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The Marketplace of Things

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In a recent social experiment, I decided to heed the modern day call of ridesharing duty and enlist my car to the ranks of Uber. While I’m yet to take my first ride, I’ve received multiple offers for the array of services available to Uber drivers – from car rental companies, insurance providers, mobile device discounts and even “Uber driving lessons” from a nearby Honda dealer. As a marketer, I was more intrigued by these services that emerged overnight than I was to see where there surge pricing zones were (which I’ll tell you if you promise to give me 5 stars).

My point is simple. But the modern marketer’s landscape is anything but. By now we’re all aware of the internet of things. But there seems to be a developing marketplace of things centric to the needs of tomorrow’s technologies. And in this ever-expanding galaxy of tech-culture, we no longer view consumer behavior in verticals but rather in complex ecosystems. More and more, businesses are dependent on other businesses, creating interdependence.

Let’s head back out on the road and consider the potential of self-driving cars. At a recent sponsorship conference, Sandra Lopez – Intel’s VP of New Technology, Strategic Relationships and Business Development – discussed opportunities within the insurance, legal, and other sectors ancillary to future self-driving car owners. Let’s just say it made me reconsider my current stock portfolio. She went on to discuss the prospects that lie ahead for Intel in the realms of fashion, smartwatch-making and even a newly developed culture lab in partnership with Milk Studios as each sector begins to overlap under the common bond of technology.

Take for another example the worlds of retail and event marketing. Historically, stores were places people shopped and events were places where people were entertained. Now, thanks to diminishing boundaries in the traditional marketplace, shoppers are treated to immersive experiences like Lululemon’s daily yoga classes or North Face’s disappearing floor stunt  and event attendees from conferences to music festivals are able to shop with the touch of a bracelet, creating opportunities for brands like American Express and, you guessed it: Intel.

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Now that we’re at a music festival, let’s hang for a bit. I go get a nice cold beer with all those Uber earnings and swipe my RFID bracelet for a seamless, cashless transaction. This platform allows for sponsors like Ford to access consumer data and host brand promotions while acting as a catalyst for social media impressions.

–          “Of the 80,000 people who purchased wristbands (which served as the only form of ticket to the festival), 74,000 registered them online and about half of those people connected the wristbands to their Facebook accounts. Those people swiped their wristbands more than 200,000 times, generating check-ins on Facebook that allowed their online friends to see what they were doing at Bonnaroo. Issaq said on average each of those 200,000 check-ins received about seven “likes” or comments, leading to the calculation of 1.5 million social impressions.” (www.bizbash.com/how_r_f_i_d_bracelets_can_connect_guests_and_add_sponsor_value/new-york/story/24387/#.Vz4eSvkrLIU)

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Interdependence is an integral principle in the world of sponsorship, too. In fact, “partnership” is a much more fitting descriptor for the today’s sponsor / sponsee relationship. Brands and event properties are working hand-in-hand to bring value to their attendees, creating a much stronger affinity for both sides. In a shameless plug of an example, Garnier Fructis’ experiential activation on the 2015 festival circuit considered a highly coveted need for both festival and attendee: a place for fans to get their hair washed in the hot summer sun. An award winning approach at that.

Heading back to our hotel, we turn on the TV to relax. Thanks to Marriott’s partnership with a popular streaming content provider, we can now access our Netflix accounts from our hotel rooms! According to Scott Hansen, director of guest technology at Marriott International, “Over the past few years, Marriott Hotels has been closely studying how its guests, who are on average 35 years old, use technology during hotel stays…new users can access a 30-day trial right on the hotel TV if they haven’t already done this” (http://www.fastcompany.com/3047231/netflix-now-available-at-a-marriott-near-you). So there you have it, a hotel chain commissioning technology research and  a symbiotic relationship with streaming content provider.

Staying at an AirB&B? The hospitality start up’s users “could soon book personal chefs, art gallery tours, rental bikes, and restaurant reservations.” And if you’re a host, business like Guesty have popped up to help you manage your property and offer additional services like reception, cleaning, and event marketing. (http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/airbnb-offer-add-on-travel-services)

While we’re talking entertainment, if the going rate for an influencer marketing campaign is any indication of future opportunity, I’d sell your Uber shares and invest in the next YouTube beauty vlogger right away. With the rise of another market that emerged faster than you can finish an episode of the Kardashians, we see a new example of co-dependency as future talents seek big sponsors and vice versa in such a way that requires new, niche agencies to handle the volume.
To summarize, we can draw a parallel from more natural ecosystem: the ocean. The “ripple effect” is the continuous and spreading result of an event or action. This same principle that creates swell in our ocean holds true for today’s marketplace. One change can create a far-reaching series of events that can alter consumer culture. And as marketers, it’s critical that we learn to ride these waves.

To read more about AMP perspective on technology and the future of event marketing, click here.