From AR to Amazon, IBM Watson to self-driving cars

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Source: Adweek

From IBM’s souped-up supercomputer Watson to Google’s tricked-out, self-driving cars, marketers are navigating a new wave of tech services and platforms beyond the walls of traditional advertising.

Here are the 8 technologies and platforms that will shape the marketing in the future, according to Adweek’s Lauren Johnson.

Microsoft’s HoloLens

While brands have poured millions into VR platforms like Facebook’s Oculus and Samsung-owned Gear, the marketing potential in Microsoft’s mixed-reality device HoloLens remains relatively untapped. But the wearable could be huge as a visual search engine that layers holograms over the real world.

Microsoft is working hard to get its technology into the hands of more developers and agencies. Last month, the tech giant expanded the number of creative and digital agencies involved in its HoloLens Agency Readiness Partner Program, which helps clients make apps, from 10 to 30.

Alphabet’s Waymo

At Google, self-driving cars are already taking a real-world spin. After reorganizing its autonomous car division Waymo into an independent company under parent organization Alphabet last year, Waymo’s fleet of more than 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans and Lexus SUVs equipped with self-driving sensors and software is now cruising around Phoenix and being tested in Kirkland, Wash., Mountain View, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

Unlike competitors including Nvidia, Intel and Uber, analysts say Waymo has the full package of assets and technology that it needs to dominate the self-driving space. Alphabet’s company has also reportedly been in talks with Honda about installing self-driving systems into its cars.

IBM Watson

Of all the companies using artificial intelligence today across industries like marketing, healthcare and more, it’s IBM Watson that has made the biggest effort to help consumers understand its many potential uses.

While AI is often touted as a silver bullet for brands, Watson in particular has become a popular way for companies to use big data to create big impact. “Being AI in itself doesn’t make you a better model, and it’s easy to get lost in that,” says Ari Sheinkin, vp of marketing analytics for IBM Watson.

Over the next 12 months, Sheinkin—who admits he wasn’t always a believer in AI—predicts that Watson’s deep-learning capabilities will evolve more rapidly than he would have expected even just a year ago.

Apple’s ARKit

After years of speculation, Apple is finally making its first foray into augmented reality this fall, launching a platform dubbed ARKit in the iOS 11 software that will equip millions of iPhones with AR and give developers and brands the tools to make AR apps.

While the number of AR platforms for marketers continues to grow, Apple’s combination of software and hardware could finally push the technology into the mainstream.

“While Google, Facebook and Microsoft all have initiatives in this space, Apple launching ARKit will bring impressive mobile-based AR to millions of people,” says Marc Jensen, chief innovation officer at space150. “Apple has tight control over the hardware and software in the iPhone, and this puts them in a very unique position to deliver a compelling AR experience on a truly mass-market device.”

Oculus Rift

Virtual reality seems to be one of those mediums perpetually stuck in the purgatory between hype and hope. Oculus, which Facebook acquired for $2 billion in 2014, has been described by Facebook CEO and VR evangelist Mark Zuckerberg as the “chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.” And while it’s only been a couple of years since Oculus’s founders raised an early $2.5 million on Kickstarter—long before VR had taken off with users, brands or media companies—the medium has become a powerfully potent way of sharing messages and stories for marketing and journalism.

Although industry experts may debate how long it will take VR to reach mass adoption, the technology is unquestionably poised to keep growing.

Amazon

For years, Amazon has been encroaching on established retailers’ turf—and now it’s about to do the same to digital advertising by potentially taking on the duopoly of Facebook and Google.

Equipped with data about what products people are looking at online and a trove of consumers’ credit card information, the Seattle-based retailer is building an advertising and marketing tech stack to pitch targeted search and programmatic ads.

But ads are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Amazon’s impact on marketers. The popularity of Amazon’s Echo devices is driving marketers to create voice-activated branded apps that help consumers discover and use products.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s stand-alone messaging app has become an increasingly prominent place for marketers interested in reaching the more than 1 billion users on the platform. Earlier this year, Facebook began testing ads within Messenger that appear on the app’s home screen, giving brands a new canvas outside of the newsfeed to reach consumers while they talk with friends.

But it’s not just humans that are using the platform. Thanks to the thousands of Messenger chatbots built by developers around the world, Facebook has rapidly built out another network for users to interact with companies and characters for customer service, shopping or entertainment.

Google Glass Enterprise

When Google first unveiled Glass in 2013, it was a PR success but a commercial embarrassment, with the $1,500 prototype failing to catch on with users interested in the head-mounted displays. (In 2015, an executive for Google’s experimental lab Google X said one of the company’s biggest mistakes was marketing the product before it was ready for mainstream use.) Marketers’ hopes for the product were shattered when Google shelved it just two years after its launch.

But Google Glass is now getting a surprise second act: Last month, AlphabetGoogle’s parent company—unveiled plans for a reboot that’s focused less on consumers and more on enterprise use, with a new version of the technology called, fittingly, Google Glass Enterprise.

“Disruptive innovations almost always start as toys, and Google Glass is another example of that,” says Evan Kraut, managing director of Grey Adventures at Grey Group. “The technology was invented before the ultimate use case was designed, and so the concept ‘failed.’ But as with the theory, it didn’t actually fail. It just needed a reset to find it’s true purpose: utility.”