“it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.”

we are a boutique digital media agency focusing on companies who want to be digital challengers or are at the cusp of being disrupted by digital challengers 

Augmented And Virtual Reality for brands: Present & Future

*This post is by our Brand Evangelist who we think should be spending more time working - Editor*

It is critical for an organization to ensure they are engaging with their target consumers through every possible means. Almost every category is, in some way or the other, trying to maximize the connection with their consumers and introduce new and innovative ways to do so. But often this experimentation fizzles out.

AR & VR are potentially perfect tools for such activities as they keep your audience engaged in innovative and immersive ways, keeps the message consistent and the recall value is always higher than the usual “activity” based communications.

It brings experiential marketing to life, and the consumer gets the best of the messaging that the brand wants to convey. We need to start inserting AR/VR in our communication plans as “Digi-Capital” expects that virtual and augmented reality will become a $120 billion market by 2020. Such predictions are a clear sign of the level of expectations AR/VR is expected to fulfill.


Once Upon A Time
Let’s take a recap of how its effectiveness has been highlighted as an integrated part of successful campaigns. The initial AR Campaign done by National Geographic 5 years ago was a mall-based activity, which projected images of animals, dinosaurs, astronauts, and even ambient environments amongst numerous curious shoppers. Their core idea was to engage shoppers via an AR experience.

To enable them with experience, participants stood at the center of an empty plane that featured the National Geographic logo. Large LEDs in the front wall showcased the images of velociraptors hopping, a leopard taking a stroll and pausing for a quick nap, a looming thunderstorm, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a solo astronaut on a space mission, among others, popped up for people to interact with.

This concept had such a strong impact that 2 years later, BBC did a similar activity in malls to engage consumers – this video can be seen below. In this case, National Geographic is clearly a winner, where it displayed the forgotten world around us in a very innovative way and ensured their equity became stronger through this engagement with minimum physical effort.

Samsung did an interesting campaign by opening a scuba diving shop in the middle of the desert in Australia, where they introduced their virtual reality gear to the consumer and showed them the power of imagination. It became a lifetime experience for most customers as their chance to access the sea were slim. But this campaign showed a new perspective to introduce a brand to their consumers.

These campaign ideas clearly show how brands are using this technology to engage consumers – be it a virtual walkthrough (Union Square), gaming experience through Sony’s VR GearDXBor DIOR using VR for a backstage view. There are now a lot of innovative ideas through which brands are trying to engage their consumers for maximum recall value.

As It Stands
Recently Facebook introduced an Augmented Reality Social Experience through which one can connect with their friends via VR Oculus Rift and interact with them through a virtual world. The idea itself is fascinating in how you can sit in a virtual room, watch movies, play games and interact with friends who not physically present and could be sitting on the other side of the world.

The gaming industry has run full steam ahead and is now creating games played via VR Gear giving as realistic a feel as possible. HTC, PlayStation and even Oculus are developing games for consumers. We can talk a lot about gaming and VR itself but let’s focus on the business side of using this technology. As it stands currently, brands are trying to connect Augmented / Virtual Reality to the following areas for maximum engagement:

  1. All-in-one shopping experiences
  2. Product trials and consumer interactive dialogues
  3. Interactive ads
  4. Events

The scope of hardware used is not just limited to VR Gear but also includes mobile devices, innovative screen-based solutions, and your gaming consoles are entering the market too.

The Future
Clever campaigns focusing on augmented and virtual reality should happen more often as brands look to differentiate in how they engage with a consumer suffering from attention deficit. Creating "dwell" via AR/VR will lead o some interesting use cases.

Major players like Facebook, HTC/Valve, and Sony will not just push to improve their hardware but will also work to make the overall virtual experience better. This will also open opportunities for dozens of start-ups to initiate more engaging and cost-effective solutions to mobile and VR.

The price of entrance to AR/VR is the single biggest deterrent to expanding the ecosystem. As this comes down expect consumer engagement to proportionately improve.... But waiting quietly but lethally in the wings is holographic technology that will require no devices.... Grab the popcorn!

We give our take on Snapchat's new changes to Campaign Aisa

""Any social media digital challenger, and that includes Snapchat, by nature has to break the Facebook hegemony to create shareholder value," expressed Habibullah Khan, the director of content at penumbra. "All Snapchat updates need to be seen in this context. While links is an important update to keep pace with Facebook and Instagram by evolving Snapchat from a walled garden to something more hybrid so advertisers feel baseline parity, we feel Snap Maps is a big deal. The visceral fun nature of Snapchat combining with Snapchat's network effects if enough users opt in, hold fascinating and immediate impact for advertisers esp around location-based marketing. We feel Facebook will not copy this feature as it is above their risk threshold."

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B2B digital marketing done right.... Or I told you so.

With all our B2B clients we have always been consistent on our approach. Be a thought leader we said. A thought leader is someone who uses consistent fresh original content on their digital properties like websites to comment with deep insight on trends and solutions their customers are interested in. 

This content is not oriented around selling. It defeats its purpose if it has a "buy me for this or this reason" message. The content instead focuses on important issues that their customer ecosystem faces and your solutions address. But it does this in a neutral manner focusing on insights that potential and existing customers actually value. Every website we manage for a B2B client we modify to add thought leadership portions. This means a section for whitepapers and ebooks on critical topics as well as a blog where leadership insights can be shared. 

Why is this necessary? Because B2B does not follow the rules of the B2C consumer. The B2C consumer starts off with an idea of a few brands and goes online and further narrows or widens that pool. Then if product design is not much of a criteria they will decide on feature set within their price range. If it is a criteria they'll narrow down to a few and visit the retail site and make their call. Digital in B2C is thus about ensuring that when a customer evaluates you, your digital properties are there on those touch points he uses. Or you guide him to those areas on the internet where he eventually exits with a favourable impression of you. But he gains most of his trust from peer reviews and expert views.

B2B is a different beast. The digital communities where technical or industry solutions are debated are often not frequented by business decision makers. This is especially true in the technology and telecom space. Furthermore customers of multi million dollar solutions often do not reach critical mass in pure numbers or level of interaction to even be classified as a community. A significant portion of B2B trust is thus gained from the quality of content on a customer's digital properties. While evaluating a solution if a customer empathises with, associates with and comes away impressed with your content; your solutions will be short listed. In fact if he has made his mind up of the vendors he will purchase a solution from and he comes across your content and is impressed, you will force your solution into reckoning with the sheer quality of thought leadership and insights you display about your understanding of the customer problem and the field it related to. Time and time again we have seen this happen. Which is why the crux of our B2B digital marketing offering is around original relevant content.

Why the "I told you so?" Because a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council just validated the criticality of online content for B2B buying. 

"Nearly two out of three B2B buyers (62%) seek out content to learn about new market developments and industry practices, while nearly the same number of people (60%) seek out content to discover new solutions that could address specific needs. Just over one in two B2B buyers (52%) seek out content to address a project that is already in progress (or about to commence) for their companies"

These are stunning figures. So even before the evaluate phase, in the research phase B2B companies can start getting included into potential list of solutions by clients. A majority of B2B customers go online looking for clarity about the products they need and the latest trends and inisghts to better understand what to buy and why. 

Companies that display thought leadership on their digital properties via original constantly updated content will be the winners in the new era where customers for B2B solutions go online to make up their minds. 

My feedback on Quora

Quora one of my favourite social networks reached out to me to get my opinion on being a writer and how to improve Quora. Here is my verbatim response - I am posting it here because it shows my thoughts on user stickiness:

"Hey I love Quora. Haven't spent a lot of time on it lately. Been busy. Since I run my own digital media business I spend time on networks that go towards bringing up my KLOUT score. An occupational bias. Would be great if you could work with KLOUT so that Quora activity counts towards the KLOUT score. That's my primary suggestion.

As a writer Quora is still fine. It is closing the gap between real life and internet. In the real internet you now have to be creative to find the quality information. While in Google's first year you just typed two words and it was magic. Now I type seven to narrow down and hope to find it in the first two pages. Quora seems to be going through this data overload curve. It is what it is. 

The process to user schizophrenia has started. One one hand users put their stuff out there to be found but the side of the writer that puts in a lot of effort for appreciation will increasingly rely on a network that shares his interest to get that appreciation; while in the early days of Quora it was easier by simply writing and letting it be.

Appreciation of their answers is directly related to a user's stickiness. I describe stickiness as measured by number of unique visits toQuora, time spent on Quora and content creation on Quora. Since this appreciation now relies on semi silos of people with similar interests, Quora needs to focus on remarkably accelerating the rate at which new users follow each other. This means every time you follow someone on QuoraQuora needs to give suggestions on who to follow based on your interests and who you have just followed. This is a simple technique. I'm sure you guys can figure out more. But it serves to illustrate what I am trying to say. The more a user follows people with similar tastes and is followed by them, the more they become sticky and the more Quora benefits. You need to put this process on steroids and then inject it with a light speed serum.

A short cut to accelerating content input and interaction on Quora is to have a measure whereby which you have a top commentator label. Based on not how much you contribute, but a pre-decided ratio of posts to comments achieved or some other similar measure. The thrill of posting a comment and seeing a start next to it with the phrase "Top commentator" is visceral. It is a shallow but effective short term move.

You may also want to look at investing a significant amount of budget in SEO on the blog portion if they remain a part of your strategy. If the content is good it should find its way on search engines. As on Squarespace which I use this can be automated by entering a few keywords. Your technology team probably has some good ideas on managing this innovatively.

Good luck. You're one of the good guys on the internet."

About the photographs on this site....

The magnificent Usman Hayat has provided almost all the images we have used on this site. At penumbra we believe in localizing global best practices of inbound marketing to make your brand relevant to a complex and singular audience. So we thought it fitting that that the pictures on the website reflect the uniqueness and breadth of the culture that surrounds us.

You can find Usman at - Please follow him on his journey of mapping the country's soul.