understanding engine, you would not use search engine data, because no one searches based on complete conversational phrases.”

-Tak Lo, Zeroth AI

There are already couple of prominent accounts utilizing AI within WeChat. Chumen WenWen is voice assistant that connects to third party APIs and answers questions around what you should do (e.g. restaurants, movies, services and more). Alibaba got headstart with facial recognition with its widely covered “Smile to pay” collaboration with KFC but it will be sure that WeChat will be launching tools based on facial recognition technologies. WeChat has also been improving its search function going head-to-head against Baidu by incorporating more social and connection information to its search results.

On a lighter note, what has become tradition with Microsoft AI Chatbots, their WeChat Chatbot Xiaobing and other chatbot BabyQ also went rogue and started slandering communist party.

“My China dream is to go to America.”

Xiaobing (WeChat Chatbot)

Do you think that such a corrupt and incompetent political regime can live forever?”

BabyQ (to the question about Chinese Communist Party)

If you want to know where Western conversational commerce is tomorrow, you only need to analyze what WeChat is already today.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: