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Consumer desire lines will shape the intersection of technology and experiences



Empowered by technology, people today are carving new paths through brand categories and shaping their own brand experiences, often in unexpected ways. And this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the technology itself takes center stage. Be it 5G, the latest smart screens, driverless cars, or any number of other products showcased throughout the week, there’s no question these technologies are pushing new bounds of innovation and opening up new channels for marketers.

What we often lose sight of, however, is how people will use these emerging technologies to shape their world. As we walk the floor of CES and ponder trend reports, I would challenge marketers to think more about how and where technology and human experiences intersect and the consumer motivations — or desire lines — underpinning people’s actions. Because ultimately,it’s not about gadgets. It’s about people.

For brands to grow, thrive, and drive the right business outcomes, predictive planning, designing towards people’s desire lines, and creating unforgettable technology-enabled experiences will be critical. In examining CES through the lens of the human experience, what can we take away this year? In my view, there are a few key desire lines that are shaping the intersection of technology and human experience.

Immersive experience – AR en mass:While augmented reality (AR) certainly isn’t new, we’ve seen the technology continue to evolve, with even more innovative use cases unveiled this week within car dashboard displays, movie entertainment, and education, just to name a few. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t lose sight that AR is ultimately a layer over the real world. For people, it is additive to a real-world experience, making it more immersive, informed, and connected. With innovations such as the iOS Dev Toolkit making AR more accessible to developers, AR experiences are easier to make and use than ever. From a commerce perspective, they are already natural parts of retail apps from Tencent to Amazon to Walmart, and we can expect to see AR layers matter more in all parts of the commerce experience, effectively linking the physical and e-commerce experience. We’re also seeing AR rise as an innovative and scalable way to demo products, as we’ve seen with brands such as Ikea, L’Oréal, and Zara.

Rising influence of spontaneous thought:For years, search has been the most immediate signal of our intentions — and the bridge between what’s on our minds and our actual buying behavior. With search being as easy as uttering a phrase, voice search has shifted people’s behavior to search more spontaneously, and more for their immediate context of ‘right now’ and ‘right here.’ In 2018, we saw Amazon expanding its ecosystem to capture those spontaneous thoughts people may have while driving through AutoVoice. And this week, we’ve seen Google Assistant dominate voice AI at CES as it unveiled a number of upgrades, including voice embedded into Google Maps and voice-enabled travel support.

Using tech to get more IRL credit:An important motivation that transcends various technology categories is to get social credit for all the amazing experiences you are having in the real world. People value their real-world experiences and technology enables us to amplify and share them all with the world — and get social credit. Set a record on your 5K race? Share your cardio performance via one of Withing’s latest fitness watches released this week. Go on an epic trek to Everest Basecamp? Chronicle the experience on Instagram Stories. Sometimes what we do is only to have something to share, as illustrated by the rise of social content optimized experiences such as the Museum of Ice Cream and all the other iterations that have followed. Ultimately, the intersection of technology and real world is often about new ways to capture and share what we do.

The headlines from CES may be about the shiny new tech innovations and gadgets, but the real value for marketers will be in understanding how people use technology to shape their world, disrupt the status quo, and carve out new and unexpected paths through brand categories.

John Sheehy is the global brand president of Starcom Worldwide

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Billion Dollar Boy hires Kathy Dover as first-ever Director of Client Services as it scales up its business and develops its tech offering



Billion Dollar Boy, the global influencer marketing agency, has hired Kathy Dover, formerly a client at Maybelline and Garnier as well as Head of Account Management at VCCP Blue, as its first-ever Director of Client services.

On the back of impressive growth in 2018, Billion Dollar Boy has initiated an ambitious scale-up plan, which is centred on expanding its agency business and licensing its own in-house technology, including StoryTracker – the industry’s first and only AI-powered Instagram Story tracking tool.

In her new role, Kathy will work with the senior management team to support the growth plan by adding 15-years of experience on both agency and client-side to the business. She will also take responsibility for the account management teams, developing their relationships with clients and ensuring the delivery of a premium service.

Most recently, Kathy led the integrated marketing communications teams at Maybelline and Garnier UK. Prior to this, she worked as Head of Brand at While working agency-side she led the account management team at VCCP Blue where she was integral in developing the original Compare The Meerkat campaign for

Edward East, CEO Billion Dollar Boy, said: “Kathy has amazing experience on both sides of the fence, which means she is able to see the potential of influencer marketing across the whole marketing mix as well as understand what clients want, and need, from the medium. As we continue to scale up and drive our technology offering, Kathy will ensure we are always communicating this to the client in the right way and bring gravitas and experience to the business.”

Kathy added: “Influencer Marketing is growing so quickly there is a massive opportunity now for us to really raise the standard of measurement and effectiveness and cement its position as an integral part of the marketing mix. Through BDBs tech and measurement advancements, we can really start to bring some rigour and finesse to the medium and achieve this goal. I’m excited to be involved in that and in driving the team’s impressive growth strategy.”

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China marketing specialist Hot Pot hires Cat Navarro as Chief Operating Officer



Hot Pot, the full-service China marketing agency, has hired Cat Navarro, a business transformation specialist of more than 15 years, as its first-ever Chief Operating Officer.

For the past five years Hot Pot has been steadily growing its business, but with the massive acceleration of Western brands entering the Chinese market and the prediction that China will account for 60% of all e-commerce by 2020, it has put in place ambitious plans to scale-up and match that expansion.

Cat’s appointment reflects the company’s ambition. Her responsibilities will include the dual roles of implementing and overseeing transformation strategies, growth strategies, management structures, operational duties and workflows as well as acquisition, retention and training of talent.

Cat has spent 10 years leading high-profile change programmes for large organisations (SITA, AMP) and Australian government bodies (police force, housing). She then transferred those skills to scaling early-stage London-based businesses such as Quill Content, Ometria and The Sandpit.

Jonathan Smith, founder and CEO of Hot Pot, said: “We are excited to be entering the next phase of Hot Pot’s growth. To successfully scale the business, we knew we needed someone to have the requisite attention to the granular details but also be able to deliver on our overarching strategic goals.

“Cat’s depth and breadth of experience allows her to do this. She is exceptional at putting the right structures in place, operates at pace, and has an absolute passion for finding and developing the best talent.”

Cat Navarro added: “Hot Pot encourages brands to throw away the rule book and do things differently when it comes to marketing in China, and I’m excited to bring this bold philosophy to my role. When scaling a business that’s niche or disruptive, you can’t just rely on what you know or how others do things. Doing that just puts you on the same playing field as everyone else.

“I’m also thrilled to be leading both operations and talent, because the two are so intrinsically linked. It’s great to work alongside a CEO who invests in his staff as much as he does in the growth and profitability of the company and its clients.”

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media



In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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