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Creativity unlocks technology

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The distance between bands and consumers has almost disappeared, and this combined with new technologies has changed our understanding of what creativity is and what it can achieve, writes ROB NEWLAN, head of the Facebook Creative Shop in EMEA.

Today the bar for creativity is extremely high. It starts with people. Anyone can use the phone in their pocket to shoot and edit high quality video – something that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Anyone with a mobile phone has a computer in their pocket – from shooting and editing video on a smartphone to banking on a feature phone. Small businesses can shoot a video of their product, market it and accept payment all online. Brands and consumers now exist side to side, and often face to face, in a vast digital landscape. The distance between brand and consumer has all but disappeared, and the resulting intimacy – combined with the ongoing explosion of new technologies – has changed our understanding of what creativity is, and what it can achieve.

We need to inspire people, and more importantly, we need to create value for people. What’s good for people is good for businesses.

The (fast evolving) context 

Digital communication in Africa is booming. The change is so fast paced it’s hard to keep track. Even so, at Facebook one word matters to us above all others. Mobile.

According to ITU data, roughly 685 million Africans have mobile cellular subscriptions, while some 200 million have access to the Internet. 120 million Africans are on Facebook, and more than 80% of them will return to Facebook using mobile devices, predominantly feature phones rather than smartphones.

Mobile is a deeply personal device. Your phone is often the first thing you check when you wake up, and the last thing you check before you head to sleep. Your phone is so much more than a communication device – it is often how you get directions, bank or read the news. And that doesn’t include WhatsApp. The bottom line is people are living their lives on mobile devices.

People are at the core of the Facebook and Instagram experiences. The average user now spends more than 46 minutes a day across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. At Facebook we believe ads can be amazing experiences. Technology unlocks the power to tell incredible stories to the right person at the right time no matter where they are. And the creative community – agencies and brands alike – now have the mobile canvas to tell better stories to people that are relevant, inspiring and impactful.

Video, collaborative creativity and emotional connections

People are increasingly adopting visual language to communicate. As a result, video consumption is sky-rocketing, particularly in high-growth regions. Billions of videos are viewed on Facebook every day, and a full three quarters of these views take place on mobile devices.

We have just started to unlock the potential of sight, sound and motion in a feed-driven world. Two case studies from the recent Cannes Lions festival reveal the power of this transformation.

Despite its long running success for P&G, the Always sanitary pad product recently risked losing relevance with a new, younger audience. The Always #LikeaGirl campaign changed all that by asking every day consumers to explore the meaning behind a common and rather patronising phrase, ‘Like a girl’. (As in “she throws Like a Girl”). #LikeAGirl became the most watched video in P&G’s history, with 48 million views in North America and 76 million views globally. Ad recall was extremely strong, and emotional connection to the brand went up in the target audience, while rivals suffered slight declines. The video was distributed not on TV, but through social media.

Similarly, American sports apparel brand, Under Armour, turned its previously macho male identity on its head with a quirky exploration of the pressures of being female in the 21st century, inclusive of a celebration of women who ‘defy expectations and ignore the noise of outside judgements.’ The campaign centred on the pay off line I WILL WHAT I WANT, and featured two stunning videos, the first highlighting ballerina Misty Copeland and the second model Gisele Bündchen.

Two things stand out in both campaigns.

First, the brands combined science and art to show different audiences various creative ways to discuss ideas that really mattered to them. The end result in both cases was a campaign that genuinely touched people’s hearts and minds. Both brands laid the foundation for consumers to get creative in the realm of personal life philosophy.

Second, in both instances people were a primary creative force. The #LikeaGirl video incorporated real young people, exploring – on camera – gender and life philosophy. The conversation at the heart of the campaign was defined and carried out by the target audience, through the prism of social media. Equally, the I WILL WHAT I WANT videos redefined audience participation. In the video featuring Gisele Bündchen, Facebook user comments were at the heart of the experience: After seeding a teaser film on the platform, we used people’s real online reactions on the platform in our TV ads just two days later. A web experience then became a live interactive experiment.

A custom engine scraped the web for comments made about Gisele. Comments were rendered instantly and displayed on the site. For the first time, the entire online discussion about a single person was happening on one website in real time. Gisele is seen sticking to her routine while contradictory opinions on social media flash behind her, proving will beats noise live.

Collaborative creativity is a vital new force

Facebook cares more about creativity than any other platform. Our goal is to create value for companies and the people who receive it. The Creative Shop wants to be an essential partner to brands and agencies: it wants to help move the industry forward.

Facebook Creative Shop is a team of brand marketers, creative directors and strategists who build ideas to help clients grow their business. We believe that every person’s experience on Facebook should be personal and relevant. Even the ads they see. We work closely with businesses and the larger Facebook team to build tools, processes and creative that drives real world business results and delights people.

To help global businesses show beautiful visual stories in News Feed on every device and connection type, we started Facebook’s Creative Accelerator programme designed to help brands unlock the power of personal storytelling in high-growth countries. For example, in Kenya, Coca-Cola delivered a high impact campaign that had Kenyans sharing their stories of happiness. Nurofen, meanwhile, reached 54% of its target audience through a Moments That Matter Facebook campaign in South Africa.

Facebook recently opened our first African office in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is an important first step in strengthening our partnerships on the continent. People in the creative community are working to “hack” Facebook and Instagram in exciting new ways, to develop new marketing executions. We want to continue to work with the creative community to hack creative on our platforms, and our new office brings us closer to the creative community in Africa.

This expansion has happened because we want to ensure we are able to effectively support the huge range of new advertising formats and communication tools now open to communicators. These include new advertising formats and new connection tools that allow for improved contact with audiences (Book Now buttons are just one such new feature), along with advanced measurement tools like Conversion Lift and Ad tech.

We believe we can work together to create rich creative expressions on Facebook and Instagram that are not just better for marketers but better for people too.

The Creative Shop wants to be an indispensable partner to brands and agencies. We know the future does not build itself. Together with our partners we can build for where people are going.

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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