5 digital developments that deserve your attention

Digital developments

We live in an age where we seem to have an innovation every five minutes. This stimulating environment for tech savvy start-ups has given us Google, Facebook and YouTube – platforms that have revolutionised the way we search, consume and share information online.

Innovations come in big and small. Most start small, because they tend to snowball into bigger more impressive things.

Recently, a few digital developments have popped up on my radar. Some you may find useful for your day to day, but others could set you up for a whole new way of thinking.

Yik Yak app

Yik Yak is a way to share anonymous messages about what’s happening in your area. The service was launched back in 2013, but has since experienced a huge wave of popularity with students and young adults. The anonymity angle is particularly interesting – you don’t even have to login in to use the app, which is a rarity. I’d say the app falls into a similar category to Snapchat, something that trades on not adding more content to your digital footprint.

It’s potentially a brilliant tool for getting a sense of your market. Working on a university campus, all I need to do is open Yik Yack to get a feel of our students’ moods. Knowing this, it is possible to create content that directly addresses their needs and that leads to more engagement.

Yik Yak is a solid peer-to-peer network, so opportunities for advertisers are few and far between. That said, I did see a compelling (and highly favoured) message from the Red Cross asking for charitable donations.

Yik Yak


I saw no other examples of advertising, but the Red Cross appeal is proof that sensitively written, topical and timely brand messages have their place. If you would like more on yacking, there’s a brilliant article written by social media enthusiast Briallyn Smith: The Unspoken Yik-Yak Etiquette Code.

Hooked – how to build habit forming products

HookedHooked is a book that explores how to create digital products, which keep users coming back. In it, we are introduced to the “Hooked Model” – a 4 stage cycle that includes:

Trigger: “…the actuator of behaviour – the spark plug in the engine” e.g. the impulse that makes us check Facebook.

Action: “…the behaviour done in anticipation of reward” e.g. clicking on an interesting picture in our Facebook feed and being taken to Pinterest.

Variable rewards: The ability to create intrigue from different results each time an action is made e.g. the infinite scroll functionality of Pinterest. Same action; different outcome.

Investment: “The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product or service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money” e.g. when you build followers on Twitter, create boards on Pinterest or build up your network on LinkedIn.

The book is really assessable and is ideal for product managers, tech enthusiasts and even, dare I say, marketers.

Nintendo has announced that it will develop games for smart phones

In a controversial, but intelligent move, Nintendo has partnered with smart phone game developer DeNa. This is most likely to wade in on competitors Microsoft and Sony, whom have released ports of classic titles on mobile platforms. However, Nintendo have ruled out following the herd. The company’s CEO Satoru Iwata made clear:

Even if we use the same IP on our dedicated video game systems and smart devices, we will not port the titles for the former to the latter just as they are […] As for which Nintendo IP will be used, we do not intend to make any exceptions. Potentially, any Nintendo IP could be used in our smart device software…

As a Nintendo boy, this blew my mind. Classic characters such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario and Link in newly developed titles for mobile devices? Yes please! This is a great place for Nintendo to champion its ethos of putting creativity and gameplay ahead of graphics.

If you are a developer or a marketer, it’s a good time to start paying attention. I’m confident that these smart games will exercise the clever use of in-app purchases and offer prime in-game advertising space. We’ve already seen Nintendo do a deal with Mercedes in Mario Kart 8. A move into the smart phone gaming market opens up a whole new range of collaborations and fresh DLC content deals.

Portent’s content idea generator

It’s getting harder to differentiate your content from the millions of other creators’. Portent’s Content Idea Generator wants to help you by suggesting original topics. Throw a keyword into search and you’ll be treated to an unexpected angle on your topic. For example, I typed “SEO” and got the following:

  • Six reasons SEO is sweeter than Christmas Morning
  • 14 movies with unbelievable scenes about SEO (Ha!)
  • Why our world would not end if SEO disappeared

Try it yourself. It’s a quick way of getting your creative juices flowing if you are stuck for ideas.

Video shot vertically

Verticle video from EVA - Video sharing app

You may have seen the above video doing the rounds on Facebook. It features a builder playing the piano in St. Pancras Train Station, London. Thousands of people liked and shared this video because they thought they had seen something special. They had, but probably not as they had thought.

I was lucky enough to meet the person behind the video, Aziz Musa, Product Manager for eva at a marketing conference last year.

The builders were hired actors, but it wasn’t their outfits that sold the authenticity of the video, it was the way it was filmed.

Google “vertical video” and one of the first things you’ll see is a fantastic (horizontal) video about why not to shoot vertically, but Aziz shared some valuable insight:

Vertical video is authentic because it is taken quickly and in the moment. If you want to capture something as it is happening, it’s easier to film using your phone as you would naturally hold it.

If Aziz had shot the video in landscape, chances are that it would not have been as successful. Shooting landscape suggests process and polish, which would have made his audience more sensitive to marketing messages. By shooting vertically, he was able to capture the essence of his product and reach more people.

As marketers it’s important that we keep informed of the latest technologies in our sector. We should always be searching for new ways to communicate, in addition to traditional channels, looking to more niche platforms with growing engagement. If culture eats strategy for breakfast, we must be responsive in our plans and always leave room for the next big thing.


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